Class Warfare Update

Today Paul Ryan made clear what many of us long knew was coming: he and Republicans in Congress plan to use the massive deficits created by the pending tax cut as a pretext for slashing Medicare, Medicaid and various anti-poverty measures:

“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show. “… Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.

This as he and his Republican colleagues begin to finalize a tax cut that will increase the deficit by at least $1 trillion over the next decade, primarily by giving massive breaks to corporations and the wealthy. People who, you know, are not dependent upon Medicare, Medicaid and various anti-poverty measures.

As is the case with the examples I cited in my previous two posts, such a scheme is not conservative. Rather than principled, it’s a sketchy two-step in which Congress plans to foment a massive fiscal problem by giving handouts to people who do not need them and attempts to solve it by torpedoing programs which are time-tested, massively popular and upon which millions rely as a matter of basic survival. It’s likewise not traditionally partisan, as we’ve come to understand partisan politics, in that it harms just as many Republicans as it does Democrats. Possibly more.

It thus makes no sense to think of it as a conservative or a Republican position. It can only be understood as an act of class war. An attack by rich and powerful interests against the poor and middle class. 

Not all attacks launched by powerful forces are successful however. 

Ask yourself how many current members of Congress ran on a platform of gutting Medicare. Ask yourself how many voters support the gutting of Medicare. The answer: few if any and a tiny minority at best. Almost anyone who thought to run on this sort of platform would be slaughtered at the polls. People don’t like it when you attack popular programs and threaten the things upon which they depend for survival. 

A candidate who is willing to point this out in clear terms — a candidate willing to defend the poor and middle class against this attack on their vital interests — will do well, even in a district that leans Republican. A candidate who pulls their punches on this shouldn’t even bother. 

​The battle lines could not be more clear. Start fighting. 

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.