Discretion is the better part of valor

A great piece by Tom Edsall on the Ryan plan. Executive summary: it cuts “Mandatory and Defense and Nondefense Discretionary Spending” down to 3.75% of GDP (by 2050) from its current level of 12.5% of GDP. Since defense itself is 4% of GDP and Ryan has pledged not to cut that, that means there is no non-defense discretionary spending at all. In particular:

By 2050, that would leave zilch under the Ryan plan for such separately funded programs as Veterans Benefits (Function 700); the administration of justice, including the F.B.I. (Function 750); Education, Train and Social Services (Function 500), and pretty much anything else.

Here’s why it’s a shell game: he never says specifically what he will cut (he probably says something about bear DNA and volcano monitoring on the stump, but you know what I mean). So if he gets quizzed by anyone who is afraid a program they like will be cut, he can just say “I am committed to saving your program”.

A neat trick.

He hit me and it felt like a kiss

Atrios thinks Romney-Ryan will get points from establishment media for saying they’ll screw the middle-class:

My prediction is that the election narrative from our Villagers will coalesce around the question that voters care about most of all: which candidate (and party) will make the electorate suffer the most?

America 2012. It’s just one big laboratory for the S&M fantasies of the Villagers.

I hope he’s right. Because screwing the middle-class may send a tingle up Chris Matthews’ leg but it’s a losing proposition politically. If Cokie and David Gregory and Jon Mecham and the rest giddily agree that Romney-Ryan will put the middle-class back it its proper subservient place, that’s a win for Obama. If it’s a few Villagers grimly nodding along about hard sacrifices in the background, that helps Romney, but if it’s Sunday morning public S&M, it hurts.

But I don’t think that’s what will happen. Let’s check in with the man who is always wrong, Mark Halperin:

Mitt Romney just held a short press availability in Florida and completely dodged the question of which parts of the Ryan budget he disagrees with.


The White House and much of the media are going to stay on this issue for a good long time. Instead of playing rope-a-dope, Romney should stand and answer.

Romney should not stand and answer, he should bob and weave. Neither wingers nor pundits care about details. Unless the Obama campaign hits him hard on vouchercare — which I think they will — Romney can use sadomasochism and WOLVERINES! to give the right and the Village four hour erections without telling the public that he plans to make them eat cat food in their old age.

There’s no way that Romney can win the battle of vouchercare. But maybe he can get points for “tough decisions” from sociopaths without alienating that many normal people. Maybe. But I doubt it.

It starts with a face and ends up a fixation

We’ve talked a lot about how every Republican candidate becomes a love object for both the far right and establishment media — starbursts, shoulders you could land a 747 on, tanned (in a prairie, sun-chapped sort of way), can you smell the English leather on this guy. We’ve already heard quite a bit about Paul Ryan’s piercing blue eyes and hot P90X toned physique.

So I think the PaulRyanGosling twitter feed is one to follow.

Romney is Lying About President Obama Stealing Money from Medicare

Robot/Zombie 2012

Mitt Romney is still lying about Medicare — no surprise there. Also it is no surprise that Romney is now dog whistlin’ while he does it. It’s the southern strategy updated for the twenty-first century:

“There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare,” Romney said.

“What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it’s there for current seniors. No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement. But looking for young people down the road and saying, “We’re going to give you a bigger choice.” In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices. That’s how we make Medicare work down the road.”

Get it? He is “robbing” Medicare. The black guy is stealing money from seniors! He is coming for your wallet!

Loath as I am to cite Politifact, they clearly explain why the current talking point about Obama cutting $500 billion from Medicare is a steaming pile of horseshit:

There’s a small bit of truth here. The Affordable Care Act does reduce Medicare spending by $500 billion over the next 10 years. But here’s the catch: Those dollars aren’t taken out of the current budget, they are not actual cuts, and nowhere does the bill actually eliminate any current benefits.

The $500 billion is all in future spending reductions and come through the law’s attempts to slow projected growth, not cut spending.

PolitiFact National has highlighted the biggest bits of savings: About $220 billion comes from reducing annual increases in Medicare payments to health care providers. Another $36 billion comes from increasing premiums for higher-income beneficiaries. Administrative changes land another $12 billion in savings. A new national board is set to come up with $15.5 billion in savings — but can’t get those savings from a reduction in benefits. The last big chunk of $136 billion comes in changes to the Medicare Advantage program, which has become more expensive than initially anticipated.

If all those numbers make your eyes glaze over like they do mine, the bottom line is this: Read more

It’s a tough racket

I just spoke with a sharp Democratic Congressional staffer I know who tells me that he thinks Ryan was a smart choice for Romney. He says that there was no way Romney would be able to hide from the Ryan budget plan — because Obama would pound him on it and the wingerati would insist that Romney stick by it — and that Ryan is the best salesman for the plan. Bear in mind, it’s not Ryan’s plan per se, it’s something people drew up in a right-wing think tank. Ryan’s just a frontman for the operation. He’s done a fantastic job (via) of getting Beltway idiots to pretend that a predictably radical right-wing plan is some wonderful piece of wonky courage.

I think my friend is probably right that Romney was stuck with the Ryan budget plan anyway. The hard-core anti-New Deal right activist crowd has taken over the Republican party.

You go to war with the unpopular extremist policies you have, not the popular moderate policies you wish you had.

Telling people that you want to turn Medicare into a voucher program is probably political suicide. Real Murkins don’t like vouchers; at best, vouchers are something the airlines make it difficult for you to use, at worst, they’re a way to keep the strapping young bucks from blowing all their welfare money on steak and cigarettes.

If this election is a referendum on vouchercare, Democrats obviously win. But Josh Marshall’s stunt stand-in is completely wrong here:

Having Ryan on the ticket will make it difficult for the losers of the election to claim that the winners doesn’t have some claim to pursue their fiscal vision. A decisive electoral resolution to this high stakes political fight is actually kind of scary no matter where you come down on issues like Medicare, Medicaid and tax policy. But it’ll also be good for the country if it means the government will have new running room to pay at least passing attention to things like mass unemployment and eroding infrastructure that the next president will have to deal with, whether he’s a Republican or Democrat.

That’s bullshit. If Romney wins, it will mean Republicans have a mandate to turn the country into the Randian paradise the Founding Fathers envisioned. If Obama wins, it will mean that the Kenyan soshulist had the sense to tack to the center…and he better stay there.

As Atrios famously said about some other election (I can’t find a link on teh google), whatever happens on election night will prove once and for all time that we are a right-center nation.