Tuesday’s rollout of the latest budget from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) served as a reminder that while “you didn’t build that” and “binders full of women” may be relegated to historical trivia, the political debate over Ryan’s budgetary proposals will be as heated in the next presidential election as it was in the last. It also has the potential to do as much harm to the next GOP nominee.
Every potential GOP candidate for 2016 has endorsed Ryan’s controversial budget in the past. In its 2014 iteration, it would slash Medicaid and food stamps, privatizing and voucherizing Medicare, repeal Obamacare (while keeping the cuts to Medicare that were part of the ACA), and cut taxes and domestic spending while adding nearly $500 billion over ten years to the military budget.
Ryan’s plan is not going to be law—in fact, it’s not going to be easy to get 217 Republicans in the House to vote for it, let alone gain even an iota of support from President Obama or Democrats in the Senate. But it will define the political debate and serve to set the GOP’s budget priorities. In a statement, RNC Chair Reince Priebus praised Ryan’s proposal, saying, “Americans are calling for an end to the reckless spending, and Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget answers that call. It treats working families fairly and will strengthen our economy.”
In short, the proposals of the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee have already become party orthodoxy. The problem for the GOP and 2016 hopefuls is that the details of the plan aren’t very popular and already proved a major drag in 2012 on Mitt Romney.
The risk for the GOP is that by enshrining the Ryan budget as an adjunct to the party platform ties even its most center-right figures to its proposals. In fact, a number of potential establishment candidates have already backed previous iterations of the plan. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie praised Ryan’s first budget in 2011 and expressed his support in a letter that was co-signed by three other Republican governors. This acclaim paled in comparison to that of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who effused in 2012 that he was a “huge fan” of the Wisconsin congressman and proclaimed his support of the Ryan budget. Backing for Ryan’s budgetary proposals run the GOP gamut and other contenders likeScott Walker and Marco Rubio have bet on them as well.
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