How Unpopular is the Ryan Plan?


While many conservative pundits are giddy about Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential candidate, the poll numbers suggest that this could really hurt his chances of winning the election, especially in some of the key swing states.

But in polls, most of those older and blue-collar voters have consistently recoiled from the centerpiece proposal of Ryan’s budget: his initiative to convert Medicare from its existing structure, in which Washington pays doctors and hospitals directly for care they provide to seniors, into a premium support or voucher system that would provide seniors a fixed sum of money to either purchase private insurance or buy into the existing program…

The electoral impact of Ryan’s plan is so crucial because less affluent whites have become so central to the GOP’s electoral prospects. Republicans have carried a majority of white seniors in each presidential election since 2000, with their share of the vote among them rising from 52 percent that year to 55 percent in 2004 to 58 percent in 2008; they soared to 63 percent with those voters in the 2010 House elections, according to exit polls. Over the past three presidential elections, Republicans have also amassed commanding margins among blue-collar whites, attracting around three-fifths of them each time; those voters also gave GOP House candidates 63 percent of their votes in 2010. Polls this year have found President Obama struggling with both older and blue-collar whites — though recent Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times surveys have shown the president regaining some ground in battleground states with non-college white women, the so-called “waitress moms.”…

But among both blue-collar and older whites attitudes about Medicare are very different. In March, the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll offered respondents two options for the program. Just 19 percent of whites older than 65 endorsed Ryan’s approach, which said “Medicare should be changed to a system where the government provides seniors with a fixed sum of money they could use either to purchase private health insurance or to pay the cost of remaining in the current Medicare program.” Fully 74 percent of white seniors said instead that “Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government providing health insurance and paying doctors and hospitals directly for the services they provide to seniors.” Among non-college whites, 63 percent said they preferred the current system, while only 26 percent backed Ryan’s approach. (Ryan’s plan also drew opposition not only from 66 percent of college-educated white women — consistently the most Democratic-leaning component of the white electorate — but even 60 percent of college-educated men, an audience usually receptive to anti-government arguments.)

Generally surveys find white women more resistant to changes in the safety net than white men (although the specific Congressional Connection Poll on Ryan’s plan didn’t show that pattern.) If Ryan’s plan remains a central focus through the fall, it would not be surprising if that debate widened the gender gap — potentially helping the Republican ticket with men most receptive to the sort of broad anti-government arguments Ryan unfurled in his announcement speech Saturday, but hurting it with white women.

You can expect the Obama campaign to spend the next few months bombarding states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, all key swing states that will likely decide the election, with ads about Ryan, Romney and these proposed changes to Social Security and Medicare. At the moment, Obama has a small lead in all of those states but they’re still in play. The Ryan pick clearly makes it harder for Romney to make up that ground in those states (which explains why Republicans in all three of those states have taken blatant steps to make it far more difficult for people, especially Democratic voters, to get to the polls).

Comments

  1. kbonn says

    The bigger frustration is that the Ryan plan isn’t even feasible/realistic. It offers no details about how exactly it is going to shrink non-defense discretionary(infrastructure, education, etc…) spending to 0.75% of GDP over the next 20-25 years, just that it will happen. There is also this insane notion that reducing the deficit/debt in 20 years will somehow create jobs TODAY.

    It isn’t a serious plan, it isn’t a realistic plan. Be he is being touted (and accepted) by people in the media as this brilliant economist and budget wonk, when he has a B.A. in economics and a fiscal plan that is incomplete at best, and severely damaging to the economy at worst.

  2. says

    Jimmy Falloon said it best: picking Ryan to juice up Romney’s campaign is like trying to spice up oatmeal by adding more oatmeal. Ryan adds nothing new to Romney’s campaign or his coalition, and the selection says a lot about Romney’s willingness to reach outside of his rich, privileged, lilywhite comfort zone.

  3. Jordan Genso says

    The greatest thing about the Ryan pick for VP is that he represents what the Tea Party Republicans are in favor of, so the campaign won’t simply be about what they’re against (aka anything President Obama is for).

    For Republicans that agree with Paul Ryan’s policies and are confident that they are better for the country, they should be excited that he is on the ticket. For Republicans that agree with Paul Ryan’s policies but understand that they would be horrible for the country (but very beneficial to the very wealthy), they should be very uncomfortable with the pick.

  4. freebird says

    What people need to focus on in Ryan’s plan is the FIXED sum of money allocated for medical costs. And when it runs out, it’s either bankruptcy or death.

