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Posted at 08:36 AM ET, 04/06/2011

The Morning Plum

* Ryan proposal would “repeal the 20th century,” but where is Obama? Must-read of the morning: Harold Meyerson on how the Paul Ryan proposal utilizes the cover of deficit concern to dismantle American the social contract as it’s been defined by bipartisan consensus for much of the last 100 years.

Also note Meyerson’s shot across the bow at Obama:

And, finally, there’s talk that we have a president who’s a Democrat — the party that created the American social contract of the 20th century. Initially, he focused on reshaping and extending that contract into the 21st. Now that the Republicans want to repeal it all, he’s nowhere to be found. Has anybody seen him? Does he still exist?

Kevin Drum has similar thoughts, and the left’s increasing frustration with Obama’s absenteeism is an important dynamic to watch.

My take: When it suits him, Obama has proven willing and able to take on big arguments with a level of ambition and seriousness of purpose that suits his status as one of the leading public communicators of our time. Republicans are initiating an argument over the role of government and the nature of our national social contract that demands — and provides an opening for — a big response. Will Obama deliver?

* Budget standoff shows no signs of resolution: With the talks still at an impasse, John Boehner’s aides are rejecting reports that he’s demanded $40 billion in cuts in order to avert a government shutdown, but both sides are still saying they remain billions of dollars apart in the quest for an agreement.

* Obama wary that caving on budget will alienate liberal base? Also in the above link, an encouraging explanation of the White House posture in these negotiations: “White House officials are reluctant to agree to proposals that would inflame Obama’s liberal base, especially during the same week that the president launched his reelection campaign with a direct appeal to core supporters who provided the energy for his 2008 bid.”

* Big Wisconsin race too close to call: With 99 percent of the votes counted in the nationally-watched state Supreme Court race, Justice David Prosser leads liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by fewer than 600 votes, with many observers suggesting a recount is likely.

We may not know the outcome of this race for days, but labor’s take is that the closeness of the race — dislodging a sitting justice is no easy feat — is already a victory for unions and Dems and a clear sign that the grassroots energy unleashed by the anti-union agenda of Scott Walker and Republicans is still in full force. Emails a labor strategist: “The fact this race is even competitive shows this state is fed up with their massive overreach.”

* More fallout from Walker’s overreach: Last night, Dems overwhelmingly won Walker’s old county executive seat, and as Taegan Goddard points out, the defeated Republicans specifically cited the protests at the state capitol to explain the outcome.

* More pushback against Ryan proposal: The labor-backed Americans United for Change is going up with a new ad hammering the GOP proposal to end Medicare as we know it, claimng: “The same Republicans who refuse to end tax breaks for millionaires want to put you at the mercy of the big insurance companies.”

The growing consensus on the left is that the Ryan plan’s greatest political vulnerability is that it claims to be addressing our debt “crisis” while simultaneously slashing taxes on the rich.

* Ryan’s proposal isn’t a budget: Dana Milbank on how the Ryan proposal’s failure to solve the debt crisis, even as it cuts taxes for the rich, shows that “Ryan’s proposal isn’t a budget. It’s a manifesto for the anti-tax cause.”

* Ryan’s proposal is full of fishy numbers: Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler has a great rundown on the details of Ryan’s proposal, hammering it for relying on “dubious assertions, questionable assumptions, and fishy figures.”

Also key: Ryan’s spokesman is still refusing to explain the basis for the proposal’s claim that repealing the health law would reduce the deficit by $1.4 trillion over ten years — a claim that’s at odds with the Congressional Budget Office’s determination that repeal would increase the deficit. So very serious!

* Dems hope to use 2010 GOP campaign ads against Ryan proposal: It turns out that many House GOPers are on record criticizing cuts to Medicare in multiple TV ads from the 2010 cycle, when that was the attack line of choice against the Affordable Care Act.

* Bipartisan “Gang of Six” won’t take hatchet to Medicare: It’s good to see that the Gang of Six Senators negotiating their own deficit reduction proposals are not going to flirt with the privatization of Medicare.

* Does the Beltway Dem establishment disdain the base? I’m late to this, but Rachel Maddow had a very strong segment condemning the Obama administration’s decision to reverse on a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and what it says about the Beltway Dem establishment’s attitude towards the Dem base. Key nugget:

A Democratic President kicks his base in the teeth on something as fundamental as civil liberties — he puts the nail in the coffin of a civil liberties promise he made on his first full day in office — and he does it on the first day of his re-election effort. And Beltway reaction to that is ... huh, good move. That’s the difference between Republican politics and Democratic politics.

* And how engaged will the left be in Obama’s reelection? Joan Walsh makes a point that I think we’ll be hearing more of: That for the time being, progressives are better off pouring their energy into grassroots party building and into galvanizing state and local battles like the one in Wisconsin than into Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:36 AM ET, 04/06/2011

 
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