Ryan plan rebuked in special election

Kathleen Courtney Hochul, the Erie County clerk and longtime Democratic figure who defied political experts who had given her little chance of success, ground out a stunning and surprisingly comfortable victory Tuesday in the special election for the House seat in the predominantly Republican 26th Congressional District.

Hochul defeated Republican Jane L. Corwin, a Clarence assemblywoman, 47 percent to 43 percent, with 97 percent of election districts reporting, while the Tea Party’s Jack Davis mustered only 9 percent in his fourth try for the seat. Ian L. Murphy of the Green Party recorded 1 percent, while overall turnout was about 25 percent.

The results marked a stunning defeat for the GOP in a contest that garnered intense national attention as the first competitive race following the Republican takeover of the House in last November’s elections. And as a jubilant Hochul took the stage at her headquarters at the UAW Hall in Amherst at about 10:30 p.m., she reminded supporters about the core of her campaign — controversial proposals by the GOP to revamp Medicare.

This tells us two things. First, Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to toss granny onto the tender mercies of the marketplace with nothing more than a voucher that she can purchase insurance with, a voucher that will decrease in value over time, was a really lousy idea that should never have been proposed. Second, for the zillionoth and 23rd time, Howard Dean’s 50-State Strategy is confirmed. It always was the better way to go and it proved itself once again. Even though Hochel didn’t have any reasonable chance to win her contest just a few short months ago, the Republican overreach gave her an opening and, because she already had an organization on the ground and ready to go, she was ready to take advantage of the opportunity.

Democrats should work hard to exploit this victory. They should drop all talk of a “Grand Bargain” between themselves and Republicans (I’ve very strongly urged the progressive Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to simply drop his membership in the “Gang of Six” and to just toss all of those plans into the recycling bin) and should adopt Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s plan to simply stand behind Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and to just plain support all three of them unconditionally. There’s absolutely no call for reducing the federal budget to where Republicans would like to take it.

Update: Rather jarring to see a word here that really doesn’t belong in President Obama’s message of congratulations: “Kathy and I both believe that we need to create jobs, grow our economy, and reduce the deficit in order to outcompete other nations and win the future.” (Emphasis added).

What in the heck does reducing the deficit have to do with anything?!?!?!? The deficit is a purely technical problem that nobody would ever notice or be aware of were it not for deficit scolds nagging the country about it all the time. Jobs and growing the economy are serious and meaningful issues that have a direct impact on people’s lives. Those first two goals are often in conflict with the goal of reducing the deficit.

There’s not the slightest question as to where Democrats should stand when it comes to a conflict between the two goals Democrats should stand firmly and forthrightly in favor of jobs and growth. The deficit should be handled, it’s not a good thing to have a big deficit, but that’s a very distant second priority.

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