Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Democrats campaigning to accomplish Republican goals is shaky politics

Greg Sargent in Romney’s challenge at the GOP convention The Plum Line 08/27/2012 reports a couple of very telling result from a new Washington Post poll:

Public opposes Ryan plan, but gives Romney edge on Medicare anyway: Still one more finding: Only 31 percent support Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, versus 64 percent who oppose it. But Romney has a slight edge on who should be trusted to handle Medicare, 45-42. Needless to say, Dems need to do a better job persuading voters that the two men would actually do what they’ve promised to do.

Relatedly [sic]: Romney holds a big edge on the deficit (51-38), even though Romney has not detailed how his plans would reduce the deficit. [emphasis in original]
The Medicare result is because the Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular, sat back while the Republicans in 2010 campaigned successfully by falsely accusing Obama of making $500 million of cuts in Medicare, "cuts" that were actually projected savings in the program that enhance rather than reduce Medicare benefits, and mounted only the most tepid of responses.

Now the estimate is up to $716 billion, and the Republicans are actively bashing Obama and the Democrats over the same savings. But instead of bashing the Republicans politically with their proposal to eliminate Medicare, the best Obama seems to be able to do is to make the ambiguous complaint that Republicans want to end Medicare "as we know it", churn out wonky factoids that don't effectively refute the emotional thrust of the Republicans' false charge, and try to build a consensus for his Grand Bargain - which is all about cutting benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

David Dayen writes about the notion of raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 (Romney Advisor Says Medicare Eligibility Age Would Increase FDL News 08/19/2012), something that Romney adviser Ed Gillespie has said recently that a President Romney would do:

The Obama Administration is not just an imperfect but an impossible messenger for the proposition that this is a horrible idea, since during the debt limit negotiations, the President proposed it. But let’s briefly recap why this would be terrible. You would actually raise costs in all insurance risk pools by increasing the eligibility age. Moving 65 and 66 year-olds off Medicare would mean that the younger senior citizens would phase out of the Medicare risk pool, making that a sicker population, and that those 65 and 66 year-olds would phase into the individual and group market pools, making THAT a sicker population, too. As a result, health care costs would rise across the board, far more than the savings to the federal government. Individuals would pay for those savings, and the health care system as a whole would end up more expensive. In addition, this would of course be a nightmare for 65 and 66 year-olds, many of whom would find themselves unable to access coverage in those years. They would probably delay necessary medical treatments until they reach Medicare-eligible age, making those treatments more costly to the government. And because of the trust fund issue, this would simply have to happen right away. [my emphasis in bold]
And Obama's Republican talk about the deficit only reinforces the Republican frame. Those two results go together. Defending Medicare and insisting on federal action to revive the economy and create jobs should be the Democrats' two strongest issues this year. And Obama has willingly undercut his own Party and even his own campaign on those issues. With the result that both issues are advantages for the Republicans! Awful.

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