Yes, as POLITICO's Ben Smith writes, Republicans have decided to go on the attack against Democrats on Medicare, using the playbook from 2010 when the cuts to Medicare Advantage in the Affordable Care Act proved a potent criticism with older voters.
Sen. Chuck Schumer vowed yesterday to make the Medicare changes in Paul Ryan’s budget a defining campaign issue for Senate Republicans in 2012—but Republicans plan to respond by reviving criticism of cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that were built into the 2010 health care bill...
"He and every other Senate Democrat went on to vote for it." one Republican staffer emails. "We'd agree with Schumer that in races such as this Medicare will be a key issue."
Republicans ran hard on the issue of Medicare cuts during the 2010 campaign—and it was part of the reason that senior citizens swung so hard towards GOP candidates.
Never mind that Medicare Advantage has only about 11 million enrollees—all of which still enjoy Medicare coverage, as opposed to the 46.5 million who would be left at the mercy of private insurers in the Republican plan. That's getting tot he policy weeds of this, but what about the politics?
Greg Sargent looks at that. He writes about getting an e-mail from the NRSC pointing to the Senate battleground states poll commissioned by liberal groups, arguing that that poll shows the vulnerability of Democratic incumbents over Medicare Advantage cuts. It's twisted logic, but Republican strategists are nothing if not twisted.
In the special House election in New York’s 26th district, where the GOP candidate is in trouble over her support for Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare as we know it, Republicans are fighting back by accusing the Democrat of wanting Medicare cuts because she said Medicare should be on the table.
This strategy — attacking Dems from the left on Medicare, just as Dems are doing to Republicans — amounts to an admission that Dems are winning the argument over Ryancare. It’s an effort to muddy the waters by persuading the public that both parties agree on the need to cut Medicare and even change it in a fundamental way — and that the only argument is over the details....
[T]he political dynamic here could not be clearer. Dems, you have now been put on notice: If you agree to deep cuts in Medicare in the Biden-led talks, Republicans will see to it that you lose the political advantage you have built up by attacking Ryan’s plan. You may even lose the general advantage you have built up as the creators and defenders of popular entitlements programs that have helped define the Democratic Party for generations. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
You know they'll use it. They'll have no shame whatsoever in doing so. No matter what Sen. Mitch McConnell says about a "grand bargain" on Medicare and Social Security taking the issues off the table in 2012, it ain't gonna happen. If Medicare or Social Security cuts happen on a Democratic president's and Senate's watch, they'll be fair game.