The Medicare Election
Last week, Mitt Romney changed the presidential race from one completely void of substance to a referendum on Medicare. And I couldn’t be more impressed.
Before we delve into this, readers should keep in mind that Romney is losing this race, not only in nationwide polls — consistently, but consistently in swing state polls as well. R’s lack enthusiasm for his empty campaign, despite the fact that our leaders told us we would be excited for “anyone but Obama.” Finally, the demographics that it takes to win are trending toward Obama. Romney hasn’t wrestled away Blacks, Hispanics, Women or Catholics from Obama any more than John McCain did. The fact is, Romney was on the path to losing the election.
But this VP pick changes the conversation in a big way.
Apparently, David Axelrod has been salivating at the prospect of Paul Ryan being on the ticket. Democrats believe that they can demonize Ryan for his Path to Prosperity plan to balance the budget by cutting welfare programs.
Dems think they have a millstone to tie around Romney’s neck to sink him with. Last night, Rachael Maddow claimed that Ryan attempted to “kill Medicare!” Not “end it as we know it,” not “kill it as it is” but kill it completely. Chris Matthews is out there saying that eighty year olds are going to have to take vouchers out into the marketplace to find their own healthcare. (Actually that sounds more like Obamacare) Now, I don’t begrudge Democrats a bit of rhetorical flourish, especially considering the fact that we enjoyed a 50+ seat Congressional pick-up based off of “death panels.” But it is going to be brutal and hacks like Maddow are already flat out lying.
To be sure, Medicare remains the third-rail of American politics and Democrats are going to want to harp on Medicare from now until November, Republicans should take it and run with it. They should run on an altered version of the Ryan proposal. Democrats stand for choice right? Let them debate a voucher system by choice that isn’t even available to Americans over the age of thirty or forty. Put today’s voters in a place of security by drilling into their heads that they couldn’t receive it if they tried, this is an attempt to save it for their kids. Let Romney prove that there are more benefits to be had by a free-market system than the government paying you a pittance in return for a life of hard work.
The Romney/Ryan team is going to have to demonstrate that we should all be concerned with the debt and the budget. Americans have been hearing about the budget their entire life and the enormity of the problem no longer jars them. Romney needs to effectively communicate what a downgraded credit rating means, what over-borrowing means and how it will touch the kitchen table of every household.
As it stands, Republicans, by running Romney, are poised to lose. Choosing Paul Ryan certainly was taking a chance, but it is something that Republicans can really turn around on Dems because liberals have no serious proposal to deal with long-term spending except to raise taxes. Obama did not go through the budget cutting as he had promised, Democrats have not attempted to bring Republicans back to Earth in realizing that our Defense spending is too high. They just want to “make everyone pay their fare share.” A Joe Biden speech consists of saying “fair share” forty times and mocking his opponents.
Paul Ryan entering the conversation allows Democrats to start the conversation and that’s good, because that’s half the work. Now all they have to do is win the argument. If Romney would say something affirmative instead of playing coy on this issue, then Americans would see a party of ideas verses a slash-and-burn/hope-and-change campaign and they’d have a fighting chance to make up the 4% deficit in the four-five states they need to win.
But at this point, running from the debate allows Obama to define the Ryan plan, it continues to show Romney as weak and it allows Obama to win the argument. And to the victor goes the spoils.