Rich Lowry is wondering whether the Medicare cuts in Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity will sink the plan. You can look at the public polling and conclude that restraining Medicare spending is a lost cause, but not so fast:
1. Reforming Medicare is a comparative issue. It is (or ought to be - if the Republicans are minimally competent) a choice and not a referendum on one particular approach. We aren't really arguing about Medicare cuts. We aren't even arguing about Medicare cuts vs. tax cuts. President Obama has already cut Medicare by hundreds of billions. He has now proposed to cut Medicare by over a trillion more. He has proposed to give a panel of unelected bureaucrats the power to impose service cuts. So our choice is a market-oriented reform in which seniors would have more options (and maybe more disposable income) and a centralized government system in which the government slams the door in your face when and how the government decides. Even so, the Republicans could still lose this argument because...
2. The Republicans still need a better plan. As Josh Barro wrote, they need more credible funding proposals for Medicare. Keeping a defined contribution version of Medicare FFS would be good politics and good policy. As Capretta and Miller pointed out, there will be circumstances where a defined contribution Medicare FFS would offer the best product at the most competitive price. This would also reassure some fraction of the public that Medicare FFS would still be there, but within a system that encourages health care providers to orient themselves to patients rather than bureaucrats and would give patients choices between different provider networks that competed on extent of services (past the government-mandated minimum) and cost.