Republicans have been pretty cocky about their chances of gaining control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives this election cycle–until Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, that is.
Republican strategists are speaking out about the danger posed by his pick, as long as they aren’t quoted by name. One anonymously told The Hill, “There are a lot races that are close to the line we’re not going to win now because they’re going to battle out who’s going to kill grandma first, ObamaCare or Paul Ryan’s budget. It could put the Senate out of reach. In the House, it puts a bunch of races in play that would have otherwise been safe.”
Democrats, however, aren’t shy about attaching their names to very similar predictions. Rep. Steve Israel of New York said, “Congressman Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are a match made in millionaires’ heaven, but they’ll be a nightmare for seniors who’ve earned their Medicare benefits.” The President also lost no time in stating his own perspective: “[Ryan's plan] would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health-care costs to seniors.”
How serious a problem is this for the GOP? Polls consistently show that Americans are resistant to major cuts or alterations to Medicare, as well as to Social Security. If there are changes to be made, most want them as modest as possible. Republicans are now trying to reframe the proposals contained within the Ryan budget, which would drastically overhaul the programs. In introducing Ryan as his pick, Mitt Romney literally told the crowd, “We will preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security.”
But Democrats aren’t going to let them get away with that lie. When the GOP initially voted on Ryan’s budget, nonpartisan analyst Charlie Cook wrote, “From a political standpoint, Medicare reform is very dangerous territory. House Republicans are not just pushing the envelope–they are soaking it with lighter fluid and waving a match at it.” Now’s the time for Democrats to flick the match out of GOP hands and let the public see how quickly their envelope bursts into flames.