From DougJ at Balloon Juice:
The American right’s real genius lies in [mess]ing things up, then using that [mess]ed-up-ness as the crisis that necessitates the implementation of the right’s policies. I don’t claim that the [mess]ing up of things is always deliberate—they’re incompetent enough to [mess] a lot of things up by accident—but the reaction is very cynical and very carefully thought out.
DougJ considers what the GOP is up to in this instance analogous to the Reichstag fire. But if you’re going to go Godwin, given how clear Romney/Ryan have been about their plans for government spending right up until Romney shape-shifted into Moderate Mitt during the first presidential debate, a better example than the Reichstag fire might be the Nazi blitzkrieg of Poland. And Jon Chait at New York magazine believes the Romney campaign/would-be administration plans just such an assault on the American social-welfare structure. In a piece titled “November 7,” to which DougJ also links, Chait writes:
Let’s first imagine that, on January 20, Romney takes the oath of office. Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor.
Few voters understand just how rapidly Romney could achieve this, rewriting the American social compact in one swift stroke. Ryan’s plan has never attracted Democratic support, but it is not designed for bipartisanship. Ryan deliberately built it to circumvent a Senate filibuster, stocking the plan with budget legislation that is allowed, under Senate “budget reconciliation” procedures, to pass with a simple majority. Republicans have been planning the mechanics of the vote for many months, and Republican insiders expect Romney to use reconciliation to pass the bill. Republicans would still need to control 50 votes in the Senate (Ryan, as vice-president, would cast the tiebreaking vote), but if Romney wins the presidency, he’ll likely precipitate a partywide tail wind that would extend to the GOP’s Senate slate.
One might suppose that at least a handful of Republicans might blanch at the prospect of reshaping the entire face of government unilaterally. But Ryan’s careful organizing of the party agenda has all taken place with this vote as the end point, and with the clear goal of sidestepping any such objection. When Republicans won control of Congress during the 2010 elections, Ryan successfully lobbied the party to take a vote on his budget plan the following April. The plan stood no chance of passage (given Obama’s certain veto) and exposed dozens of vulnerable House members to withering attacks over its unpopular provisions. So why hold a vote carrying huge potential risk and no chance of immediate success? So Ryan could get the party on record supporting his plan, depriving quiet dissidents of any future excuse to defect should the real vote come in 2013.
And if this were only a policy difference, that would be one thing. But the fact of the matter is that if these planned changes happen, a nontrivial number of America’s most vulnerable citizens — the very old, the very young, the chronically ill, those most hampered and hammered by the past four years of insufficient-bordering-on-indifferent action on unemployment — will die prematurely. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not an idle prediction. It is, rather, an absolutely foreseeable consequence of cutting social services, particularly Medicaid, in a time of great need and want. And if you don’t care about that, you’re a sociopath, pure and simple.
There are many things at stake in tonight’s debate and this year’s presidential and congressional elections, not the least of which are the fate of the globe’s environment and the fact that both my children will be of military age before the end of a second Romney term. But for a combination of big and fast, the GOP plan to destroy what remains of the social safety net and give the proceeds to the very wealthy tops the list, and it simply cannot be allowed to happen.