Stop the presses, the Republican Party had an idea! Of course it’s crazy, buttressed by at-best optimistic numbers, and sold with overwrought partisanship, but at least one member of the Republican Party appears to have thought about ideas and theory, and come up with an innovative-if-absurd solution to a serious problem, to wit, ending Medicare. Credit where it’s due: the GOP’s intellectual dry streak is over, or, as it shall surely continue, at least now punctuated by one lightbulb over the party’s collective head.
By the way, note the following interesting concession: the graphic accompanying Congressman Ryan’s op-ed, reproduced above, clearly shows Reagan ballooning the nation’s debt, Clinton slashing it, and our current peak beginning under Bush. The less said of the weird, invented parabola, the better.
Nevertheless, as the parties’ priorities and positions diverge (the GOP pulled the West Wing maneuver of watching the White House cave, then upping their demands), we must face the possibility that a government shutdown could happen, or will be inevitable by the time this post is published.
Why? Right or wrong, the Republicans seem to have convinced the electorate that government’s size can and must be cut; that they either don’t need, or shouldn’t want the government’s presence in their lives. But this is the kind of thesis that can only suffer from testing, especially under extreme circumstances. Assuming a shutdown, the summary termination of the entire public sector is the kind of blow from which the anti-government right will not recover, at least in this term, especially in light of continuing un- and under-employment. Moreover, it will drown out, or kill, Ryan’s budget proposal, which will never even see debate unless the current negotiations move back from the brink.
Unless you assign some non-zero value to reaffirming the GOP’s tea party bona fides — and I do not — House Republicans have nothing to gain, and everything to lose. Why are we this close to the brink?