Republicans start to feel the heat over radical budget plan

REPUBLICANS START TO FEEL THE HEAT OVER RADICAL BUDGET PLAN…. Last week, we discussed what kind of pushback House Republicans might feel from voters as a result of their radical budget plan, which, among other things, ends Medicare and replaces it with a privatized voucher system. There were some heated public events last week, but to have a lasting effect, GOP officials would have to feel considerably more pressure.

As it turns out, that’s exactly what’s happening.

In central Florida, a Congressional town meeting erupted into near chaos on Tuesday as attendees accused a Republican lawmaker of trying to dismantle Medicare while providing tax cuts to corporations and affluent Americans.

At roughly the same time in Wisconsin, Representative Paul D. Ryan, the architect of the Republican budget proposal, faced a packed town meeting, occasional boos and a skeptical audience as he tried to lay out his party’s rationale for overhauling the health insurance program for retirees.

In a church theater here on Tuesday evening, a meeting between Representative Allen B. West and some of his constituents began on a chaotic note, with audience members quickly on their feet, some heckling him and others loudly defending him. […]

After 10 days of trying to sell constituents on their plan to overhaul Medicare, House Republicans in multiple districts appear to be increasingly on the defensive, facing worried and angry questions from voters and a barrage of new attacks from Democrats and their allies.

Yesterday’s event in Orlando was arguably the most contentious we’ve seen since 2009. Freshman Rep. Daniel Webster (R), a far-right lawmaker in a competitive district with a sizable elderly population, faced furious constituents. It was heated enough for a local report to describe the scene as “bedlam.”

Webster’s audience may have been particularly livid, but the number of GOP lawmakers running into heated confrontations is growing, as evidenced by events in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. For his part, Paul Ryan was not only booed (again) yesterday, he felt it necessary to leave from a different exit and drive away in a different car, citing “security concerns.”

Miami’s Allen West refused to allow voters to ask questions from microphones, and instead only responded to pre-screened written inquiries. Other House Republicans are choosing to “simply avoid meeting with constituents” altogether.

And yet, despite all of this, House Republicans say they’re not concerned. GOP leaders held a conference call yesterday for members, urging them to just keep attacking Democrats. The NYT noted, “Officials familiar with the call said that rank-and-file lawmakers did not seem alarmed at the response they were getting.”

I guess that means the left is going to have to work a little harder to be heard?

I still think duplicating the right-wing hysteria of 2009 will be very difficult. Republicans oversaw a remarkably well organized campaign, with major far-right financiers investing in lobbying organizations, which in turn brought/created grassroots activism. There was also a certain cable news network that, in conjunction with talk radio, effectively acted as a cosponsor for the right-wing pushback, literally airing the names, dates, and locations of public meetings so enraged Republicans knew when and where to throw tantrums. It also seems unlikely major media outlets will cover progressive anger with the same intensity.

But it seems that opponents of the GOP plan are starting to be heard, and may even have Republicans’ attention. The more these far-right lawmakers feel the heat, the more likely it is to change the trajectory in Washington.