I asked a spokesman for John Boehner to explain the Speaker’s claim earlier today that only Democrats have voted to cut Medicare — even though House Republicans voted to pass Ryancare back in April. The spokesman, Michael Steel, emailed this reply:
“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.
This amounts to an admission that Dems have succeeded in defining this battle as one pitting those who are a threat to Medicare against those who are its staunch defenders. Republicans are trying to get the public to see that the roles should be reversed. 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?
UPDATE: Ben Smith has another example: Marco Rubio accusing Dems of wanting to “bankrupt” Medicare.
The point here, I think, is that Dems have successfully framed this fight as one between those who would destroy Medicare and those who would save it. And Republicans are adapting.
UPDATE II: A Democrat points out that the Ryan budget keeps the Medicare cuts from the Affordable Care Act that Republicans have been criticizing since 2010.