Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tea Party: Don't cut Medicare!

"Keep your government hands off my Medicare!"
Bad news, Paul Ryan!  A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds that 70% of people who identify themselves as part of the Tea Party oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.  That puts them in line with 80% of registered voters nationwide.

Representative Ryan (R-WI) has only just submitted a revolutionary new budget, passed last week by Republicans in the House of Representatives, calling for the phase out of Medicare for people under 55 and replacing Medicaid with block grants.

When Ryan released his budget, so-called fiscal conservatives hailed it as "serious and detailed" (Senator Mitch McConnell).  But as the details of the budget got more scrutiny, Republicans got a little more cautious.

Check this quote from Rep. Steve Chabot (R., Ohio), who returned to Congress in January after losing his seat in 2008:  “We are still studying [the Ryan budget], what the implications might be for the budget.  I’m not ready to announce a position. I’m sure there are parts of it that we agree with — probably the vast majority of it — but there may be some things we have problems with. We need more time.”

Or this, from Rep. Jon Runyan (R., N.J.). “It’s something we are digging through slowly,” he says. “I’m not prepared to make a statement on that.”

Nonetheless, Republicans did vote to pass the budget, knowing that Senate Democrats and President Obama have already vowed to defeat it.  In that light, it was a relatively safe vote.  But this poll must surely be troubling.

Tea Party people, for all their supposed desire for what they call "fiscal responsibility," probably never imagined that budget cuts might affect them personally.  And note that Ryan, in typical Republican fashion, included a ploy to divide opposition to his bill by exempting people 55 and older.  (Remember how Governor Scott Walker tried to split police and firefighter unions from public employees in the Wisconsin fight?)  Now, as the potential consequences of extending Bush tax cuts to the top incomes become apparent, Tea Party people are falling into confusion.

One can almost hear their plaintive cries:  "But Paul Ryan is one of us! He wouldn't screw us over like that, would he?"  Surprise, Tea Party people!  The GOP is not concerned with your well-being or your interests.  It views you as a resource.  The GOP has only one true constituency

If these poll results don't cause Republicans to squirm they are either

a) confident in their ability to confuse and mislead the Tea Party people into supporting their regressive plan;


b) hellbent on destroying themselves.

At this point, I'm willing to believe either.

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