Sunday, March 10, 2013

GOP Meltdown: Paul Ryan Budget Attacks GOP's Last Stronghold

With the Republican Party's base increasingly made up of angry, aging white voters, one would think that the last thing that the GOP would seek to do is attack programs that cater to this demographic.  Yet Paul "Modern Day Pharisee" Ryan's budget proposals do precisely that and could drive older voters towards the Democrats, leaving the GOP only with younger Christofascists (a diminishing breed) and younger white supremacists in the GOP base.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at this potentially suicidal policy that with luck will hasten the demise of the GOP in its current incarnation.  Here are highlights:

After years of drifting apart, the jobs report and the stock market aligned this week, at least momentarily, as unemployment fell to the lowest level in over four years while the Dow and the S&P 500 continued to climb. We’re hardly out of the woods— the workforce participation rate remains stuck in neutral, overall growth remains sluggish, and worker income is still lagging behind the stock market gains—but there are signs of hope.

Yet some things don’t change. As the sputtering economy tries to get into gear, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan keeps talking about depriving hard working-taxpaying Americans of their retirement benefits, while offering nothing in return. This is the strategy that failed Mitt Romney and Ryan in November, and that alienates not just senior citizens, but voters over 45 — one of the few groups that’s so far remained reliably right-leaning as Asians, Hispanics, upscale Episcopalians, graduate degree holders and others have abandoned the shrinking GOP tent.
If the President’s electoral playbook called for uniting the rich and poor and treating the middle class as an afterthought, the Congressman has a more direct, if less palatable, approach: he simply attacks the middle class, by trying to gut their earned entitlement programs.

Apparently, the failed vice presidential candidate has not internalized these lessons. Instead, Ryan & Co. seems to be doubling down on 2012’s failed bet, and treating working Americans as little more than moochers. A year ago, Candidate Ryan called for voucher care instead of Medicare for Americans who were then 55 and under. Now, he is pressing the idea of setting the cut-off at 56 in an effort to force more Americans off of Medicare.

Single women now rival white evangelicals as a voting bloc, and the former – which preferred Obama to Romney by a staggering two-to-one margin—is just not cottoning to the Republicans’ message on personal autonomy or anything else. With childrearing and marriage increasingly distinct and recent studies showing that the life expectancies of subgroups of women are declining regionally, even as life expectancy on the whole is rising, a call to replace a long-established safety net with faux personal responsibility is not a winning message.
Religion also has lost traction at the lower end of the income spectrum, particularly outside of the South. .  .  .  . 
The question for the Republican Party is whether it has the will to change. After losing five straight elections to FDR's New Deal Coalition, the Republicans got their act together. Will history repeat itself? One thing is for sure: Alienating your base when you need every vote that you can get is not smart politics.

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