There's an old saying that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. But when it comes to Paul Ryan and his radical GOP budget, Republicans would prefer to campaign in silence and then govern with an axe. While the Grand Old Party would love to enact Ryan's massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy, shredding of the social safety net, gutting of Medicaid and privatization of Medicare, Republicans hate having to talk about policies that are about as popular as the ebola virus. And as the history of Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" shows, that Republican discomfort increases as Election Day approaches.
Mitt Romney's own unease has been on display since the moment he first announced the House Budget Chairman from Wisconsin as his running mate. Romney has been quick to claim that he is running on his own budget, only to acknowledge "I'm sure there are places that my budget is different than his, but we're on the same page."
But as Politico and The Hill each reported Tuesday, among Republican strategists and GOP members of Congress that heartburn is approaching panic. "Away from the cameras," Politico noted, "there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington: Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right -- and a huge chance of going horribly wrong." As The Hill explained:
Republicans strategists are worried that Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) addition to the presidential ticket will cost their party House and Senate seats this fall.
Their concern: Democrats will successfully demonize Ryan's budget plan, which contains controversial spending cuts and changes to Medicare...Many Republicans in tough races this year, especially in the House, voted for Ryan's proposal, which makes it hard for them to distance themselves from it.
Hard, indeed. After all, 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators--98 percent of all GOP member of Congress--voted for Ryan's budget in 2011. (In 2012, the numbers were 228 and 41, respectively.)
But that near-unanimous Republican support for Paul Ryan's extremist blueprint after the GOP takeover of the House was a far cry the Party's relative silence before the 2010 midterms were won. Put another way, for three years the GOP's backing of the Ryan Roadmap has been directly proportional to the distance to the next Election Day.
2009: Republicans Love Paul Ryan
In April 2009, twenty four months before all but four House Republicans voted for Ryan's plan to ration Medicare, the smaller GOP minority said yea on essentially the same plan. As Steve Benen detailed in the Washington Monthly in the fall of 2009:
In April, 137 Republicans voted in support of a GOP alternative budget. It didn't generate a lot of attention, but the plan, drafted by the House Budget Committee's Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for "replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans."
The AP noted at the time that Republican leaders were "clearly nervous that votes in favor of the GOP alternative have exposed their members to political danger."
2010: They Love Him Not
But in February 2010, Rep. Ryan unveiled his "Roadmap for America's Future" and its "slash and privatize" agenda for Social Security and Medicare. Because the value of Ryan's vouchers fails to keep up with the out-of-control rise in premiums in the private health insurance market, America's elderly would be forced to pay more out of pocket or accept less coverage. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein described the inexorable Republican rationing of Medicare which would then ensue:
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