Even before the government shutdown, seniors were turning against the GOP.
Rampant extremism had shaken the confidence of older Americans who were most responsible for giving the House back to the Republican Party in 2010.
The shutdown combined with the second threat of a debt default — that would delay Social Security checks — in three years seems was too much. The GOP’s unfavorable rating with seniors is up 19 percent with voters in just one year and is now appropriately at 65 percent.
65 is — of course — the current retirement age for Medicare. Raising that age is one of the “reforms” that corporate groups that want to “Fix the Debt” are trying to get Democrats to agree to in the near future. It’s a reform that would save less than repealing the medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act would cost.
This proposal cuts benefits for Medicare — or soon-to-be — Medicare recipients. And it’s exactly the kind of thing Democrats should not be considering now.
But they may be, according Business Week’s Joshua Green. Why? To get rid of the sequester, which is the only kind of Stimulus the White House can imagine right now — and also to please the confidence fairy, who is terrified of the debt in 2038, even as millions of Americans are out of work right now.
I understand the need to get rid of the sequester. It would mean jobs for at least 900,000 Americas. But would it provide the kind of boost that could rock the economy and change Democratic prospects in the near term? Doubtful.
I understand the need to reform our earned benefits so that they’re there for the future. But this doesn’t need to be done now, nor in a way that just means cutting benefits.
There are progressive reforms to reform Medicare that would improve care and efficiency just as there are actual things we can do to stimular our economy that Republicans would never agree to. Both are possible only if Democrats take back the House, something that was just a fantasy only months ago.
Look at this chart, which I call Ted Cruz’s gift to the Republican Party:
Taking the House back is a serious possibility that becomes much more real if Democrats assure seniors that we will defend what they’ve earned, not just for them but future generations.
Our only hope for improving the economy and securing our safety net is getting rid of the Republican majority in the House. No deal that tries to erase the mistakes of the sequester or appeases the debt fixers is worth giving up our increasingly real chance to do that in 2014.