So it’s come to this: Now Republicans are accusing Democrats of wanting to “shred the social safety net.”

As I’ve noted here before, Republicans have again taken to attacking Dems from the left on Medicare after doing it successfully last cycle, arguing that Democrats are the only ones who have ever voted to cut the program and insisting that Dems are intent on destroying Medicare by doing nothing to save it.

Here is the most amazing example of this yet — a remarkable new ad from the NRCC that accuses Dem Rep. Jerry Costello of Illinois of supporting a “Democrat plan” that would “decimate” Medicare, “shred the social safety net,” and “leave seniors at risk”:

We’ll be hearing more of this accusation against Dems, so it’s worth a look. The ad claims (emphasis mine) that Costello “backs a Democrat plan the media says would decimate Medicare.” But the source for the claim is an editorial in Investors Business Daily. The ad also says the Democratic plan would “shred the safety net.” But the USA Today editorial cited as the source makes a less direct claim: “Democrats know that the simple math of health care will eventually shred the social safety net they seek to protect.”

The GOP claim that Dems would destroy Medicare is based on the argument that Dems would do nothing at all on Medicare, and that the trustees for Medicare and Social Security have said the programs will become insolvent sooner than expected. Dems counter that they have already passed a slew of Medicare reforms in the Affordable Care Act (even if you argue that they are insufficient, Dems want them to be the basis for further reforms), and that they’re currently involved in the Biden-led deficit reduction talks, which are expected to deal with Medicare.

More broadly, the fact that Republicans are now attacking Democrats from the left on Medicare amounts to an acknowledgment that Dems have won the debate over Ryancare. Democrats have successfully cast the battle over Medicare as one between those who would save the program and those who would destroy it — or at least transform it so fundamentally that it would cease to exist. The GOP response is to muddy the waters by claiming that both sides agree Medicare needs to be cut and that the only difference is over the details. Indeed, Republicans have now taken to claiming that unlike the Dem plan, Ryancare wouldn’t cut Medicare at all; it would merely reform it. In short: Cutting Medicare is now bad; defending it from cuts is good.

This new GOP ad takes this to its logical conclusion: Cutting the “social safety net” is now bad; defending the social safety net is now good. Republicans are now the bleeding heart liberals, and Dems are the ones who would throw granny into the street to starve.