Dodged Bullet

TPM’s Brian Beutler takes a casual comment from Paul Ryan (“Do I want my budget to become the law? Yeah. If Mitt and I won, we were planning on putting it together.”) to remind us how close the United States came to heading on a very different trajectory last November.

Had Mitt Romney won with Republicans retaking control of the Senate (the two would have likely gone hand in hand), the president-elect and the congressional leadership would have turned the Ryan Budget (along with language effectively repealing Obamacare) into a front-loaded budget reconciliation bill that would have very quickly passed both Houses by a majority vote (you cannot filibuster reconciliation bills), and would have been in law by now. You know the argument House Republicans are having about whether to offer the uninsured access to crappy high-risk pools or nothing at all? That would be the argument over national policy towards the uninsured in this alternative universe. Remember the Oregon Medicaid study that got so much attention last week in connection with state decisions on expanding Medicaid? Had Republicans won the White House and the Senate last November, the same study would have likely been used to argue that states about to enjoy “flexibility” over their shiny new Medicaid Block Grants might want to consider liberating poor people from any help altogether.

It’s easy to get discouraged about gridlock and Republican obstruction and the unprogressive impulses of Democratic politicians. But we are in a vastly different and better place than we might have been at this point. Add in the likely impact on our Constitution of a President Romney sending judicial appointments to a Republican Senate, and it’s possible to manage an occasional smile.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.