It’s beginning, people, so focus

And here it is:

BRET BAIER: Let’s tick down these things. You have a debt ceiling coming up. How is that going to work?

PAUL RYAN: Thankfully, we’re doing it with a republican president and congress. We can tackle our fiscal issues. We can tackle the oppressive taxes that are stifling job creation and business and making America uncompetitive. Having a debt limit, which occurs — March is around the time this occurs. With president-elect trump — with president trump and a congressional republican and congressional senate democrats in the minority and senate republicans in the majority makes a world of difference better. We can use this as an opportunity to get good things done.

BRET BAIER: Your solution has always been to put things together including entitlement reform. That is Paul Ryan’s plan. That’s not Donald Trump’s plan.

PAUL RYAN: Well, you have to remember, when Obamacare became Obamacare, Obamacare rewrote Medicare, rewrote Medicaid. If you are going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. What a lot of folks don’t realize is this 21-person board called the ipap is about to kick in with price controls on Medicare. What people don’t realize is because of Obamacare, medicare is going broke, medicare is going to have price controls because of Obamacare, medicaid is in fiscal straits. You have to deal with those issues if you are going to repeal and replace obamacare. Medicare has serious problems [because of] Obamacare. Those are part of our plan.

Among the parade of dreadfuls that citizens have to accept in the wake of the election is taking the Speaker of the House seriously as a figure of fiscal responsibility. Since Ronald Reagan took the oath, Republicans have acted as if Social Security and Medicare makes people moochers when people should really be getting licenses as lobbyists so they can act like lampreys around congressmen like Paul Ryan; this is the kind of income redistribution that the Speaker of the House endorses. One of the reasons why Reagan lost operational control of the House in the 1982 midterm elections was the relentlessness with which Speaker Tip O’Neill framed the stakes with the starkness of a telegram: the Republicans want to gut Social Security, the Democrats want to save it. In the end Reagan, reeling, acquiesced, signing a bill in 1983 that in effect repudiated every thing he’d ever said about it.

Should Ryan be serious, and I have no reason to think he isn’t, then the Democrats have their first sign of GOP overreach. Trump voters didn’t want the social safety net re-mended or cut to ribbons; CBS News’ exit polls found 27 percent of his voters wanted more liberal policies than what Barack Obama has offered, which both explains the vote for a bully who promised them a return to coal refineries pumping mephitic fumes into the atmosphere and the incoherence of the way these people have understood what the GOP has done in the last eight years. People need help. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security have worked. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, severe defects notwithstanding, Medicare is solvent into the 2030s. Month after month, year after year, through hurricanes and snowstorms, Grandma receives a check backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury. Paul Ryan knows this. He received survivor payments that afforded him a college education, a fact much on Joe Biden’s mind when he swatted Ryan across the face with the bemused contempt of an uncle babysitting a spoiled nephew.

But the GOP isn’t stupid. As their most reliable constituency, seniors won’t see their benefits cut. The rest of us will. The elimination will be, to use the hideous jargon, “phased in” long after Granny has phased out. If they stick together and avoid the Joe Manchins like carrion, Democrats can beat this back. Remember George W. Bush’s privatization scheme.

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