“Voters do not want cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Any conversation about those programs, as opposed to nonspecific conversations about the deficit, will help Democrats.”
“Voters are older, and to Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare recipients, this is not an academic discussion about fiscal policy; it is a matter of being able to eat and have access to health care.”
“These programs represent the country’s social safety net, and older voters, who vote more often, will protect these programs.”
“Simple question: Who fights for America’s middle class?”
“Romney has to repudiate the Republican budget or be the rich guy who wants to take away the safety net for old people. Both are losers.”
“In some ways, this is the biggest issue in the campaign, because it is really about what role Americans want government to play. If Democrats can’t win this one, they deserve to lose.”
“These are sacred programs that people feel they earn, and, yes, are entitled to. Republicans want to put that guarantee in jeopardy.”
“The holy third rail: Touch them, and you’ll be shocked.”
“Each side will preach to their own choir on these issues.”
“It depends on who can tell the biggest lies to voters.”
“This is still no-go territory for Republicans, but Obama missed his chance to really capitalize with swing voters by walking away from Bowles-Simpson.”
Will entitlement-program politics—Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare—favor Republicans or Democrats more this year?
REPUBLICANS (108 VOTES)
Help Democrats: 30%
Help Republicans: 21%
“Regrettably, the Ryan budget, while daring and necessary, is too easily demonized.”
“Republicans desperately want to make themselves the target on entitlements, even though they can’t move the ball an inch this year. Every GOP incumbent needs to bank at least a half-million dollars to answer the attack ads that are coming.”
“Just a little, overall, though not nearly as badly as years past. More of the public now gets it, though seniors are still easily stampeded.”
“Voters have never had as good an appetite for a truth-teller about the need for entitlement reform. It’s a political opportunity for whichever party is bold enough to reach for it.”
“The threats are starting to ring very hollow, and the understanding of the implications on non-reformed entitlements is growing.”
“The Ryan plan is neutralized by $500 billion in Medicare cuts in ‘Obamacare.’ ”
“Each base will take comfort in its party’s position. People are worried about getting benefits, but if they can’t be paid for, then they don’t get them. It’s a draw.”
“Democrats will push scare politics, Republicans will push solvency and fiscal discipline, and the middle 10 percent who will decide this election will not pay attention to the cross fire.”
“Debt issue favors Republicans. This year, debt fears trump Democratic handout, entitlement issues.”
“The swing vote wants solutions, not denials.”
“People know the programs are in trouble and are bankrupting the nation, absent reform. Republicans can pledge to tackle this problem for the sake of our children. Obama and Democrats seem stuck defending the downward spiral everyone knows we’re in.”
Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O’Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.
GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O’Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.
This article appears in the May 26, 2012, edition of National Journal.