When I heard that Mitt Romney had tapped Paul Ryan to be his running mate, I expressed my enthusiasm on Facebook: “Love [Ryan’s] courage and intellect,” I posted. “Shows that Romney is committed to making this election an intelligent debate about the nature and direction of our country.”
A liberal friend of mine was also excited, but for different reasons: “We are going to find out all the courage it takes to attack the weakest sections of our society and reward the most powerful!” he posted in retort. “Romney just lost Florida and the election.”
Florida, of course, has a large population of senior citizens who are fiercely protective of their Medicare benefits. Ryan and Romney have each proposed Medicare reform plans to keep the program — and the country — from going broke. But there is nothing in Ryan’s — or more importantly in Romney’s — Medicare reforms that would threaten the benefits of those seniors. Neither plan would change the system at all for any current senior — or even for anyone within a decade of becoming a senior. Reforms would only apply to people 54 or younger, and they would be voluntary. People could stay on the old system if they wanted to; the Democrats’ claim that these plans would “end Medicare as we know it” is therefore a falsehood. Similarly, their assertion that the reforms would affect current seniors is completely untrue. What is true is that President Obama is raiding $716 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. That will certainly hurt current seniors, as will the panel of cost-cutting bureaucrats who, under Obamacare, will decide which life-saving procedures will be paid for — and which will not.
The only way that Ryan could be a liability with seniors is if they believe the lies rather than the truth. So when Democrats confidently predict that Ryan will drive Florida into their column, they are essentially confirming their intention to keep lying about Medicare. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with her characteristically amusing bull-headedness, demonstrated this on CNN recently; she stubbornly refused to admit the indisputable fact that GOP reforms would not affect current seniors. And the president himself is using slippery, carefully parsed language to (falsely) imply that he has not actually cut Medicare. But Obama was more honest back in 2009, when he admitted that a third of the funding for Obamacare comes from cuts in Medicare.
Will Florida seniors earn the contempt that the Obama campaign clearly has for their intelligence? The Republicans, honorably, are betting not. As for my Facebook friend’s other comment — that the choice of Ryan reflects an intent to “attack the weakest sections of our society and reward the most powerful” — well, there they go again.
I’ll share a little secret with those of my conservative friends who, unlike me, have never had the pleasure of being a liberal: Many liberals have a deep-seated psychological need to believe they have a monopoly on compassion. And many Obama supporters stubbornly cling to this belief in the face of all evidence that the president’s policies — measured by results, not supposedly good intentions — have been the opposite of compassionate.
Of all the groups in America that need our compassion, the two largest are (a) the 23 million who are struggling to find work and (b) the tens of millions of younger Americans whose future is imperiled by our exploding debt. President Obama’s policies have been a tragic disaster for both groups.