I’ve been frustrated by the decision of Republicans to focus their attacks on the Senate health care bill on the fact that it would cut Medicare benefits. As I’ve noted before, it’s philosophically incoherent for Republicans to claim that that they’re against government-run health care while they sanctimoniously try to protect a massive existing government health care program from any sort of cuts. Preserving the third rail status of the program will only make it more difficult to cut it down the road to avert an entitlement crisis.
But the GOP strategy is looking even more problematic now that Democrats are talking about ditching the “public option” as currently structured, and replacing it with a plan that would, in part, lower Medicare eligibility age to 55. After spending the first week of debate offering amendment after amendment reinforcing the idea of Medicare as a sacred institution, will Republicans be able to pivot and suddenly argue that those aged 55 to 64 cannot have access to this awesome program? Is the new GOP position that the government should provide individuals with unlimited health care benefits once they reach age 65, but not the option to buy in if they’re 55 to 64?
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