Published for The Corner at the National Review, August 15, 2012
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.