Throughout the health care debate, I argued that it was a huge mistake for Republicans to focus on attacking the Medicare cuts in the Democrats' health care legislation, because it reinforces the third-rail status of the program that will need to be seriously reformed to avert the impending fiscal collapse of the United States. Now, we're starting to see GOP candidates dig themselves in even further, by continuing to attack the Medicare cuts.
Earlier this morning, I received a press release from Chris Cox, a Republican seeking to replace Tim Bishop in New York's 1st Congressional district. The district went for Obama by just 3 points in 2008, and is seen as competitive this time around, with Bishop's vote for the unpopular health care bill putting him in danger of losing his seat. It's one thing to make the much narrower argument that we're cutting Medicare to finance a new entitlement program, but Cox goes far beyond that.
His press release began:
Supporting a bill that cuts nearly $500 billion in Medicare funding that seniors across the country depend on, Tim Bishop’s vote on government-run health care has placed thousands of New York’s seniors in a serious situation as they struggle to afford health care.
The release also reads, in bold letters, "Tim Bishop’s vote for government-run health care leads to cuts in Medicare for 800,000 New York seniors."
The intellectual incoherence in this statement is amazing. It attacks Bishop for voting for government-run health care while arguing that the mother of all government-run health care programs cannot be touched.
The release continues with a statement from Cox in which he engages in the type of demagoguery that is typically associated with Democrats:
“Many of our grandparents, mothers and fathers depend on Medicare to receive necessary health care, but with the reckless health care bill that Tim Bishop helped pass, their benefits have been put in danger. At a time when many of our seniors have seen their retirement savings vanish during our difficult economy, additional taxes and cuts to their health care benefits is just not something seniors can afford. To cut $500 billion in funding for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens is an outrage and something that I will fight to repeal if I am given the privilege to represent Long Islanders in Congress.”
Should Republicans retake the majority with new representatives like Cox, we'll never be in a position to repeal Obamacare because Republicans won't be able to make a credible philosophical argument against government-run health care. And in the long-run, having already promoted themselves as defenders of Medicare, they'll never be in a position to vote for true entitlement reform along the lines of what's been proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan.
Cox's defense of the sanctity of Medicare should be viewed as nothing less than a direct assault on younger generations who will be forced to grapple with the burden of unsustainable growth in entitlements. If he were really concerned about protecting "our nation’s most vulnerable citizens," he may want to think about the grandchildren for a change, instead of trying to score short-term political points using liberal rhetoric.
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