MSNBC's Chuck Todd spoke to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus about this week's GOP debate and asked Priebus if he was concerned at all on whether Mitt Romney's arguments against Rick Perry during that debate on Social Security might not work given the fact that now Republican Sen. Ron Johnson who beat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" as well and won.
As Chuck Todd pointed out, the conventional wisdom that Perry's rhetoric is going to turn off voters in the Republican base might very well be wrong, and Todd asked Priebus if that was what he learned after watching the race between Johnson and Feingold.
Priebus responded by saying that "people understand that the government is making promises it can't keep" and asked if we can "be adults" and admit that and said the second question is what we are going to do to solve it. He then went on to praise Paul Ryan's and the House Republican's plan to privatize Medicare and said he thinks it's a "safe place" for all of our candidates to go and that "it's pretty clear that we have to start tackling our entitlements."
Priebus went onto note that even the Obama administration has said that we need to tackle our "entitlements" and downplayed Perry's over the top rhetoric, and Karl Rove's criticism of Perry as well. Sadly, he's right that we're going to find out before long whether one, the Obama administration helps the Republicans in the next election and cedes the ground to them on protecting our social safety nets rather than hammering them on the best issue they have to make some gains the next election.
And we're going to find out if the Republican base is so far to the right that they actually think attacking Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are somehow winning issues for them, and they elect Rick Perry as their next presidential candidate.
Given the mood of the electorate in Wisconsin now and the case of buyer's remorse they have with how the GOP has been managing their state and that Johnson had a 36 percent approval rating in April of 2011, I'm not so sure it's such a good idea for Republicans or Priebus to be looking to that race as any indication of the mood of the electorate in the upcoming election and calling their views now "safe."
Personally I think it should be political suicide for any of them that still want to be giving tax cuts to the rich and going after, and I hate this word, "entitlements." If Priebus thinks having an "adult conversation" on the matter is a winning issue for the GOP and wants to triple down on Paul Ryan's privatization of Medicare during the upcoming election, I say bring it on. And if it appears the administration is going to help muddy the waters for them by potentially doing something like raising the age for Social Security or for Medicare eligibility, they need to be hammered for being tone deaf to the desires of the electorate as well. There are ways to make those programs solvent. Telling seniors you've got to work until you drop dead if you're lucky enough to have a job and are still capable of working shouldn't be one of them.