Here's the latest irony from the nation's capital: Having lost the election, Republicans are demanding that the White House agree to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67.
Even though Medicare is predicted to be solvent for the next 12 years and we don't know if the Affordable Care Act, when fully implemented, will extend that timeframe, the secret war going on in dysfunctional Washington is about reducing the number of seniors on Medicare.
When House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks for Republicans to argue that there will be no tax increase on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans without entitlement "reform," that is what he means: cut the number of seniors eligible for Medicare.
Yes, it is true that Medicare is growing exponentially as baby boomers retire. Yes, it is true that changes are inevitable.
That's one reason why Obamacare requires that $716 billion be squeezed from Medicare by changing formulas for payments to doctors, hospitals and insurers -- not beneficiaries. Obama believes that there is too much waste in Medicare and that reducing it will lower health care costs in America.
The Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is constitutional, and Obama won re-election by a wide margin. But Republicans insist they don't want to give Obamacare a chance to work before they begin dismantling the structure of Medicare.
A lot of Republican politicians don't like Medicare. They have confused the issue so much that they won more votes from seniors on Medicare than Obama did because a lot of those seniors don't realize that the secret GOP plan is to substitute Medicare as we know it with vouchers for private insurance companies.
That was Mitt Romney's plan.
(You remember him: He ran for president last month and is now shopping at Costco, buying a new foreign-made Audi Q7 and blaming his loss on Obama's "gifts" to minorities -- gifts such as student loans.)
Romney may have been all but forgotten even by his most fervent GOP supporters, but his plan to revamp Medicare lives on. Under his proposal, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 25 million seniors would pay significantly more if it were implemented. Among people 65 and older reporting income, the median was $18,800 in 2010, according to the U.S. government's Administration on Aging.
There are many good suggestions for improving Medicare and making it more efficient and less costly. But a majority of seniors disagree that the first thing that should be done is to slam the door on seniors just becoming eligible.
Many Republican politicians also want to revamp Social Security to cut benefits to seniors even though Social Security is a separate revenue pot that has nothing to do with the national budget deficit. These Republicans want these dramatic changes to Medicare and Social Security done in the next couple of weeks. (Note: Despite the frantic debate over the looming fiscal cliff, Congress has taken a five-day recess.)
We are told polls show that a majority of Americans think Congress is behaving like naughty children. Actually, if you check out any day care center or kindergarten room, you will see far more order, civility and playing nice than in the halls of Congress.
There is so much confusion about the fiscal cliff, the national deficit, the national debt and the nation's future that Americans should not be blamed for feeling all is chaos.
This is the truth: The fiscal cliff, which means draconian cuts take effect and taxes rise on everybody on Jan. 1, is man-made by Congress. It is simple to resolve: Raise revenue and cut spending in a fair and honest way.
The fiscal cliff has nothing to do with Medicare or Social Security, which are separate problems and will not possibly be resolved by Dec. 31.
Postscript: In 1970, Medicare was supposed to run out of money to pay all obligations within two years. In 2008, that date was 2017. Today, the date is 2024.
(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986.)