GOP: Even Crazier Than I Thought

The GOP’s embrace of Paul Ryan’s Medicare-killing budget must be one of the greatest political miscalculations of all time. I have assumed (a) the decision to go all-in on Ryan’s budget was the result of the Beltway GOP’s isolation from voters, and (b) that they would quietly let it drop once they realized how badly the idea was bombing.

As for the second second — right after Easter recess it seemed some among the GOP establishment were trying to make Ryan’s budget go away. But the hysterical reaction to Newt Gingrich’s criticism of it revealed the Republicans are, indeed, married to Ryan’s budget. Maybe they didn’t intend to be married to Ryan’s budget. Maybe they woke up in a Las Vegas motel room with the Ryan plan, a marriage license and a hangover. But they are married to it. For better or worse.

As for the first assumption — according to Glenn Thrush and Jake Sherman at Politico, Beltway Republicans were given all kinds of warnings that their plans for Medicare would blow up in their faces. According to Thrush and Sherman, the Republicans’ nearly unanimous House vote for the budget was the result of “colliding principles and power politics” and came about only after days of fierce, behind-closed-door infighting.

GOP pollsters, political consultants and House and NRCC staffers vividly reminded leadership that their members were being forced to walk the plank for a piece of quixotic legislation. They described for leadership the horrors that might be visited on the party during the next campaign, comparing it time and again with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to ram through a cap-and-trade bill despite the risks it posed to Democratic incumbents.

Are they kidding? The cap-and-trade bill might have hurt some Dems in conservative House districts, but the Ryan vote is going to hurt Republicans across the board. No way is cap-and-trade a vital issue to most voters on the same level as Medicare.

Anyway, the short story is that even Republicans with misgivings voted for the plan for fear of being accused of not being pure enough on the deficit issue.

“The feeling among leadership was, we have to be true to the people who put us here. We don’t know what to do, but it has to be bold.”

Another GOP insider involved to the process was more morbid: “Jumping off a bridge is bold, too.”

It’s like they’ve been playing some version of Truth or Dare — either embarrass yourselves to the Tea Party or to the general public.

Update: Rupert Murdoch The Wall Street Journal tells its readers that they must choose between “ObamaCare” and Paul Ryan’s version of “entitlement reform.” The Right is married to the Ryan plan, I tell you.

Related — “The Elephant in the Green Room.”

12 thoughts on “GOP: Even Crazier Than I Thought

  1. The Tea Party cracks me up. They support the GOP while waving signs that read: Don’t touch my Medicare/Social Security. Fighting that ‘logic’ is impossible! It might behoove the GOP to recall is that elders vote unlike a lot of young people today.

    • They support the GOP while waving signs that read: Don’t touch my Medicare/Social Security.

      The Tea Party isn’t so much a political movement as it is a pool of obsessions, resentments, fears, and ignorance that the GOP has tapped into. The baggers themselves have shown time and time again that, as a group, they don’t really know what they want in the way of government policy. And these days there are lots of signs it’s a movement that consists mostly of spokespeople and leaders, but not so many followers.

  2. Not to worry: as soon as the Birthers realize Obama’s birth certificate is green and that he is in Ireland, they will create a distraction with conflicting tales of a secret leprechaun birth certificate or some phone calls to a heavily-brogued Irish “grandmother” who says he was born in County Cork. This will distract the ‘baggers from Mediscare worries and create tons of news cycle side topics for those who think they are keeping informed.

  3. The Tea Party isn’t so much a political movement as it is a pool of obsessions, resentments, fears, and ignorance that the GOP has tapped into.

    Bingo! That’s the most comprehesive definition I’ve ever seen..You hit it out of the ball park with that one.

