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Subject: The Ryan Budget rss

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Chad Ellis
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The House recently passed Paul Ryan's budget. Speaker Boehner has indicated that (just like Obama's proposal) this can be viewed as a campaign platform as much as an actual budget; the GOP intends to appeal to voters with this plan as their blueprint of how to move the country forward.

It's the political aspect of this that I find particularly interesting as the Ryan budget looks to me like a terrible document from a political standpoint. I think if you're going to go after political lightning rods like Medicare you have to be very careful about how you do it and you have to have a clear, positive, counter-message against the attacks.

Ryan has laid out his countermeasure (tip of the hat to Drew for showing us Ryan's promo video recently): we've got a huge debt crisis fueled by unsustainable budgets. He put it very well -- the recent economic crisis was terrible but at least it took us by surprise. How much worse would it be if we'd known it was coming and did nothing? The debt crisis is a foreseeable crisis so we have to start making tough choices now.

But politically the Ryan budget seems to throw this out the window for two reasons. First, it includes massive tax cuts for high-income Americans. That's a tough sell at best in a budget that claims to be about reducing the deficit. Second, it depends on raising around $700 billion a year by closing tax loopholes but neither the budget nor Ryan's manifesto in its support specifies a single loophole that will actually be closed.

So what will the GOP do when they are accused of putting forward a budget that makes the deficit worse, slashes social spending and cuts taxes on the wealthiest Americans? How do you sell this?
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Rich Shipley
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
So what will the GOP do when they are accused of putting forward a budget that makes the deficit worse, slashes social spending and cuts taxes on the wealthiest Americans? How do you sell this?


They'll just deny it and no one except their opponents will challenge them on it.
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You sell it by ignoring the ways that it will hurt "your" voters and play it like a tough parent who is cutting the "other" kids' allowances during hard times. There are three problems.

First, the weighted tax cuts make the problem worse and force even larger spending cuts. The Republicans will counter this with the usual argument that targeted tax cuts will increase jobs and revenue in the long run as money is returned to the "productive" sector.

Second, the "hard times" argument could lead to a backlash later as voters expect spending patterns to return to a more "normal" distribution. This has nothing to do with the upcoming elections and can be ignored in 2012.

Third, voters aren't kids with allowances. They are the people paying the taxes that support "mommy and daddy's" government. This doesn't need to be countered at all as long as everyone gets some kind of tax cut. If the wealthy get more, see Number One above.

It can be sold. We'll all have a massive case of buyer's remorse later when the jobs and revenue don't materialize and the social safety net has been shredded beyond repair, leaving most of us with nothing more than an extra $100 or $300 every April 15, but it can be sold.

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Chad Ellis
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rshipley wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
So what will the GOP do when they are accused of putting forward a budget that makes the deficit worse, slashes social spending and cuts taxes on the wealthiest Americans? How do you sell this?


They'll just deny it and no one except their opponents will challenge them on it.


To some extent that's each major party in every election -- downplay/deny the unpopular aspects of your policy. But the GOP seems to have created a pretty easy target here. The cuts are big and the rationale is, "We can't afford it anymore." That rationale is then undercut by combining the spending cuts with big new tax cuts that turn the budget into a deficit worsener on a net basis. The "we have to be responsible" mantra is similarly undercut by having the budget depend on "closing loopholes" without providing a single "for instance".
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One thing that benefits the Republicans is that they're not dealing with a free marketplace of ideas. There are only two alternatives. If they can paint the Democrats as "out of touch" and "more of the same" and keep the discussion on that then they can win without having to discus their plan in more than generalities.


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Dave G
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
rshipley wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
So what will the GOP do when they are accused of putting forward a budget that makes the deficit worse, slashes social spending and cuts taxes on the wealthiest Americans? How do you sell this?


They'll just deny it and no one except their opponents will challenge them on it.


To some extent that's each major party in every election -- downplay/deny the unpopular aspects of your policy. But the GOP seems to have created a pretty easy target here. The cuts are big and the rationale is, "We can't afford it anymore." That rationale is then undercut by combining the spending cuts with big new tax cuts that turn the budget into a deficit worsener on a net basis. The "we have to be responsible" mantra is similarly undercut by having the budget depend on "closing loopholes" without providing a single "for instance".


What makes you think the voting public will care about things like specific loopholes? Sure, here you're talking to a mostly open-minded and interested audience that cares quite a bit about politics and policy and likes discussing ideas, but the folks casting ballots aren't interested. Many don't understand policy, many more than that couldn't care less, and the only part of this that will resonate with voter will be the narrative and spin from the big parties. People who were going to vote GOP anyway will pound a big swallow of Bud Light and say "our side made a budget, Nobama didn't! USA! USA! USA!" People who were going to vote Democrat anyway will push up their glasses and sniff derisively "Well, Obama couldn't do anything with such an intransigent and obstructionist congress, and the Ryan budget is all smoke and mirrors." And no one will change their mind about any of it.
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Chad Ellis
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Even if you're right about the majority of voters, elections are won by persuading swing voters, not the "Nobama sucks" or "Well, the GOP is really just a parade of GW Bush's, each of which adopts the same scurrilous policies of the past and clearly lacks our subtle understanding of agency and the expanding nature of the moral zeitgeist that must prevail if we are to overcome global warming and non-organic foods" groups.

