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Right Turn
Posted at 04:44 PM ET, 04/06/2011

Seizing the high ground on the budget

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), appearing on Sean Hannity’s show last night, had this to say about the campaign of demonization, as dreary as it is predictable, that the White House and its chorus in the left blogosphere have begun:

Yes, the demagoguery is coming. The distortions are going to come… We go with the truth. We tell people the facts. We tell people the truth. And I think the American people are ready for an honest conversation about the true fiscal problems in this country. We cannot allow this demagoguery to deter us from doing what is necessary to save the country for this debt bomb that we’re having. We’ve got to get the debt under control. That means spending has to get under control. We got to get this economy growing. And that means we don’t tax the way out with this problem. We cut spending.”

That’s a textbook response: Don’t get down in the mud; dismiss the attacks and restate your purpose.

But the Democrats can’t help themselves, reinforcing at every opportunity that THEY are playing politics. Politico reports:

The reality is that Democrats with close ties to the White House believe Ryan has handed Obama a powerful political weapon for 2012 — an issue that starkly defines the GOP as a party bent on attacking the vulnerable with the potential to cause the same kind of damage as George W. Bush’s ill-fated plan to privatize Social Security.

Senior Democratic strategists told POLITICO that the Ryan plan is almost certain to be a centerpiece of their advertising and fundraising efforts.

It’s bad enough to do that; it’s just amateur hour to say it to the media.

The White House isn’t the only place practicing sloppy politics. My colleague Greg Sargent catches the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee playing the same game. But is that smart? It certainly hangs its most vulnerable members, including Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) out to dry. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Tester was praising Ryan’s budget, calling it a “good place to start.” McCaskill is probably not pleased with the attack-dog approach, because she put forward her own spending restraint plan.

And that comes to a key point: Are the Democrats going to throw away the Senate to try to reelect President Obama? The senators I’ve listed, plus others, will at some point need to cast budget votes (unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is going to refuse to pass a budget for the second year in a row). The DNC is vilifying the sorts of spending restraint measures these senators are going to have to vote for in order to survive their reelection races.

A note to the Republican senators infatuated with the balanced-budget amendment: Instead of introducing a rather empty process measure, why not introduce Ryan’s budget? Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) are already on board. Maybe with the help of the vulnerable Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) especially, it might get a majority (no filibusters on budgets). In any case, we’d sure know who the real budget-cutters are.

By  |  04:44 PM ET, 04/06/2011

 
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