Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recommended Reading

The polls have been see-sawing up and down ever since the first presidential debate, with Mitt Romney gaining a slight lead nationally, which puts an inordinate amount of pressure on President Obama to make the case for his accomplishments and his agenda in tonight's second debate. And in case you don't already know that those stakes are extraordinarily high, Jonathan Chait lays out how stark a Romney-Ryan legislative agenda would likely be when it comes to domestic spending and the social safety net:
Let’s first imagine that, on January 20, Romney takes the oath of office. Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor. 
Few voters understand just how rapidly Romney could achieve this, rewriting the American social compact in one swift stroke. Ryan’s plan has never attracted Democratic support, but it is not designed for bipartisanship. Ryan deliberately built it to circumvent a Senate filibuster, stocking the plan with budget legislation that is allowed, under Senate “budget reconciliation” procedures, to pass with a simple majority. Republicans have been planning the mechanics of the vote for many months, and Republican insiders expect Romney to use reconciliation to pass the bill. Republicans would still need to control 50 votes in the Senate (Ryan, as vice-president, would cast the tiebreaking vote), but if Romney wins the presidency, he’ll likely precipitate a partywide tail wind that would extend to the GOP’s Senate slate.
It's sobering stuff, to be sure. There's much more from Chait at the link, including where a second Obama term would likely begin.

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