Oldster-Fueled Backlash Against The ACA Unlikely to Reflect Support for Small Government

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It’s been pretty widely remarked that the surge in Republican voting last week was driven largely by old people, but I’m really shocked by the extent to which the MSM has failed to derive the obvious conclusion from this. After all, criticism of Democrats had two main thrusts. On the one hand, incumbents were castigated for too much spending. On the other hand, incumbents were castigated for cutting Medicare. Surely both critiques were persuasive to some audience. But which critique do we think specifically found traction with senior citizens? Pretty clearly Medicare.

Now politics ain’t beanbag, so if Republicans want to slam Democrats for reducing Medicare’s projected future outlays they’re free to do so. But you can’t ride to victory on a backlash against Medicare cuts and then claim to be riding a backlash against big government. Medicare is big government. Really big!

Pat Garofalo pointed out yesterday that Jim DeMint (R-SC) is trying to square this circle by somehow pretending that Paul Ryan’s “budget roadmap” doesn’t cut retirement programs:

GREGORY: But then, but where, but where do you make the cuts? I mean, if you’re protecting everything for those, the most potent political groups like seniors who go out and vote, where are you really going to balance the budget?

DEMINT: Well, look at Paul Ryan’s Roadmap to the future. We see a clear path to moving back to a balanced budget over time. Again, the plans are on the table. We don’t have to cut benefits for seniors, and we don’t need to cut Medicare.

The reality is that Ryan’s plan involves completely eliminating Medicare and replacing it with a less-generous system of vouchers that will let you buy private insurance. At root, the agenda here is totally incoherent.