Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is being touted as a potential 2012 presidential candidate, on Monday criticized fellow Republicans for making attacks on Medicare cuts a centerpiece of their campaign against President Obama's national health care legislation.
"I do not think it was a proud moment for the Republican Party at all," Daniels told reporters and bloggers at a Heritage Foundation gathering. "Medicare is going to have to change. I have to say, the granny card has been played so cynically against Republicans so many times, that I can certainly understand the turnabout there. But it is not a grownup attitude. We're going to have to have some grown up conversations. And to pretend that Medicare can continue in its current form is just not honest."
He later added that, "I understand why they leap at the short-term temptation to score a point or two, but it's not really in the national interest."
Daniels said that he agreed with Paul Ryan's approach to tackling the entitlement crisis, "at least in the basic outline," saying that we need to split the programs into an old system and a new system. This way, those who are at or near retirement could remain in the current program they planned their lives around, while younger Americans could be put in a new program that the government can afford.
He said the idea wasn't even very radical and that it has been done in the private sector, though he conceded that the plan could be "easily distorted" and "easily slimed."
Despite all of the reasons to be pessimistic that Washington are too "chicken liver" to actually tackle this problem, which he referred to repeatedly as an "emergency," he said there were also some causes for optimism, noting the millions of Americans who have struggled with credit card debt and mortgage payments.
"I think Americans have a renewed sense of the menace of too much debt," he said.