David Brooks, still just about the most influential conservative commentator in America, likes to be contrary. Today he wades into the debate over Medicare, saying that far from the being the worst thing about the Romney-Ryan manifesto, it's actually the best thing. "Basically", writes Brooks, "there are two ways to reduce Medicare inflation, through the political system or through a market system. Obamacare tries the former", he says, before suggesting it simply won't work.
He concludes that, on this issue, it's advantage Romney-Ryan: "My bottom line is this: The status quo is cataclysmic. The national debt problem is a Medicare problem. The Democrats’ price-control approach has little chance of working. The Romney-Ryan approach might work. If it doesn’t, the federal budget would suffer but seniors wouldn’t. Today’s seniors would be left untouched anyway, and tomorrow’s would have the option of private plans or traditional Medicare. At worst, if the market approach flopped, we’d be back to where we started.
If we don’t get Medicare right, there’s no money for anything else. On this particular policy issue, the Republicans have the edge."