A GOP dilemma that isn't a dilemma
I think the New York Times believes this is going to be some kind of problem for the Republicans, but I don't understand why:
For much of the past year, Republicans assailed President Obama for resisting the Medicare spending reductions they say are needed to both preserve health benefits for older Americans and avert a Greek-style debt crisis. Representative Paul D. Ryan, the House Republicans’ point man on the budget, has called the president “gutless.”
Yet since the Supreme Court upheld the Democrats’ 2010 health care law, Republicans, led by Mitt Romney, have reversed tactics and attacked the president and Democrats in Congress by saying that Medicare will be cut too much as part of that law. Republicans plan to hold another vote to repeal the law in the House next week, though any such measure would die in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“Obamacare cuts Medicare — cuts Medicare — by approximately $500 billion,” Mr. Romney has told audiences.
That is a reprise of Republicans’ mantra of the 2010 midterm elections, which gave them big gains at both the state and federal levels and a majority in the House. Yet the message conflicts not only with their past complaint that Democrats opposed reining in Medicare spending, but also with the fact that House Republicans have voted twice since 2010 for the same 10-year, $500 billion savings in supporting Mr. Ryan’s annual budgets.
The result is a messaging mess, even by the standards of each party’s usual election-year attacks that the other is being insufficiently supportive of older people’s benefits.
No it isn't. Cognitive dissonance is a feature, not a bug. Paul Ryan has already figured out how to speak perfect gibberish on this topic in a way that will appeal to dumb people:
ABCNews' "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asked Ryan about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's contested claim that health care reform simultaneously cuts $500 billion from Medicare, hikes taxes by $500 billion and adds trillions to the deficit over a 10-year stretch.
"By that accounting," Stephanopoulos said, "your own budget, which Gov. Romney has endorsed, would also have $500 billion in Medicare cuts."
"Well our budget keeps that money for Medicare to extend its solvency," Ryan said. "What Obamacare does is it takes that money from Medicare to spend on Obamacare."
Stephanopoulos was confused: "Congressman, correct me if I am wrong: I thought your Medicare savings were put toward deficit reduction, debt reduction."
"Which extends the solvency of Medicare," Ryan said. "What they do in Obamacare, they try to count this dollar twice. They claim that this helps Medicare solvency and, at the same time, they spend this money on creating Obamacare.
"The trustee report for Medicare, they say the same thing," Ryan added. "You can't count these dollars twice. In our budget we make sure all of these dollars from Medicare savings go toward extending the solvency of Medicare and don't go toward spending new money on Obamacare."
The Democrats will undoubtedly issue dozens of position papers explaining in minute technical detail why this isn't true. And most people will throw up their hands and vote with the team they feel most comfortable with. It would probably be better if they just said, "Paul Ryan is a liar. Democrats have always been the protectors of medicare and always will be." But they won't.