Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clinton Channels His Inner Republican

After former President Clinton sounded a whole lot like a Republican about the upcoming debt limit vote - the one that Treasury Secretary Geithner claims the world will end if the vote isn't taken and passed by the time the actual default occurs - his spokesperson tried to smooth the ruffled feathers of Democrats but ended up saying exactly what Clinton originally said.

"What he meant to say was that if a vote to extend the debt limit failed in advance of a default, that might not be harmful for a couple of days, but that if people thought that we might actually default, that in his words 'we were literally not going to pay our bills anymore,' then they would stop [people from] buying our debt."

Truth is good.

And, then if that wasn't enough, turns out Clinton showed some love for Rep Paul Ryan and his courage in presenting a plan to reform big entitlements, specifically Medicare. In light of the win by a Democrat in an historically Republican New York seat for the House of Representatives - a special election - Clinton cautioned Democrats against scoring short term victories at the expense of working on serious reforms.

Former President Bill Clinton cautioned his party Wednesday against avoiding reforms to Medicare even though the GOP’s unpopular overhaul plan helped Democrats score an upset victory in New York’s 26th district.

“The race was about Medicare,” Clinton said of Democrat Kathy Hochul's win in Tuesday's special election. But, he added, “I am afraid that the Democrats will draw the conclusion … that we shouldn’t do anything. I completely disagree with that.

“The Democrats may have to give up some short-term political gain by whipping up fear, if it’s a reasonable Social Security proposal, if it’s a reasonable Medicare proposal. You cannot have healthcare devour the economy,” he said.

While Clinton doesn't endorse the Ryan plan, he did have a private conversation with Ryan Tuesday, it was reported, (video by ABC News) and welcomed Ryan to call on him for dialogue on the matter as the battle goes on. That ought to send some chills down some Democrat spines, right?

That is why Clinton was successful as President with the majority of Americans and why strict ideologues like Barack Obama are not, in the end. There are times that the bare politics of big policy decisions must be set aside and clear focus on solutions must surface.

It takes a grown up voice.

Republicans lost a seat in the House of Representatives because the wrong candidate ran against a Democrat unafraid to demagogue Medicare reform to win the election. For whatever reason, the Republican was unable to stand and deliver. She wasn't able to state clearly and without hesitation why she supported the Ryan plan and the importance of reform. She allowed the Democrats to scare the senior citizen voter and this won't be the way forward for Republicans.

It is clear that Paul Ryan is needed in the House of Representatives to continue to educate the general public on the reforms. It must be brought home that no one from age 55 and up will be affected by the Ryan plan. Everything remains the same. Those younger than 55 years of age will have adjustments to make, some reforms not beginning for up to twelve years out.

The way forward for the GOP is to stay focused and continue to teach what is in the proposed plan. Let Ryan speak to compromises that can be put into the plan. He is the smartest guy in the room on all of this. The bonus is that he articulates the policy in terms that ordinary people understand - no one need be a policy wonk to review a Ryan speech for information.

Here is the latest video by Ryan. It is worth watching to understand his plan:

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