Eugene Robinson ends his Washington Post column thusly: “Republicans may tell themselves that the GOP is the party of Medicare. But I doubt seniors will be convinced.” Josh Marshall, editor of the liberal blog Talking Points Memo, isn’t so sure. He frets:
Yesterday I asked how many people knew that a Romney victory would likely lead to Medicare becoming a voucher program. I think we have our answer. Two polls have come out over the last 24 hours showing the Romney-Ryan ticket either tied or ahead of Obama-Biden on the issue of Medicare.
Yet another poll — conducted by Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News in the swing states Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin — found that 6 out of 10 likely voters trust President Obama to handle Medicare; fewer than a third favored the Romney-Ryan premium-support proposal.
Faced with such mixed data samples, I can only fall back on, well, anecdotal evidence. My family and I have spent much of this month in and out of my parents’ 55-and-over community near the southern New Jersey shore. My impressions are hardly scientific samples, but I’ll share them with you anyway. Poolside, I’ve heard a number of seniors talking about the presidential race, and specifically about Medicare. Many of them (to my ears) are North Jerseyite/New Yorkers who settled here after having cashed in on the Bush-era housing boom. This, while reclining in the safety net of single-payer health care. They’re well aware of what Romney and Ryan are proposing — and, more important, they’re aware that it won’t affect them.
This will sound harsh, but here goes. The brilliant cynicism of the Romney-Ryan Mediscare strategy is the bargain it strikes with the affluent white 55-and-over demographic — a critical segment of the GOP base this cycle. It says, “We won’t touch your benefits,” as it implies that Obama is taking those benefits and transferring them to his layabout black “base.”
This is “bold” stuff, all right — bold enough to make you bring up your breakfast.