Why the GOP Won’t Cut Entitlement Spending
Anyone expecting the GOP to propose serious reform to entitlement spending to soothe the Tea Party movement is simply deluding themselves. Here’s why:
Voters over 65 favored Republicans last week by a 21-point margin after flirting with Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections and favoring John McCain by a relatively narrow 8-point margin in 2008.
The shift in older voters was the most dramatic swing of any age group, George Mason political scientist Michael McDonald said, and it gave the GOP the “magnitude” of its victory.
In the 2006 midterm campaign (regarded as a more useful basis of comparison than high-turnout presidential elections), voters 65 and older essentially split their vote evenly between Republicans and Democrats — a stark comparison with 2010. But that’s not the only noticeable change in voting patterns: In this cycle, in addition to losing the senior vote by more than 20 points, older voters also grew as a share of the overall electorate. In 2006, seniors made up 19 percent of the voting public; this year, they represented 23 percent.
As I and my colleagues here noted, one of the major messages of the GOP in their campaign ads was lambasting Democrats for the $500 billion in cuts to Medicare that were used to offset the costs of the Affordable Care Act. That’s a clear sign of where things are going. If near-futre trends continue with seniors being a bigger part of the electorate and predominantly voting Republican, there’s no way that the GOP is going to be crazy enough to risk losing power by cutting or reforming entitlement spending.