The People Versus the Party

John Boehner

Paul Ryan on March 12, 2013.Christopher Gregory/The New York TimesPaul Ryan on March 12, 2013.

The Republicans have hit a sour spot in politics — they are 180 degrees opposed to what most Americans want on just about any issue you care to name.

Remember, for instance, how the American people rejected the Romney/Ryan ticket, and in particular Paul Ryan’s budget? Today Mr. Ryan released a remarkably similar budget. It even has the same Orwellian title: “The Path to Prosperity.”

The Ryan budget, which will become the official G.O.P. budget just as soon as the Republican majority in the House gets a chance to vote on it, gives nice big tax breaks to the wealthy. At the same time, it would turn Medicare into a voucher system, gut Medicaid by turning it into a block grant to the states, give states the ability to kick people off food stamps and repeal most of health care reform. (Except the Medicare savings, which Mr. Ryan has added to his deficit-reduction proposal.)

It would kill funding for high-speed rail, guaranteeing that the United States will never catch up to the rest of the world in public transportation. And it would cap Pell grants, guaranteeing that they will fall behind tuition inflation.

The budget is not merely terrible policy, but also bears no resemblance to what Americans want — at least judging from their rejection of the G.O.P. presidential ticket last year as well as more recent public opinion surveys.

Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner crowed on Twitter about a new Marist/McClatchy poll. He claimed the survey shows that Americans prefer spending cuts to tax increases. But he read it wrong.

It’s true that when asked in the broadest sense if they would prefer to reduce the deficit mostly by cutting government programs instead of mostly by raising taxes, Americans chose cutting 53-37 percent.

But when asked about specific kinds of government programs, respondents chose raising taxes over cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education and transportation. They said they would rather cut spending only when it comes to energy, the military and unemployment benefits.

Do you hear that, Mr. Ryan? A lot of Congressional Republicans want to cut jobless benefits, but they don’t want to balance the budget at the expense of military contractors or the oil companies.

The divide between the people and the Republican party doesn’t just exist on economic issues.

While Mr. Ryan was busy cooking up a budget that no one wants, his co-partisans were pushing against expanded background checks for gun purchases.

According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 91 percent of Americans support closing the so-called gun show loophole that lets about 40 percent of all gun sales go through without oversight. That includes 87 percent of Republicans and 91 percent of independents.

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