Obama, Romney and the Empathy Gap

By Steve Kornacki, Salon - August 23, 2012

I wrote last Friday about the Romney campaign's efforts to neutralize Medicare as an issue. The idea isn't that the Romney team actually thinks they can run and win on Medicare, even though, for obvious reasons, they have to claim this; it's that they recognize the political poison that Paul Ryan's "premium support" plan represents and will consider it a triumph if they can keep it from costing them significant support.

The plan that they've settled on is to make claims about Obama's own handling of Medicare that, to the casual voter, sound just as alarming as anything Democrats are saying about Ryan's plan. So it was that the GOP ticket spent much of last week denouncing Obama's "raid" on the program "“ the $716 billion in non-benefit cuts that are part of the Affordable Care Act. That the cuts are also part of Ryan's budget plan are beside the point, at least as far as Romney's campaign is concerned. The idea is to force Obama onto the defense and to prompt swing voters to throw up their hands in confusion or exasperation and move on to another topic, like the economy.

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