It’s clear the Romney campaign fully anticipated an attack on Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal. Its premeditated response so far has been quite clever.
Step one: Remind voters of Obamacare’s cuts to — the “raid” on! — Medicare. Step two: Promise to restore those “arbitrary” cuts. Step three: Characterize Romney-Ryan Medicare reform proposal — which reduces spending below current law by 35-45 percent), but not until 10 years from now — as a means of strengthening, not cutting, the program. (To hear this argument more fully fleshed out, see James C. Capretta and Yuval Levin.)
Never asked, let alone answered, is the question that if Romney’s Medicare reforms are so painless, why not demand that current beneficiaries accept them? Why is it necessary to spare them from structural reforms that are so self-evidently “sensible” (Capretta’s word)? (To his credit, Reihan Salam indeed calls for a faster timetable for the premium-support changeover.)
That this Orwellian gambit is being pitched as the bold, courageous, grown-up alternative to politics as usual is, on its face, pretty astonishing.
But I’ve long since lost the ability to be astonished by Mitt Romney and Eric Fehrnstrom’s cynicism.