It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the year of protecting Social Security, and the year of cutting Social Security. It was the age of defending Medicare, and the age of ending Medicare.
In other words, it was another day on the Mitt Romney campaign trail. This week Romney's evil twins (there isn't a good one) played both sides of the Social Security issue, but finally came down on the side of the party's power brokers.
That placed him squarely against its own rank and file, as a new video and recent polling both confirm.
But then, reversing himself is a Romney specialty. Last week the "effectively pro-choice" turned "pro-life" candidate went to the CPAC Conference to tell the world about his "extreme conservative" governorship of Massachusetts -- Obamacare is Rightycare when Mitt does it -- and it was all "we conservatives" this and "we conservatives" that.
Then he directed his double vision toward Social Security and Medicare.
One Romney Makes Entitlements Safer ...
Yesterday Romney slammed President Obama on entitlements, saying "the president has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors." He added that Obama "had nothing to say about making sure that those programs are solvent and permanent."
Romney's stance as a pro-entitlement champion echoed the GOP's "Seniors' Bill of Rights," which was a hallmark of their winning 2010 Congressional campaign. That plan insisted on "no cuts to Medicare to pay for another program: Zero."
Then, after the election, they promptly introduced the Ryan Plan to dismantle Medicare altogether. (Those who claim that it wouldn't end Medicare are living in an Alice-in-Wonderland world -- and smoking the Cato-Piller's hookah ...) Romney didn't bother waiting.
... and One Romney Makes Them Small
Romney's CPAC speech was very specific about the cuts he'd like to make. He couldn't have been clearer. "Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable," said Romney, "not for the current group of retirees, but for coming generations."
See what he did there? Romney combined Social Security -- a completely self-sustaining program -- with Medicare, a program whose long-range problems are caused by precisely the kind of private-sector healthcare that Romney and his party defend.
And think about it: Would-be Social Security cutters like Romney are always telling us it's unsupportable because so many Baby Boomers are about to retire. (In reality, they largely prefunded their own retirement with increased contributions and other changes.) Yet, like Romney, they then turn around and say that it's "later generations" who must face Draconian cuts.
It doesn't make sense -- but making sense isn't their goal. Cutting Social Security is. And Romney's happy to carry out the mission he's been given.
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