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I just don’t understand why Ron Wyden thought working with Paul Ryan would be a good idea. I like Wyden generally, and he is a real liberal and progressive, but there’s just no working with a guy who says stuff like this:

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) took direct aim at President Barack Obama in a speech Wednesday morning, accusing him of “preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment” as he travels the country to sell his jobs plan.

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Ryan said Obama’s method of rallying public support for his $447 billion jobs package was “sowing social unrest and class resentment” and could be “just as damaging as his misguided policies.”

“Instead of working together where we agree, the president has opted for divisive rhetoric and the broken politics of the past,” Ryan said…. Ryan accused Obama of using “class-based rhetoric” in his re-election campaign. Obama’s tactics, he said, make “America weaker, not stronger.”

“Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were the hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy, and resentment,” Ryan said. [...]

Indeed, in almost every sense, Ryan says, Obama has been “fundamentally un-presidential” throughout the summer, “dragging his feet, failing to address the looming debt crisis — which he knows is coming — because he remains committed to his ideology.”

“This is, unfortunately, the way he operates,” Ryan says. “This is his pattern of behavior, this is his personality. For the next 18 months, it will probably be like this. It’ll be in-your-face class warfare, with bitter appeals to envy, fear, and anxiety, plus the demonization of the other side’s motives.”

There are criticisms to be made of Obama, but this is just paranoid raving that goes far beyond the norm. Yes, the Paul Ryan who objected to President Obama’s dastardly plans of…traveling around the country and talking to voters as the practical equivalent of the Bolshevik Revolution is definitely the person to work with here. What a dope. Why, Wyden? Why legitimize a toxic person like this?

I can always depend upon Jon Chait to put it into context:

What Ryan gets is pretty obvious. He has found a way to protect Mitt Romney. Ryan is the author of a radical House budget that, among other things, would transform Medicare into private vouchers, and ratchet down their value over time to the point where they covered a small fraction of the cost of health insurance. It’s wildly unpopular. Unfortunately for Republicans, Mitt Romney found himself in the position last week of embracing Ryan’s deadly unpopular plan, to the glee of Democrats. (Why did Romney do this? Because he needed a line of attack on Newt Gingrich, who had assailed Ryan’s idea as “right-wing social engineering.”) [...]

So, yes, from an intellectual standpoint, Wyden is winning powerful concessions from Ryan. But is that really worth anything? Ryan can simply continue to pursue his campaign for less government everywhere. If he can turn single-payer for the elderly into subsidized private insurance, he will. If he can turn subsidized private insurance for the nonelderly into you’re-on-you’re-own, he’ll do that, too. If at some future point, Ryan needs to argue that regulated, subsidized private insurance exchanges are an unconstitutional monstrosity in order to advance that argument, and somebody points out that he once endorsed a plan just like that for Medicare, is that going to stop him?

Ryan–Wyden, if properly designed, is not a horrible idea, and denunciations by the Obama administration and leading Democrats are way over the top. It’s the sort of compromise you could live with if you got something for it – say, the GOP abandoning its crazed revenge campaign to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. But it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Ryan’s plan here is to help Romney get elected and then pass the Ryan plan. And then poor Ron Wyden can issue a press release expressing his disappointment that his friend Ryan couldn’t work together with him in a bipartisan fashion.

Finally, somewhere for my liberal anger to go that isn’t Republicans or Obama! But this is related in kind to Obama’s failures this year. Obama and Wyden are both policy wonks. That affects how they see things and how they act. When Republicans demanded unprecedented concessions in exchange for raising the debt limit, Obama’s response wasn’t indignant fury that Congress was enacting a power grab and denying him what presidents have gotten with no fuss for over a century. Instead he figured, hey, we both want a deal, let’s just do this! The deal is what excited Obama, not the politics. Similarly, Wyden is committed to creating a healthcare system that is basically the individual market in the Affordable Care Act, but for everyone. That was the big idea of Wyden-Bennett, his old plan. How he got involved with Paul Ryan I do not know. But it’s the same basic mistake: Wyden is excited about the possibilities of policy without necessarily thinking through the politics. Wyden-Bennett was pie in the sky because the biggest obstacle to universal healthcare is that people don’t want to lose what they have. W-B ensured they would. Wyden-Ryan might be worth discussion if Wyden were partnering with literally any other Republican in Congress. That the hackish and deceptive Ryan is the partner is a big clue. Might as well work with Glenn Beck. At least he’s honest about his delusions.

John Cole is right. Being a Democrat is just the worst.

  1. Metavirus says:

    what does a democratic legislator see in the mirror? his own worst enemy.

    this has got to be one of the worst domestic policy ploys in a scope of years. bad on substance, bad on politics, bad on everything. sad that the worst move before this was republicans all voting to back ryan’s plan to kill medicare. now, wyden gives them cover. BRILLIANT.

    • Lev says:

      What kills me is that their plan doesn’t even cut the deficit. It’s an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s like Wyden woke up one morning and said, hey, how can I kill Medicare? Let’s call Paul Ryan!

      BTW, did you notice that we got a citation from Chait this morning, on a recent Ron Paul post?

      • Metavirus says:

        exactly! why would you simultaneously give cover to the most radical plan to come out of the republican caucus in years, while also doing absolutely nothing to impact the deficit? all while aiming to fuck over seniors in the future?

        and this from a guy (wyden) who made his whole reputation as a senior’s advocate before he got elected!!??

        While teaching gerontology at several Oregon universities, Wyden founded the Oregon chapter of the Gray Panthers; he led that organization from 1974 to 1980. Wyden is also the former director of the Oregon Legal Services Center for Elderly, a nonprofit law service.

        i just saw the chait link. yay!

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