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We already knew that Paul Ryan's Medicare voucher program was a loser.  Well, this morning's New York Times reports that Republican congressmen and challengers for congressional seats now realize it as well.  Although Ryan and Romney are falling all over themselves to get the rank-and-file behind the plan, the troops aren't getting the message.

The distancing ranges from subtle to stark. Some first-time House candidates, unencumbered by a vote on the Ryan plan, have told local news media outlets that they have not and will not endorse the proposals found in the vice-presidential nominee’s budget. Some veteran lawmakers who voted for the plan are demurring on whether it will be the party’s policy blueprint, while the few in tough races who voted against it have made their opposition a calling card.
Predictably, the Grover Norquist wing of the GOP is having a conniption fit.   But according to an anonymous Republican consultant, the Ryan plan may very well keep Kent Conrad's Senate seat in Democratic hands.  It's also a severe drag on Republican congressional candidates.  Not just in Florida, where you expected the plan wouldn't sell--but also in California, Illinois, New Jersey and Virginia.

Apparently the Democrats smell blood in the water as well.

“We left for recess in a fairly neutral environment, where nearly a month later, we have a good stiff wind at our backs,” said Representative Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “That wind is mostly propelled by Paul Ryan and his budget.”

Democrats are now pouring on the Medicare attack. A recent advertisement by the party attacked Representative Dan Benishek of Michigan, a freshman, saying that he had voted to “essentially end Medicare and raise costs on seniors by over $6,000,” the amount the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the Ryan plan would shift annually to Medicare beneficiaries.

The same line of attack is on the air in North Carolina against the Republican challenger David Rouzer, coupled with the charge that the Ryan budget also would cut taxes for millionaires, “definitely not North Carolina values.”

To my knowledge, this is the first time I can recall a major party's rank-and-file openly running from a major proposal from its presidential standardbearer.  Pass the popcorn.
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