While swing voters are also subject to narrative that is precisely my point. The GOP has made their budget highly vulnerable to a bad narrative taking hold. "It's necessary pain" is a lot harder to sell when every time one of your talking heads says it they're asked why it's necessary to cut tax rates for the wealthiest. "We have to cut the deficit" is harder to stick to when the follow-up is, "But your budget increases the deficit, according to various non-partisan analyses."

If the Republicans wanted to cut spending aggressively then I think they needed to do it in a way that sent a very clear message: "We're doing this because it has to be done. Our budget deficit is an existential threat to our country and we can't keep spending money on this generation and putting it on our children's credit cards." If they'd eschewed the tax cuts (at least those targeted for high-income Americans) and thus achieved a balanced budget or budget surplus they would have had a real story to tell.
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Dave G
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
Even if you're right about the majority of voters, elections are won by persuading swing voters, not the "Nobama sucks" or "Well, the GOP is really just a parade of GW Bush's, each of which adopts the same scurrilous policies of the past and clearly lacks our subtle understanding of agency and the expanding nature of the moral zeitgeist that must prevail if we are to overcome global warming and non-organic foods" groups.

While swing voters are also subject to narrative that is precisely my point. The GOP has made their budget highly vulnerable to a bad narrative taking hold. "It's necessary pain" is a lot harder to sell when every time one of your talking heads says it they're asked why it's necessary to cut tax rates for the wealthiest. "We have to cut the deficit" is harder to stick to when the follow-up is, "But your budget increases the deficit, according to various non-partisan analyses."

If the Republicans wanted to cut spending aggressively then I think they needed to do it in a way that sent a very clear message: "We're doing this because it has to be done. Our budget deficit is an existential threat to our country and we can't keep spending money on this generation and putting it on our children's credit cards." If they'd eschewed the tax cuts (at least those targeted for high-income Americans) and thus achieved a balanced budget or budget surplus they would have had a real story to tell.


I believe swing voters are possibly the greatest myth of American politics. Not that there aren't people who haven't made up their minds, but that those people are somehow more engaged, more interested, and more educated about the issues than the other voters. Who do you think will know more about the Ryan budget come election day--you, or Great Aunt Mildred who always votes for the candidate "who looks like he'd be the nicest neighbor?"

The swing voters won't care if the talking heads can't answer those questions unless it's such an utter debacle that even the USA Today version sounds like a loss for the GOP. I think in real life, outside the closed circle of political talking heads and pundits and bloggers, the swing voters are mostly undecided because they really don't give a flying fuck about politics. They (perhaps correctly) don't believe that either party is really going to do much of anything that changes their every day lives. They (perhaps even more correctly) don't really believe that there's much difference between the parties in the grand scheme of things. They aren't engaged with the detailed political narrative, they're oblivious to it.

At the end of the day, those people will go to the polls and cast a vote only on the most vague conceptions of the candidates. The narrative won't be "the Ryan budget has unsupportable tax cuts for the rich and no specific plan to deal with problems in the tax code." The narrative will be "The Republicans want to cut taxes." Doesn't matter who will benefit. Doesn't matter what it costs. Doesn't even matter whether it happens or not.
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Chad Ellis
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
I believe swing voters are possibly the greatest myth of American politics. Not that there aren't people who haven't made up their minds, but that those people are somehow more engaged, more interested, and more educated about the issues than the other voters. Who do you think will know more about the Ryan budget come election day--you, or Great Aunt Mildred who always votes for the candidate "who looks like he'd be the nicest neighbor?"


We seem to be talking past each other. I'm not asserting that swing voters are really well-informed. If they were, then "dominant narrative" wouldn't be so important. These are precisely the people who got turned off Gore in part because they kept hearing that he was dishonest -- it didn't matter that his lies tended actually to be true.
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Dave G
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
I believe swing voters are possibly the greatest myth of American politics. Not that there aren't people who haven't made up their minds, but that those people are somehow more engaged, more interested, and more educated about the issues than the other voters. Who do you think will know more about the Ryan budget come election day--you, or Great Aunt Mildred who always votes for the candidate "who looks like he'd be the nicest neighbor?"


We seem to be talking past each other. I'm not asserting that swing voters are really well-informed. If they were, then "dominant narrative" wouldn't be so important. These are precisely the people who got turned off Gore in part because they kept hearing that he was dishonest -- it didn't matter that his lies tended actually to be true.


