The GOP claim that Dems would destroy Medicare is based on the argument that Dems would do nothing at all on Medicare, and that the trustees for Medicare and Social Security have said the programs will become insolvent sooner than expected. Dems counter that they have already passed a slew of Medicare reforms in the Affordable Care Act (even if you argue that they are insufficient, Dems want them to be the basis for further reforms), and that they’re currently involved in the Biden-led deficit reduction talks, which are expected to deal with Medicare.His second point is good too: Republican ads blasting Democrats for cutting the "social safety net" are an implicit endorsement of that safety net.
Not as certain, to me, is the implication for policy. Sargent says that this is an "acknowledgment that Dems have won the debate over Ryancare," but I'm not sure that's quite right. The GOP is adjusting their arguments to fit the polling, but that doesn't mean they won't keep the same policies. Just as tax cuts are the answer to a booming economy and a shrinking economy and trade deficits and (even!) budget deficits, there's nothing to keep conservatives from pushing Paul Ryan's VoucherCare as solution to big government when anti-government themes are popular and as the solution to the insecurities of the future when social programs are popular. Granted, they're fighting on the Democrats' turf in the latter case, and that may mean that people won't trust them...but should they win (anyway?), it still leaves them with an unchanged agenda.
After all, remember that running explicitly against Medicare cuts in 2010 didn't prevent them from voting for the exact same Medicare cuts in 2011.
At any rate -- nice catch!