Americans clearly don't want the government to cut Medicare, the government health program for the elderly, or Medicaid, the program for the poor. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted last week to drastically restructure and reduce those programs, while Obama calls for trimming their costs but leaving them essentially intact.
Voters oppose cuts to those programs by 80-18 percent. Even among conservatives, only 29 percent supported cuts, and 68 percent opposed them.Which a number of Republican representatives found out the hard way, as they headed home and met with their constituents. Their "ideology based" and party line vote for the Ryan budget proposal went over poorly, and they suddenly faced tough questions.
But Dold couldn't even get to the end of the presentation before audience members began peppering him with questions about the Ryan budget, named after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin.Even Ryan himself had problems when his own constituents started jeering him on it.
CONSTITUENT: The middle class is disappearing right now. During this time of prosperity, the top 1 percent was taking about 10 percent of the total annual income, but yet today we are fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire? And we’re fighting to not raise the Social Security cap from $87,000? I think we’re wrong.
RYAN: A couple things. I don’t disagree with the premise of what you’re saying. The question is what’s the best way to do this. Is it to redistribute… (Crosstalk)
CONSTITUENT: You have to lower spending. But it’s a matter of there’s nothing wrong with taxing the top because it does not trickle down.
RYAN: We do tax the top. (Audience boos). Let’s remember, most of our jobs come from successful small businesses. Two-thirds of our jobs do. You got to remember, businesses pay taxes individually. So when you raise their tax rates to 44.8 percent, which is what the president is proposing, I would just fundamentally disagree. That is going to hurt job creation.
It's not popular at all, and with seniors being one of the "swing votes" for many of these areas, it's something that is coming to the fore even in "red" states:
The Arkansas News talked to voters this weekend in the districts of three House GOPers who voted for the proposal — Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack — and found that this is basically what they’re thinking:
The Republican plan, which they are attempting to spin as "not being a voucher" or "not ending Medicare, really" and trying other ways of avoiding the subject, is not going over well with the public. The DCCC has a nice beginning list of the members already getting flack, and that number is sure to grow in the near future.
“I think that the sickest people would not get the health care that they need,” said Pam Barton of Jonesboro, a pawn shop manager. “I think (Medicare) definitely needs to be tweaked, I think it needs lots of overhaul, but I don’t think the voucher system would work.”
In a recent town hall, the Republican who beat Alan Grayson, Dan Webster, faced an angry crowd reminiscent of the Tea Party town halls of last year, except that a Republican was on the receiving end:
Others in the crowd began yelling at Webster's critics to quiet down, at one point with the chant "Let him talk!" But the meeting frequently devolved into multiple arguments — some of them heated — between members of audience.
When one man who said he was a veteran yelled that he wanted to know why Webster was cutting Medicare and veterans' benefits, his answer came from the audience instead.
"We can't afford it, you moron!" a red-faced man screamed.
We're seeing the realization by the public of just what the Republicans are really after. The Tea Party is fading as "anger" fades, particularly as people realize that the world has not ended with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and as they realize the danger to programs which are important to them. The new Representatives who rode the Tea Party ideology to victory are now on the receiving end. They may have thought that the voters gave them a mandate, but now they're finding out something quite different. One of the first tests is the special election to replace Chris Lee in NY-26.
Kathy Hochul is the Democrat, and she doesn't have the advantages that Bill Owens had when he narrowly won the 2009 free-for-all in NY-23 -- her opponent, Jane Corwin, has locked up the Conservative Party's nomination, denying it to a Tea Party candidate.
So Hochul tries to make the race about the Ryan budget.
This has been a "safe Republican" district for a while, but it's an aging district. This message is resonating, and it may turn what was an "easy win" for the Republicans into a loss. Next year, they may all be looking for a new job, and deservedly so.