The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Insiders: Paul Ryan is young enough to make the same mistake twice

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Ed Rogers says that Rep. Paul Ryan is the man to watch. He is a good one to watch, all right, but not because he will be successful. Rather, he should be studied for a lesson in how the GOP isn’t learning its lessons properly.

President Obama chose Ryan of all House members last week to have lunch with. I think the president admires Ryan’s seriousness of purpose. I think he sees some of himself in him for the lack of self-consciousness, the willingness to take a stand among elders in the party and the determination to have an impact on policy.

But it is also clear that Obama is just reeling Ryan in for the game. By paying so much attention to Ryan, we are once again reminded of just how miserably unpopular the policies of this budget chairman are with the American people and how soundly they have been rejected. Now Ryan is renewing his push — not with a changed perspective based on six months of criss-crossing the country — but with the same policies that have already been rejected by the voters.

The economy is moving again. The Dow is showing record growth and CEO pay is at an all-time high. The private sector is hiring at a more clipped pace than it has in six years. Interest rates remain low and capital investment is increasing. In fact the only drag on unemployment figures are the continuing losses of public sector jobs, important middle class jobs such as teachers and park rangers and postal workers.

So where will the budget committee chairman’s new/old proposal slash the most spending and hurt the most people? Whether it is proposals to deprive hard-working, taxpaying Americans of their retirement benefits, cuts in education assistance, child care health-care services or eliminating banking regulations that protect poor consumers, the Ryan budget is a literal assault on the middle class. The very poor fare even worse as the budget reduces Medicaid and food stamps.

Oh, and the most salient point? The congressman does all this slashing and burning of the poor and middle class while offering the wealthy another tax cut.

Yes, this is the strategy that failed Mitt Romney and Ryan in November. 2012 voters rejected the policies that divide the rich against the poor and balance the federal budget on the backs of those most vulnerable. It would be easy to gloat and predict that repeating the same mistakes will result in similarly unsuccessful electoral outcomes. But if there is a chance that Ryan is successful this time, the benefit of politics is nowhere near worth the price to the poor it will cost.