Saturday, February 20, 2010

Republican Goal is to Convince Public "Their" Dramatic Plans for Change Nothing to Worry About.

The assumption for the following Wall Street Journal perspective is that Republicans can be trusted to make decisions Americans can trust, and Democrats aren't even in the picture. Trust is key to Americans, even when they know the Rep. Paul Ryan plan and other like him leave everyone short changed and a dollar short. But the myth must be maintained; Republicans are "fiscally conservative." The free market must be preserved, even if Social Security and Medicare will wither and die. If the private sector can't keep these programs alive, then what's the use of keeping them around. And that goes double for retirees and seniors with failing health.

The odd thing is, the Wall Street Journal exposes the GOP exploitation of uncertainty and fear of change, while making the case the same party will quell the fears and uncertainty with a magical sense of leadership.

But the Ryan plan is, inevitably, as complicated as the entitlements it seeks to reform, involving vouchers and tax credits, cost controls and privatization.

In the long run the Republicans have to do two things … They have to prepare the ground for an American decision—a decision by a solid majority of America's adults—that they can faithfully back specific cuts in federal spending: that they can trust the cuts will be made fairly, that we will all be treated equally, that no finagling pols will sneak in "protection" for this pet interest group or that power lobby, that we are in this together as a nation and can make progress together as a nation.

Second the Republicans should tread delicately while moving forward seriously. Voters are feeling as never before in recent political history the vulnerability of their individual positions. There is no reason to believe they are interested in highly complicated and technical reforms, the kind that go under the heading "homework."

As in: "I know my future security depends on understanding this thing and having a responsible view, but I cannot make it out. My whole life is homework. I cannot do more."

We are not a nation of accountants, however much our government tries to turn us into one.

Margaret Thatcher once told me what she learned from the poll-tax protests that prompted her downfall. She said she learned in a deeper way how anxious people are, how understandably questioning and even suspicious they are of governmental reforms and changes: "They're frightened, you see." None of us feel we have a wide enough margin for error.

Americans lack trust that government will act in good faith, which is part of why they're anxious. They look at every bill, proposal and idea with an eye to hidden horrors. The good news is the new consensus that America must move forward in a new way to get spending under control. The bad news is we don't trust Washington to do it. And in the end, only Washington can.

Paul Ryan is doing exactly what a representative who's actually serious should do—putting forward innovative and honest ideas for long-term solutions.

Funny, not one Democrat is serious enough or bold enough to leave every American equally hanging out there alone without a safety net, while at the same time thankfully , saving the government money. What a trade off.

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