President Trump has joined other Republicans in making a self-defeating attack on "Medicare for all" based around the premise that it would destroy traditional Medicare.

In a USA Today op-ed, Trump wrote that as a candidate, he "made a solemn promise to our great seniors to protect Medicare. That is why I am fighting so hard against the Democrats' plan that would eviscerate Medicare. Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare. Likewise, Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care."

As I have detailed previously, this increasingly popular line of attack, taken up with short-term political calculations in mind, will backfire on conservatives in the long run and actually make socialized healthcare more likely.

Medicare is not only the largest socialized healthcare program in the U.S., based on its $700 billion annual budget, it would qualify as the largest socialized healthcare program in the world.

Some conservatives believe that Medicare is somehow different from other social welfare programs. Yet in contrast to the popular myth, Medicare is not a program in which seniors are merely getting what they "paid into" over the course of their lives. Medicare is a system in which current workers subsidize current retirees well beyond their contributions during their working years. A recent study from the liberal Urban Institute found that a 65-year old male who retires in 2020 having averaged $51,300 in earnings will receive $224,000 in Medicare benefits (net of premiums), despite having paid just $79,000 in lifetime Medicare taxes.

By perpetuating the idea that Medicare is a great program that needs to be protected at all costs (rather than an unsustainable entitlement) it only makes it easier for liberals to make the case for socialized medicine. It also makes it harder to make the case for overhauling entitlement programs to avert the looming debt crisis.