Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Very Excited Paul Ryan

Centrist Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp is getting that warm bipartisan feeling all over and remarks

It’s time to move forward. We must work to unite a country that has been so divided throughout this long election, and that will be President-elect Trump’s primary task. As I said back in May, if Donald Trump is elected president – as he was – there will be an opportunity to sit down and have a conversation about what that agenda looks like. We’re going to have disagreements, but we better all figure out how to come up with an agenda for the American people.

After the second presidential debate, Trump had tweeted "'it's a good thing Trump isn't in charge of the law in this country'- Hillary Clinton;  'yeah, because you'd be in jail'- Donald Trump."  Good luck, there, Senator Heitkamp.

The North Dakota Democrat probably is pleased there are indications President Trump might accede to the advice of more sober members of his party not to appoint a special prosecutor to target Clinton. If so, he may be even more anxious to implement their policy agenda, and quickly.

On Thursday, the Speaker of the House held a private meeting with the President-elect (alternatively, and misleadingly "the President-elect held a meeting with the Speaker of the House").  As Charlie Pierce would note: "the usual disclaimer: Paul Ryan is the biggest fake in American politics." Salon's Taylor Link writes that afterward

“What people don’t realize is that Medicare is going broke, that Medicare is going to have price controls. Because of Obamacare, Medicaid is in fiscal straits,” Ryan said in an interview with Fox News Thursday. “So you have to deal with those issues if you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Medicare has got some serious problems because of Obamacare. Those things are part of our plan to replace Obamacare.”

However, the major portion of Medicare Part A, the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund, is now solvent until 2028.  Jonathan Chait explains

The Medicare trust fund has been extended 11 years as a result of the passage of Obamacare, whose cost reforms have helped bring health care inflation to historic lows. It is also untrue that repealing Obamacare requires changing traditional Medicare. But Ryan clearly believes he needs to make this claim in order to sell his plan, or probably even to convince fellow Republicans to support it.

One of those fellow Republicans is Donald Trump, whose transition website now pledges the incoming President to "modernize Medicare, so that it will be ready for the challenges with the coming retirement of the Baby Boom generation- and  beyond." "Modernizing" is GOP shorthand for privatization, and being "ready for the challenges with the coming retirement of the Baby Boom generation" fosters the myth that without cuts, Medicare will become extinct.

The Ryan-Pence Administration has not even begun, and the warning signs already are there.  The Trumpists are reticent to prosecute their biggest political enemy but Paul Ryan is pleased that his agenda to eviscerate the social safety net will find a friendly reception.  Once Trump was declared victor, Ryan wasted no time in exulting

"The House majority is bigger than expected, we won more seats than anyone expected, and much of that is thanks to Donald Trump. Donald Trump provided the kind of coattails that got a lot of people over the finish line so that we could maintain our strong House and Senate majorities. Now we have important work to do.

Ryan is from Wisconsin and as the poor, the sick, the aged, the disabled, and others are likely to find out, he isn't just whistling Dixie.

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