Last Friday, Feb. 5, was not a good day for those who believe in small government, banning earmarks, balanced budgets and the Republican Party. In fact, it was a very bad day for all three.
The first outrage was an oldie-but-goody: Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo and other liberal/progressive/Democratic sources claimed that Republicans want to bleed seniors dry by taking away their Social Security (and the rest of the budget Republicans are beginning to bring forth). Why is this? Apparently Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget ideas for FY2010 include cutting Social Security for those under 55 and offer the opportunity to invest a portion of one’s Social Security funds in private accounts. According to the Politico:
On Social Security, he would allow workers the ability to invest in personal savings accounts — hardly a full privatization, supporters say. He would reform the tax code to provide a credit for paying for health coverage. Income tax for households earning up to $100,000 would be 10 percent. Those earning above $100,000 would be taxed at 25 percent. His plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax and would reform some business taxes. Ryan’s plan would “secure” Medicare by creating a payment to purchase a health insurance plan.
However, even the mainstream media isn’t quite accepting the liberal hogwash. The Washington Post’s article on the subject says Ryan’s overall budget is pretty good, according to Ed Morrissey (emphasis Morrissey’s):
Rep. Paul D. Ryan says he is determined to make sure the Republican Party is viewed as “the alternative party, not the opposition party.”
That is a goal President Obama embraced when he visited House Republicans at their policy retreat in Baltimore last week, and he singled out Ryan as someone he would like to work with — even mentioning budget legislation the Wisconsin Republican co-wrote.
Released two days before the unusual back-and-forth session between Obama and the GOP, the bill sponsored by Ryan and five other House members would seek to reduce the deficit and spur economic growth by cutting the tax rate on corporations, shifting future Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to private insurance plans, and both raising the retirement age gradually to 70 and reducing the growth of benefits to make Social Security solvent. Even Democrats have acknowledged that it is one of the few plans offered by a member of either party that would lower the long-term budget deficit.
Unfortunately, the outrage does not stop with Democrats and liberals. Apparently the Democratic attacks have Republicans are running scared. In both the Washington Post and Politico, Minority Leader Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republicans are quoted as avoiding all mention of supporting the bill, and letting Democrats and liberals run roughshod over it. Considering that Ryan is probably the best policy wonk for House Republicans (according to two people who would know), why not back him on this very substantive, respectable bill that the Congressional Budget Office, Ezra Klein and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag have noted for its ability to balance the federal budget? Unless other Republicans can offer better ideas, they better back Ryan to the hilt or find major issues with the budget he is proposing.
The final straw for me and the liberal claims regarding Ryan’s budget was their purposeful ignorance of the recent CBO report showing that Social Security is paying out more than it’s taking in, and the Yahoo Finance report showing how bad the situation really is. With millions of Baby Boomers set to retire in the next two decades, taking with them a massive share of America’s working population, perhaps Democrats could come up with a better plan? *Crickets chirping* That’s what I thought.
Okay, so on to the second event that should distress conservatives across America. Apparently Republican Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told President Obama that he would put a hold on every single presidential nominee if billions of dollars of pork spending wasn’t sent to Alabama. This is bad for two reasons. First, who the hell does Shelby think he is? (Please pardon the language.) Republicans probably won’t like many, or all, of the president’s nominees, but holding out for pork instead of principle or party? This guy is an embarrassment to Republicans everywhere for his shameless grabbing of our tax dollars to fill his political coffer. The second reason this is bad is strategic- Democrats were on the retreat over the controversial Vermont, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Nebraska, Michigan and union deals made to pass health care reform. If Shelby had managed to keep his grubby little hands where they belonged—namely, out of the wallets and pocketbooks of those Americans not in the state of Alabama—health care reform would be certifiably doomed, and Republicans would be practically skating for the next weeks and months. Now, Shelby has shown his true, selfish self-centered colors and given Democrats time to catch their collective breath. As Race42012.com’s Mark Lowe pointed out yesterday:
2010 is shaping up to be a banner year for Republicans. The American people are learning once again that when you scratch a Democrat, you will nearly always find a good old-fashioned tax-and-spend liberal. Spending is up and going higher. Deficits are up and going higher. Taxes are up and going higher. So you would think that now would be a great time for Republicans to drive home the point that we are the fiscal conservatives. Right?
Apparently the Republican Senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby, didn’t get the memo. He has placed a hold on all of Obama’s nominees in the Senate. Not one, not a couple, not a few, but ALL of them. The latest count is somewhere around 70.
And the reason for this massive gum-up the works? Does he doubt their qualifications? No. Does he have a problem with their records? No. Is he concerned with their attitudes, ideology, and/or approach to their prospective jobs? No. Well, if not any of those, then what?
I’ll end with another critique of a Republican, namely Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell apparently supported Shelby’s hold on nominees on the Senate floor. (H/T to Daily Kos.) His office also declined to comment on the matter, deflecting questions to Shelby’s office.
Why is the Senate Minority Leader letting Shelby get away with this? Doesn’t he realize it is reviving what was until yesterday a very despondent, turning-on-itself Democratic Party and liberal movement? As such, I support this Daily Kos poster’s call-out to Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) to tear Shelby a new one and punish him and those GOP members who will not give Shelby a political and/or verbal round-kick to the head.
All in all, it was a very bad day for the fiscally conservative, right-of-center crowd, and a very reinvigorating day for the liberals formerly known as despondent.
Dustin is a political commentator who contributes to www.race42012.com and is the editor-in-chief for www.thelobbyist.net. He is a former intern with The Heritage Foundation, the former Assistant Director of Communications for a health care trade association, and is currently an intern for The Laura Ingraham Show