No, we're not, I'm just being unclear. Sorry. We agree about only the high-concept narrative getting through to those voters, I think the disagreement is on how those disinterested voters will perceive the budget conversation. Your original point was that the budget can't be defended on its merits with anything like a rational argument. I'm contending that it doesn't matter. The fact that it's a budget and there are tax cuts is sufficient for the undecided voters out there.
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
I believe swing voters are possibly the greatest myth of American politics. Not that there aren't people who haven't made up their minds, but that those people are somehow more engaged, more interested, and more educated about the issues than the other voters. Who do you think will know more about the Ryan budget come election day--you, or Great Aunt Mildred who always votes for the candidate "who looks like he'd be the nicest neighbor?"


We seem to be talking past each other. I'm not asserting that swing voters are really well-informed. If they were, then "dominant narrative" wouldn't be so important. These are precisely the people who got turned off Gore in part because they kept hearing that he was dishonest -- it didn't matter that his lies tended actually to be true.


No, we're not, I'm just being unclear. Sorry. We agree about only the high-concept narrative getting through to those voters, I think the disagreement is on how those disinterested voters will perceive the budget conversation. Your original point was that the budget can't be defended on its merits with anything like a rational argument. I'm contending that it doesn't matter. The fact that it's a budget and there are tax cuts is sufficient for the undecided voters out there.


There are too many people that do this...

(in my best Frankenstein voice)

"Taxes...bad... taxes...bad..."

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David C
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Here's what I think of Paul Ryan:

People with dark black hair and light blue eyes scare the hell out of me.

If you look really closely at the little baby in my profile, you'll see blue eyes, and as of now, his hair is starting to darken-up pretty good.
 
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Chad Ellis
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
I believe swing voters are possibly the greatest myth of American politics. Not that there aren't people who haven't made up their minds, but that those people are somehow more engaged, more interested, and more educated about the issues than the other voters. Who do you think will know more about the Ryan budget come election day--you, or Great Aunt Mildred who always votes for the candidate "who looks like he'd be the nicest neighbor?"


We seem to be talking past each other. I'm not asserting that swing voters are really well-informed. If they were, then "dominant narrative" wouldn't be so important. These are precisely the people who got turned off Gore in part because they kept hearing that he was dishonest -- it didn't matter that his lies tended actually to be true.


No, we're not, I'm just being unclear. Sorry. We agree about only the high-concept narrative getting through to those voters, I think the disagreement is on how those disinterested voters will perceive the budget conversation. Your original point was that the budget can't be defended on its merits with anything like a rational argument. I'm contending that it doesn't matter. The fact that it's a budget and there are tax cuts is sufficient for the undecided voters out there.


OK. My perception is that how quickly a narrative stumbles (i.e. how easy it is to poke holes in it) matters because it affects what people who aren't doing serious homework hear. The Ryan Budget could have been widely reported as, "Republicans are going to bring the deficit under control and put us on a responsible path." Now it's much more likely to be, "Republicans want to cut spending on the poor and cut taxes for the rich, and to hell with the deficit...hey, it worked out so well under Bush!"
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
OK. My perception is that how quickly a narrative stumbles (i.e. how easy it is to poke holes in it) matters because it affects what people who aren't doing serious homework hear. The Ryan Budget could have been widely reported as, "Republicans are going to bring the deficit under control and put us on a responsible path." Now it's much more likely to be, "Republicans want to cut spending on the poor and cut taxes for the rich, and to hell with the deficit...hey, it worked out so well under Bush!"


I see the Ryan budget as more an effort to keep the base motivated than anything else. With the dreadfully low approval numbers for Congress and the potential for a nominee that's either not going to motivate the base (Romney) or not appeal widely to independents (Santorum), they have to do something to remind the GOP membership that they're still the party of cutting taxes and scaling back government. Those are two things that the Ryan budget almost does.

But I don't expect it to play well for them at all when the general election rolls around if the Democrats have half a brain. Ryan's stand on defense cuts is untenable as a part of achieving those two objectives and his attempts to paint it as the administration cutting too much are already falling flat as the military leadership (by which I mean ranking officers, not the civilian leadership at DoD) step up and say "no, we agree with these cuts."

Of course, the Dems haven't exactly been on-message for, oh, forever, so I don't know that the narrative that they'll be able to spin to counter the Ryan budget or similar campaign appeals will work. If the election turns into a matter of telling a better story, then I expect the GOP to do better than expected because they've been better at messaging for about 25 years now.

What's really damaging to the GOP based on this particular budget are the recent announcements from the AARP regarding Medicare and Social Security. They've taken quite the hard line on protecting those programs and they've got a hell of a lot of pull with the demographic that votes most frequently. And that may end up being a more important narrative than anything else.
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bippi wrote:
Here's what I think of Paul Ryan:

People with dark black hair and light blue eyes scare the hell out of me.

