IS THIS HOW MEDICARE STARTS TO WITHER AND DIE?
Mitt Romney isn't exactly the right's ideal messenger in this case, but I think he's setting a dangerous precedent, and I bet others will follow it:
Romney to forgo Medicare
Mitt Romney is celebrating his 65th birthday. But unlike many seniors who reach that age, the GOP presidential candidate will forgo the Medicare program, according to a source with the Romney campaign.
"No, he's keeping his current private insurance plan," a Romney source told CNN....
I realize he's also claiming that the Obama administration is gutting Medicare, while clearly making plans of his own to gut it for real, following the Paul Ryan template -- but I don't want to get into that right now. I'm worried about his refusal to take Medicare himself.
I don't know of any wealthy pol who's done this. I don't know of any prominent deficit scold who's done this. The message it sends -- beyond, in Romney's case, "Yeah, I'm rich" -- is: "Fewer and fewer people should take Medicare -- and Social Security, for that matter."
Other pols will do this -- it's quite possible that it will eventually become routine for wealthy right-wing pols. And gradually the Overton window will move, until the centrist position isn't "This is a universal entitlement" but, rather, "This is welfare. Shouldn't you be trying to get yourself into a position where you don't need it? If you have any sense of personal responsibility, that is?"
Now, I think the right would love to just gut Medicare and Social Security all at once, and will try to do that, as the first order of business the next time there's a Republican president and a Republican Congress. But I think it's going to be a tough fight. So Plan B will be to do to entitlements what's been done to abortion: If a ban is impossible, just keep trying to wear the public down, until what was once a settled part of American life becomes unsavory. Kill your target by degrees.
Romney's the first to do this. He won't be the last. Eventually the right may try to make any comfortably middle-class person feel guilty about taking advantage of these programs.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)