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The Republican Party -- Abandoning the Center

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  • Political Science
  • Political Science


The Republican Party -- Abandoning the Center The Republican Party -- Abandoning the Center Lincoln Mitchell, Harriman Institute, Columbia University Posted: 06/ 2/11 10:06 AM ET A few months ago, Paul Ryan was considered something of a rising star in the Republican Party as he sought to address the federal deficit through serious, non- ideological approaches. Ryan created an image for himself as a thoughtful centrist interested in tough solutions to tough problems. It turns out that was mostly just spin. As people became more familiar with Ryan's plan, it became clear that he was essentially just another Republican seeking to balance the budget by placing an unfair burden on lower income Americans. Like most in his party, Ryan sought to cut programs for poor Americans while refusing to raise taxes on the wealthiest, thus forcing those who have already sacrificed the most, to sacrifice even more. None of this is particularly unusual. Republicans frequently craft right-wing solutions to various policy challenges and seek to present them as centrist and non-partisan. Ryan's plan might have raised Ryan's profile, helped him become more of a national figure and done little else, if his plan had simply been another restatement of Republican budget goals. However, Ryan's plan went one step further, calling for replacing Medicare with a voucher system that would amount to privatizing Medicare. Medicare is genuinely not a partisan issue, because seniors across the political spectrum, including in the large, and often overlooked, center rely on it. By threatening Medicare, Ryan's plan mobilized a large number of people in the center against his plan, and at least for now, his party. The Republican's paid for this in a recent special election for the House of Representatives in New York State and now have to defend themselves against charges of being against Medicare, and therefore seniors, as the 2012 election cycle is beginning. Since 2008, much of the pol

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