Democrats' War on Paul Ryan

Posted: Jan 25, 2011 3:11 PM
Democrats appear to have settled on a new bogeyman.  'Blame Bush' has outlived its usefulness, and recent attempts to incite public fear and loathing against Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the US Chamber of Commerce, and John Boehner all fell flat.  Up next in the Left's vilification crosshairs: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Before Ryan breathes a single word of his response to President Obama's national address this evening, Democrats have already set into motion a demonization scheme devised by New York Senator Chuck Schumer:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the master political strategist for Senate Democrats, wants to turn Ryan into a bogeyman that voters think about whenever they hear about a Republican proposal to cut federal spending.

This is an initial volley in a three-day effort — 72-hour window — to try to muddle Paul Ryan’s foray onto the national scene,” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “We want to make the House Republicans or Republicans at large own his roadmap and what it would entail for Social Security.”

“In an unsettling development for America’s seniors, ending Social Security and Medicare is now the official position of the Republican Party,” said Jon Summers, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The New York Times chronicles even more "Roadmap" dishonesty in advance of Ryan's speech:

“We will be putting a focus on the fact that on spending matters, the Republicans are making judge, jury and executioner out of someone who, according to his Roadmap, wants to privatize Social Security,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat.

What has catalyzed the Democrats' full-frontal assault on Ryan, aside from their pathological need to rage against a villain?  Two things: Political expediency, and fear.  On the first point, Democrats know that large swaths of the public can be easily frightened into opposing any action to reform popular, but hopelessly broken, entitlement programs.  Democrats are masters of political alarmism, evidenced by their propensity to prop up senior citizens (See Social Security 2005) and children (See SCHIP, Obamacare) as human shields to deflect opposition.  Serious attempts to steer the federal government off of the path to Greek-style insolvency are distorted beyond recognition, sending voters running the the hills.  In short, the Left believes Ryan's proposals land squarely in their demagoguery wheelhouse, and they're swinging away.

Fear is also a powerful motivator.  National Review's Daniel Foster sums it up nicely:  "If it gets out that the middle class loses on Social Security and Medicare is unsustainable, [Democrats'] jig is up."  In other words, if Paul Ryan & Co. can effectively communicate why his Roadmap is necessary to avert fiscal calamity, the Democratic Party's raison detre (increasing government dependency) is significantly jeopardized.  So they resort to lies.  Lies that Reason's Peter Suderman decimates in his column today:

But what exactly is this master plan that Americans should be so fearful of? It’s a plan to take the federal budget—currently humming down the path to fiscal disaster—and hopefully make it (gasp!) financially sustainable. It’s a plan to ensure that Social Security, which started paying out more than it takes in last year and relies on an imaginary trust fund in order to keep its books, can actually afford its obligations. It’s a plan to cap Medicare spending, and keep the growth of health care obligations from wrecking the federal budget by giving individuals the power to pick their own insurance plans. It’s a plan that would make no changes whatsoever for anyone who is a decade away from the retirement age. It’s a plan to balance the budget, eventually. Not now. Not next year. Not a decade from now, or even two. But in 2063.

Suderman concludes by acknowledging that even many Republicans are reticent to embrace Ryan's plan for fear of political reprisals, then poses two questions:

What’s more telling: that Republicans have fretted so much about signing on to Ryan’s plan? Or that Democrats and their defenders feel so threatened by Ryan’s plan to reduce the deficit, leave entitlements exactly the same for a full decade, and balance the budget 52 years from now?

I'm afraid the answers to both questions are pretty depressing and go a long way toward explaining why we find ourselves in this dreadful fix in the first place.