As Republican pols from Barry Goldwater to George W. Bush can tell you, going after Social Security and Medicare is really bad politics. And they've yet to come up with a gimmick, whether it's "partial privatization" or grandfathering existing beneficiaries, to make major changes in these programs popular (I seriously doubt the very latest gimmick, "voucherizing" Medicare, will do any better once people understand the idea). Indeed, Republicans notably engaged in their own form of "Medagoguery" by attacking health care reform as a threat to Medicare benefits.And the best part is Democrats are most likely going to help them do it as the confluence of the Club For Growth folks and the Religious Right converge on the notion that entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are morally repulsive because only evil people would want to "bankrupt the country" through debt. Digby catches what this means:
Yet the sudden Tea Party-driven return to fiscal hawkery among Republicans, particularly if it's not accompanied by any willingness to consider tax increases or significant defense spending cuts, will drive the GOP again and again to "entitlement reform." In Senate candidates like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle and now Joe Miller, we are seeing the return of a paleoconservative perspective in the GOP that embraces the destruction of the New Deal/Great Society era's most important accomplishments not just as a matter of fiscal necessity but as a moral imperative.
This is language of self-sacrifice for the greater good, which I'm not sure has been used by the far right in the context of destroying the social safety net. (Fiscal scolds pitch generational warfare, but it's not quite the same thing. This has a broader reach.) And the Religious Right hasn't gone this way before, instead worrying themselves about the culture wars. I've heard from an expert on the Religious Right that this is, in fact, an appealing approach to the evangelical side of the movement and very successfully marries the libertarian and Religious Right wings of the tea party. (And the Village will love it --- they've been calling for poor people to sacrifice for years. They can write breathless columns about how everyone has to pull together while they travel to and from green rooms in the back of a limousine.)This new phase of the conservative movement has the simple goal of preparing average Americans to be cut off at the knees while the richest among us return to the days of the Divine Right of Kings. God made them rich. God made you poor. Maybe if you sacrifice more, you'll be rich someday too. This is the rightful way things should be.
And the great theft of wealth in the country to the nobles at the top of the food chain continues unabated.