Actually, Most Republicans Are Coming Around on Medicare Changes

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 13 2011 1:11 PM

Actually, Most Republicans Are Coming Around on Medicare Changes

Ezra Klein links to this poll:

 

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The most popular position in the GOP’s coalition isn’t that Medicare needs a complete overhaul, as Ryan thinks. It isn’t that it needs major changes, or even that it needs minor changes. It’s that   we shouldn’t try and control costs at all.

That's what Gallup concludes, too. That's not what I see. It's interesting that the largest bloc of voters who want no changes to Medicare are Republicans -- but they're only 33 percent of Republicans. Sixty-two percent of Republicans want some changes, and the percentage who want "complete" or "major" changes is slightly larger than the percentage who want to stand pat.

This isn't a debate Republicans are losing. This is a debate they used to lose, and they're in a much stronger position to win now if they keep the focus on the apocalyptic debt. When I've talked to conservative voters, the ones who've been open to Medicare reform or cuts put it in those terms -- shared sacrifice is the only way to save their grandchildren from living in a Philip K. Dick novel. Could Democrats win this, as they won on Social Security, and convince them that Ryan's specific plan to privatize Medicare is way, way, way more than they want? Sure. They're not there yet.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.