MSNBC's Wolffe Finds Paul Ryan Budget 'Harsh' with 'Absolutely No Compassion'

On Tuesday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe described Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan as having put together a budget that was "harsh" and "showing absolutely no compassion" as he appeared as a guest on the MSNBC show. Wolffe:

You know, it was harsh. He was being encouraged to be bold and to break the deadlock, but you don't break the deadlock by showing absolutely no compassion. We're talking about extremely low levels of income to qualify for Medicaid at all.

A bit earlier, Wolffe also found an excuse to praise former President George W. Bush for once as he invoked "compassionate conservatism" to attack Republican congressional members from the left:

I remember a Republican not so long ago who disagreed with House Republicans because they wanted to, in his words, balance the budget on the backs of the poor. And he had a whole brand of what he called compassionate conservatism. That was, of course, George W. Bush.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Tuesday, November 26, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: And, you know, Richard, a group of conservative lawmakers in the House are pushing a new government funding bill that would cut $20 billion from Medicaid and transfer it to the Pentagon.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Yes, Reverend, I remember a Republican not so long ago who disagreed with House Republicans because they wanted to, in his words, balance the budget on the backs of the poor. And he had a whole brand of what he called compassionate conservatism. That was, of course, George W. Bush.

Actually, the British conservative prime minister today, David Cameron, has kind of modeled himself on something very similar. I think it's hard for Republicans to do anything more than speak to their base with this kind of harsh rhetoric. They are much better off having a principled approach to how there's a common purpose, a community purpose that they represent.

It could be community purpose based through faith. That was the faith-based solutions that President Bush was talking about. But they have to speak to a bigger audience and not pretend like, you know, that the 47 percent of the country are un-deserving poor who are too lazy to go to find work. That is a very narrow argument for them to win mass support. It didn't work for Romney before, and it's not going to work for them this time around.

(...)

SHARPTON: That was, you've got to deal with the economy, and you've got to deal with the fairness question in terms of inequality in income. You know, when you look at a guy like Paul Ryan of all people trying to sell himself as someone who is fighting poverty and winning minds, Richard, I mean, you wonder what they're talking about. Do they really believe that what they're doing is going to really help to fight poverty by cutting the budgets of food stamps, cutting the unemployment insurance of people who just can't find work, many of them working? I mean, what could they be thinking to convince themselves that this is somehow helping to fight poverty?

WOLFFE: Yeah, look, I think Paul Ryan is clearly sending out signals that he's trying to pick up that George W. Bush playbook from 2000 and, in some ways, put a distance between himself and his own plan, especially when it comes to things like Medicaid.

You know, it was harsh. He was being encouraged to be bold and to break the deadlock, but you don't break the deadlock by showing absolutely no compassion. We're talking about extremely low levels of income to qualify for Medicaid at all. So, you know, it's not like you're going to attract the votes of people who get Medicaid. It's what you express about your party's values and about your own values. I think, again, Paul Ryan`s a smart guy. He recognizes this is not a winning track that he was on before.

--Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brad Wilmouth on Twitter.