Tea Party activists plan to show up in force at Congressional town hall meetings to push for passage of Paul Ryan's plan to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a sort of voucher system that will force seniors to pay much more for health care -- if they can afford it at all.
"The August town halls are going to be, potentially, a referendum on Democrats who don't care and Republicans who've dared to offer real policy solutions, particularly on things like entitlements," said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, the small-government advocacy group organizing the initiative...
At stake is the support of senior citizens, a powerful bloc of swing voters who broadly oppose the Ryan plan and could punish its supporters in Congress if Republicans fail to turn the debate in their favor, according to analysts..."If they don't do that, we won't win this debate," Kibbe told Reuters. "You can't move a legislative initiative unless you've vetted it through the political season."
Polls point to broad public support for preserving Medicare in the deficit debate, with majorities favoring higher taxes for the wealthy over program cuts.
Still, a June CBS poll showed that nearly 60 percent of Americans know little about the changes proposed by the Ryan plan, suggesting that many voters have yet to form an opinion...
Kibbe, whose group is led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and claims 800,000 volunteers nationwide, says Republicans lost in New York because they abandoned the Medicare debate to Democrats.
Republican lawmakers now need to come out swinging before the same thing happens elsewhere, he says.
Ryan himself appears to agree and has been promoting his views on television and in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece.
"We need a public education campaign and that means people from all around the country, different groups, need to engage with their people," Ryan told CNBC a day after the House approved the debt limit deal.
"You've got to have wherewithal to get out to the public to educate them as to the pending bankruptcy of Medicare."
It could, of course, also be bad news for the Democrats if they don't get their act together and agree on a message about why Medicare isn't going broke and how terrible Ryan's plan would be for seniors.
The facts are on the Dems' side, but that doesn't necessarily mean they win the political debate.
More from Reuters here.