Watch as GOP Rep. Jim Renacci (OH) is confronted at a local town hall meeting, asked what the heck he thinks he is doing saying he will vote to repeal the health care reform law. Renacci replies that he and fellow Republicans campaigned on reversing the "half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare." (From Daily Kos.)
Republicans campaigned on protecting seniors from Medicare cuts. No way around it. In the 2010 election campaign Republican groups ran millions and millions of dollars of ads promising not to cut Medicare, and to increase Social Security. They campaigned against Democrats for "cutting $500 billion from Medicare" and not increasing Social Security cost-of-living. As a result, for the first time the senior vote went to Republicans.
Here are just a few of the ads that saturated the airwaves, saying that Democrats should be thrown out for cutting Medicare:
And voters were sent flyers like this: (click for larger)
Conservative Strategists Warn Republicans Against Cutting Social Security
National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru, in a New York Times op-ed, How the G.O.P. Can Cut and Survive, warns Republicans not to touch Social Security,
Ronald Reagan suffered a defeat in his first year when he tried cutting Social Security's early retirement benefits. Newt Gingrich's 1995 Republican revolution fizzled when President Bill Clinton fought him over Medicare cuts. President George W. Bush's effort to reform Social Security in 2005 ended any political momentum he brought to his second term.
Would-be reformers should draw two lessons from this history. The first is that reform can't be sprung on the electorate. Reagan hadn't campaigned on cutting Social Security in 1980, nor did the Gingrich Republicans promise to reduce the growth of Medicare.
Well, actually they campaigned on restoring $500 billion to Medicare and increasing Social Security, but everyone except the "low-information voters" they targeted understood they meant the opposite...
Keep in mind that most voters oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, so they are likely to be very nervous about any proposals to restrain their growth, especially if opponents portray such cuts as excessive. Even worse, most members of Congress are not well informed about these programs, so they'll have a hard time soothing public anxieties.
Don't Cut Social Security, It's A Trap
Conservative and "centrist" (corporate) calls for President Obama to go after Social Security at the same time they are warning Republicans not to are nothing more than a trap. If the President calls for cutting Social Security you will see ad after ad after ad after ad after ad after ad blasting President Obama and Democrats in general for cutting Social Security and devastating seniors. The voters do not want Social Security cut and any politician who goes against the wishes of the voters will face their wrath. And cutting Social Security will devastate seniors. It is the wrong thing to do. So don't.