THE POLITICAL PERILS OF RYAN’S RADICALISM, CONT’D…. Following up on yesterday’s item, election analyst Charlie Cook said he’s been talking to GOP “pollsters, strategists and veteran campaign professionals” about Paul Ryan’s Republican budget plan. Given public opinion, the right-wing approach makes it “increasingly plausible” the GOP could lose its majority next year, Cook said.
With that in mind, some of Ryan’s colleagues are feeling a little antsy.
The dramatic 2012 spending plan unveiled Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan amounts to a test of political will for the GOP’s most vulnerable lawmakers, some of them only a few months into their maiden terms.
The decision before them boils down to this: Will they stake their seats on a risky vote to overhaul the federal budget, including the popular Medicare entitlement program?
So far, the most popular answer is: maybe.
Politico talked to a half-dozen vulnerable GOP House members — all of them freshmen — and none of them was prepared to endorse their own party’s budget plan, at least not yet, and all said they want to spend more time reading it.
“Either a sudden surge of studiousness is sweeping through battleground districts, or these Republicans can smell the danger,” the article noted.
They’d have to be oblivious not to. The American mainstream is going to be repulsed by Ryan’s radical plan, and Democratic officials will be thrilled to tie it around the necks of every vulnerable GOP incumbent.
With Dems needing just 25 seats to reclaim the majority, a Republican adviser told Politico, “You have a couple dozen members who are going to pay a pretty serious price for this vote if they end up in a tough race…. It’s not just cuts to Medicare. It’s ‘Republicans are ending Medicare as we know it.’ That’s not demagoguery. That is the case. This budget ends Medicare as we know it.”
But there’s one important angle to this that the article neglected to mention: the Ryan plan won’t pass. It’s simply impossible — it might garner a majority in the far-right House, but there’s no realistic way a Democratic-led Senate is going to eliminate Medicare and gut Medicaid, and the notion that President Obama would put his signature on this is folly.
This matters in context because it changes the nature of the pressure on vulnerable Republicans. They’re not just being asked to support a radical revision of the American social contract, eliminating one of the nation’s most popular and successful social programs for the elderly, they’re also being asked to cast this vote knowing in advance that this bill will fail anyway.
Imagine being one of these GOP incumbent freshman from a competitive district. The leadership is going to ask you to take an enormous gamble (vote for a wildly unpopular, right-wing agenda, including the elimination of Medicare), with no possibility of actually accomplishing anything (the bill will die in the Senate). It’s all risk, no reward.
It also sounds like electoral suicide.