  5. oranje says

    I continue to be baffled by the economic logic involved with Ryan. Personal expenditures have shrunk, which has hurt our economy (based, of course, on the cycle of production and consumption). This then lowers tax receipts, creating a governmental budget issue. The primary issue is still a lack of spending power, so to make up for that, the plan instead SHRINKS government spending, when that should increase in the short-term and then decrease to pay down debt once consumer spending has recovered. How you can cut personal and governmental spending and not expect the economy to contract is beyond me.

  6. says

    oranje, you’re talking about people who think an invisible man in the sky sent himself to earth and had himself killed so as to make himself able to forgive all the “sins” that the people for the preceding thousands of years could not be forgiven of, because, again, prior to that time he had not yet sent himself to earth to be killed. Oh, and magical cookies and grape juice are literally his body and blood, which his followers eat and drink in some weird cannibalistic ceremony every week, or few months, depending on which flavor of Christianity they follow.
    So, yeah, logical arguments about economics, or anything else, are beyond them.

  7. oranje says

    fifthdentist – thanks for putting that into perspective. You’d think some day I would remember that. I keep forgetting that one of the rhetorical tactics the right uses in such situations is to attack the notion of the “expert.”

    My magic cookies are Nutter Butters.

  8. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I continue to be baffled by the economic logic involved with Ryan.

    “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum,” more or less.

  9. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    You can expect the Obama campaign to spend the next few months bombarding states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida,

    Key word? Florida.

    This will *really* hurt them in Florida. But will it hurt them enough to counteract the illegal purging and other voter suppression tactics?

    –)->

  10. says

    A long time ago there was a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury to invite people to balance the budget. Now since the public actually doesn’t know what the budget is all sorts of people thought cutting out NPR would do it.

    Seniors are all for cutting someone else’s part of the budget. Why do those “elite” kids need Pell grants? Why do hungry people who won’t get off their butts need food stamps. And of course if we slash all that stuff there will be plenty of money left over to add COLA to Social Security and pay out on Medicare (assuming we do get rid of Medicaid). Even though Merc published a pie chart of where the money went getting rid of “waste”, the nominally painless cuts, were the answer most had.

    So Ryan just plays that. He’s the tough decisions budget cutter (if you ignore the slight-of-hand on tax cuts for unearned income) and so people assume this actually “saves” Social Security and Medicare. But they go too far; even the least read senior is skeptical of vouchers and handing money over to Wall Street to lose again. Ryan simply assumes no one will read the actual plans and that whatever opposition the Dems put up will be discounted by FauxNews. But seniors are a risky group to cross so RomRyan will be doing a lot of backpedaling.

  11. stace says

    Oh, and magical cookies and grape juice are literally his body and blood

    Cookies, my ass, those wafers are like eating cardboard. Sipping el vino in church is kinda cool though.

  12. D. C. Sessions says

    You can expect the Obama campaign to spend the next few months bombarding states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, all key swing states that will likely decide the election

    And the DNC (plus any spare superPAC sources, or the AARP) doing some additional work in Congressional races.

  13. David C Brayton says

    What was Romney thinking in nominating Paul Ryan? Really…what was he thinking? I just don’t see how Ryan increases his chances of winning. Doesn’t common wisdom say that a presidential candidate nominate a veep that will pull votes away from his competitor?

  14. dave says

    oranje:

    Personal expenditures have shrunk, which has hurt our economy (based, of course, on the cycle of production and consumption). This then lowers tax receipts, creating a governmental budget issue. The primary issue is still a lack of spending power, so to make up for that, the plan instead SHRINKS government spending, when that should increase in the short-term and then decrease to pay down debt once consumer spending has recovered.

    Ahh, I see you have been studying elitist economics. Look this is really very simple: When your household is running a deficit, what do you do? Stop Spending! When you are drowning in credit card debt, what do you do? Stop Spending! So when the Government is running a deficit and drowing in debt, it needs to STOP SPENDING. Any fool can see that.

  15. Michael Heath says

    kbonn writes:

    It isn’t a serious plan, it isn’t a realistic plan. Be he is being touted (and accepted) by people in the media as this brilliant economist and budget wonk, when he has a B.A. in economics and a fiscal plan that is incomplete at best, and severely damaging to the economy at worst.

    I don’t think the problem is that he has a mere BA in economics, but according to his Wikipedia page, had a prof who was a kook and turned him onto Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. I don’t know the quality of the department of U. of Miami (Ohio); perhaps that was also a contributing factor, but focusing on those two keys in economics as if they’re heros is like thinking past scientists who argued against evolution are still right.