  4. Yup, they went over that ‘ bridge too far’ to throw a bone at their base of idiots. And all but four Representatives voted for Privatizing Ryan’s plan.
    Steve Benen also has a post about this:

    He, like maha, says, based on the Politico piece, that it wasn’t the echo chamber effect that got them all on board, but rather Boehner and Cantor wanting to throw the new rightie radicals and their Teabag supporters a bone.
    Instead, it may prove not to have a bone, but the most bone-headed move Conservatives have made since Bush decided to use his ‘capital’ to try to sell the ending of SS as we know it. But even Little Boots was smart enough to leave himself some wiggle room, unlike these imbeciles.
    They know they don’t have a lot of time left, due to the demographics, to inflict as much change to the hard right as they can, as fast as possible.
    So, now they’ve shown that they’re on board to end both SS AND Medicare.
    And what I’m afraid is that Obama and the Democrats, rather than using this to their advantage, will instead needlessly sacrifice Medicaid, or support cuts to SS and Medicare, in yet another of their own boneheaded moves to try to look like they are rational centrists, as they drift further and further to the right with every passing day.
    Privatizing Ryan’s plan was the rights “Hail Mary!” And, looking at the initial pun-twit reaction, you’d have thought it was a touchdown.
    Only upon further reflection did it turn out to be a turnover to the Democrats.
    Now, let’s see what the cowardly Democrats do with the ball.

    Maybe I’m wrong and Democrats will finally stand up and fight like Hell for something.
    I just wouldn’t want to bet anything important on that happening.

    My money’s on ‘punt…’
    No, make that ‘fumble.’

  5. Cap n’ trade is NOT Medicare. They can grab that third rail and hold on for all it’s worth. And, the quote that they have to stay true to the people that got them there; here in Cheeseland, that’s called the middle/independent voter. NOT THE TEA PARTY. So, no, they did not vote to have you end Medicare or any other draconian right-wing wackjob idea out of the anus of Rand you want it to be.

  6. This is the flaw in the Republicans’ vaunted ability to march in lockstep, bulldozing any opposition. The WSJ or somebody said you must march over the cliff, and so they did. There was a good diary over at DailyKos yesterday Why Aren’t Progressives as Good as Politics as Conservatives? that talked about how conservatives are masters at caring and feeding their coalitions, while progressives have yet to learn this.

  7. I like the way things are going now for the republican party, Don’t you ?

  8. There’s a tendency in reporting and blogging to become obsessed with each individual play rather than consider the strategy of the larger game. What will it take for ‘them’ to win? Allow me to speculate – I don’t think anyone can prove me right or wrong. The only people who actually know are behind the curtain pulling the levers – and they aren’t talking.

    If you think the Tea Party is asroturf to the degree that big money directed the movement, consider the objectives of big money. Low taxes, a weak federal government, low-to-no regulation (especially environmental regulation), castrate all unions, maintain a strong military to protect ‘american interests’ abroad. (They want the US military to protect big business when it takes over a third-world country.) And here’s the main essential feature. They want all of it to be PERMANENT & IRREVOCABLE!

    If you think that’s preposterous, read the specifics of the balanced budget amendment. That’s what the game is about. The Ryan plan, if passed, would be repealed in only a few years when seniors discover the impact. The BBA, once passed, would cap spending at roughly half of what it is now. Period. Keep any program you want, if you can afford it. The Ryan plan was intended to provide cover for the BBA, by ‘proving’ how we can do everything we want AND do it for 50 cents on the dollar (compared to what we ARE spending).

    Here’s the strategic risk. If seniors, who are the backbone of the GOP, figure out that the Ryan plan guts Medicare, and the BBA makes it permanent, they will jump ship. The BBA is the game-winning score. The Ryan plan was a play that’s intended to make the BBA possible. But the BBA has to be passed – made a part of the Constitution – BEFORE 51% of the voters catch on.

    I think we ARE in the last few minutes of the 4th quarter. The Tea Party is running out of steam. The folks who created the Tea Party intended a rogue wave that will wash in the BBA. It looks like the movement peaked to soon. But the man behind the curtain won’t give up easily. IMO, millions of dollars over a period of decades were spent to prepare for this moment, which may be slipping away.

  9. Doug,
    Yes, well said.
    And I feel like I’ve been watching “Confessions of an Economic Hit-man,” meets
    “The Shock Doctrine.”

  10. Anybody remember Hilary’s “vast Right-wing conspiracy”? I would love to hear her say what she thinks for just one hour.

  11. I echo a lot of what has been said above, but would add that the Ryan proposal may be a negotiating technique – propose an outrageous plan and then negotiate from it. It’s rather like make the other side grateful for small favors by proposing weak amendments to the original. And a softened, but equally pernicious health-care plan is what I’m afraid we’ll end up with unless our reps understand what’s really afoot.

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