I just saw MSNBC’s Ed Schultz crowing about a Washington Post report that the congressional GOP is giving up on trying to cut Medicare, and portraying this as a great victory for Democrats. But the story itself makes clear that the Republican leaders are merely recognizing the political fact of life that if only one party is willing to be serious about the long-term cost of entitlements, there will be not be cuts to those entitlements as long as the non-serious party holds both the White House and the Senate. The short-term focus, then, has to be on cuts elsewhere in the budget; the medium-term focus, on convincing the American people that the entitlements are not sustainable on their current path and that the necessary change will take place only if Republicans are given a stronger hand in D.C.
Which, as we know, will be an uphill fight. When even a large majority of Tea Party members — the people who are, remember, supposed to be our country’s most serious advocates in the fight to restrain federal-government spending — oppose cuts in Medicare, it’s clear that the people who understand these issues have a massive task of citizen education ahead of them. But I am confident that the Tea Partiers and other concerned Americans will at least be willing to listen over the next 18 months. The only hope the other side has is that they can somehow keep the American people in a state of denial on these issues, and that’s not something to boast about.
NB. No, I don’t watch Ed Schultz very often. I happened to catch this segment, and felt the need to weigh in on what will surely be a much-repeated talking point tomorrow (“Hurray! Republicans have caved, so Medicare is safe!”).