Will Paul Ryan’s budget take down the GOP?

The political toxicity of his budget scared off three House Republicans. But will they pay a price anyway?

Topics: War Room,

Will Paul Ryan's budget take down the GOP?Paul Ryan (Credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The Paul Ryan-authored budget approved by the House on Thursday has zero chance of being enacted, thanks to Democratic control of the Senate and White House. But there is a 100 percent chance that it will feature prominently in Democratic campaign ads and talking points from now through the November election.

This is a potential problem for Republicans, since a major component of the plan is a radical overhaul of Medicare, one of the most popular government programs. Ryan’s budget also calls for steep tax reductions that would disproportionately benefit the affluent and would potentially cut deeply into the social safety net. Just like the Medicare voucher plan that Ryan proposed and House Republicans lined up behind last year, it is a document that Democrats are itching to run against this fall, and to which they hope to tie every Republican candidate.

Republicans, obviously, are well aware of this. Many of them don’t care. They either adamantly believe that Ryan’s plans are in the country’s best interest, or they don’t have to worry because they represent Republican-dominated constituencies (or both). Others are probably more conflicted, fearful of the ammunition they’re handing Democrats but just as scared – or more scared – of being labeled a RINO in the Obama/Tea Party-era. The ghosts of Bob Bennett and Bob Inglis haunt Republicans on Capitol Hill.

This helps explains why John Boehner, who claimed the speaker’s gavel after the 2010 elections because he was in line for it, and not because of any great affection from Tea Party conservatives, was willing to bring Ryan’s Medicare plan for a vote last year, and why just about every Republican in the House voted for it – just as nearly every House Republican voted for Ryan’s budget this week. And it helps explain why Mitt Romney, who has no choice but to appease skeptical conservatives on every litmus test issue, has been so intent on winning Ryan’s endorsement (which he finally did today) and will defend his program as the Republican nominee.



There is, though, a tiny batch of Republican lawmakers who feel that the Ryan budget is too politically toxic. The group is smaller than 10, the number of House Republicans who voted against it this week. Most of those “no” votes came from staunchly conservative members who represent deeply red districts and who apparently believe that Ryan’s budget isn’t conservative enough. For instance, Justin Amash, a freshman from a Western Michigan district who has impeccable Tea Party credentials, told his local newspaper that Ryan’s plan doesn’t cut enough spending and takes too long to balance the budget. Six of the 10 GOP “no” votes seem to fit this criteria.

That leaves four members who apparently have different concerns. One of them, Pennsylvania’s Todd Platts, who some consider the least conservative Republican in the House, is retiring this year, so general election considerations clearly weren’t on his mind. But the other three all have reason to worry about November: New York’s Chris Gibson, a freshman who (thanks to redistricting) will run this fall in a district that gave Barack Obama 53 percent in 2008; David McKinley, who won his West Virginia seat by less than a point in 2010; and Denny Rehberg, the at-large congressman from Montana who is now locked in one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the country, against Democrat Jon Tester.

All three of them have very obvious reasons to fear the taint of the Ryan budget. The question is whether voting against it will do much to protect them from Democratic attacks. Since this week’s vote (and last year’s) both essentially split on party lines and since Romney seems poised to defend it this fall, it may not be hard for Democrats to make the Ryan budget/Medicare plan synonymous with the Republican Party. If that happens, voters may end up oblivious to the “no” votes of Rehberg, McKinley and Gibson and punish them simply because of their party label.

In a way, this calls to mind the impact of healthcare reform on the 2010 midterms. Many panicky Democrats in vulnerable districts voted against the law, terrified of the political consequences. There’s some evidence that this didn’t do them any good; 22 of the 34 Democrats who voted “no” ended up losing their seats anyway, many of them by wide margins. Then again, as an analysis from Smart Politics found, of the 23 Democrats who voted against healthcare and represented districts that supported John McCain in 2008, nine were reelected; of the 18 from McCain districts who voted for healthcare, just two won reelection.

Steve Kornacki

Steve Kornacki writes about politics for Salon. Reach him by email at SKornacki@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @SteveKornacki

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>