There is the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
But what if you’ve created the lemons yourself and don’t recognize them as, well, lemons? What then?
This seems to be the predicament Republicans now find themselves in. The lemons in question would be Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis) so-called “Path to Prosperity” budget plan. He and most of his Republican brethren see it as the best thing to come down the pike since sliced bread. And woe be to anyone who has the audacity to trash it. Just ask presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. Gingrich said on TV that the plan was “right-wing social engineering.” And he didn’t mean that in a good way.
Well, his fellow Republicans took umbrage at his comments and within hours of having made that observation, he had to go to Rep. Ryan, hat-in-hand, and apologize for having voiced the truth.
At least two events during the course of this past week would seem to indicate the Republicans have a major problem on their hands. And what makes this major problem even more major is the fact that they are refusing to see it for what it actually is: a major problem.
This past Tuesday Republicans lost a special election in the 26th Congressional District of New York. What makes that Democratic victory so impressive is that it is one of the reddest districts in the country. It is a bastion of conservatism. Democrats are as rare in this district as polar bears are in Florida. Former congressman Chris Lee, a Republican, won this district last year with 74 percent of the votes over his rival. The reason he is no longer a congressman from that district is because of some macho, bare-chested photos he sent to a woman he met on Craigslist. Lee is married. He decided that under the circumstances he should resign. Thus the special election this past week.
Kathy Hochul, the Democratic victor in the race, won despite being outnumbered by Republicans and being outspent by two-to-one.
Most polls would suggest that the reason the Republicans suffered this embarrassing loss was because of their obsession with privatizing Medicare. Most people who are planning on living to 65 and aren’t millionaires ( like a number of those in Congress) think Medicare is just fine the way it is.
A poll released recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 60 percent of its respondents prefer keeping the government health insurance program for low-income and disabled Americans like it is today “with the federal government guaranteeing and setting minimum standards for benefits and eligibility.” Only 35 percent of those interviewed are for changing it into a voucher program (which I refer to as a vulture program).
When confronted with the numbers Rep. Ryan said, “I don’t consult polls to tell me what my principles are or what our policies should be.”
As for their candidate getting shellacked in Tuesday’s election, Republicans say that it was because there was a Tea Party candidate that took away votes from the Republican candidate and those evil Democrats twisted the truth about Medicare, and blah, blah, blah. In other words, they’re pretty much in denial. It’s kind of like General Custer telling his men at the Battle of the Little Big Horn not to take any prisoners.
But that’s not all. On the heels of the Tuesday debacle, the Senate voted on whether to accept Ryan’s bill or not on Wednesday. The majority voted No. The final tally was 57 against and 40 for. Of those 57, five were Republicans.
One would think that because of (1) the number of people who believe the plan is bad, (2) the defeat in a Republican stronghold, (3) the defeat of the bill in the Senate, and (4) with elections coming up in 2012, Republicans might want to admit they’ve made a mistake and make some major changes in the Ryan plan. But, so far at least, they’re unwilling to accept the obvious.
Which is really good news for Democrats in 2012.
Stick to your guns, Republicans. Follow that path to prosperity. And those signs you see along the way that say: “Danger, cliff ahead.” Just continue to ignore them.