Remember how it was the beltway conventional wisdom that the Ryan plan was “serious” and “adult” and that it was up to the Democrats to offer a counter and yadda, yadda, yadda. Things sure have changed in a few months, haven’t they? We’ve now got the Democrat leading in a Republican district, Republicans are publishing weepy op-eds about how they just can’t support the Ryan plan, and the Politico is charging forward with a new conventional wisdom for us all:
It might be a political time bomb — that’s what GOP pollsters warned as House Republicans prepared for the April 15 vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, with its plan to dramatically remake Medicare.
No matter how favorably pollsters with the Tarrance Group or other firms spun the bill in their pitch — casting it as the only path to saving the beloved health entitlement for seniors — the Ryan budget’s approval rating barely budged above the high 30s or its disapproval below 50 percent, according to a Republican operative familiar with the presentation.
The poll numbers on the plan were so toxic — nearly as bad as those of President Barack Obama’s health reform bill at the nadir of its unpopularity — that staffers with the National Republican Congressional Committee warned leadership, “You might not want to go there” in a series of tense pre-vote meetings.
But go there Republicans did, en masse and with rhetorical gusto — transforming the political landscape for 2012, giving Democrats a new shot at life and forcing the GOP to suddenly shift from offense to defense.
It’s been more than a month since Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his lieutenant, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) boldly positioned their party as a beacon of fiscal responsibility — a move many have praised as principled, if risky. In the process, however, they raced through political red lights to pass Ryan’s controversial measure in a deceptively unified 235-193 vote, with only four GOP dissenters.
The story of how it passed so quickly — with a minimum of public hand-wringing and a frenzy of backroom machinations — is a tale of colliding principles and power politics set against the backdrop of a fickle and anxious electorate.
No one could have predicted that 4 trillion in tax cuts for the rich while gutting Medicare and doing nothing to balance the budget would have been unpopuar with the public. It’s a mystery!
DougJ is right. Thank you, Bobo! Thank you, Joe Klein! Thank you, Sully! Thank each and every one of the innumerate villager class who fluffed the Ryan plan and goaded the Republicans into believing their own bullshit.