But that in and of itself is a tactical victory for Democrats. Republicans are on the defensive. Democratic cynicism has worked. By deciding to do nothing about debt and entitlements, and instead to simply accuse Republicans of tossing granny off a cliff, they have given themselves an issue.
In NY-26, the Republican candidate was weak, defensive, unschooled and unskilled in dealing with the issue. Republicans have a year to cure that. If they can train their candidates to be just half as fluent as Ryan in defending their Medicare plan, they would be able to neutralize the issue.
The Republican line in 2010 was: He’s a leftist. Now it is: He’s a failure. The issue is shifting from ideology to stewardship. As in 1992, it’s the economy, with everything else a distant second… I would still prefer to see the Republican challenger make 2012 a decisive choice between two distinct visions of government. We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation debate about the nature of the welfare state (entitlement versus safety net) and, indeed, of the social contract between citizen and state (e.g., whether Congress can mandate – compel – you to purchase whatever it wills). Let’s finish that debate. Start with Obama’s abysmal stewardship, root it in his out-of-touch social-democratic ideology, and win. That would create the strongest mandate for conservative governance since the Reagan era.