Democrats thought that naming Paul Ryan to the Republican ticket would allow them to Mediscare seniors back to Barack Obama. The Wall Street Journal takes no small delight in describing just how well that strategy has worked in the first week of Ryan’s candidacy for VP. Thanks to ObamaCare and the redirection of Medicare funds to pay for its costs, Obama and Democrats have managed to fumble the issue — and given Mitt Romney a wide opening for attack — in the same way Democrats have attacked Republicans for decades on budget “cuts” and entitlement reform:
According to the usual Beltway rules, the Washington potentates call for an honest debate even as they defend or excuse the rank Democratic falsehoods in order to defeat even the modest reform that they will then claim we need, if only there had been an honest debate. The Republicans are supposed to act like Quakers amid the pummeling and are only allowed to appeal to columnists and wonks with their boring old budget charts and obscure details. And then lose elections.
Well, now we’re learning that the same tactics can be used against Democrats too. The difference this time is that the Romney-Ryan ticket is trying to create a political shock absorber against Mediscare so voters can consider the substance of a genuine reform alternative that modernizes the entitlement state, rather than simply expanding it.
For the record, President Obama’s $716 billion is a “cut” only in the sense of slowing the rate of spending growth over 10 years, which is the baseline Democrats always use. Medicare spending will continue to rise rapidly. The Obama “cuts” come by cranking down Medicare’s price controls for hospitals and by gutting Medicare Advantage.
The real term for this familiar Beltway ploy should be Medicare austerity—i.e., keep the status quo, only less of it—rather than reducing costs over time through the structural change the program needs. But it is factually correct to say that Democrats took money from Medicare and then used the “cuts” to hide ObamaCare’s true 13-figure cost.
Here’s a rather glaring example of this hypocrisy from Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, who finds this gem from 2008. Barack Obama scolded John McCain for proposing to use reductions of $800 billion in future Medicare spending to reform the health-care cost structure:
So … Obama was against raiding Medicare to fund an “ill-conceived, badly thought through plan” to reform the health-care system before he was the author of those cuts to fund ObamaCare. Gotcha.
Needless to say, this is proving to be a very fruitful line of attack. In an exclusive interview, Paul Ryan tells Salena Zito from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he and Romney have no intention of relinquishing this advantage:
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan says he wants “to bring on” the Medicare debate with the Obama administration in the campaign for the White House.
“We are heading towards a European-like debt crisis which means a deeper recession, fewer jobs, lower revenues and bigger deficits if we don’t get our fiscal house in order fast,” Ryan said on Thursday in an interview with the Tribune-Review.
The Wisconsin congressman, tapped last weekend by Mitt Romney to join the GOP ticket, discussed the campaign after a rally and an unscheduled stop for hot dogs and hand-shaking at The Hot Dog Shoppe in nearby Warren.
“President Obama has punted on this issue. He has ducked the issue of fiscal responsibility, and that is a huge threat to our economy,” Ryan said.
He criticized the president for “raiding” Medicare to pay for the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The Obama administration wants to use $716 billion from Medicare over the next decade to pay for portions of the new health care law.
“This is a debate we need to have. It is a debate that we are starting and very confident in winning,” Ryan said.
Indeed. It’s a debate that is long overdue — and one that the electorate appears ready to have and to reward.