On April 15th, 2011, at 2:53 in the afternoon, the House of Representatives voted 235-193 for the Paul Ryan budget for fiscal year 2012. There was not a single Democrat willing to cross the aisle in support of the bill. And there were only five Republicans who failed to support Ryan’s budget (including one who abstained). This article in The Hill reads like the authors were too lazy to look up the roll call. For example, this needs to be corrected:
Many Republicans in tough races this year, especially in the House, voted for Ryan’s proposal, which makes it hard for them to distance themselves from it.
It is not “many Republicans in tough races” but “all Republicans in tough races this year” who voted for Paul Ryan’s radical plan to voucherize Medicare. Of the four Republicans who voted against the bill, one (Ron Paul) is retiring, another (Walter “Freedom Fries” Jones) is a genuine moderate, another (David McKinley) is from West Virginia and is probably safe for reelection, and the last (Danny Rehberg) was smart enough to know that he didn’t want the Ryan Budget hanging around his neck while he ran for Senate in Montana. There isn’t a single member of the House who is in a tough reelection fight who voted against the Ryan Budget. The best you can do is Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington, who wisely missed the vote altogether. EVERY OTHER SINGLE REPUBLICAN in a tough reelection fight is on the record supporting the voucherization of Medicare. ALL OF THEM.
They all walked out on the plank together, perhaps thinking that there is safety in numbers (at least, from Tea Party primary challengers), and Mitt Romney just took Ryan by the hand, walked out on the plank, turned around, and sawed the plank off the ship.
The Republicans’ entire plan for combatting the charge that they voted for voucherizing Medicare was supposed to be the ridiculous and misleading charge that the Democrats voted to strip $700 billion out of Medicare. Never mind that it was actually subsidies in Medicare Advantage that were cut, and not benefits. Paul Ryan’s budget plan included those cuts to Medicare Advantage, too! They planned to tell a blatant falsehood, that they hadn’t also voted for those cuts in Medicare. And they thought they could reach parity with that lie.
While few Republicans said having Ryan on the ticket would help them, they argued they can neutralize the budget issue by attacking Democrats for cutting $700 billion from Medicare in their healthcare reform law.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) circulated a memo to lawmakers and candidates on Monday, obtained by The Hill, that they say offers a road map for winning the debate over Ryan’s proposal.
It calls for candidates to follow the model the party used to win an open seat in Nevada last summer in which now-Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) hammered his Democratic opponent on the spending cuts.
The main focus of such a strategy, according to a slideshow and video circulated by NRCC Political Director Mike Shields, is to stay on the offense and tie Democrats to Obama’s healthcare law, an argument Republicans believe they can win.
The presentation tells candidates to fight back on Medicare until the issue becomes a tie then refocus the debate on the economy. To do so, Republicans are advised to tie their opponent unequivocally to Obama’s law, highlight the law’s cuts to Medicare and offer counter-messaging that uses credible outside spokespeople — like seniors, or, in Amodei’s case, his mother — to convince seniors that Republicans are in the right on the issue.
It was a dubious strategy to begin with, since it relied on a really deplorable set of falsehoods. But now that Paul Ryan is on the ticket, they’re stuck with the fact that Paul Ryan designed a budget that made the same cuts they’re trying to inoculate themselves with. AND THEY ALL VOTED FOR THOSE CUTS. Ryan is too high profile now, and their strategy is sunk.
But one Republican strategist who’d seen the NRCC’s memo worried that the plan offered little new advice, and having Ryan at the top of the ticket lent additional credibility to Democrats on the issue.
“It becomes more difficult. The Republican argument and Democrat argument on Medicare now aren’t on equal footing anymore — Ryan being on the top of the ticket gives Democrats more credibility,” the strategist said. “There’s going to be more resonance when the Democrats attack our guys. It’s going to be a part of the national discussion, there’s going to be more credibility on this now, and we’re not going to be able to wave them off as nonsense.“
In other words, the big lie will no longer work. The big lie is inoperable. And the writing is on the wall.
“There are a lot races that are close to the line we’re not going to win now because they’re going to battle out who’s going to kill grandma first, ObamaCare or Paul Ryan’s budget,” said one Republican strategist who works on congressional races. “It could put the Senate out of reach. In the House it puts a bunch of races in play that would have otherwise been safe. … It remains to be seen how much damage this causes, but my first blush is this is not good.”
Noted liberal governors like Rick Scott of Florida and Rick Perry of Texas are fleeing from Ryan’s Budget like their hair is on fire. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s appalling that, prior to Ryan’s placement on the ticket, the Republicans felt confident that they could use Super PAC funding from billionaires to make a lie the equal of the truth and “to wave [the truth] off as nonsense.” But they don’t really think that they can pull that off anymore. Whether or not Romney can separate himself from Ryan’s Budget by proposing his own budget, it will be acknowledged that Paul Ryan created a budget (which the House Republicans supported) that made the same cuts in Medicare as Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In addition, they also all voted to voucherize Medicare.
The House Republicans have been rendered defenseless, armed with nothing but the most indefensible lies. And they know it.