Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hochul's Special NY Election Win Sends GOP Medicare Busters Reeling

Riding a tide of unprecedented voter turnout, virtual unknown Kathy Hochul, an Erie County Clerk, scored a stunning upset victory over all comers in a race widely seen as a referendum on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) Medicare-busting Republican 2012 budget proposal.

The Associated Press called the election for Hochul an hour after the polls closed, when, with 71% of precincts reporting, Hochul led Corwin 48% to 42%. The race had been complicated by the presence of failed GOP contender and Tea Party darling Jack Davis, who garnered 8% of the vote.

The special election to fill New York's 26th Congressional District seat, formerly held by disgraced GOP Rep. Chris Lee of shirtless shower photo infamy, had been a yawner until the overwhelmingly solid Republican enclave's supposed shoo-in candidate, Jane L. Corwin, happened to mention she supported Ryan's plan to eliminate Medicare.

After that, things deteriorated quickly for former Wall Street denizen and multi-millionaire Corwin. Hochul pounced on Corwin's Medicare-busting stance and never let go. In a district that had been safely held by Republicans for some forty years and had voted for John McCain in 2008, Hochul went from unknown to well known, and inexorably closed the gap until she finally overtook Corwin and won going away.

Corwin never even had to take her top off.

Ryan's Medicare plan provided all the naked avarice Democrats needed. GOP heavy-hitters John Boehner (R-OH) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) ventured to western New York state to bolster Corwin's chances, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove's pals, and other well-heeled party factors pumped $3.4 million into Corwin's cause to no avail. Eventually, Corwin began sidling away from Ryan's Medicare-busting, saying she would favor changes to Ryan's plan, but it was too late. The Ryan plan sunk Corwin.

Meanwhile, Olympia Snowe (R-ME) became the fourth Senate Republican to back away from the Ryan plan. She announced she would not vote for the House 2012 Budget when Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brings it up for a Senate vote. Snowe joined fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins in opposing the scheme.

In recent weeks, GOP hopefuls Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour and others have backed away from Presidential runs, although none have cited being saddled with the Ryan Medicare voucherization plan as a defacto running mate.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been telling anyone who'll listen that he'd like to see Ryan himself run for President in 2012, albeit without a hint of sarcasm. "What Paul Ryan is about is real leadership," Cantor said. As House Budget Committee Chair, Ryan was the architect of the Republicans' vilified 2012 Budget, which endows the wealthiest Americans with another 10% tax break while slashing trillions in vital spending, and features the infamous voucherization of Medicare. Ryan's scheme would hand all of Medicare's money to insurance industry cronies, and force future seniors to buy private insurance with vouchers the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office figures won't cover a third of the cost of premiums, deductibles, co-pays and other expenses.

Upon discovering the Republicans' ignominy, the overwhelming majority of Americans disdained emptying their bank accounts in a vain effort to acquire health care for their sunset years, then dying painfully and miserably in destitution as their loved ones looked on in anguish and horror. Scores of Americans descended on Republican town hall meetings last month to let their tea party legislators know in no uncertain terms what they thought of Ryan voucherization.

"Overwhelmingly supportive," Ryan spun the Medicare onslaught despite needing a police escort to negotiate the gauntlet of screaming constituents surrounding one town hall gathering. Ryan apparently couldn't believe people wouldn't be happy to die horribly and miserably for the greater glory of Paul Ryan. Hitler had the same beef with the troops he sent to the Russian Front.

If that was the greeting Ryan got on his own turf, one had to wonder at Cantor's pushing his golden boy onto the Presidential campaign trail. Ryan didn't even relish running for an open Wisconsin Senate seat, fergawdsake. Perhaps Cantor sees Ryan as a threat to his own power, either as a rival or an embarrassment, and wants to see Ryan to really go down in flames.

The Medicare debacle has become the hardened tip of the spear skewering Republicans.

Last week, Jacksonville, FL elected its first Democratic mayor since about the time dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Alvin Brown shocked the GOP establishment by becoming the solidly Republican city's first-ever African American Mayor May 18. Brown, a moderate Democrat, won with a strong ground game, the help of old Clinton Administration hands, and local Republican businessmen.

But, the turning point might have come when Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott endorsed Brown's opponent, Mike Hogan. It turned out that Scott wasn't Hogan's hero. Folks in Florida were peeved at their Gov for slashing education and turning away billions in federal funding for high speed rail. Despite having both a "Rick" and a "Scott" in his name, the governor's endorsement didn't help Hogan, and Jacksonville anointed its first black Democratic mayor.

In Washington, another Scott, this one Brown, stated that he, too, wouldn't be backing Ryan's plan when it comes up for a Senate vote. Brown (R-MA) said, "While I applaud Ryan for getting the conversation started, I cannot support his specific plan."

Rand Paul (R-KY) also found that he couldn't support the Ryan plan, although Paul had the convenient uber-right-wing excuse that Ryan's plan hadn't gone far enough. Paul claimed he couldn't support the Ryan budget because it didn't cut enough from the federal budget. Perhaps he might reconsider if Ryan promised to put Bush Administration torture master John Yoo in charge of Medicare reform.

You knew it was going to be long day for Republicans when the Corwin campaign, possibly alarmed that hundreds of people were waiting since early morning to vote at their polling places, asked a judge Tuesday afternoon for a court order barring certification of the election results pending a show-cause hearing later in the week. The judge impounded all voting equipment and proscribed canvassing paper ballots.

The Corwin campaign insisted such actions were "very typical" in close elections. While Republicans routinely sequester themselves behind locked doors with all the ballots until they come up with a result they like, it's suspicious for anyone to start complaining about the outcome before the voting.

"We want to make sure that every legal vote is counted fairly and accurately," Corwin campaign lackey Chris Grant said. New York residents had better keep a close eye on the GOP minions, as the only "legal" votes Republicans tend to recognize are the ones for their candidate.

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