Soledad O’Brien used her Starting Point show (CNN) to fire the usual talking points about Paul Ryan at Governor McDonnell today. As one would expect, McDonnell handled it rather well – and also pointed to why Ms. O’Brien’s meme is so way off:
O’BRIEN: You know, if you look at a poll, here is a question, CNN/ORC poll the first week in August. Romney cares about the rich and 64 percent agreed with that statement, the middle class 27 percent agreed, the poor only 2 percent. And some of that, of course, I think, is success from the Democrats who have been messaging hard on that.
How is a Paul Ryan pick — how does a Paul Ryan pick help you with that when you look especially at the budget which, you know, looks really closely and rips out a lot of the entitlement spending which will affect the middle class. I think that could be potentially a big problem, wouldn’t it?
MCDONNELL: Well, but first, you’ve got to look at leadership. I mean, this president has had no budget for 3 1/2 years. Harry Reid won’t take up a budget. The president’s budget would have increased the debt to $25 trillion by 2021. He couldn’t get one vote for it in the United States Congress.
I mean, Soledad, we are in a difficult time for the greatest country on earth and the president is talking about issues that really don’t resonate with the people. And I think what Paul Ryan brings to the ticket is now a serious conversation about debt, taxes, spending, energy, entitlement reform. These are the things that will determine what kind of country we’ve got for our kids and our grandkids. They need to be talked about and Paul Ryan is a good guy to do it.
So I think independent voters when they realize that we have these serious problems will say, yes, we do need to make some changes and this is the team to do it because the status quo with Biden and Obama is unacceptable.
Of course, O’Brien is your typical MSM anchor, but this is about more than simple left-wing bias. While O’Brien wanted to focus on class as the dividing line, McDonnell understands it’s about generations.
MSM and the president will see (and paint) Republicans’ efforts to reform entitlements as some sort of attack on the “middle class.” However, as Ryan himself has noted repeatedly, the reform efforts would only affect Americans under 55 – and for them, it’s the status quo that’s the problem.
Gallup asked Americans two years ago if they thought Social Security would be able to pay benefits when they retire. Most over 55 said, yes; over two-thirds of those under 55 said no.
Even a majority of current retirees assumed their benefits will be cut – something neither, Ryan, Romney, nor any Republican has proposed.
In short, the traditional entitlement scare tactics run by the Democrats are losing their allure because middle-age and younger voters know entitlements are unsustainable. It’s the equivalent Hollywood releasing a horror movie where everyone dies of old age. You can’t be shocked by what you already know.
Will the American people conclude that Republican efforts to reform entitlements are better than simply letting them collapse? We’ll find that out in November. We already know, however, that the scare tactics of old are falling on increasingly deaf ears.
Cross-posted to Bearing Drift