Monday, April 11, 2011

Recommended Reading

The fact that last week's extended negotiations to prevent a government shutdown nearly stalled out at the eleventh hour due to Republican concerns over the less than 1% of the budget allotted to Planned Parenthood gives some indication of how ideologically precarious a position the current model GOP has adopted. Not helping matters any was the release of Congressman Paul Ryan's much-ballyhooed proposal to put us on a "Path to Prosperity" by scuttling Medicare and Medicaid while cutting the tax burden for the wealthiest. With Ryan's plan (by-and-large) being hailed as "courageous" in the media, I have no doubt that (if history is any kind of guide) this will only move the deficit conversation even further to the right.

This in turn means (if history is any kind of guide) the Dems are poised to give up even more ground in the impending fight over raising the debt ceiling, not to mention next year's budget battle, rather than taking a stand for what's right. What's most frustrating about this is that a fight for Medicare and Medicaid is one the Dems can handily win, not just on points, but on principle as well. It's the right position to take, and the other side knows it's the right position to take. This is a lesson Bill Clinton learned to his advantage in the déjà vu budget battles of the '90s, and as former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman tells Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, it's a calculus President Obama would do well to familiarize himself with.

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