Will of the people? GOP fails to appeal to America’s needs.

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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We`re not going to roll over and sell out the American people. When we say we`re serious about cutting spending, we`re damn serious about it.

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UYGUR: They always say they`re doing the will of the people. You ever notice that whenever a democrat wins an election, they look for bipartisan compromise, and whenever Republicans do, they claim that have an overwhelming mandate and know exactly what the American people want, and that the Democrats better get out of their way. Now, in this case, the numbers are clear, 58 percent of Americans want compromise. That`s the exact opposite of what Boehner has been doing all this time. But 68 percent of Tea Partiers don`t want compromise. That`s who Republicans are actually representing. Now, that`s a tiny sliver of the population, obviously, not the entirety of the American people as the GOP claims. Mike Pence even slipped up and accidentally admitted it the other day. Now, check out this video from Think Progress.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We`re trying to score a victory for the republican people — for the American — for the republican people. Trying to score a victory for the American people.

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UYGUR: That was great. The republican people — I mean the American people. But look, here`s the upside, as Ryan Brown (ph) of the National Journal points out, history shows that when the Republicans try to appeal only to others on the right, it ends disastrously for them. Especially when they target entitlement programs. The way Paul Ryan is doing right now to try to overhaul Medicare. He`s doing the same thing they`ve been doing all this time. Now, take a look at the brutal record of political missteps. In the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan tried to lower the cost of living adjustments for Social Security.

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RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The entitlement programs that make up our safety net for the truly needy have worthy goals but there`s only one way to see to it that these programs really help those whom they were designed to help and that is to bring their spiraling costs under control.

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UYGUR: You know what? Didn`t work. And the backlash was harsh. Democrats gained 27 House seats in the `82 midterms in part because of a surge in elderly support. Or go to 1995 when Newt Gingrich led the crusade to lower Medicare spending eventually triggering two government shutdowns.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The whole issue, the whole issue over this next month is how much reduction in Medicare growth and spending versus how big of a tax cut.

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UYGUR: We know how that played out. In the wake of the shutdowns, the voters spoke and re-elected Bill Clinton. Or how about 2004, George W. Bush promised to wield his political capital after beating John Carey. Bush`s big dream was to privatize Social Security.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Maybe rumors are getting.

The crisis is now. We have a problem. Workers in their mid-20s today will find Social Security bankrupt when they retire.

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UYGUR: Now, that plan collapsed without even going to a vote in either the House or the Senate. And then, in the 2006 midterms, there were huge gains by the Democrats. Now, of course, Bush`s inept response to hurricane Katrina also played a rule in those democratic gains, as well as George Bush`s inept response to just about everything else. But history is clear, when the GOP attacks popular programs that have been working for the American people for decades, they eventually get crushed.

With me now is Ron Brownstein, editorial director of the National Journal Group, and democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.

RON BROWNSTEIN, NATIONAL JOURNAL GROUP: Actually, Ron, let me start with you because you came up with that interesting analysis. Is there ever a time when they have tried to reduce Medicare or Social Security, the benefits that people got and it worked for them?

Well, it`s very hard to change these programs on a unilateral one- party basis, you know, we are living in the narrow where the public is intrinsically distrustful of both parties. And they are leery when politicians tell them they`ll going to be improving broadly supported programs like Social Security and Medicare. And I think really, the only way they`re able to get public support for that is when they do it together. The two counterexamples in the same 30 years, the only time they`ve retrenched benefits on entitlement programs without a big backlash was 1983 when the Social Security deal raised the retirement age and the payroll tax, and have bipartisan support in Congress. And 1996, when Bill Clinton and the Republicans agreed on ending the entitlements on welfare while increasing spending to child care and training.

So, I think the key here, the lesson of this past 30 years is when you try to do this on a one-party basis, even for that matter, you know, the Democrats having to pass health care on a one-party basis, it`s very hard to sell a change of that magnitude to the American people. And what Ryan has come up with is a plan that, by definition, is going to have virtually no appeal to Democrats. I do not think a single democrat in all likelihood would vote for this, would ever vote for voucherizing Medicare, and either the House with the Senate, whether you call it a voucher or premium support.

UYGUR: All right. So Congressman Blumenauer, obviously, we go to you for that question. Is Ron right? Would you guys under no circumstances vote for this plan, whether it`s voucherizing Medicare or making block grants for Medicaid?

REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D), OREGON: Well, bear in mind that this is a proposal that Congressman Ryan rolled out earlier in last year, and nobody prior to the election wanted to embrace it. He had only a handful of representatives because, including his leadership, because it was too toxic. Well, now they`ve done that. The cuts for everybody 55 and under, the block grant for low income people, these are things that are not going to be sustainable over time. It`s actually going to increase overall health care spending while it shifts it on to individuals to pick up more of the gap. I can`t see anybody in my party embracing it. And I think there`s going to be a lot of people in his party that are going to run away before we`re through with this.

UYGUR: Ron, let me go back to you for a second, then. Look, if the will of the people that they constantly refer to is to not cut Medicare and you see the polls, 75 percent say, under no circumstances should you cut Medicare, why in the world would the Democrats agree to that at all? I mean, it looks like according to your analysis, they got the Republicans in a good spot. The Republicans have basically offered them their jaw right there, shouldn`t the Democrats swing away?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, the basic dynamic in public opinion about spending in the deficit has been consistent for decades. I mean, the American people are worried about the deficit and philosophically, generally if you ask them they support a smaller than larger government. When you get down to the details of the specific programs, however, you know, the opinion often shifts. And Medicare has been one of those. This idea of converting Medicare from what is now a defined benefit program where you go to the doctor and you`re guaranteed certain benefits into functionally defined contribution program where the government would only guarantee you a check every year to buy private insurance goes back to 1998, it was first hatched by a commission chair by John Breaux, a democratic senator and Bill Thomas, a republican House member.

There was not another significant democrat who endorsed the idea until the last year, when Alice Rivlin, the former OMB director on the Bill Clinton endorsed a similar plan with Ryan. But even she has renounced her support given the specifics of the Ryan proposal. So this is a big roll of the dice for House Republicans. They are betting that if next week when — will virtually all of them will vote for it.

They`re betting that the broad support for deficit reduction will outweigh what is a clear I think reluctance on the public to change a program that affects this many people in such a fundamental way. This really is ending Medicare as it now exists and replacing it with something else. And at a time when Republicans won 60 percent of seniors in the 2010 election, we`re talking about before, their best showing in the last 30 years, that is a big disruptive change even if you`re telling people, you`ll not going to change, you know, alter it for ten years doesn`t affect anybody older than 55, it is not clear that seniors are going to hear that, or believe it if they do.

UYGUR: Right. Now, Congressman Blumenauer, the conventional wisdom unfortunately in Washington is, all the Democrats should work with the Republicans on this so-called deficit cutting program and look to cut Medicare and Medicaid. To me, as Ron explain the numbers and we see the history of it, that makes no sense whatsoever. And you have again three- quarters of the American people behind you. Can you assure me that the Democrats are not buying into the Washington conventional wisdom about working with the Republicans on this nonsense plan? And I`m not talking about just the vouchers or the block grants.

BLUMENAUER: Right.

UYGUR: I`m talking about cutting Medicare or Medicaid at all?

BLUMENAUER: Well, bear in mind that we have already put in place a number of reforms to make Medicare more efficient and to improve it. I come from an area of the country that has lower costs and higher quality than others where they`re spending twice as much. We know how to improve Medicare. We`ve got a number of those elements that used to be bipartisan improvements that are in the affordable care act. What we need to do is to work to implement those. It will save over a trillion dollars over the next 20 years and give senior citizens better Medicare. We can strengthen it and save money. That`s the path we`re on. CBO has scored it that way. And these are proposals that used to be bipartisan before the Republicans decided they were going to use it as a weapon.

UYGUR: Congressman, real quick, last question for you. Have the Democrats learned a lesson from these shutdown negotiations, that if you give the Republicans some amount of leeway, that they will take and take and take, that it makes sense to perhaps draw the line much, much, much earlier?

BLUMENAUER: Well, I`m wearing my members pin from the 104th Congress, so last time we did the cutout — the shutdown. I think absolutely we should have been more aggressive earlier and be more clear about what is involved with these billions of dollars that are being cut. Allowing this to drift, this is anonymous now. People have no clue about what is in the pipeline. That was a mistake. They have given us ammunition. We should do a better job of spotlighting what`s at stake because the American public, I don`t think, agrees with this meat cleaver approach.

UYGUR: All right. Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer and of course Ron Brownstein from the National Journal, thank you both, we really appreciate it.

BLUMENAUER: It`s my pleasure.

About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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