    The Wikipedia entry for Paul Ryan also notes his fondness for Milton Friedman. Friedman does have much to teach us; it was required reading in the economics department at Michigan State U. where I did my undergrad. But I also had excellent econ profs who provided the context to understand Friedman’s incredible contributions with where he’s also been proven wrong. That’s analogous to us teaching Newton’s theory of gravity while noting Newton also fiddled around with alchemy which ended up on the trash bin of history.

  16. M Groesbeck says

    Azkyroth @ 8 —

    I continue to be baffled by the economic logic involved with Ryan.

    “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum,” more or less.

    …except traditional pirates elected their captains, had the option to overrule said captains at any time, and were basically run to some degree as internally democratic even as they murdered, raped and pillaged. The contemporary GOP does away with the idea that anything can be run in terms other than corporate-style top-down hierarchy, where all rights and powers are based on possession of property and other signs of essential superiority. I’m not entirely clear on why the GOP hasn’t openly started pushing for weighting votes based on income and/or wealth; it’s pretty much inherent in their ideology.

  17. says

    @14
    or you could work more hours or pull in revenue in some other way (like by borrowing or having more family members work, etc). The equivalent in your comparison is to raise taxes, like raising taxes on the rich back to the level that they were before the economy tanked. Ryan is talking about getting rid of programs that provide food and medicine. You can’t just stop spending on food or medicine unless you think its okay for people to die in the streets.

    this is if you want to pretend that the economy of a country is like the economy of a household in the first place, a pretty dubious idea. Your comparison doesn’t even make sense when all the glaring differences are ignored.

  18. kermit. says

    Dave – When you are drowning in credit card debt, what do you do? Stop Spending! So when the Government is running a deficit and drowing in debt, it needs to STOP SPENDING. Any fool can see that.

    And you see it so clearly, do you not?

    When our household was in dire financial straits, I worked overtime or got a second job. I increased my income.

    Also, elitist economics recommends paying off the debt when times are good, not running up the credit card to the limit, then getting another card and maxing that out, all while ignoring a deteriorating infrastructure.

    I’d also look to the past (AKA examining the evidence) to see what worked. (Hint: it wasn’t lowering the taxes on the rich.)

  19. dave says

    @17

    Now thats just more of that elitist economic nonsense. It not like the government has a job, its just free-loading off the rest of us. And Reagan proved that taxes kill the economy, so we will have none of that! Why can’t you see what is obvious to any fool: When a freeloader is spending money he doesnt have, the solution is to stop spending. You dont give the freeloader more money, that only encourages him; You don’t give an alcoholic a bottle of Old Grand-Dad. The gubbermit has to Stop Spending. Youre not even a fool if you cant see that.

  20. oranje says

    dave – Leaving aside the implications of elitism, what I’m talking about is a matter of simple math. When you shrink both public and personal expenditures at the same time, the economy can only contract. While individuals are getting their financial houses in order, it’s economic suicide for government to follow suit in the short term. In the medium term (as Paul Krugman defines it), yes, absolutely. I’m a big fan of not having a massive debt.

    Governments and households are not analogous. Your strawman of free-loaders doesn’t work either. If you’re working towards the magic idea that cutting taxes on the mythical “job creator” class will magically make the economy go, you’re simply wrong. Transactions make the economy work, and when no one can afford to spend their money, you see the results we have today. My problem isn’t with taxes, it is with limited opportunity for acquiring capital. If the government helps to bridge the current constricted credit market, and then balances books in the medium term when the economy is more self-sustaining, then things are fine.

    Also, the point raised about raising taxes to increase revenue is well put by several commenters on here. If you can’t avoid a stream of logical fallacies and instead want to actually talk economic policy, most here, I’m sure, are happy to engage.

  21. coleopteron says

    this is if you want to pretend that the economy of a country is like the economy of a household in the first place, a pretty dubious idea.

    Wait, you mean the average household doesn’t consist of millions of people all with vastly different problems, occupations and dispersed over millions of square miles? Next you’ll be telling me the average household doesn’t have a multiple trillion dollar GDP and concerns about which of their neighbours to ally with or bomb.

  22. tomh says

    @ #9

    But will it hurt them enough to counteract the illegal purging and other voter suppression tactics?

    Exactly right. The election could be decided by how well the voter suppression tactics work in a few key states.

  23. dave says

    @20

    So what are you saying? That we should just keep spending and it will magically work out sometime in the future? (Or rather, “the medium term?”) You dont spend your kids’ inheritance. We have to solve this problem, not leave it off to future generations. You can dress it up in as much fancy talk as you like, but to balance the budget, what you take in has to equal what you spend. The government has a spending problem, except for a few years, it always spends more than it has. This has to stop. Giving it more money wont solve the problem because it will just spend more, and besides more taxes will just kill the economy, everyone knows that. Or at least everyone who watches CNBC. If youre so gullible that you think was can just spend our way out of this problem, I have a bridge* to sell you. The government has to learn discipline. If your kids waste their allowance, you dont just give them more.

