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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Ryan Effect

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If Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan can help to lose a congressional election in an overwhelmingly Republican district in New York, is there any reason to believe Ryan couldn't lose a few congressional seats in Wisconsin, including his own?

The Wisconsin media's continued insistence that the Janesville congressman is still some kind of shining star in Republican national politics is a wonder to behold.

Incredibly, the Ryan swoon persists even as Democrats across the nation rejoice about their election prospects in 2012 as a result of the widespread public rejection of Ryan's mean-spirited budget proposal to destroy Medicare.

The most recent hard evidence came when Democrat Kathy Hochul won the rock-solid Republican congressional district in the New York suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester, which had been held for four decades by conservative Republicans.

The election was openly fought over Ryan's proposal to replace the popular Medicare program with a voucher system that would ultimately force the elderly to pay two-thirds of the cost of their own health care.

In the same edition in which it was reporting the devastating defeat for Ryan and the Republicans in New York, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a gushing article by right-wing columnist Jonah Goldberg headlined: “Run, Ryan, Run.” It urged Ryan to seek the presidency and was accompanied by a full-color Tiger Beat pinup, the better to look into Ryan's baby-blue eyes.

The reason why Ryan will not run for president is the same reason he quickly announced he would not run for the job he had previously geared his every political move toward seeking, the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl.

Ryan on a national or statewide ticket in 2012 would be toxic for Republicans.

Paul Ryan Exposed

Ryan is over, having been exposed as the nasty, right-wing extremist he is. When he became House budget chairman, Ryan's radical ideas were no longer simply his own dark vision for America. They were instantly transformed into an ugly, new Republican agenda.

Media pundits were taken in by Ryan far longer than they should have been. Some still haven't caught on.

You can still read national columnists—and not just right-wing propagandists such as Goldberg—who write about Ryan's “courage” and “bold ideas” for trying to reform social entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

There is nothing bold or courageous about Republicans trying to destroy Social Security and Medicare. It is simply their nature. Republicans have steadfastly opposed those programs ever since they were created.

Republicans simply don't believe in government programs to assure guaranteed income and health care for every American in their old age. Those luxuries are for the wealthy to enjoy. And the wealthy don't appreciate their taxes going to provide it for everyone else.

Why were so many in the media hoodwinked by Ryan? Don't underestimate the media's susceptibility to superficiality. Ryan seems like such a nice, young man.

First, you have to consider that most Republican leaders are extremely sour toads. Standing next to the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker John Boehner, Ryan looks like Prince Charming.

But Ryan is that too-good-to-be-true first date. The problem is the closer you examine Ryan's proposals, the uglier he looks. All of that boyish, biting-lip sincerity falls away to reveal an unattractive streak of open contempt for anyone but the very wealthy who expects anything from their government.

Any notion Ryan might be a nice guy is dispelled completely when the Prince of Darkness himself, former Vice President Dick Cheney, says: “I worship the ground that Paul Ryan walks on.”

Ryan's not an honest man, either. Ryan justifies devastating cuts to health care for seniors, the poor and the disabled as absolutely necessary to reduce an unsustainable federal deficit.

Yet, Ryan's cuts don't do anything to reduce the federal deficit. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says Ryan's radical budget plan actually will increase the federal deficit by more than $8 trillion over 10 years.

That's because Ryan redirects the trillions cut from Medicare and other programs people need into even more enormous tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, the only Americans Ryan really cares about.

In elections all across the country next year, just as in New York, Republicans will have to try to explain away their continued support for Ryan's proposal to destroy Medicare.

So why not in Wisconsin? Two first-term Republican congressmen, Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble, voted in lockstep for Ryan's destruction of Medicare. Voters should demand they answer for it.

And Ryan himself has a serious challenger, Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban, who is launching his campaign with a petition to preserve Medicare at the pointed website handsoffmygrandma.com.

Ryan has become an important national figure, all right. He's the best campaign ad Democrats have for regaining control of the House of Representatives.