A couple of points about seriousness:
- When the Obama Administration was serious about healthcare reform, they put up with months of Senatorial prima donna horseshit (see Baucus, Max). They cajoled, suffered fools, made significant compromises and risked alienating their base to get HCR passed. That’s what being serious about a piece of legislation looks like. When Ryan and Boehner do a tenth of what Obama, Pelosi and Reid did for HCR, perhaps I’ll consider them serious, too.
- The insistent drumbeat for Democrats to debate and offer counterproposals to Ryan’s bill ignores the success that Democrats had last time Republicans tried a similar trick. Let’s take a trip in the wayback machine (via Atrios):
When Bush announced his Social Security plan last year, Pelosi told House Democrats they could never beat him in a straight-ahead, policy-against-policy debate because he had the megaphone of the presidency and was just coming off re-election. So the Democrats would thunderously attack Bush and argue there was no Social Security crisis and therefore no need for them to put out their own proposal. Some members were leery, concerned that Pelosi would make the Democrats look like the Party of No. As the spring of 2005 wore on, some pestered her every week, asking when they were going to release a rival plan. “Never. Is never good enough for you?” Pelosi defiantly said to one member. When Florida Democrat Robert Wexler publicly suggested raising Social Security taxes as the solution, Pelosi immediately chewed him out over the phone. Only one other Democrat signed on to his plan.
There is no public outcry to voucherize Medicare, it’s a sure political loser, and it will die a short and quiet crib death without any Democratic intervention in the form of a counter-proposal.
- As for the suggestion that Obama should enagage on Ryan’s bill or other issues of the day (Ezra Klein’s recent handwringing is a good example), I see this as little more than a wish from beltway journalists for some drama. Anyone who takes Boehner and the rest of the House leadership at their word should understand full well that House Republicans have no interest in doing anything Obama suggests. In the end, they will shut down government, have all their legislation killed in the Senate, and generally look like the do-nothings that they are, no matter what Obama does.
One fundamental characteristic of serious people is that they pay attention to what’s important. Ryan’s bill isn’t, no matter how many hand jobs Morning Joe gives him under the desk.