Monday, May 24, 2021

The Democrats' Secret Weapon: Republican Dumbness

As we look toward 2022, The Democrats do have a number of points of serious vulnerability around issues like crime, immigration, education and ideological anti-racism. It remains to be seen how effective Republicans will be in exploiting these opportunities given that the crazy in their own ranks may undercut their attacks and lead to successful Democratic pushback.
But perhaps the Democrats' secret weapon here is Republican dumbness when it comes to kitchen table issues like retirement benefits and health care. As Henry Olsen notes in a recent column the House Republican Study Committee has released an alternative budget document that revives the specter of Paul Ryan-style budget austerity and entitlement-cutting. In the current climate, how this is possibly an effective riposte to the Democrats' provision of benefits and public investments through the American Rescue Plan and further bills is beyond me.
It just seems, well....dumb. Perhaps the Republicans will try to walk this one back. But it could be that Democrats will have a healthy helping of dumbness to work with along with the usual serving of crazy as they defend their Congressional majorities.
"There has been a lot of talk recently about the Republican Party searching for a post-Trump ideological future. The annual alternative budget released Wednesday by the 152-member House Republican Study Committee shows how difficult it will be for the party to square its old, entitlement-cutting mind-set with its newer, populist faction.
The document is essentially an update of former House speaker Paul Ryan’s 2008 “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a libertarian-inspired vision of what the federal government would do if taxes were never raised. The Republican Study Committee sets out to balance the federal budget through spending cuts alone and keep it balanced well into the future. The result is a dramatic reduction in what the federal government does across the board.
The proposal’s most notable features are its changes to the major entitlement programs most Americans rely on in old age. The age at which one receives full Social Security benefits would go up to 69 by 2030, from a planned rise to 67 in 2022. Medicare’s eligibility age would rise from 65 to 69. Combined, these increases would likely keep many aging Americans in the workforce for years more than they expect or desire.
Medicare’s structure would also be thoroughly transformed. Instead of a guaranteed government set of policies, the RSC budget would instead provide a subsidy for premiums that could be used for any insurance plan, including a new “Fed Plan” that would replace traditional Medicare. The subsidy would be based on income, wealth and health status, and every senior would then be responsible for buying their own plan and paying for any difference between the federal subsidy and that plan’s premium from their own pocket. Many, if not most, retirees would pay more for their health insurance than they do now."
Now that's dumb!

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