When we think about how Republicans think about Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan, we tend to recognize the party’s overwhelming support for the far-right agenda. When the plan came up in the House in the spring, 95% of the GOP caucus voted for it. When it came up in the Senate, support was nearly as strong. Even Mitt Romney has embraced the agenda.
But it’s worth noting that Republican support for Ryan’s plan isn’t universal. In Montana, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R), who’s in the middle of a tough U.S. Senate campaign, is benefiting from a new television ad, put together by his state party, touting his vote against the House Republican budget.
Think about that: Republicans are praising a Republican in a Republican state for rejecting the Republican budget.
What’s more, in West Virginia, Rep. David McKinley (R) is also touting his opposition to the Ryan agenda in his home district, freely admitting that the House Republican plan “would privatize Medicare for future retirees” and “nearly double out of pocket health care costs for future retirees.” In other words, according to this House GOP incumbent, Democratic talking points are correct.
Note the geography, too. We’re not talking about New England moderates campaigning against the Paul Ryan agenda; we’re talking about conservative Republicans doing so in traditionally “red” states. Montana and West Virginia aren’t exactly Vermont and Maine.
If the Ryan plan were the political winner Republicans say it is, Rehberg and McKinley wouldn’t be running so aggressively away from it.