Every so often I'll see someone write about Paul Ryan's presidential prospects in 2016. I like to pretend those pieces are satire. Ryan was a lackluster vice-presidential choice in 2012. He wasn't especially interesting, people seemed to dislike him—he even lost his own hometown to President Obama—and his proposals are so far to the right that he turns off independent voters.

Take, for instance, Ryan's newest plan, which would combine multiple federal anti-poverty programs into one massive anti-poverty program that would disseminate money to states. The states could use that money however they want, so long as they follow a series of strict guidelines:

In the envisioned scenario providers would work with families to design a customized life plan to provide a structured roadmap out of poverty. When crafting a life plan, they would include, at a minimum:

• A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success
• A timeline for meeting these benchmarks
Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract
• Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract
• Time limits for remaining on cash assistance

So the party of small government wants to explicitly tell poor people how to live their lives, force the poor people to sign a contract promising they will do what the government tells them to do, and then penalize them if they do not follow that plan to the letter? Uh-huh.

I don't think even Ryan expects this plan to pass. I think he's doing his job as a Republican Party lackey, which is to keep pushing the idea of normal behavior further and further to the right until eventually, a few years down the line, someone else can re-present the Ryan plan as a completely sensible Republican solution. (I wrote about this tactic last year during the government shutdown.) This kind of monstrous bullshit would have been laughed out of the room even ten years ago; now it's the sort of thing Republicans get all horny over. We can't allow him to normalize horrible shit like this.