"In some ways, this is the biggest issue in the campaign, because it is really about what role Americans want government to play. If Democrats can't win this one, they deserve to lose."
"These are sacred programs that people feel they earn, and, yes, are entitled to. Republicans want to put that guarantee in jeopardy."
"The holy third rail: Touch them, and you'll be shocked."
"Each side will preach to their own choir on these issues."
"It depends on who can tell the biggest lies to voters."
"This is still no-go territory for Republicans, but Obama missed his chance to really capitalize with swing voters by walking away from Bowles-Simpson."
Will entitlement-program politics — Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare — favor Republicans or Democrats more this year?
REPUBLICANS (108 VOTES)
Help Democrats: 30%
Help Republicans: 21%
"Regrettably, the Ryan budget, while daring and necessary, is too easily demonized."
"Republicans desperately want to make themselves the target on entitlements, even though they can't move the ball an inch this year. Every GOP incumbent needs to bank at least a half-million dollars to answer the attack ads that are coming."
"Just a little, overall, though not nearly as badly as years past. More of the public now gets it, though seniors are still easily stampeded."
"Voters have never had as good an appetite for a truth-teller about the need for entitlement reform. It's a political opportunity for whichever party is bold enough to reach for it."
"The threats are starting to ring very hollow, and the understanding of the implications on non-reformed entitlements is growing."
"The Ryan plan is neutralized by $500 billion in Medicare cuts in "˜Obamacare.' "
"Each base will take comfort in its party's position. People are worried about getting benefits, but if they can't be paid for, then they don't get them. It's a draw."
"Democrats will push scare politics, Republicans will push solvency and fiscal discipline, and the middle 10 percent who will decide this election will not pay attention to the cross fire."
"Debt issue favors Republicans. This year, debt fears trump Democratic handout, entitlement issues."
"The swing vote wants solutions, not denials."
"People know the programs are in trouble and are bankrupting the nation, absent reform. Republicans can pledge to tackle this problem for the sake of our children. Obama and Democrats seem stuck defending the downward spiral everyone knows we're in."
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