42 Republican freshman members of Congress sent a letter to the President pleading with him to restrain Democrats from attacking Republican plans to trim Medicare spending. Evidently these representatives are scared that Democratic criticism of their vote for the Ryan budget are scaring voters away from Republican positions. How ironic, considering that many of these freshman legislators rode into office last fall based on scare tactics of their own, claiming that the Health Care reform act was a government takeover of health care, would create “death panels,” and would lead to cuts in Medicare spending. Once the Republicans took control of the House, they immediately enacted their own, much more drastic cuts in future Medicare benefits. They were apparently surprised to find out, when they went home to their districts, that these proposals were not all that popular with their constituents.
Naturally, the reaction of many Democrats to these Republicans' belated pleas for civility descends to the level of childish taunts such as "boo hoo" or "you can dish it out, but you can't take it." (Krugman has a good piece on this story also.) But I would urge the President to take a serious look at this proposal. After all, the President has been urging such a spirit of bi-partisanship for years. He should welcome this suggestion from the opposition. One condition, though. Remember the famous line from Adlai Stevenson, who proposed the following deal with Republicans: “If the Republicans will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” If we are going to proceed to discuss budget and spending issues without engaging in unfair attacks on each side's proposals, President Obama should insist that the Republicans accept Stevenson’s modest terms.