Jonathan Martin reports that Mitt Romney, in an effort to woo senior citizen voters in Florida, has launched robo-calls declaring, “John McCain voted against the AARP-backed Medicare prescription drug program.”
This is an abomination for several reasons.
First, McCain should be praised by all conservatives for being one of the few Republican Senators to oppose the multi-trillion dollar boondoggle, which has become the poster child for the party’s betrayal of small government principles.
Second, in last Thursday’s debate, Romney correctly noted that, “the earmarks and the pork barrel spending and the bridge to nowhere, that’s an easy one to take a shot at. But the big one is entitlements and reining in entitlement costs. And that’s where the big dollars are.” Yet just days after Romney made that statement, we find out that his campaign is attacking McCain for opposing legislation that, by some estimates, added $16.2 trillion to our long-term entitlements deficit.
Third, one of the biggest obstacles to entitlement reform is the AARP, which uses scare tactics to convince senior citizens that Republicans want to throw elderly people out on the streets. Were it not for the fear-mongering of that organization, we may very well have had a chance to achieve true reform such as personal accounts for Social Security, or indexing benefits to inflation. We’ve heard a lot of talk in the past week about how McCain allies himself with liberals and is disloyal to his own party, but now Romney is the one favorably citing the AARP and using that group’s style of smear tactics against a fellow Republican who took a stand for fiscal conservatism.
Recently, the conservative intelligentsia seems to have decided that McCain must be stopped, and Romney is the man to do it. I understand why economic conservatives are distrustful of McCain, but Romney has given conservatives a lot of reasons to be suspicious of his views of the role of government. Romney still proudly defends his use of individual mandates in his Massachusetts health care plan, even though the idea of coercing individuals into purchasing health insurance by threatening them with fines contradicts basic conservative principles regarding individual liberty.
If the tables were turned, and it were McCain who was attacking Romney for opposing “the AARP-backed Medicare prescription drug program” I’d immediately receive a press release from the Club for Growth condemning McCain, and the anti-McCain cottage industry of pundits, bloggers, and talk radio hosts would kick into high gear declaring this another example of the disloyal McCain showing his true inner liberalism. If the conservative movement, so desperate to rally around Romney, gives him a free pass on this scurrilous attack on fiscal conservatism, it would be an utter disgrace.