If you look really closely at the little baby in my profile, you'll see blue eyes, and as of now, his hair is starting to darken-up pretty good.

American women prefer a man with dark hair and blue eyes.
 
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jarredscott78 wrote:
bippi wrote:
Here's what I think of Paul Ryan:

People with dark black hair and light blue eyes scare the hell out of me.

If you look really closely at the little baby in my profile, you'll see blue eyes, and as of now, his hair is starting to darken-up pretty good.

American women prefer a man with dark hair and blue eyes.

I didn't know that you have dark hair and blue eyes...or that my mom is American!
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Bobloblah wrote:
jarredscott78 wrote:
bippi wrote:
Here's what I think of Paul Ryan:

People with dark black hair and light blue eyes scare the hell out of me.

If you look really closely at the little baby in my profile, you'll see blue eyes, and as of now, his hair is starting to darken-up pretty good.

American women prefer a man with dark hair and blue eyes.

I didn't know that you have dark hair and blue eyes...or that my mom is American!

I have dark hair and green eyes. She said it's close enough for government work, whatever that means.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
The House recently passed Paul Ryan's budget. Speaker Boehner has indicated that (just like Obama's proposal) this can be viewed as a campaign platform as much as an actual budget; the GOP intends to appeal to voters with this plan as their blueprint of how to move the country forward.

It's the political aspect of this that I find particularly interesting as the Ryan budget looks to me like a terrible document from a political standpoint. I think if you're going to go after political lightning rods like Medicare you have to be very careful about how you do it and you have to have a clear, positive, counter-message against the attacks.



Its a very, very good document indeed if your goal is to get more like minded people in the House. The Ryan budget will serve to distance RINO's from 'real' Republicans in the primaries, and it will go over like GANGBUSTERS in the Red Meat districts across the country.

A hyper-partisan plan can be a very effective political tool- especially given that its designed to help (primarily) Republican members of the House. I think its going to be very effective in acting like a lightning rod to stimulate the GOP base, get them to support GOP candidates in the few districts that are up for grabs, further polarize the Party and make it more ideologically coherent, and get a lot of donations.

With House districts so incredibly gerrymandered across the nation, this move makes very good sense. It will probably work, too- the House Republicans might lose some seats, but they're going to be much more united.

Darilian
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Any how many votes did the president's budget get?

Zero.

Even Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is anti-Obama.
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sikeospi wrote:
Any how many votes did the president's budget get?


Except they didn't actually vote on his budget. They voted on a ludicrous bill that said "We'll spend this amount of money and nothing else."

Now if they'd actually included things like the appropriations for silly things like departments, maybe there would have been a point to the bill in the first place. But outside of stupid propaganda, that bill shouldn't have hit the floor - it wasn't a budget, it didn't include anything that made it resemble a budget, and nobody should have voted for it.
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Rich Shipley
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sikeospi wrote:
Any how many votes did the president's budget get?

Zero.

Even Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is anti-Obama.


It was a political stunt, not a budget vote. It was designed to create a result you could post on the internet. Congratulations for being a Republican drone!
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
So what will the GOP do when they are accused of putting forward a budget that makes the deficit worse, slashes social spending and cuts taxes on the wealthiest Americans? How do you sell this?

Ryan also puts in more for Defense than the Generals requested because he says they lied about what they really need?!

Romney loves this budget, yet Romney says he's not concerned about the very poor because they have safety nets in place. This budget shreds those safety nets. Romney says if the safety nets aren't working he would shore them up, but by supporting this budget he is doing the opposite. He can't have it both ways.
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jmilum wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
So what will the GOP do when they are accused of putting forward a budget that makes the deficit worse, slashes social spending and cuts taxes on the wealthiest Americans? How do you sell this?

Ryan also puts in more for Defense than the Generals requested because he says they lied about what they really need?!

Romney loves this budget, yet Romney says he's not concerned about the very poor because they have safety nets in place. This budget shreds those safety nets. Romney says if the safety nets aren't working he would shore them up, but by supporting this budget he is doing the opposite. He can't have it both ways.

This is Mitt Romney you're talking about. The guy has dedicated his life to having it both ways.

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Chris R.
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Quote:
Ryan also puts in more for Defense than the Generals requested because he says they lied about what they really need?!


I don't know if that is true, but are you saying that military officers (especially politically-sensitive generals) never lie, or more likely shade the true to please to their bosses?
 
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rshipley wrote:
sikeospi wrote:
Any how many votes did the president's budget get?

Zero.

Even Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is anti-Obama.


It was a political stunt, not a budget vote.


That was the excuse last year, too.

So how do you feel about supporting a party that's all about political stunts instead of doing their jobs?
 
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