What Paul Ryan’s constituents think, and why it matters

WHAT PAUL RYAN’S CONSTITUENTS THINK, AND WHY IT MATTERS…. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R) Wisconsin district isn’t competitive. Over the last decade, his most competitive race was the one he won by “only” 26 points. Last year, the margin was 38 points.

But when the Associated Press checked in with some of the far-right congressman’s constituents, they were aware of their representative’s plan to eliminate Medicare, and they weren’t exactly on board with the plan.

Brian Krutsch has been long one of many automatic votes here for Rep. Paul Ryan…. But this week, admiration has been tinged with apprehension as one of Ryan’s signature ideas — ending Medicare’s status as a full, guaranteed benefit for senior citizens — suddenly took a step toward reality.

“I think that’s one of the things they should probably leave alone — you know — unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Krutsch said as he took a break from reviewing job openings at the Rock County Job Center. “Old people need help with medical bills. There’s too many people under-insured right now — especially people like myself right now who don’t have insurance.” […]

Howard Gage, a 74-year-old Medicare recipient who owns a three-person video-production company, said he has voted for Ryan in all seven races, still supports the congressman and likes him as a person. But, he added, it’s hard to accept that fixing the budget should mean that his family wouldn’t receive the same Medicare benefits that he relies on.

“It bothers me that my kids or grandchildren might be affected by whatever has to be done” to curb spending, he said.

At face value, it’s interesting that those who elected Ryan aren’t at all sold on Ryan’s vision. If they’re not on board, it stands to reason more vulnerable Republican lawmakers from more competitive districts have reason to be concerned, and may very well balk at embracing such a radical move that won’t pass anyway.

But there’s more to it than that. As Greg Sargent explained, “These folks are worried about doing away with Medicare as we know it, but they are grappling with whether or not this will be necessary to put the nation on firmer fiscal footing.”

Right. Reading the piece, it seems these folks want to do the right thing. They’re uncomfortable with an extreme overhaul of Medicare, but they’re willing to listen to what’s “absolutely necessary.”

But the point is, the privatization of Medicare isn’t “necessary” at all. It won’t even lower health care costs. Paul Ryan’s plan is ostensibly about debt reduction, but even that’s a charade — he’s going after entitlements and other domestic priorities while slashing tax rates for the rich.

Or as Greg added, these voters “are proceeding from the premise that Ryan’s Medicare proposal is about fixing our fiscal situation in a way that would spread the pain around evenly — and not aware that it would shift the burden for fixing our fiscal situation downward, in keeping with conservative tax-cutting ideology.”

Guess what message Democrats should be pushing right now? Or put another way, what do you suppose those folks in Southeastern Wisconsin would say if they knew going after Medicare wouldn’t be at all necessary if Ryan weren’t so desperate to give millionaires another massive tax break?