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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ryan’s Budget Keeps Moderate Republicans Hiding in Shadows

There have been plenty of incisive critiques of Paul Ryan’s latest budget, but E.J. Dionne, Jr.’s WaPo column, “Paul Ryan’s Cruelly Radical Vision” captures the essential meanness of it better than most:

It is full of holes and magic asterisks, the biggest being his refusal to detail any of the middle-class tax deductions he would have to scrap to get to his 25 percent income tax rate. This would represent an astonishingly large cut from the current 39.6 percent rate for incomes of over $450,000 a year.
It’s a cruel budget. To finance his largess to the very well-off, Ryan would — through steep Medicaid cuts and the repeal of Obamacare — leave an additional 40 million to 50 million poor or moderate-income Americans without health insurance, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
He’d impose big reductions for food stamps, college tuition aid, child nutrition programs and a slew of other programs that help the least among us. Even here, Ryan doesn’t come clean. He fuzzes up exactly how such cuts might be made by lumping them together in large categories.
Those who think of themselves as compassionate conservatives have a moral obligation to oppose Ryan’s design.

Dionne describes Sen. Patti Murray’s budget as a far more serious effort for those who prefer to live in the real world, where flesh and blood working people are already struggling to get by and adds:

…Poorer Americans pay a big part of the price for Ryan’s cuts; Murray leans primarily on revenue from wealthier Americans to move closer to balance. Ryan claims to reach balance in 10 years. Murray and the Democrats rightly argue that rushing to balance is less important than keeping an eye on economic growth and job creation. So Murray includes $100 billion in her plan to support infrastructure projects and job-training programs.

Dionne notes “It takes nerve to dismiss the results of an election that Ryan himself called a “referendum” and wonders if House Republicans will “be held accountable for ignoring that verdict while putting forward something this radical and unrealistic?”
it’s a good question, make that the question of the political moment. Dionne concludes, “This is, finally, a test of those who consider themselves moderate and are seeking a sensible settlement. Will they call out Ryan and the House Republicans for how extreme their ideas are? Or will they instead adjust their own postures and timidly let Ryan dictate the terms of the debate?”
Regrettably, none of the more astute commentators are betting on the few remaining moderate Republicans coming forward from the shadows to do what is best for America.

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