Tuesday, August 14, 2012

NEWS BLOG: Romney, Ryan, Medicare, and risk

Posted by on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 10:51 AM

I dunno; maybe some political reporters are sensing something I'm not.

I keep reading stories and blogs hinting that Mitt Romney has taken a risky - possibly fatal - step in choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate. The reason: Ryan's hope to partially privatize Medicare.

In their Politico post this morning, for instance, Alexander Burns, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Martin say that they've interviewed more than three dozen "Republican strategists and campaign operatives." And while those Republicans are putting a happy face on the Ryan selection, off the record, they say "Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right -- and a huge chance of going horribly wrong," Burns, Haberman, and Martin write.

"They're worried about inviting Medicare -- usually death for Republicans -- into the campaign," the journalists write. "They're worried it sidetracks the jobs issue. They're worried he'll expose the fact that Romney doesn't have a budget plan. Most of all, they're worried that Romney was on track to lose anyway -- and now that feels all but certain."

Maybe so. But I'm not so sure. Ryan's plan to reform Medicare is crafty, and it's cynical: He doesn't want to change Medicare for anybody who's getting it now. His change will affect people years in the future.

So seems to me that how voters in, say, Florida, react to the Ryan pitch (and to Obama's scary ads attacking Ryan) will depend on how altruistic those voters are. If they believe everybody ought to be able to receive medical coverage when they're old, they won't like the Ryan plan. On the other hand, if their sentiment is more along the lines of "I've got mine...," then Romney's not taking much of a risk at all.

We shall see.

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