EASTON, Md, May 30, 2011 — What were the Republicans thinking, if they were even thinking?
First, like the good lemmings they are, the House Republicans all scampered over the cliff this spring for Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s Budget Proposal that basically ends Medicare as we know it and have known it since 1965.
Then when they headed home bearing this noxious gift like some bouquet of roses, they got an earful from their constituents at town hall meetings: They hated the idea.
Did they listen? Please, they’re Republicans.
They made the Ryan Plan their Republican Manifesto, and God help any Republican who deviated from the doctrine of coupons for the elderly to buy health insurance from mega insurance companies.
Just ask Newt Gingrich. He criticized the Plan, calling it “Right Wing social engineering” and actually took a moderate position against it. Now he’s toast.
Then conservative Jane Corwin in NY-26, running in a special election to capture bare-chested former Congressman Chris Lee’s seat, campaigned on what a great idea the Ryan Plan was only to see her lead over Kathy Hochul, the Erie County clerk, evaporate into the ether as voters came out in droves to say No to Ms. Corwin and Congressman Ryan.
It truly was a referendum on Ryan, whether he was on the ballot or not.
Where’s the Shared Sacrifice?
So Ryan got a video up right away called “The Path to Prosperity (Episode 2): Saving Medicare, Visualized.” Now there’s a mouthful.
Complete with umpteen charts and graphs, Ryan tried to make the case for vouchers for seniors (he calls them “premium support”) that would then shift the costs from the government onto the wallets of future seniors.
That means if the costs of health care and insurance go up, as it undoubtedly will, so be it. The individual will just have to come up with the money to pay for both.
Now Republicans rush to reassure us that this plan won’t affect anyone over 55, just those youngsters 54 and under. So if you’re 45 or 50, I suggest you start saving your pennies now. You’ll need them
Interestingly, the current crop of seniors doesn’t buy into the Republican argument of “Not to worry, you oldsters are exempt from vouchers…er…premium support.” Seniors don’t care much for the Age Warfare inherent in this argument.
Interviews with the over 55 crowd show they don’t like the idea of their children, and ultimately grandchildren, having to take on this burden at the very time when profiteering oil executives are guaranteed by the same Republicans that their tax breaks and oil subsidies will continue long after we’re all gone.
Some sage once opined,“Getting old isn’t for sissies.” That could be the new GOP slogan for 2012. Get old. Get over it. Here’s your voucher.
Is the GOP About to Be History?
Then last Thursday, Democrats couldn’t resist putting another nail in the Republican coffin by forcing the Republicans to vote yes or no to restructure Medicare according to the Republican Manifesto.
Every Democrat voted no and all but five Republicans voted yes. At that moment the Democratic campaign mantra for 2012 was signed, sealed, and delivered: Medicare, Medicare, Medicare.
Interestingly, Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) voted with the Democrats, not because he woke up and smelled the bacon, but because the Ryan Plan didn’t go far enough. Wonder what the folks back home think of that.
This past Friday, Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) ratcheted up the stakes even further when he said the only way he would vote to raise the debt ceiling (yes, they are still negotiating that issue) was that Medicare must be cut as part of the deal.
Even former Vice-president Dick Cheney, during a recent speech in Texas, joined the GOP chorus about the brilliance of the man behind the Republican Manifesto. “I worship the ground the Paul Ryan walks on,” he gushed.
You have to ask yourself if the Republicans have a Death Wish.
They are so beholden nowadays to the Right Wing and the Tea Party, that I keep asking myself if they are drinking Kool Aid and not tea.
A few weeks ago I wrote a column asking if we are seeing the death throes of the GOP. Today that question resonates more than ever.
The solid victory in the 2010 election inspired the GOP to overplay its hand. The leadership believed the Republicans had the wind in their sails, especially with the Tea Party stalwarts on board to chart the course. Now comes the Nor’easter.
Does the GOP tack and change course? Or will the Republicans stubbornly head into what the Democrats pray will be the perfect storm?
Even conservative Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) asked his colleagues, “What went wrong? We definitely have to determine the extent to which the Medicare issue hurt us.” And King voted for the Ryan Plan.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is part of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, sees things differently, saying, “What we need candidates to do is to endorse plans that will save Medicare; if they don’t like Ryan’s, they should have their own.”
The Tea Partiers have a hungry eye on 2012, already grousing about the five Republicans who voted against the Ryan Plan. In fact, Freedom Works vice-president Adam Brandon, believes there could be a third party candidate for President if his folks are displeased by a GOP candidate who turns out to be moderate.
“If you are looking for the fertilizer for such a thing, I could see that happening,” Brandon said.
I love his analogy. Tea Party manure. Pretty well sums up what those of us on the Left have been thinking all along.
I wonder if the Republicans are also laughing. Sort of hard to laugh when faced with extinction, isn’t it?
To contact Catherine Poe see above.
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