I’ve been trying to figure out how the GOP came to Paul Ryan’s Medicare-throw-granny-from-the-train budget. But I couldn’t come up with any good reason why the Republicans (the Tea People too) would back a plan that attacks the elderly and still doesn’t balance the budget. I pondered the question and ultimately conjured my own scenario. What follows is fiction. As far as we know.
INT: BULLFEATHER’S BAR, WASHINGTON, DC. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER ERIC CANTOR AND SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL ARE AT A TABLE.
BOEHNER: Damn it fellas we have to come up with a plan. A real plan. Not just issuing another Reagan postage stamp.
MCCONNELL: We could do what we did under Clinton and demand a balanced budget amendment. That was easy and we didn’t have to worry about it ever happening.
BOEHNER: Damn it, Mitch, we need something bigger, like when “W” tried to privatize Social Security and tie it to the stock market.
MCCONNELL: That didn’t work out for us.
CANTOR: (TO MCCONNELL.) We’ve got to make a splash. I don’t want to do this public servant thing forever. I want Steve Doocy’s job on Fox and Friends. I could do the weather and be a Right Wing lackey at the same time. Watch… (CANTOR POINTS TO IMAGINARY MAP. PRETENDS TO READ THE WEATHER.) In Abilene, Kansas we’ll see a high of 78 degrees today while in Kogelo, Kenya, birthplace of President Obama, the high will be 115 with no chance for rain. Ever. (BACK OUT OF CHARACTER.) Besides, I hate Steve Doocy.
BOEHNER: What’ve you got against Doocy? He’s on our side.
CANTOR: He looks like Big Bird. I hate Sesame Street.
MCCONNELL: Ummm…(PAUL RYAN ENTERS IN WORKOUT CLOTHES WITH A GYM BAG AND SITS.)
RYAN: What’s up my peeps?
BOEHNER: (TO RYAN) You’re late, junior.
RYAN: Sorry, boss. Got held up by a super-hot-insurance-lobbyist-babe who wouldn’t take “yes” as an answer. I get it. Obamacare is bad; the uninsured aren’t trying hard enough, blah, blah, blah.
BOEHNER: You were in your office like that? (GESTURES TO RYAN’S CLOTHES)
RYAN: No, no, but she made me late for my workout.
CANTOR: I hate exercise.
MCCONNELL: I enjoy the stationary bicycle.
RYAN: Pffft… it’s not just a workout; it’s P90X! It’s the ultimate fitness routine.
CANTOR: How often do you do that thing?
RYAN: Everyday! Today was Back and Legs plus Ab Ripper. Ab Ripper is a bitch. (RYAN UNZIPS GYM BAG AND REMOVES A TUPPERWARE BOWL CONTAINING BLUEBERRIES.)
CANTOR: What’s up with the blueberries?
RYAN: If I only tell you guys one thing today, this will be the most important. (THE OTHERS LEAN IN) If you eat blueberries right after you workout, you know, while your motab is still up, you keep burning calories. That’s some serious shit, huh?
BOEHNER: Okay, Jack Lalanne…
RYAN and CANTOR: Who?
MCCONELL: I saw him at a weight lifting exposition in Barlow in 1950…
RYAN: Don’t worry about it, Uncle Jessie. (RYAN PATS MCCONNELL ON THE ARM.)
CANTOR:The Dukes of Hazard were from Georgia.
RYAN: Where’s Jefferson Davis here from? (POINTS TO MCCONNELL.)
MCCONNELL: The great state of…
BOEHNER: Kentucky! Mitch is from Kentucky for the love of Jesus Christ and all his deadbeat-hippie disciples, can we please get on subject?
CANTOR: Sorry, Big B.
RYAN: You bet, boss.
BOEHNER: Now that the brain trust is all here we’ve got to do something. We need a plan. Something we can put in a book. Like a manifesto.
MCCONNELL: I’m not comfortable with Soviet metaphors.
CANTOR: Like Ayn Rand! I was the only kid in my fifth grade class to read The Fountainhead.
