What do you do when your liberal opponents run ads portraying you as literally pushing grandma over a cliff? You go on offense, that’s what you do. From the House Budget Committee yesterday:

Wait, what? Did Ryan just say that under his plan Medicaid spending will increase by 123% over the next decade compared to a 125% increase under current law? How can this possibly be when everywhere you look some Democrat or another is accusing Ryan of trying to radically cut government spending, leaving millions of Americans to fend for themselves like some sort of Social Darwinism experiment. A 2% reduction on a baseline increase which will more than double spending over the next 10 years doesn’t sound very radical to me.

Ryan’s real sin of course is proposing to shift control of Medicaid funding to the states who already administer the program. This would put a serious crimp in the long term liberal strategy to consolidate all healthcare spending under a federally-run, single payer system. Most if not all Democrats would oppose Ryan’s plan even if he were proposing a 150% increase in spending.

At a broader level, Ryan really makes a great point here. Conservatives should refuse to cede the compassion argument to the left. There is more to caring than pumping an ever-increasing share of taxpayer dollars into programs that do virtually nothing to lift people out of poverty. And there is certainly nothing compassionate about standing idly on the sidelines while these programs bankrupt the federal government. Democrats have no viable option to fully fund the major entitlement programs as they exist today without resorting to massive tax increases on the middle class. But they don’t like to talk about this. As Treasury Secretary Geithner said, they don’t have a plan of their own, they just know they don’t like Ryan’s. We’ll see what more of the American people think about Ryan’s plan in the coming months.