Adam at the St. Louis Activist Hub points out that the stars are perfectly aligned for Democrats who can see their way clear to stand up for Social Security and Medicare. He thinks the implications for Claire McCaskill are also clear:
… if 77% of Missourians oppose cuts to Medicare, and Todd Akin helped craft a budget that tries to get rid of Medicare, it seems pretty clear to me which message Senator McCaskill should be pushing.
You’d think so too, right?
Well, keep that conviction in the back of your mind and read TPM’s report about how Steny Hooyer is signaling that the Democratic leadership is willing to oh-so-politely hand over their advantage on the Medicare issue:
At his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) confirmed what aides in both parties have been telling reporters: Cuts to Medicare will be on the table in deficit and debt limit negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden
TPM’s Brian Beutler continues:
… there are any number of ways to cut Medicare spending without “fixing” the Medicare debt problem — from means testing, to raising the retirement age, to reducing reimbursement rates, and so on. Not all of them constitute benefit cuts, but many of them do.
Remember McCaskill’s deficit demagoguery? The McCaskill-Corker spending cuts that she’s championed would necessitate massive cuts to both programs. She’s going to have a hard time attacking Todd Akin on his votes to cut Medicare while she’s waving that particular fiscally responsible flag. Also, I remember that earlier this spring, at a meeting of what is now the Missouri Progressive Action Group (MOPAG), McCaskill, while affirming that she was against cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, indicated that she was quite willing to cut Social Security benefits indirectly by raising the retirement age.
None of this bodes well for McCaskill or the Democratic party. One can only hope that McCaskill, at least, will step back and reassess the political landscape in a realistic fashion. As Greg Sargent argues, the GOP is already on the offensive, trying to run the same campaign they did in 2010 when they falsely accused Democrats of voting to cut Medicare:
Republicans are already pursuing this strategy. In the special House election in New York’s 26th district, where the GOP candidate is in trouble over her support for Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare as we know it, Republicans are fighting back by accusing the Democrat of wanting Medicare cuts because she said Medicare should be on the table.
Surely McCaskill isn’t befuddled enough to bring the ammunition to the GOP firing squad and docilely back up to the wall, is she?