I want to run a little thought experiment by you:
Let's say I know a guy name John. John is really popular amongst our social networks, because he's a nice guy and always there for you. But I hate John, because John stands for everything I despise (perhaps he's a Dave Matthews fan), and that makes his popularity extremely threatening to me. If only there was no John, I start to think. Then people wouldn't be so quick to dismiss my radical anti-Dave Matthews feelings by saying, "Well, John likes them…." I start to go a little mad from the hatred. And then one day, John really seals his popularity by having a birthday party that's considered the party of the year. My jealousy and rage causes me to snap. I follow John home one night, murder him, and dump his body in the sea.
I then get a cardboard cutout of John and start trying to pass it off as John. Our friends are outraged and want to know where John is. I'm eventually arrested for his murder. At my trial, I argue that it's unfair to say I killed John, because (pointing to the cardboard cutout), there's John right there.
I go to jail, right?
Apparently not if Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post or Uwe Reinhart is on the jury. They would say the prosecution has no case, because what I did was radically alter John—I may have killed John as we know him—but since there's still a cardboard cutout named "John" in the world, he can't be really said to be killed. To say that I "killed" John is to be a big, fat liar, worthy of four Washington Post Pinoccios.
Ridiculous, right? But sadly, that's where the discourse on Medicare stands. The eagerness to believe that Republican aren't as bad as they really are has driven even so-called fact-checkers to a place where they're whining that destryong Medicare and replacing it with coupons can't be said to be killing it. Even though, in a sense, Medicare is even more dead than the John of our story, since most parts of John are currently here—he's just not animated—but everything about Medicare but its name would basically be gone.