While the House GOP continues to try to find a messaging strategy out of their Medicare debacle, they are keeping with the attack from the left on Democrats, insisting that Democrats are the only ones who have voted to cut Medicare.
You remember this twist; they're revisiting the "Mediscare" strategy that worked for them in 2010, telling seniors that the cuts to Medicare Advantage in the Affordable Care Act were the real Medicare cuts. That Democrats are more responsible for cutting Medicare than the 235 Republicans who voted this April to gut it. Yesterday, Speaker John Boehner started the attack in earnest, with this claim:
"The only people in Washington, DC who have voted to cut Medicare have been the Democrats" said Boehner, "when they voted to cut $500 billion in Medicare during Obamacare."
His spokesman doubled down on that statement, sending this to Greg Sargent:
"The Democrats’ health care law siphoned more than $500 billion away from Medicare into an unsustainable new entitlement—that’s a Medicare cut. Now, they are insisting on the status quo, which means Medicare’s bankruptcy and steep benefit cuts. In contrast, the House-passed budget, the 'Path to Prosperity, makes sensible reforms to preserve and protect Medicare for the future."
This moves the argument one step further, and takes the GOP attacks on Dems from the left to its ultimate conclusion. Not only did Dems vote to cut Medicare when they passed the health care law, but they are also proposing still more cuts to Medicare, in the sense that doing nothing will mean more benefits cuts later. After all, we know Dems are willing to cut Medicare because they've done it before.
By contrast, the Ryan plan—which we are told is necessary to reduce spending—is "reform." And that reform is designed to prevent Dems from getting away with more cuts.
Republicans are conveniently ignoring the fact that the Ryan budget preserves the Medicare Advantage cuts from the ACA, "virtually the only part of 'Obamacare'—the term that Republicans use derisively to describe the health care law enacted last year—that the Wisconsin Republican preserved when he drafted his budget." And ignoring the analysis of the CBO that says seniors would have to pay a substantial portion of their own healthcare costs, i.e. would experience a benefit cut, under the Ryan plan. And ignores the Ryan's own words, that seniors should have to pay for their own healthcare.
But ignoring reality has worked for Republicans for a long time, so why shouldn't it continue to? Particularly, as Sargent warns, if Democrats end up caving into Republican hostage-taking on the debt ceiling and deficit. "History shows, of course, that they've made this argument successfully before. Of course, if Dems agree to deep Medicare cuts in the Biden-led deficit negotiations, then we'll all call a truce. Right?"
Yeah, right. If a bargain is made, then of course the Republicans won't use Medicare cuts against Democrats. We all know how much you can trust a Republican promise. Like that whole "we'll only filibuster judicial nominees in 'extraordinary circumstances'" thing.