By Mike Lillis - 05/30/11 03:05 PM EDT
House Republicans have laid out the pathway to their own decline, some liberal Democrats said this week.
"Young Guns," a book authored last year by GOP leaders Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.), was packaged as a blueprint for a new brand of conservatism under a Republican-controlled House.
But Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said the book also provides a roadmap for the Democrats to retake the House in next year's elections.
"We should just give everyone a copy of it, because they also propose privatizing portions of Social Security," he said. "I hope to get a spike in Amazon of people buying that book."
Released last September, the 224-page book – fully titled "Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders" – provides few policy specifics, but paints in broad strokes what the Republicans hoped to accomplish if they took the House, as they did a few months later.
Changes to Medicare and Social Security figured prominently.
"Our social insurance strategies of the 20th century are a critical component of our nation’s social safety net — but they must be reformed if they are to exist for those in need for the 21st century," Ryan, now the chairman of the House Budget Committee, wrote in his section of the book.
"As currently structured, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are set to implode in the face of the massive demographic shift under way. This represents both a critical moment for needed action and an opportunity to chart a new course for renewed growth and restored promise for this century."
This year, Ryan applied the specifics in his 2012 budget proposal. That bill takes steps to privatize Medicare by requiring seniors to buy their insurance from private companies, beginning in 2022. The Ryan plan also increases Medicare's eligibility age, from 65 to 67, for recipients now 54 and younger.
Public sentiment toward the plan has been less than enthusiastic, as voters have sounded off against GOP supporters since the House passed the Ryan budget on a largely party-line vote in April. More recently, the Senate shot down the measure with another very partisan vote.
"The patience of this country has run out for this nihilistic view of government that the Republicans seem to be advocating," Weiner said.
Democrats believe that momentum has shifted in their favor because of the entitlement reform and steep spending cuts backed by Republicans. They point to Democrat Kathy Hochul's recent victory in New York's 26th Congressional District as evidence.
While acknowledging that his budget plan played a part in that special election, Ryan has defended his blueprint and accused Democrats of distorting the facts in it.
"There is a Medicare story to be told here ... and it's that the president and his party have decided to shamelessly distort and demagogue Medicare," Ryan said on MSNBC after the GOP loss in New York, calling it a "Mediscare" campaign led by President Obama and Democrats in Congress.
That sentiment has been echoed by most Congressional Republicans.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) agreed with Weiner, however, saying it is the Republican agenda this year that has been a boon to the Democrats politically. Aside from the Medicare cuts, DeFazio highlighted the GOP's February proposal (H.R. 1) to slash $61 billion in 2011 spending, including sharp cuts in low-income healthcare programs and student aid.
"They gave us a roadmap," DeFazio said. "H.R. 1 and the Ryan budget are a roadmap of what the Republicans would do if they had the House, the White House and the Senate.
"Students are gonna lose financial aid to pay for tax cuts for rich people; seniors are going to lose Medicare to pay for tax cuts for rich people," DeFazio said. "A majority of people don't like that agenda too much."
With that in mind, the Oregon liberal argued, Democrats have a pretty simple campaign strategy ahead of them.
"Stay focused and keep talking about what the Republicans stand for."