by Jason Williams, Thu Apr 07, 2011 at 12:19:38 AM EDT
As both parties have fingers in the wind for a sign of who might own a potential shutdown, I can't think of anything more tone deaf than releasing, simultaneously, a budget proposal phasing out Medicare, and shifting the marginal tax rate burden further onto the middle class.
But that's just what Republicans have done. Ed Kilgore:
So TV viewers tonight are going to see Republicans ecstatic about Ryan's radical budget and Tea Partiers--despite the tips-from-the-coach offered by Bachmann--chanting for a government shutdown. Sure, most rank-and-file Republicans will see nothing wrong with this scenario, but elsewhere, the public is likely to deduce that the "savings" congressional GOPers are demanding are about something more fundamental than subsidies for Big Bird or the exact level of cuts.
Ryan's proposal got the go ahead from leadership because it was red meat for the teabaggers. I'd bet they thought, just like in Ryan's first whack at screwing the middle class via "serious proposal" a year ago, they could stir up the Randian base, and wave it off in front of saner voters as just a discussion of ideas, a pondering of options, a party searching for it's identity.
But by wasting their first few months as a governing majority with a predictable attack on NPR funding, anti-choice posturing, and training the freshmen not to sound like secessionists on CNN, they've staved off any real discussion around policy withing their own ranks. And when they finally have it, they ensure that the "budget" showdown and Rep. Paul Ryan's "budget" proposal get simultaneous headlines, and connection in the public mind as one "budget" fight.
As in: We'll shut this whole thing down -- closing your parks, furloughing public workers, and delaying tax return checks -- unless you hand over your Medicare!
This genius strategy had every Democrat within sprinting distance of a microphone or camera rushing to comment in a rare display of messaging control.
Considering the buyers' remorse already hanging over Republican governors settling in in the midwest, and most of the freshmen Republicans campaigning in 2010 on defending Medicare against Obama's health care reform, I don't see how they reel this albatross back in.
Welcome to the 2012 campaign, folks. Entertainment provided by John Boehner's House.