Democrats are cheering Kathy Hochul’s victory in the special election in NY-26. Politico’s headline is typical: “Have Democrats cracked the code?”
[A]fter two years of getting pummeled over spending and the size of government, Democrats now appear to have found a political weapon that’s capable of evening out the fight: Medicare.
Hochul ran more or less exclusively on Mediscare, opposing Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare, in effect, from a defined-benefit plan to a defined-contribution plan. The result wasn’t all that conclusive–Hochul defeated Republican Jane Corwin 47-42, with a Democrat who pretended to be a Tea Party candidate siphoning off 9 percent, mostly from Corwin–but the result is nevertheless ominous for Republicans.
Poll data show that voters are very concerned about federal spending and federal debt. This survey, for example, finds that many more Americans are worried about the prospect of increased federal debt than about the prospect of default, should the debt limit not be increased. Yet it remains to be seen what will happen when voters are confronted with specific cuts as the remedy for federal over-spending.
The Democrats intend to base their 2012 campaign on Medicare demagoguery. This is why they refuse to propose a budget: they know that they can’t make the numbers add up without admitting that federal debt will skyrocket to obviously unsustainable levels, as under President Obama’s original FY 2012 budget, which has apparently now been withdrawn. It remains to be seen whether this tactic will work across the country as it evidently did in NY-26, but Republicans have every reason to be concerned.
This is why efforts like the Power Line Prize are so important. Conservatives need to find creative new ways to educate the public about the federal debt crisis, and about the role of entitlements in creating that crisis. Only by motivating voters to put top priority on restraining spending can the GOP overcome the Democrats’ demagoguery.
So, if you are a creative person and haven’t yet begun working on an entry in the Power Line Prize competition, it is time to get started!