Calmes Declares GOP 'So Far to the Right' on Risky Budget Cutting

The ambitious, cost-trimming House Republican budget proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan "is not going to become law anytime soon, if ever," reporter Jackie Calmes assured us in her Wednesday "news analysis," "A Conservative Vision, With Bipartisan Risks." Yet it still "poses huge political risks for Republican candidates for Congress and for the White House in 2012." A front-page, above-the-fold front-page photo teased the article, with the caption helpfully mentioning that Ryan's budget "poses huge political risks for Republicans."

Calmes, whose coverage is quite sympathetic to Obama's fiscal priorities, especially his expensive "stimulus" package, immediately assured readers the conservative proposal didn't have a snowball's chance of becoming law:

The audacious long-term budget path that House Republicans outlined on Tuesday is not going to become law anytime soon, if ever. Senate Democrats and President Obama will see to that.

Even so, the plan rolled out by the Republican majority in the House figures to shake up this year's already contentious budget debate as well as next year's presidential politics. By its mix of deep cuts in taxes and domestic spending, and its shrinkage of the American safety net, the plan sets the conservative parameter of the debate over the nation's budget priorities further to the right than at any time since the modern federal government began taking shape nearly eight decades ago.

The ambitions of the first budget rolled out by the new House Budget Committee chairman, Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, cannot be understated. It poses huge political risks for Republican candidates for Congress and for the White House in 2012. After Republicans successfully campaigned in last year's midterm elections partly by criticizing Democrats for cutting Medicare as part of Mr. Obama's health-care overhaul, they now propose to eventually privatize Medicare and turn Medicaid into a sharply limited block grant to states.


The House Republicans' proposal poses challenges for Mr. Obama as well. Many Democratic strategists, including some inside the White House and the president's re-election campaign, see mostly opportunity: Pleasantly surprised that Republicans have defined themselves so far to the right, they see a chance for Mr. Obama to stake out a middle ground.

But with Republicans describing their move as a bold leadership stroke, their boast has the potential to feed a budding narrative - that Mr. Obama has declined to lead in proposing the steps needed to rein in a federal debt that is growing unsustainably as the population ages and health care costs keep rising.

Calmes eventually noted Obama has not been a profile in presidential leadership, but continued the slanted ideological labeling.

His plan underscores just how much the influx of Republican newcomers to the House, many of them Tea Party adherents, have hardened conservatism there.

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