We wrote earlier this year that Republicans would get no objection from us if they postponed Medicare reform until they had a GOP President, but the House went ahead anyway. Far be it from us to criticize politicians for having too much courage. But having committed themselves, Republicans will appear (and will be) feckless if they abandon reform only weeks after voting for it. Trying to change entitlements can be agony, but it is fatal to try and fail. The voters will conclude the critics were right.
Mr. Gingrich has done great harm to his party and the cause of reform with his reckless criticism of Mr. Ryan, forfeiting any serious claim to be the GOP nominee. But equally as culpable are the self-styled conservative pundits who derided Republicans for dropping the reform mantle during the Bush years but now tremble that Mr. Ryan has gone too far.
The reality is that Medicare “as we know it” will change because it must. The issue is how it will change, and, leaving aside this or that detail, the only alternatives are Mr. Ryan’s proposal to introduce market competition or Mr. Obama’s plan for ever-tightening government controls on prices and care. Republicans who think they can dodge this choice are only guaranteeing that Mr. Obama will prevail.