Ryan’s 2012 Budget: The Backlash Begins

by Andrew Stiles

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal — due out Tuesday morning — will recommend bold reforms to entitlement programs that have long been thought politically untouchable, e.g. Medicare. That said, Ryan and plenty of others from both parties (See: Bowles-Simpson deficit commission) have insisted that such reforms are imperative in order save trillions of dollars and avoid “the most predictable economic crisis in American history.”

How will Democrats respond? By drafting a counter-proposal? Perish the thought. Apparently, Democrats have resisted the urge to wait until the final details of Ryan’s plan are revealed to pass judgment, and are already seeking to score political points by attacking it for daring to touch Medicare and Medicaid. They just can’t wait to tell you what Paul Ryan has in store for grandma and grandpa.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has announced it will target 50 House Republicans by attempting to tie them to Ryan’s plan:

One such DCCC news release being prepared for distribution targets Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa. There are nearly 2.3 million Pennsylvania residents on Medicare and more than 16% of Barletta’s district is made up of people over 65.

“House Republican leaders are now full speed ahead on a partisan plan that would dismantle Medicare for seniors,” said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the House Democrats’ campaign arm. “Now is the chance for Rep. Lou Barletta to stand up and say he won’t end Medicare as we know it because it’s too important to seniors. If Rep. Lou Barletta can’t stand up for Pennsylvania seniors now against ending Medicare, then he never will.”

Never mind that these attacks have been labeled “deceptive” by FactCheck.org.

Meanwhile, 16 (of 20) Democratic governors plan to send a letter to congressional leaders formally opposing Ryan’s proposed reforms to Medicaid (transforming it into a ‘block grant’ system). Notably absent from the list of signatories: New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

When even moderate, reasonable Democrats like Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) are accusing Ryan of taking a “meat axe” to “the most vulnerable in our country,” that’s a pretty clear indication of the path the party has chosen and the message they intend to trumpet all they way to 2012.

Ryan himself knows full well the political risk he is taking on: “We are we are giving them a political weapon to go against us,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “But they will have to lie and demagogue to make it a weapon. . . . Shame on them if they do that.” Shame indeed.

UPDATE: Oh, good. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow afternoon to discuss the “impact of GOP budget cuts on seniors.”

UPDATE II: Asked about Ryan’s 2012 budget, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today promised to “examine it with interest” when it comes out, reassured us that President Obama — some five months after his own deficit commission released its final report — still “looks forward to engaging in a conversation — an adult conversation — about the challenges that face us.” But Carney also seemed to suggest that the president had already done a great deal regarding deficit reduction, citing Obama’s 2012 budget and the passage of Obamacare as evidence. “He’s shown his seriousness about it,” Carney said.

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