For some Republicans, their November 6 general election defeat at the hands of President Obama and the Democrats served as a teaching moment, a chance to reassess their opposition to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and refusal to compromise with the administration.
Not so for failed vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who appears to have gleaned the opposite message to the one that voters delivered last month. In an interview with Time Magazine, Ryan signaled that he plans to embrace the most radical aspects of his original budget proposal that voters and lawmakers have already rejected:
Rather than moderating his positions after November’s election, he has returned to an earlier, hard-line version of his controversial fiscal plan, including turning the guaranteed benefits of programs like Medicare and Medicaid into limited government checks, and even revisiting big changes to Social Security. That, he believes, is the only way to end the dependency responsible for entrenched poverty in America and save the social safety net from bankruptcy. Election defeat just means those reforms have to be made one step at a time, he says. The fiscal-cliff talks are the first test of whether that post-2012 incremental strategy can fly. So far, it’s not going well.
Ryan’s radical proposals are hardly new. His march to privatize Social Security dates back to the Bush administration, and most recently resurfaced when Ryan took over the chairman’s seat on the House Budget Committee in 2011. Ryan’s original budget also sought to close the existing Medicare program and force future beneficiaries to purchase private insurance with depreciating vouchers.
Ryan’s interview with the publication took place on his way to the 2012 Jack Kemp dinner on Tuesday, where Ryan gave a speech on poverty in the United States. Lost was any sense of irony for doubling down on his budget proposals that not only disproportionately hurt the lowest-income Americans, but have now been soundly repudiated by voters in a national election.