Monday, May 30, 2011

"If you come any closer, the GOP gets it!"

There's a famous scene in Mel Brooks' film Blazing Saddles in which the new sheriff in town, confronted by an angry mob, takes himself hostage and threatens to shoot himself if the mob doesn't back down. Surprised, and fearing that the sheriff will indeed shoot his "hostage," the townspeople back down and the sheriff is able to escape into the town's jail.

Political pundits and commentators who were paying attention on Sunday were treated to a similar spectacle when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Medicare-killing plan authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would be "on the table" in negotiations over expanding the nation's debt ceiling. In other words, the GOP is offering to trade away what it ought to be running away from.

Ryan's plan to do away with Medicare by converting it into a voucher program that won't cover even half of the costs incurred by seniors for healthcare has the potential to wreck the Republican Party's electoral prospects in 2012. The vast majority of Americans oppose the plan, even though the vast majority of Republican members of Congress have voted in favor of it. The issue of Medicare was key to a Democrat winning a special election in New York's 26th Congressional District, a district that leans heavily Republican under normal circumstances.

Now the Republicans are offering to trade away the policy that is eating their party alive in exchange for additional concessions from Democrats on the debt ceiling. Democrats ought to tell the GOP thanks, but no thanks. Republicans have made their bed in regards to Medicare and ought to be made to sleep in it. The idea that Democrats should give up additional concessions to the GOP in order to rescue the GOP from almost certain electoral disaster next year is comical. It's so comical it's like something out of a Mel Brooks film--and that's funny stuff folks.

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