The Republicans in the House of Representatives have made a pretty crucial error: They appointed a true believer to write their budget--Paul Ryan.
Okay, maybe Ryan's not a capital-T True capital-B Believer, in the true neo-Tea Party sense if the phrase. In fact, Ryan came in for some significant criticism from the true True Believers in the last few years for bailing out corporations like banks and auto companies. Maybe True Corporatist then is the better word, especially given that Ryan pretty regularly comes in for criticism from the likes of me and my ilk for supporting the interests of other corporations, like insurance companies, over the interests of the flesh-and-blood citizens of his own district.
But his "shadow budget"--or, rather the Road Map to Etc. he's been pimping around for a few years now that by his own admission won't even balance the budget until long after he and I are probably dead--is just the right kind of document to be taken up as a banner by the true True Believers. People like Sarah Palin, who probably didn't read past the headline, and others who are more than happy to try to balance the budget on the backs of their worsers.
The problem for the GOP, then, is that exposing the real agenda of the corporatist wing of the party (bounty for bankers and insurers, nuts to anyone with a real job) is not such good politics. When voters hear about plans to add a new 8.5% consumption tax and dump people from Social Security and Medicare while trimming the taxes of the already well off, they tend to start complaining. Hence, fewer co-sponsors for Ryan's budget than Ryan has fingers.
In the olden days, when Ryan didn't have the big-boy chair and Democrats were generally spineless, it wouldn't have mattered. But Ryan now writes the GOP budget officially and Democrats are smart enough to bring up the thing for a vote.
And the Republicans are already choosing door number two: Pretend Paul Ryan doesn't exist. You got Representatives on TV last weekend bragging all about the GOP's 2009 budget. Hell, even Paul Ryan is now saying he doesn't exist.
So, really, how narrow is the ledge Ryan's party is making him walk here? And why, if he's so goldanged smart, is did he even crawl out there?
Unless, maybe, the golden boy isn't so golden any more--and he's not really as smart as his boosters want us to believe.