The Dems Piss Away The Senior Vote

The Democratic Party has just pointed a howitzer at their feet and are preparing to fire with their attacks against the Medicare bill now in Congress. The AARP is the most poweful lobbying group in Washington. Seniors are absolutely necessary for the Democrats to win. A slip of a few percentage points in the senior vote could kill any chances of a Democrat being in the White House.

So what do the Democrats do? They try and torpedo the Medicare prescription drug bill. Which means that they’re now on the wrong side of the AARP and the wrong side of this crucial issue.

Now, I’m leaving aside the policy aspects of this bill for the moment. There are plenty of ways in which both liberals and conservatives can find fault with the bill. However, the political implications of this bill are monumental.

If the Democrats succeed in killing this bill, the GOP has a tailor-made campaign issue to bash them over the head with for the rest of the 2004 season. I can already see the campaign ads showing impoverished seniors asking Democrats “Why didn’t you pass the prescription drug bill?” Not only that, but the Democrats could lose significant amounts of AARP support. While the AARP does not have a PAC nor does it directly donates to campaigns, it is a major lobbying group. The the Democrats incur the wrath of the AARP, they could be in serious political trouble.

The Democrats are actually better off letting the Republicans “win” on this issue. The Medicare bill can then be used as a wedge issue with conservatives, some of whom see the bill as yet another big-government entitlement. It also ensures that they can’t be hammered by seniors for failing to support a wildly popular piece of legislation. The down side is that the GOP will undoubtedly try to take credit for the bill.

However, the current strategy of literally washed up protests will have no effect. The end result of the bill will be that seniors get a prescription drug benefit. The end result of the bill being killed will be no prescription drug benefit. Given the critical nature of the senior vote, if the Democrats filibuster the bill they will have shot themselves in the foot politically before the 2004 race has even begun.

3 thoughts on “The Dems Piss Away The Senior Vote

  1. I have heard that a number of local AARP representatives have resigned over the national office’s support of this bill. If the grass-roots are angry about the bill they may actually support the Dems in rejecting it. AARP has a new director who appears to be trying to curry favor (and more hand-outs) from the Repubs.

  2. The way it’s been playing, the Democrats have handled this beautifully. THey didn’t have the cohesion to sustain a filibuster, so they’re letting a piece of legislation that (according to polls) seniors hate go through and tie itself sqarely to Bush. Now, seniors that hate the legislation will vote against Bush, and conservatives who hate massive government spending will withhold some support. “Exceptionally stupid?” Way to bury your head in the sand, Jay!

  3. The Nov. 29th NY Times has a great piece on how Florida’s seniors are monumentally pissed off at the Medicare bill. Wanna bet that more than an asterisk’s worth of old Bush backers are mad enough to switch?

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