Republicans Will Accuse Democrats of Destroying Social Security While Doing it Themselves
In a wide ranging discussion on Fareed Zakaria's show today of various "deals" that are to be made between the President and the Republicans in the next two years, David Frumn let the cat out of the bag:
Frum: As Republicans become the party of the elderly,you reflect the interest of your constituency. The elderly are the greatest beneficiaries of the American social welfare state
Zakaria: Are you saying that Republicans have become ... are the demographics clear?
Frum: If you look back at the middle of 1980's the election of 1988, which is a good baseline. Your not going to remember all these numbers exactly, but the Democrats dominated among over 65s. In this past congressional election, which is a smaller electorate and the presidential one the Republicans dominated among people over 65. Well that has been in the 1980s Republicans were dominant among people under 30 and the Democrats are now dominant among people under 30.
Zakaria: This is fascinating so the Republicans now have their base and their ideology in two different places. The base wants all these benefits for the elderly and their ideology says we have to cut them.
Frum: And that is why, you know, the two worst things about the president's health care plan were that it increases the deficit and number two that restricts Medicare. And you will hear people on the floor of the House say that and, they're not completely irrational because ... I hope the technocratic path you predict is the right one. It really is possible to get 17 wise people in a room with a good flow of hydration and have them work out a technical deal that will put us over a period of years on a path to sustainability and economic growth.
Frum doesn't really explain why they are not completely irrational, but I will: they know that sounding irrational doesn't matter. They know they can easily demagogue "entitlements" one day and be the staunch defenders of Medicare the next because they just won over 60 seats doing just that.
The Republicans are not going to abandon their ideology. But they will certainly pander to their base of elderly citizens by accusing the Democrats of destroying social security and medicare even as they destroy them. We know this. It already happened. Now perhaps that wouldn't be a problem if the elderly were not the most reliable voters in the nation (and younger voters the least) or that Democratic ideology is completely bankrupt and empty if they do weaken the safety net out of some short term desire to appease a bunch of spoiled Wall Street princes.But if you actually care about the programs this is a recipe for disaster.
And yes, it would be much tidier if we could get some super-duper politicians and elite insiders in a room to map out a bipartisan plan for peace and prosperity, but sadly, the super-duper people don't have much of a track record recently. I think I'd rather trust my future to David Frum's apocalyptic scenario:
What is more likely is this: we have a huge burden of adjustment that is coming. It has arrived at a state and local level and it going to arrive at the national level. There are going to be losers. We're all going to be losers, some will lose less. Who should the bigger losers be and who should the smaller losers be and that will be resolved in a furious episode of intense politics.
That doesn't bode very well for the 95% of the people who aren't vastly wealthy, as we know. But I can guarantee you that if it's left up to the technocrats of both parties going into a back room and "making a deal" that 95% is well and truly screwed.