Ryan Op-Ed Shows Panic, But No Sign of Concession in Debt Discussions

House Budget Chair Paul Ryan’s Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Here’s How We Can End This Stalemate,” is being treated as an “olive branch” to the President because it doesn’t demand any changes to Obamacare and emphasizes the importance of raising the debt limit. The shifting demands are certainly a sign of panic among the Republican leadership, but Ryan’s offer is still just that: demands. The Republicans, the political minority, are still incapable of offering a concession.

Here’s what Ryan is offering:

“We could ask the better off to pay higher premiums for Medicare”

Making Medicare less generous has long been a Republican goal.

“We could reform Medigap plans to encourage efficiency and reduce costs.”

This has long been part of Ryan’s Medicare agenda, make Medigap supplemental insurance plans worse for seniors with higher deductibles and copays, so they will be compelled to enter a less regulated private insurance market.

“we could ask federal employees to contribute more to their own retirement.”

In other words, make a civil servant job worth less, so we have less qualified public sector employees, and a worse performing government.

“opening up America’s vast energy reserves to development.”

More “Drill Baby Drill.” (Never mind that we are already on track to be fully energy independent.)

“we should discuss how Congress can take up the Camp–Baucus [tax reform] plan when it’s ready.”

Camp-Baucus tax reform is revenue-neutral tax reform, so once again, Republicans refuse to negotiate any revenue increases. (On Sunday, Speaker John Boehner flatly said, “We’re not raising taxes.”)

Republicans are trying very hard to make the case that President Obama is the unreasonable one who won’t negotiate. But the only hard position Obama has taken is that basic government functions should continue without requiring ransom demands.

He has repeatedly offered concessions in other areas, and the Democratic Party has already accepted re-opening the government at sequester funding levels despite its deep opposition to them.

Ryan’s op-ed has revealed how nervous Republicans are of being blamed for a catastrophic debt default. He has exposed that the party leadership knows that their Obamacare demands are beyond unrealistic. But the Republican elite still hasn’t built up the courage to break free from their radical and delusional Tea Party faction.

At least, not yet.


Bill Scher is the author of Wait! Don’t Move To Canada!: A Stay-and-Fight Strategy to Win Back America. He is the online campaign manager at Campaign for America’s Future, a regular contributor to Bloggingheads.tv and a fellow at the Commonwealth Institute.


This piece is re-posted from the Campaign for America’s Future Blog, OurFuture.


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