Crossing the Rubicon

April 15, 2011 1:29 p.m.

With today’s passage of Rep. Ryan’s budget resolution, it’s worth looking back at the arc of the last nine months. The Ryan plan didn’t first see the light of day this year. Ryan himself released the same plan last year (the one significant difference is that the 2011 version doesn’t include Social Security privatization). It was pretty clear that it was going to be the official GOP budget plan if Republicans took over the House. The key point is that very few House Republicans in anything remotely like a competitive district was willing to embrace the thing.

In fact, there was a big effort to claim that it was false to identify it as the Republican “shadow budget.” Anyway, now it’s the official GOP budget plan and now all but six House Republicans have voted for it. That’s going to be a key element of next year’s election.

TPM Reader JZ shares his thoughts …

Nothing crystallizes just how far the GOP has swung, and just how fast, then today’s vote on the Ryan plan. If you remember when it was first being touted early in the Obama administration, Ryan’s “roadmap” was widely viewed as a “bold” but fringe plan towards cutting government.

Many Republicans got behind it because it had no chance of reaching the House floor, but still many either said it went too far or ran away from the question entirely. Even during the campaign, few Republicans were advocating for the prescriptions in the bill. Yet here we are, just 100 days into GOP control of the House, and they’ve passed it with almost no GOP opposition.

This is a radical reconfiguration of the way things work in Washington. Usually, a Rep. will appeal to the base during a primary, but get to Washington and toe a more conventional line. The true ideologues will push their Departments of Peace or getting rid of the Department of Education, but the establishment will make sure that the part itself steers clear of going on the record on anything truly ridiculous. No more. The most interesting question I see now is how this plays in the next election and what this will mean for the future of the party. Sullivan keeps saying the party needs to go full crazy, like the Torries did after Tony Blair’s election, before being able to rebuild itself as a sane opposition. When will this happen? When will we reach peak wingnut and how much damage will the GOP do to itself and the country? If the potential for some really awful stuff making it into law, I’d say pass the popcorn. Maybe if I can chase it with a couple shots.

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