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Republicans Continue to Get Pummeled at Town Halls Over Right-Wing Policy Ideas

Republicans have abandoned their highly ideological budget, whether or not they’ll admit it. In a long speech in Chicago yesterday, Paul Ryan devoted all of three sentences to his plan to end Medicare, and nothing about Medicaid. And a new Republican jumps ship on the proposal every day – today it’s Scott Brown’s turn. Republicans continue to hold the debt limit hostage, but the list of demands is now completely unclear, if the budget is essentially off the table.

As I said, Republicans cannot admit to their base that they’ve jettisoned the right-wing budget proposal, however. Which means that Republican members of Congress still have to defend it and their other crackpot ideas. And defend them they must, from the hordes of constituents streaming into their town hall meetings during this scheduled break:

Congressman Quayle Takes Heat for Medicare Decision [KSAZ FOX10]
“Monday night at a town meeting in Anthem, it was Ben Quayle who got beat up a bit while meeting with his constituents. Many people in the crowd were fired up about about his stance on the proposed changes to the Medicare system. Quayle favors the Republican plan which would give seniors vouchers to buy health insurance on the private market.” [KSAZ, 5/16/11]

Congressman’s Meeting Interrupted By Shouting [WPBF]
“Another town hall meeting organized by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, devolved into a shouting match Monday night. About 100 people came to hear the congressman speak. Police escorted one person out of the meeting. […] ‘I didn’t agree with his explanation about Medicare. I’m very concerned about cutting Medicare and changing Medicare without looking at the revenue side,’ resident Dave King said.” [WPBF, 5/17/11]

Crowd pulls few punches at Herrera Beutler town hall [The Columbian]
“U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler faced a boisterous, partisan crowd Tuesday evening at her first Vancouver town hall, where she fielded sometimes hostile questions about her vote to restructure Medicare and her reluctance to support raising the federal debt limit. […] Several hundred people showed up at Skyview High School for the session. They passed a couple dozen protesters near the entrance who hoisted signs saying, “Save Medicare: Tax the Rich” and “People not Profits.” Several supporters of Planned Parenthood wore pink T-shirts to protest Herrera Beutler’s vote to end federal funding of family planning services.” [Columbian, 5/16/11]

There are more at the link. Much like the consciousness-raising over the assault on public employees in Wisconsin, the public’s consciousness has been raised by the reality of the now-defunct Ryan budget, which revealed the true plans of the conservative movement for the country. In Wisconsin, local Democrats responded to this moment with attentiveness and responsiveness, leaving the state and providing no cover for Republicans, who were forced to cheat to pass their bill (that’s why it’s still tied up in court and not implemented). They were rewarded through recall elections that could win them back the state Senate.

Will national Democrats have a similar epiphany? Democrats in the House all voted against the Ryan budget. But many have played footsie over cuts to entitlement programs that the public simply does not want. Those Democrats have a choice to make.

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David Dayen

David Dayen