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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Paul Ryan's "Messaging Problem"

Paul RyanThe problem with Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan doesn't lie in its obvious flaws, but in the fact that the American public have become aware of its flaws. Things are so bad that Senate GOP aren't even going to address the Medicare "reform," because the whole idea is ballot box poison. The problem there is that, without those reforms, the whole thing is just a plan to increase the deficit.

So Ryan would rather tweak the advertising than fix his product.

The Hill:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that Republicans are running into a "communications challenge" in selling their 2012 budget proposal to Americans.


Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee who authored the 2012 budget, acknowledged the GOP faces obstacles but pushed back against the notion that it is losing a communications battle against Democrats, who have assailed Ryan's proposal to significantly reform Medicare.

"I wouldn't say we're losing the communications battle -- but we have a great communications challenge," the Wisconsin Republican said on Fox News.

No, I'd say you're losing the communications battle. Or, at least, they'd better. If Democrats can't turn this around on the GOP, then it's time to fold up shop. A new report from the Kaiser Commission on Medicare and the Uninsured finds that, if implemented as is, 44 million Americans will lose their Medicare and become uninsured. Ryan would have you believe this is "saving" Medicare. Hence his messaging problem; he's trying to sell you an obvious jalopy as a sleek sports car.

State by state, the damage would look like this:


More than half of Florida Medicare recipients would lose coverage by 2021, for example. And that's supposed to fly? But remember, the problem isn't with this lemon of a plan, the problem is your accurate perception of it. The challenge is in selling it, not in fixing it. It doesn't help when Democrats are pointing out that your plan to "destroy Medicare," as they put it, actually involves destroying Medicare.

"Hospitals would also be affected, as cuts in state payments 'are inevitable if health care spending is to be reduced,'" reports Igor Volsky for the Center for American Progress, referring to the Kaiser study. "Consequently, '[b]y 2021, hospitals would face an annual loss of Medicaid revenue of $84 billion just as the number of uninsured and the need for uncompensated care increases.'"

"Anything this big takes a while to sink in for people to understand," Ryan told Fox. "As soon as people realize just how dire our fiscal situation is, and what our drivers are -- namely, our entitlement programs -- the more they're supportive of this." But Ryan's plan cuts taxes at the top. Is it entirely accurate to say that this takes Medicare funding from 44 million Americans to fund further tax cuts for the already wealthy?

Yes. Yes it would. That would be entirely accurate.

And are entitlements the big problem with our budget deficits? No. The obvious is.

Paul Krugman:

Let's talk for a moment about budget reality. Contrary to what you often hear, the large deficit the federal government is running right now isn't the result of runaway spending growth. Instead, well more than half of the deficit was caused by the ongoing economic crisis, which has led to a plunge in tax receipts, required federal bailouts of financial institutions, and been met -- appropriately -- with temporary measures to stimulate growth and support employment.

Did the economic crash of 2007 put a dent in your finances? Then what a shock it must be to learn that it also affected the government. Will it drag us down forever? Of course not. And neither did the Great Depression. Dr. Ryan is proposing radical emergency surgery on a wound that should heal on its own. Crank up some taxes on the ultra-wealthy, get corporations to pay any taxes at all, end the wars, cut military spending, and there you go. Further, extend benefits for the long term unemployed to get the economy moving again and increase tax revenues. But kick 56% of Oregonian Medicare recipients off the rolls? There's no reason to do that. It's draconian and it's a complete overreaction.

So yeah, I guess that Ryan and House Republicans have a messaging problem with their plan. But that messaging problem is really a reality problem. This is a seriously awful proposal and no matter how much lipstick you slather on it, it's still a pig.


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