Ezra Klein thinks the GOP's obsession with cutting Medicare is highly illogical:
There's no particular conservative -- or even non-conservative -- policy goal that raising the Medicare eligibility age advances.Ezra thinks Medicare cuts are just (in Nancy Pelosi's words) "a trophy that the Republicans want":
Raising the Medicare eligibility age doesn't increase competition in Medicare... It doesn't reduce national health spending ... it increases it. It doesn't force seniors to act as more discerning consumers of health care.... It doesn't substantially pare back "the nation of takers," as many of the 65- and 66-year-olds thrown off Medicare will enter the exchanges or be caught by Medicaid.
... Raising the Medicare eligibility age really will hurt some seniors.... there are a number of middle-income seniors who make enough that they won't get much help from Obamacare, who are sick enough that they won't get a good deal from insurers, and who may end up going uninsured (after paying the individual mandate's penalty) or straining under the cost of health insurance.
For Republicans, it's a signal that they won something big on entitlements. In a party that's confused about where to go on Medicare, it at least proves they're going in a direction Democrats hate.Yes, Republicans are always motivated by hatred for Democrats -- but there's more going on here than that.
Republicans clearly seem to think that hurting people by making government program function less effectively is a winning strategy for them. They've branded themselves as the party that says government is bloated and inefficient and therefore odious and hateful, while they've branded Democrats as the party that believes in more and more government no matter what. Democrats do have more faith in government than Republicans do, at least as a means of helping ordinary Americans -- so Republicans believe that if they can impede the government's ability to help ordinary citizens, Democrats will be blamed.
And that's especially true if tales of benefit cuts can be couple with tales of what seems like misdirected government money -- especially if it seems to be going to groups certain voters despise or distrust. If Medicare gets cut and Fox News finds tax money going to, oh, y'know, an ex-ACORN employee, even if there's no connection and the dollar amounts aren't even remotely comparable and the grant is thoroughly legitimate, that's a win for the GOP. Even a story about a $100,000 grant to do a (perefctly legitimate) study cow flatulence can be played off against, say, billions of dollars in Medicare cuts, and Republicans believe Democrats lose whenever that happens.
So there's more than just a desire to screw Democrats here. This is how Republicans try to win voters' hearts and minds. I don't know if it's working now, but it's worked for them for a long time.