Clearly the Ryan plan to save Medicare is a huge threat to the Democratic Party. Here’s a clue that it’s hitting a nerve, a new ad by the far-left Agenda Project just out yesterday. In it, “Grandma” is wheeled up to the edge of a cliff by a Paul Ryan look alike, and then tossed over the edge in an effort to show what his Medicare proposals would do to current seniors. If you want to teach your kids what demagoguery looks like, show them this video.
How did the Democrats get themselves in such a desperate position? Let’s go back a few weeks. For a while now, they’ve been trying to get Americans to believe that that the Republican Party is breaking down over Paul Ryan’s budget. That hasn’t been going so well, especially when the House passed Ryan’s plan with the support of all but four Republicans last month. That looked pretty unified to me.
But when Newt Gingrich went on Meet The Press last weekend and attacked Ryan’s Medicare plan as “right wing social engineering,” Democrats must have been pleased. Here was the newest GOP presidential candidate sniping at the House Budget Chairman, a dream come true for the DNC. But then came the uh-oh moment for Democrats: the response from both the House leadership and rank and file members, as well as from conservative opinion leaders such as Charles Krauthammer and Rush Limbaugh, was swift and broad, with some even calling for Gingrich to end his candidacy. Boy, did Gingrich apologize quickly and fall back in line on the budget, faced with a wave of Republican support for the Ryan plan. So much for the “Republicans are fighting” narrative. [Check out editorial cartoons about the 2012 presidential contenders.]
Then the DNC released a video (http://politicalwire.com/archives/2011/05/19/the_litmus_test.html#041439a) yesterday stating that Ryan’s plan has become the new conservative litmus test. They’re right, it has become that--and it’s about time entitlement reform moved to the top of the Republican agenda. As Dick Armey, the chairman of Freedomworks put it in Friday’s Wall Street Journal: “A candidate who is timid on entitlement reforms is not qualified to be president.” Armey knows he’s right--because he’s seen the latest CBS/New York Times poll, showing that a plurality of Americans (47 percent) actually approve of Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms. In poll after poll, Democrats see they’re facing growing public support for reducing the deficit, reining in entitlements, and cutting spending.
The big mistake the Democrats make is in calling Ryan’s plan “ending Medicare,” and in using scare tactics like ads that show Grandma going off the cliff. In doing so, Democrats reveal that they think voters are stupid. People understand the math: they learned last week from the Medicare and Social Security Trustees that if we do nothing, Medicare will run out of money in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate. The Social Security trust funds will run dry in 2036, one year earlier than the last estimate. Once the trust funds are gone, both programs will only be able to collect payroll taxes to pay reduced benefits, according to the report. Voters understand that Ryan’s plan actually tries to do something about the unsustainable course Medicare is on, while the Democrats have put forth nothing. Nancy Pelosi yesterday confirmed it yesterday to the Washington Post: “We have a plan. It’s called Medicare.” Translation: the Democratic “plan” is the status quo, and that there will be no alternative proposal from them. She went on to denounce benefit cuts of any kind. Then she said, “The three most important issues we should be talking about are Medicare, Medicare, and Medicare.” Republicans couldn’t agree more, and a growing number of voters agree too. [See political cartoons about the budget and deficit.]
No wonder Sen. Tom Coburn announced this week he was leaving the Gang of Six. He quoted Erskine Bowles that our nation is facing “the most predictable economic crisis in history,” denounced the “partisan political theater” in the Senate, and blamed Majority Leader Harry Reid for failing to direct attention to the central challenges of our time.
Coburn’s decision was big news in Washington, because he told the truth.
That’s why the left is getting so desperate. They’re threatened because their leadership has no plan, and they realize the public tide is turning against them. Every time Democrats lash out with hysterical charges and inflammatory accusations, they continue to turn off voters who are tired of the gridlock, disgusted at the demagoguery, and fed up with politicians who think we’re stupid.