The Washington Post

NY 26: Republicans in retreat from Medicare cuts

It’s a classic technique in politics that if your opponent has found an issue that’s working against you, you turn the tables and declare your opponent’s position to be as bad as yours, or worse.

That’s what Republican Jane Corwin is trying to do with a new ad against Democrat Kathy Hochul, who has made Corwin’s support for the Ryan budget and its Medicare privatization central to the campaign.

No, says the Corwin ad (preposterously), “The truth is it’s Hochul who says she would cut Social Security and Medicare.” This claim is based on a single line from a recent debate in which Hochul said: “Everything should be on the table — entitlements, defense spending but also revenues.” Nothing could be more moderate or reasonable, but suddenly moderation of this sort is turned into a terrible threat.

Watch the ad:

The fact checkers are all over Corwin for her distortion. In a story headlined “Corwin TV ad accused of making bogus claims,” the Buffalo News reported that “upon seeing the ad, an independent fact-checking organization and a leading defender of the programs said: Don’t believe it.”

The News quoted Eugene Kiely, deputy director at, criticizing the Corwin campaign for interpreting Hochul’s “on the table” comment as an outright assault on programs used largely by senior citizens.

“That’s bogus,” Kiely said. “Just saying everything is on the table does not equate Social Security or Medicare cuts.”

There’s a substantive problem for Republicans here. In budget talks in Washington, they are saying that you can’t be serious about the deficit if you’re not willing to cut Medicare. But to save a congressional seat, they’re falsely attacking a candidate for even saying that “entitlements” should be “on the table.”

So much for the GOP going out there and defending the Ryan budget. This looks like full-scale retreat.

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”


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