The Washington Post

Yes, the Ryan plan lost in last week's elections

Despite the fact that both campaigns ran hard on their respective tax plans, Paul Ryan doesn’t think that this election was a referendum on his plan to reduce social spending and cut entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. “I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare,” Ryan said during an interview with WISC-TV of Madison, Wis.

Of course, Ryan sang a somewhat different tune in August, when Mitt Romney chose him as the Republican nominee for vice president. Then, he insisted that this was an argument about the fiscal future of the nation, telling audiences, “We need this debate, we want this debate, we will win this debate.” And they tried to have it, or at least, a version of it; while Romney and Ryan ran against the president’s changes to Medicare — accusing Obama of “robbing” Medicare with his $716 billion cuts to pay for Obamacare — they also presented their plan for lower taxes and spending as the ideal way to get the economy back on track.

President Obama, on the other hand, devoted his campaign to the idea that the wealthy ought to contribute more to the task of reducing the deficit and funding the country’s investments. This is the message that won; according to exit polls, 47 percent of voters said that taxes should increase on income above $250,000. Of those people, 70 percent supported President Obama. By contrast, the Romney/Ryan position — that taxes should stay at their current rates, or go lower — attracted support from 35 percent of voters.

Likewise, on Medicare, 52 percent of voters said that they trusted Barack Obama over Mitt Romney — a clear repudiation of the Romney/Ryan message that they were the most trustworthy caretakers of the program, despite the fact that their plan would end Medicare’s traditional guarantee to seniors.

All of this is to say that, Paul Ryan notwithstanding, this election was a repudiation of the Ryan plan, and with the fiscal cliff, President Obama is looking to capitalize on the victory he won.

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect, where he writes a blog.



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