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August 15, 2012

Democrats Starting To Realize They Might Lose The Medicare Argument?

Restoring the money cut from Medicare, for ObamaCare, back to Medicare.

This is how they'll win -- if they do win.

In the last few days, the Romney campaign has moved to dramatically change the terrain of Medicare politics, and it looks like the Democrats are beginning to realize how vulnerable they might be. Because of Obamacare, it is the Democrats who now plan to cut current seniors’ benefits (especially those in Medicare Advantage) and access to care (thanks to the IPAB) while still failing to avert the program’s (and the nation’s) fiscal collapse, and because Romney would repeal Obamacare and pursue a version of the Ryan-Wyden premium-support reform it is the Republicans who would protect current seniors’ benefits and make them available to future seniors while saving the program from collapse through market reforms. Through the candidates’ statements this week and through this new ad, Romney and Ryan have made clear they’re going to inform voters about this and force the Democrats to defend themselves on Medicare.

That won’t be easy for the Left, since the Romney campaign’s charges are true, and it is beginning to become apparent that the Democrats are totally unprepared for the coming fight. Their defenses so far fall into roughly three categories: Ryan did it too, the Obamacare Medicare cuts aren’t very serious, and finally what can only be called frantic distractions. Even as pure demagoguery (let alone as efforts at actual substantive arguments) all three are exceptionally weak defenses, and suggest the Democrats could be in serious trouble. Let’s examine each one.

The “Ryan did it too” defense is perhaps the most amusing of the three, as it succeeds in being simultaneously untrue, irrelevant, and an admission of the basic charge against the Democrats. Even as they call Paul Ryan a cruel and merciless budget cutter who cares not for the weather service and would gladly see children exposed to E. coli, the Democrats justify their taking $710 billion out of Medicare and spending it on Obamacare over the next decade by pointing out that Paul Ryan didn’t put that money back into Medicare in his budget. So if he had, would that have made their cuts unjustifiable? Well it so happens that he did. By repealing all of Obamacare’s spending, the Republican budget does not spend the money Obamacare took out of Medicare and thus those funds are used to extend the Medicare trust fund. And this point is hardly hidden in the Ryan budget. The budget document spells it out in its spending tables and also explains it in its narrative section, noting on page 54 that:

This budget ends the raid on the Medicare trust fund that began with passage of the new health care law last year. It ensures that any potential savings in current law would go to shore up Medicare, not to pay for new entitlements. In addition to repealing the health care law’s new rationing board and its unfunded long-term care entitlement, this budget stabilizes plan choices for current seniors.

Rather than keeping their heads down and avoiding Medicare as an issue, they intend to run on it.

Interesting. Let's see that Romney ad again:


Their plan, I think, is this: Seniors might accept that Medicare must be reformed in order to extend the solvency of Medicare, to keep the system functioning.

But seniors may not be keen on simply taking $710 billion of the benefits they paid for their whole lives and giving them to people who did not pay for such benefits.

If you're in economic difficulties, you may be willing to cut back on your own spending so that one day you'll emerge from debt.

But what you might not agree to is devoting a large portion of your income to supporting other people.


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posted by Ace at 05:48 PM

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