Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time for Democrats to Fight

The Ryan budget plan, and particularly his proposal to destroy Medicare and Medicaid, should be a golden opportunity for Democrats. Its incredibly unpopular with the America people. Given that the Democrats were savaged when they went home during the congressional recess after Obama proposed his heath care plan you would think that the same would be happening to the Republicans.

There are some Republicans who are hearing from unhappy constituents, including Ryan, but it is not clear whether it is significantly less than what we saw in response to health care reform or just less covered by the media. In either case the Democrats need to do more to get back in the game and get the rank and file energized. The question is whether the President will let them. His recent budget speech was, as Paul Krugman said, a step in the right direction, but not far enough, and it was only one speech. Another good step are the recent ads which, as Lovechilde noted, the Democrats have just put up. Also encouraging is Democrats continuing to go after oil company tax breaks, forcing the Republicans to defend them as gas heads for $4.50 a gallon. And Harry Reid may try to force Senate Republicans to walk the plank by making them vote on the Ryan budget. Still, it does not seem like a potent, organized response.

While there is an opportunity for Democrats to build some momentum there are several issues that are critical to success. One is that they need to take a page from the Republican's book and stay united. This means people like Dick Durban need to not talk about cutting Medicare or Social Security. It also means the Democrats need to push real alternatives like the People's Budget, not because it has a chance of passing but because it draws a real contrast between actual serious budget reduction and the reverse Robin Hood nonsense that is the Republican Plan. Pushing something like the People's Budget will also help them avoid the kind of false compromise that Robert Reich recently warned against. As Krugman said in the piece linked to above, if Obama's speech becomes the "left pole" and the result is somewhere between that and Ryan it is not a good result. To avoid that the Democrats need to up the leftward ante and learn to negotiate and to fight.


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