RYAN: Does it have to be a long book? I don’t really read. I’m mean… I read magazines… well, Men’s Health and Entertainment Weekly.
MCCONNELL: I once read Gone With the Wind cover to cover on a train to…
BOEHNER: Ryan’s on to something. Keep it short. Easy to understand. Something we can repeat. Something Glenn Beck can wrap his head around.
CANTOR: It has to be about making cuts. Big cuts. Historic cuts.
RYAN: The mother of all cuts!
MCCONNELL: You know you’re quoting Saddam…
BOEHNER: Cut what? Going after public broadcasting and cancer screenings for women is wearing thin.
RYAN: It’s soooo played. What if we sell the Grand Canyon?
MCCONNELL: I don’t…
CANTOR: That’s not bad… we do it like a reality show. We get the richest corporations in America to bid for it. We could get a celebrity panel of judges to decide on the best offer. I hate nature.
BOEHNER: Okay, kids, we’re planning a budget for the United States not resurrectingThe Gong Show.
RYAN and CANTOR: The what?
RYAN: (SNAPS FINGERS.) I’ve got it! We kill Medicare. The old won’t be around to vote for much longer anyway. End Medicare as we know it. There’s a slogan for you!
BOEHNER: Not bad, junior. Not bad.
MCCONNELL: The elderly vote is…
BOEHNER: (TO MCCONNELL.) Calm yourself, Colonel Sanders. The kid’s on to something. Besides, my grandfather was a miserable old coot.
RYAN: Yeah, boss man, screw the grandparents! What did they ever do for us?
BOEHNER: My grandfather used to call me “little boner.” Son of a bitch said I was pasty. How do you like me now, old man? I’m a golden god!
CANTOR: My grandfather was a Democrat. He smelled like old newspapers and pee.
BOEHNER: But we can’t just kill Medicare. We have to come up with something to replace it. But not provide the same benefits.
RYAN: I’ve got one word for you. (RYAN LEANS INTO THE GROUP CONSPIRATORIALLY) Vouchers.
CANTOR: My grandfather used to say “pull my finger” then you know what he’d do? Pass gas. You know… (WHISPERS) Fart.
RYAN: (IGNORING CANTOR) We could do something old school. Retro stuff is very hip, like those pre-faded KISS t-shirts at Old Navy.
CANTOR: (CONTINUING.) Then he’d wave the fart at me. I hate farts.
RYAN: What if we give the old people tickets as vouchers? Like those tickets you got for school lunch.
MCCONNELL: Reagan said ketchup is a vegetable.
CANTOR: Peepaw made me eat beets. They taste like dirt. (CANTOR PUTS FACE IN HANDS.)
BOEHNER: Ryan, you’ve got it! We can order those lunch tickets cheap from China.
MCCONNELL: I remember when President Nixon went to…
RYAN: And we’ll get them in different colors for the various stuff the geezers will need. Four purple tickets get grandma a trip to the eye doctor, twelve green tickets gets her a yearly check up, you save the red tickets for heart surgery or cancer.
BOEHNER: But we’d limit the number of tickets they get.
RYAN: Definitely. We can’t just give them all the tickets they want. After all they could get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter or collect cans or something. Get out there! Storm the beach! Be active.
CANTOR: PeePaw wanted me to throw football with him. Kept hitting me in the face with the ball. Broke my glasses four times. Four times! I hate football. (CANTOR PUSHES GLASSES UP ON HIS NOSE.)
RYAN: Jesus, Eric, you’re such a nerd. Go Redskins!
BOEHNER: Go Redskins. (BOEHNER AND RYAN CLICK GLASSES.)
MCCONNELL: I’m a grandfather.
BOEHNER: Pipe down, He-Haw. Okay, guys, I’ve got to get to a meeting with Darrell Issa.
RYAN: Issa, what a nightmare.
BOEHNER: I know, but if I’m five minutes late he’ll start some fucking investigation about it.
— Okay, maybe it didn’t go down like that. But it makes as much sense as anything else. Also, I think I deserve some credit for not making Boehner cry. Not even once.