Similarly, Republicans should talk specifics about enacting gradual structural reforms to entitlements in order to preserve benefits for the next generation. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has proposed means-testing Medicare premiums, making Medigap plans more cost-efficient, combining Medicare Part A and B to ease confusion, and asking federal employees to contribute more to their own retirement. I'd add one more: Raise the retirement age. Voters know the problem and want solutions, not name-calling.
Focus on policies that can attract more bipartisan support. House Republicans have proposed a long-term package to reduce spending and reform out-of-control entitlements. They need to enact it now to get the economy moving and unemployment back down. That's why they're focused on the debt limit – it's a proven way to get a bipartisan agreement. Obama says he's willing to engage with Congress on a long-term budget agreement. Congress should take him at his word and bring the Republican plan up for a vote, now, before interest rates start rising.
As Ryan said recently, "This is not a Republican versus Democrat thing. This is a math thing." As Republicans get ready for the next round – more sequester cuts will hit in January, and the debt limit will be reached in February – they'd be wise to keep the focus on the math. They need more than paid staff and blood relatives supporting them.