March 11, 2013

We’re still waiting for a full rollout of House Budget Chair Paul Ryan’s Republican budget, but there’s confirmation now that it will once again rely heavily on retaining the Medicare cuts passed in the Affordable Care Act (even as Ryan’s budget repeals the rest of the law).

Others have noted the hypocrisy at work here. But everyone is under-appreciating just how outrageous this is. For the second time in a row, Paul Ryan and the Republicans have run a national election campaign (the 2012 presidential election) in which the main theme was bashing the Democrats … for a policy which Republicans support — and indeed are making a key part of the most important policy blueprint that they will roll out this year.

This is no garden-variety flip-flop. It’s a fundamental decision to govern one way and campaign the exact opposite way.

This is one of those cases where it’s so audacious that reporters just don’t want to believe it. Sure, they’ll note that Republicans hit Obamacare on “death panels” or “government takeover” because those were clearly lies, and because they were the kind of smears that are consistent with conservative ideological rhetoric. But they didn’t advertise in 2010 on death panels, at least not all that much; they ran ads, again and again, attacking Democratic candidates for supporting those Medicare cuts.

The same Medicare cuts which they then turned around and supported in 2011 and 2012. And, after a brief break to run another campaign attacking those Medicare cuts, Ryan and House Republicans will turn around and once again support those cuts.

I really can’t think of any comparably dishonest episode in recent American political history. To base not one but two campaigns on attacking the other party for a policy which, between elections, they support…it’s well beyond chutzpah. Oh, and that’s without even beginning to reckon with the fact that the House GOP’s larger Medicare plans call for much bigger long-term cuts than Obamacare made.

It’s very simple: every story about the Ryan budget should highlight the breathtaking dishonesty on display here. It’s a major story in American politics over the last four years, and anyone reporting on the budget should do whatever it takes to make it clear exactly what’s going on.

Is there any doubt that Republicans will run in the 2014 elections by attacking Democrats for … cutting Medicare?