I kind of get the idea behind floating Paul Ryan’s budget plan. It shifts the conversation to the right, and all that. But it still seems like a reckless political move. After all, we already can see Paul Begala, who ran Bill Clinton’s successful 1996 Mediscare campaign, calling Ryan the “Dr. Kervokian of Medicare.” People are not happy about the idea of messing with Medicare and Ryan isn’t just touching around the edges. He’s proposing that we kill Medicare completely and throw uninsurable elderly people on the mercy of the insurance corporations. It just seems stupid. I understand it as a negotiating tool, but I am still amazed the Republicans signed off on this plan.
What we be interesting is to see what Obama proposes to do about Medicare. He has a very wide opening now. Obviously, he can fall into the same trap if he proposes doing something unpopular and then can’t even follow through with a bill that cuts into the long-term deficit. It goes without saying that almost any proposal to cut Medicare will get criticized from the left. But he can dampen the criticism in a variety of ways. He’s definitely going to ask for cuts in defense spending and he’s already signaled that he’ll try to repeal Bush’s tax cuts again. I don’t see the Republicans going along with either proposal, although he will have at least some support from the right on defense spending.
No matter how I parse it out, I don’t see this Congress agreeing on a plan to rein in our long-term deficit. I also don’t see them passing a budget. I don’t see them enacting an alternative energy bill. I don’t really see them doing anything.