PERHAPS Rep. Paul Ryan saw the AP poll blaming Republicans for the shutdown. His op-ed in the Wall Street Journal lays out a plan to “end this stalemate” that has President Obama’s poll numbers plummeting with everyone else in Washington, but makes no mention of Obamacare.
An excerpt of Paul Ryan’s plan to “end this statement”:
The two political parties have worked together on entitlements before. In 1982, Social Security’s trustees warned Congress that the program would go bankrupt within a year. If it had, seniors would have seen an immediate cut in their benefits. Instead, Congress passed a package of reforms—the most important of which was an increase in the retirement age. Because Congress phased in this reform over time, there were no budget savings in the first five years. But through 2012, the savings were $100 billion. In the next 75 years, Social Security’s actuaries expect that these reforms will save $4.6 trillion.
[...] Reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code will spur economic growth—another goal that both parties share. The CBO says stable or declining levels of federal debt would help the economy. In addition, “federal interest payments would be smaller, policy makers would have greater leeway . . . to respond to any economic downturns . . . and the risk of a sudden fiscal crisis would be much smaller.”
This isn’t a grand bargain. For that, we need a complete rethinking of government’s approach to helping the most vulnerable, and a complete rethinking of government’s approach to health care. But right now, we need to find common ground. …
“Rethinking of government’s approach to health care” acknowledges that Obamacare is the law. That’s a very big problem for Tea Party cranks. It is, however, a step forward for the Republican Party itself.
John Podhoretz’s name was said in vain today by Rush Limbaugh for writing from the reality based center of what is now Republican exile. From “Suicide of the Right”:
But Republicans look considerably worse. And for the Right, the Republican Party is the only game in town.
This is what my fellow conservatives who are acting as the enablers for irresponsible GOP politicians seem not to understand. They like this fight, because they think they’re helping to hold the line on ObamaCare and government spending. They think that they’re supported by a vast silent majority of Americans who dislike what they dislike and want what they want.
From David Frum, who delineates what mistakes cause political parties to become “ineffective,” the path to failure, not to mention the inability to win national elections. This particular mistake deserves to be at the top of the list:
Habit 4: Collapse of leadership.
The Republicans have always been the more disciplined of America’s two political parities, and today they still are. But whereas before, discipline used to flow from elected leadership down, today it flows from factional leadership up. An aide to Sen. Mike Lee told the National Review: “The minority of the minority is going to run things until our leadership gets some backbone.” The Lee aide was specifically referring to the Republican minority in the Senate, but the language has broader implication. According to Robert Costa, a well-sourced reporter at NRO: “What we’re seeing is the collapse of institutional Republican power … The outside groups don’t always move votes directly but they create an atmosphere of fear among the members [of Congress].” Large organizations are inherently vulnerable to capture by tightly organized militant tendencies. This is how a great political party was impelled to base a presidential campaign on the Ryan plan—a plan that has now replaced the 1983 manifesto of the British Labour Party as “the longest suicide note in history.” It’s the job of leadership to remember, in the words of Edmund Burke, “Because half-a-dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.” That job is tragically going undone in today’s GOP.
Conservatives and Tea Party cranks don’t like it, but Rep. Paul Ryan has attempted to show leadership in today’s Wall Street Journal. He is offering what David Frum writes is missing. Because of his conservative cred, he also offers a life line to House Republicans who know that the current course is set for collision.
If Republicans were smart they’d grab it, but they’re not these days, preferring to court the crazies who follow Limbaugh and Hannity, the right-wing ideological extremists who own the shutdown and have further demolished the Republican brand.