by Max Brantley
Here's another commentator writing at length about the influence of the Occupy Wall Street movement and how perilous the income inequality question is for Republicans.
The conservative response to crisis offered by Gingrich and Romney fails to address the anxiety and anger of those millions of Americans who suddenly find themselves with no job, no health insurance and no money to pay the mortgage.
This question will set the terms of the debate for the 2012 election.
The writer, Thomas Edsall, notes the re-emergence of the Paul Ryan budget plan — a plan, we should note, warmly endorsed by U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin and the other Republicans of the Arkansas delegation.
The non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that the Ryan plan “would result in a massive transfer of resources from the broad majority of Americans to the nation’s wealthiest individuals” and “eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, converting these health programs largely to vouchers that low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities could use to help buy insurance in the private health insurance market.”
In a May appearance on Meet the Press, Gingrich described the Ryan proposal as “right wing social engineering.” Now, Romney is running an online ad, “With Friends Like Newt, Who Needs The Left.” The ad quotes prominent conservatives criticizing Gingrich, ending with Pat Buchanan describing the former Speaker as “out of the left wing of the Republican Party” and Ryan asking, “With allies like that, who needs the left?”
Democrats are delighted to see Romney put the Ryan budget once again into the headlines. “When you go through what’s in the Ryan budget to voters in focus groups, they are horrified by it,” Democratic pollster Garin said. “The inequities of the Ryan budget are not just striking, they are shocking to people. To make Medicare much less affordable while continuing to add on new tax breaks for people at the very top is mind-blowing.”
Polls show the people understand the shortcomings. The question is whether they'll continue to vote against their self-interest, as they did in 2010.