    * Probably the one over my house.

  24. davem says

    It not like the government has a job, its just free-loading off the rest of us.

    I’ve never understood the this business of the Govt free-loading. The govt is voted in by the people to do stuff that the individual cannot. Like defend the country, build infrastructure, make laws, look after the sick, etc. It costs money to do that. If you don’t like the way it’s done, you vote in someone different next time.

    And Reagan proved that taxes kill the economy

    Sorry, I misunderstood; I though that you were a simpleton, but it turns out that you’re a comedian.

  25. says

    Michael Heath “I don’t know the quality of the department of U. of Miami (Ohio)”
    If it’s as good as their geography department…

    dave “So what are you saying? That we should just keep spending and it will magically work out sometime in the future? (Or rather, “the medium term?’) You dont spend your kids’ inheritance.”
    Now, I’m no big city economist, but I’m pretty sure if the rest of the world is willing to lend you money at less than the rate of inflation (10-year Treasuries), then it’d be a good idea to get what you can, spend it on things that will increase dig you out of recession, increase growth and promote trade, then pay it back. What would not be a good idea is to pull your kid out of school, cut your wife’s medication and, at the same time, cut back your own hours at work.

  26. Pierce R. Butler says

    The Ryan pick clearly makes it harder for Romney to make up that ground in those states (which explains why Republicans in all three of those states have taken blatant steps to make it far more difficult for people, especially Democratic voters, to get to the polls).

    Those “blatant steps” started many months back. The Republican legislators in OH, PA, & FL all knew RMoney was going to pick Ryan while the rest of us were still wondering who was going to get the top nomination?

  27. dave says

    It’s not as if the clues he leaves in his posts are all that subtle, either.

    And here I thought I was going to have to mention that my neighbor had invited me over for goat curry next.

  28. says

    That we should just keep spending and it will magically work out sometime in the future?

    That’s been the Republican plan, and it’s never worked.

    You dont spend your kids’ inheritance.

    Nope — the Republicans already took care of that.

  29. F says

    fifthdentist

    Dude, that isn’t even a cookie.

    dave

    Is the military and military adventurism and it’s corporate supporters magically not part of the freeloading gov? Because I can tell you where to start. Next: Stop funding the Useless Arts and eliminate Security Theater. After this and a couple other cuts, you can start fucking over real people (more), although I’m not sure the extremely disenfranchised and those used and tossed aside by the military machine could take much more.

    (Shorter: We know where the real Death Panels are.)

    Raging Bee
    Kid are like the government: Freeloaders. Just vote them out of the house, the lazy tyrants.

  30. aluchko says

    I’m just curious why the idea of vouchers so heavily opposed?

    The seniors would still receive medical insurance paid for by the government, the only difference is that they now have to choose a private insurer and they have the ability to add some of their own money if they want.

    It seems like it would be a fairly decent step towards universal coverage without having the government act as insurer (don’t some European countries have a similar system?). I’m just not clear why it’s such an unpopular idea.

  31. jimnorth says

    aluchko, in some voucher systems the recipient has to pay the $30,000 up front for little things like life-saving surgery before they are reimbursed. If you can’t afford health care, you won’t use it.

    Also, as far as I understand, under the Ryan plan, vouchers will remain the same value forever. I don’t think medical care will stay static during the same time period.

    Please correct me if I misunderstand.

    Another idea — I would prefer the government make medical decisions, not insurance providers. I can always elect congress critters sympathetic to my cause. Insurance companies only look to their profits.

  32. aluchko says

    Wouldn’t the $30,000 depend on the insurance you got?

    I don’t know a lot about Ryan’s voucher plan, but the general concept seems reasonable, as for the costs being fixed, that’s probably just a numbers game for the deficit, in practice I’m sure a voucher system would adjust the value if it got out of sync with the health care costs as a whole.

    I’m also pretty happy with government run health care, but there are some valid criticisms, and I don’t see it happening in the US regardless.

    I think my biggest worry with a large scale voucher system is rent seeking. Insurance companies now have a very large motive to lobby for an increase to the vouchers.

