Democrats are convinced that their Mediscare tactics gave them the win in New York's 26th Congressional District this week. They're also convinced it will give them the same edge nationally in 2012. It's not going to work.
On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, provided a glimpse of future campaign ads as she stood at her weekly press conference next to a poster of a blown-up, giant-sized Medicare card on top of an oil rig. She explained that Democrat Kathy Hochul won the GOP-leaning seat in the Empire State because the "door opened on Medicare, she walked right through it and saw the connection between increasing costs to seniors while giving tax breaks to big oil."
House Speaker John A. Boehner's retort was simple and effective: "The only people in Washington, D.C., who have voted to cut Medicare have been the Democrats when they cut $500 billion out of Medicare during Obamacare." The facts are on the Republicans' side. The House-passed budget by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, doesn't touch benefits for anyone over the age of 55.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is proud of his cuts. "We felt it was the right thing to do when we did our health care bill to do something to strengthen Medicare," the Nevada Democrat said Wednesday. "And we did that in a number of different ways, and one way we did that was getting rid of $500 billion of wasteful spending." It's hardly stronger. The Medicare trustees announced last week that the program will go bankrupt five years sooner than they predicted just last year.
Republicans can credibly argue that the other party is Medicare's worst enemy. "The Democrats' plan is to do nothing," Mr. Boehner said. "And the trustees at Medicare have made clear that doing nothing means that the Medicare plan will go bankrupt and seniors' benefits will be cut."
Senate Democrats are vulnerable insofar as they voted against every budget and have stubbornly refused to propose their own. As Mr. Ryan said to the reporters crowding around him off the House floor Wednesday, "If you demagogue entitlement reform, you're hastening a debt crisis, you're bringing about Medicare's collapse. And I don't think seniors are going to like that truth when they discover it."
With 17 months before the elections, Republicans have plenty of time to refine this message and get the word out.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
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