Over the course of the debt ceiling negotiations, whenever news broke that entitlement cuts were being put "on the table," you could typically rely on hearing from all manner of parties who were opposed and/or concerned about the program taking a hit. Typically, you'd hear protests emanating from progressive circles -- Democratic politicians, liberal pundits, left-leaning blogs. But oddly enough, a new voice is keening in the wilderness today: the Republican National Committee. What now?
Yes, that's right. On the RNC's "Issues" page, under the oddly creepy headline, "Reach Out And Touch Medicare," the Committee wants to remind you that, "For The Record…It Was Obama Who Offered To Cut Hundreds Of Billions In Medicare During The Debt Debate." It's a pretty selective remembrance! The bipartisan Gang Of Six also sought steep cuts to Medicare -- $400 billion worth to recipients. Their talks broke down when Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) demanded further cuts. It wasn't good enough for another Republican -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) -- either. He wanted substantially bigger cuts as well. (And let's recall that Ryan is the author of a celebrated Medicare plan that reduces Medicare costs by not paying for Medicare anymore.)
So, the RNC's protesting headline seems a little off. It probably should read something more like, "For The Record ... Obama's Proposal To Cut Billions Of Dollars From Medicare Is Something With Which We Are In Total Agreement." But this is actually old hat for the RNC -- new Chairman Reince Priebus is simply adopting the "talk out of both sides of my mouth" technique that his predecessor, Michael Steele, popularized.
(The plan wrought by the debt ceiling negotiations, and endorsed by Obama, makes no cuts to Medicare in the first round, leaves it up to the super committee to do so in the second, and forces a trigger cut to Medicare on the provider side if no resolution can be had in committee or in Congress. Make no mistake, though, massive cuts on the provider side will have consequences for recipients.)
The cynical counterpunch here is to pinpoint that brief period of time that House Speaker John Boehner was trying to shop the terms of the "grand bargain," which included $1 trillion in new revenue, and write a memo titled, "Remember, America, John Boehner wanted to raise your taxes!"
But one good thing has come from this: after much of the latter-day rhetoric which included constant complaints from the GOP that the White House never contributed a plan, now they suddenly remember there was one! (And it included cutting Medicare, something the RNC wants to do desperately.)
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