Judging from all the scathing commentary out there this morning, the verdict is in: Paul Ryan’s budget is a blueprint for radical right-wing economic extremism and a monumental con job. This might not be a big deal if the overall vision on display here — which mirrors likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s proposals — didn’t constitute the GOP’s main offering in the grand ideological argument that will determine the future of the country.
Let’s get started with today’s absolutely brutal takedown from the Post editorial board: Ryan left his budget intentionally and dangerously vague because he knew the public would reject its draconian vision of doing away with essential government functions in order to enrich the wealthiest.
Meanwhile, the Times editoral board notes that the damage the Ryan budget would do to the safety net and the recovery underline the stark ideological contrast between the GOP vision and the Dem vision of higher taxes on the wealthy to protect vital programs and invest in our future.
Dana Milbank, who was also scathingly critical of Obama’s budget, neatly captures the way the Ryan budget dovetails with Romney’s extreme economic worldview:
Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, is on record as saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” And Ryan has just written a budget that supports Romney’s boast.
Ryan would cut $770 billion over 10 years from Medicaid and other health programs for the poor, compared with President Obama’s budget. He takes an additional $205 billion from Medicare, $1.6 trillion from the Obama health-care legislation and $1.9 trillion from a category simply labeled “other mandatory.” Pressed to explain this magic asterisk, Ryan allowed that the bulk of those “other mandatory” cuts come from food stamps, welfare, federal employee pensions and support for farmers.
Taken together, Ryan would cut spending on such programs by $5.3 trillion, much of which currently goes to the have-nots. He would then give that money to America’s haves: some $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, compared with current policies, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.
If your starting premise is that cutting taxes on the wealthy is a driving policy imperative, the money has to come from somewhere.
* Time for some Beltway soul-searching about Ryan: Paul Krugman asks:
Are people finally willing to concede that Ryan is not now and has never been remotely serious? And — I know this is probably far too much to ask — are they going to do a bit of soul-searching over how they got snookered by this obvious charlatan?
* Read of the morning: Eduardo Porter on all the ways inequality undermines social mobility, public trust in our instiutions, and faith in democracy itself..
* Romney wins Illinois, but primary will grind on: Ron Brownstein parses yesterday’s results and finds that while Romney moved closer to the nomination, the familiar demographic divide in the GOP again on display all but ensures the contest will drag on into June. Key GOP constituencies — evangelical and very conservative voters — still are struggling to come to terms with Romney as the nominee.
* Next stop: Louisiana: Chris Cillizza looks at the roadmap ahead and conlcudes that Santorum has enough likely wins in remaining states to justify continuing, and an expected win in Louisiana on Saturday will keep alive the media storyline that Romney can’t win over conservatives.
* The toll of the long primary on Romney: Ross Douthat runs through all the ways the primary has been “hard on Romney’s campaign war chest, his general-election narrative and his favorability ratings.”
Conclusion: “right now the toll of the long primary campaign looks more significant than its potential benefits.”
* Romney falling behind Obama in money race: Indeed, Romney and his Super PAC are actually losing ground in the fundraising race against the Obama team, a consequence of the fact that the pro-Romney forces have only been able to defeat weak competition with an overwhelming financial advantage, and another way the primary may be damaging him, though the right’s outside spending will be enormous.
* Lack of enthusiasm for Romney? Illinois Senator Dick Durbin: “You could draw a bigger crowd at a Green Bay Packers rally in downtown Chicago than what Mr. Romney delivered at the polls yesterday in Illinois.”
* Obama’s position on gay marriage continues to sow confusion: Chris Geidner has a nice piece detailing how any “pretense of clarity” on Obama’s position is officially gone.
* Could shifting map mean Dems can hold Senate? Politico details all the ways the “rapidly shifting political landscape, a resurgent Senate Democratic candidate slate and a bitter GOP presidential primary have complicated the once charmed outlook for Senate Republicans.”
* And the Obama derangement of the day: I’d missed this one, but Glenn Kessler takes apart Darrell Issa’s claim the other day that the Obama administration deliberately delayed its stimulus spending in order to aid his reelection.
Putting aside the absurdity of the charge, isn’t Issa basically conceding he thinks stimulus spending is effective?