WBUR

Paul Ryan, Triumph Of The Tea Party

Rep. Paul Ryan with a copy of his budget plan entitled "The Path to Prosperity." (AP)

Rep. Paul Ryan with a copy of his budget plan entitled “The Path to Prosperity.” (AP)

The Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party, as we know it, is moving forward. While they had a tough day Tuesday, Tea Party favorites have won upsets in primaries in Missouri, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Utah, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada and Delaware. Their biggest win came in Indiana with the primary defeat of Sen. Richard Lugar, 80, after 36 years in the Senate.

Kicking It

As of last Friday, Red State reported that Tea Party candidates had won 48 of 103 contests for a success rate of 47 percent; they are kicking sand in the faces of the GOP establishment. They have two wins and two losses in governorships. Five Tea Party-backed Senate candidates have won 13 races (39 percent success) and 41 of 86 House candidates have won (48 percent wins).

Strong Disapproval

A national poll done for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal showed 25 percent of Americans support the Tea Party while 65 percent disapprove. The poll, done jointly by a Democratic and Republican pollster, was conducted on July 18-22, 2012.

Goldwater, 2.0

Mitt Romney’s picking of Tea Party darling Paul Ryan means the Republican Party is now being driven internally by the most far right forces since those that nominated Barry Goldwater for president in 1964.

Romney didn’t choose Ryan for his ideology; he did it because Romney is still distrusted by hardcore conservatives. Also, the self-important intellectuals at the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard all but demanded Ryan for VP, and Romney caved.

An Etch-A-Sketch Moment

It was, as Eric Fehrnstrom might say, a chance to shake things up and start over. Fearing he was on his way to losing, Romney slammed the Etch-A-Sketch against the wall and saw the face of the architect of what Newt Gingrich derided as “right-wing social engineering.”

Most Extreme In Modern Times

The usually understated New York Times called Ryan’s plan “the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern times.” In an editorial Sunday, the paper said it was “a blueprint of a government that will be absent when people need it the most. It will not be there when the unemployed need job training, or when a struggling student needs help to get into college. It will not be there when a miner needs more than a hardhat for protection, or when a city is unable to replace a crumbling bridge.”

Ryan vs. The Bishops

The cuts were so severe that Catholic bishops protested publicly, calling the Ryan budget “unjustified and wrong” that “failed as a moral test.” In April the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a stinging public letter to the House warning that Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment.”

Ryan, a devout Catholic, used Catholicism to justify his proposals, saying that reducing government is consistent with church teachings on self-reliance, local control, and allowing civil society to flourish.

Shameful Redistribution

The most shameful aspect of Ryan’s plan is that it slashes help for middle class and poor people in order to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. Ryan seems to treat human beings as if they are numbers and categories.

Ryan’s political plan was to raise his national profile and give his colleagues something concrete that they could point to as the GOP’s deficit-fighting strategy. It worked. Romney picked him because Ryan was well regarded in right-wing political circles and because Romney was losing ground to Obama and had no big budget fix.

It Ain’t Broke

Politico interviewed three dozen Republican consultants in the chattering classes, of various ages and stripes; nearly all believe Ryan is a high-risk, low-reward choice. They fear his ideas on Medicare could spell disaster not just for Romney but for their candidates for Congress and Senate. Fixing Medicare, Ryan’s most controversial idea, is always a tough sell for the GOP, especially since voters don’t see anything wrong with it.

Wait Until 2040

Ryan’s plan produces, stealthily, a balanced budget by 2040(!) with no new revenues, while boosting the Pentagon budget — the only item Republicans agree must always be raised.

North Korea

If the Ryan budget were fully implemented, our government would begin to resemble that of North Korea, obsessed with its military and indifferent to the needs of its citizens, like eating or learning.

Tea Partiers Are Republicans, Not Yahoos

A New York Times/CBS News poll done last year found that the one in five Americans who identified themselves as Tea Party supporters tended to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45. They were wealthier and better educated than the general public. Most are not the placard waving yahoos you often see on TV.

The New Religious Right

Serious political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, writing in the New York Times, found that next to being Republican, the best predictor of a Tea Partier was the desire to see more religion in American life and more God in government.

Dan Payne is WBUR’s Democratic analyst. For more political commentary, go to our Payne & Domke page.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • crookedvine

    Wow, do these guys have it wrong … tea partiers come from all walks of life united on the idea that government should be small and limited and taxes should be lower. Religion has no part in it. 

    • Roy

      “Religion has no part in it.” — a wonderfully New England response.  We New Englanders are probably the least religious folks in the country.  Religion is much more important in other parts of the country.

  • gardenia

    Congratulations Dan Payne for such a fine article.  Paul Ryan is probably a very evil man, Adolph Hitler started out just like Ryan.  Poor Paul Ryan looks and sounds like a SHLEMIEL every time he moves, talks, thinks.  Maybe he is hiding income just like Mittzi Romney does.  Offshore?  Underwater?  Everyone:  Be very careful of both shnooks.  They could send all of us OUT OF BUSINESS!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HZPDJ6YYI4AGL62Z5DNTF5OA6Q Chas

       gardenia – WHOA there!  Time to go see a shrink about your paranoid Progressive fantasies!  Paul Ryan “is probably a very evil man??”  This is clearly the thinking of someone who needs to get some real-world perspective!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HZPDJ6YYI4AGL62Z5DNTF5OA6Q Chas

    Why is Dan Payne allowed to write any opinion pieces anywhere?  He is nothing but a Democrat hack who puts basically zero effort or original thought into his writing.

  • gardenia

    Paul Ryan a Catholic is condemmned by Catholic Bishops.  Oy Vey Paul .  I thought he wanted to convert all the Jews.  Or did you want us all to join the God Forbid Tea Party.  The more I see and hear from you I tremble at the thought of a Neo-Nazi party.  I have some Republican friends and relatives and not one of them like you.  Maybe  you should resign now just like NIXON.

  • Tendoyles

    Wow…you just twisted and used fancy rhetoric to completely discredit a man who could actually change our nations crisis. I am in the poor and catholic category and what you have reported is not only false, but ethically diminished. Why don’t you try presenting all the facts on both sides and letting the people decide. We are not idiots nor do we need your biased, distasteful reporting. Does any media out there have integrity? Seriously. He is not condemned by catholic bishops. I am catholic and I am informed. You spread your lies. You distort and twist statements to your benefit. You may not be caught on the earth, but you will be held accountable in the next.

Most Popular