  33. JasonTD says

    fifthdentist wrote @6,

    oranje, you’re talking about people who think an invisible man in the sky sent himself to earth and had himself killed so as to make himself able to forgive all the “sins” that the people for the preceding thousands of years could not be forgiven of, because, again, prior to that time he had not yet sent himself to earth to be killed. Oh, and magical cookies and grape juice are literally his body and blood, which his followers eat and drink in some weird cannibalistic ceremony every week, or few months, depending on which flavor of Christianity they follow.
    So, yeah, logical arguments about economics, or anything else, are beyond them.

    You are just describing the basic beliefs of Christians, which are hardly exclusive to Republicans or Republican voters. Simple demographics suggests that theists of some sort make up the bulk of registered voters in both parties and no party. So if believing as truth the words of some holy book makes one incapable of understanding logical arguments about other topics, what you’re really saying is that the vast majority of voters are incapable of using logic. Does that match what you intended to imply?

  34. JasonTD says

    Factcheck has a sourced rundown of the most recent of Ryan’s plans regarding Medicare. He’s backed off making it voucher-only, with current Medicare still being an option for future seniors. There does seem to be a lot of disinformation going on regarding his plan. I expect ads claiming he wants to ‘end Medicare’ or such to be playing here in Florida especially.

    On the other hand, it strikes me how much his ideas line up with the ACA. Regulated health exchanges with premium support, etc. Why should a plan that’s good for seniors not also be good for everyone? Because that would require – *gasp* – higher taxes, something anathema to any ‘true’ conservative.

  35. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    And here I thought I was going to have to mention that my neighbor had invited me over for goat curry next.

    Oh good. I was starting to wonder if dave was serious, but this gives it away. People with opinions like that don’t eat goats, they fuck them.

  36. dingojack says

    oranje (#5) – I believe it’s called ‘the paradox of thrift’.

    JasonTD (#36) – “Simple demographics suggests that theists of some sort make up the bulk of registered voters in both parties and no party“. Citations please.

    Here’s an idea. How ’bout all workers have a levy of 1.5% of their wages automatically paid into a insurance fund run by the Feds. If you get injured or sick, the amount the Federal Insurance scheme will pay out will be inversely proportional to your wage (up to a cutoff limit) the rest you pay.

    Nah, couldn’t possibly work, right?

    Dingo

  37. matty1 says

    JasonTD (#36) – “Simple demographics suggests that theists of some sort make up the bulk of registered voters in both parties and no party“. Citations please.

    I’m bored so lets take a look This suggests around 79.8% of Americans identify as belonging to some sort of religion, that is they are ‘theists of some sort’. The figure could be higher since I worked this out with refused to answer grouped with the nones. It could also be plain wrong given my past innumeracy but lets go with it for now.

    Now another article, which I’ll put in the next comment to avoid moderation delays claims 34.9% of Americans are registered Republicans and 34.0% as Democrats.

    If all the non-theists were in one of the two parties, they would be a majority so it is possible that the bulk of register Republicans or Democrats are not ‘theists of some sort’. However I don’t think they can be a majority in both parties – half of 34.9 is 17.45, half of 34 is 17, which means you would need non-theist to be over 34% of the American population for this to be possible.

  38. dingojack says

    Matty – thanks for clearing up an issue not at issue.

    a) What are the breakdowns of religiousity by party affiliation?
    b) What is the chi squared value of these results?
    c) How likely is this result to be a product of mere random chance?

    If the result is significantly higher number of religious Republican voters than religious Democratic voters then you could say that the hypothesis is confirmed, otherwise JasonTD’s null hypothesis would be confirmed.

    Dingo

  39. slc1 says

    Re matty1 @ #40

    Mr. matt1 cites an article from Rasmussen. Considering that Rasmussen is the must unreliable pollster out there, I would take anything they say with several boxes of Morton salt. The Rasmussen organization is a shill for the Rethuglican Party.

  40. JasonTD says

    dingojack @39,

    Here’s a couple of citations from Gallup:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/150443/Religious-Whites-Identify-GOP.aspx

    and key points 3 and 4 of http://www.gallup.com/poll/150611/Democrats-Liberal-Less-White-2008.aspx

    You wrote @42,

    If the result is significantly higher number of religious Republican voters than religious Democratic voters then you could say that the hypothesis is confirmed, otherwise JasonTD’s null hypothesis would be confirmed.

    I think you might have misunderstood what point I was trying to make. fifthdentist was clearly making a connection between one having basic Christian beliefs and that person having an inability to follow logical arguments in other topics, and then applying that connection exclusively to Republicans. That hypothesis (limiting it to Republicans, at least) is pretty soundly refuted. What you said @42 is confirmed, but then I wasn’t saying anything contradictory to that.

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