Boehner on Medicare Cuts: No Thanks!

Last month, House Minority Leader John Boehner said that when it comes to rising entitlement spending, he wasn't ready to talk about solutions. Apparently, though, he's found one solution he's ready to share: Ditch cuts to Medicare. From Cato's Daniel Mitchell:

While flipping through the radio on my way to pick my son up from school yesterday afternoon, I was dumbfounded to hear Congressman John Boehner talk about repealing Obama’s Medicare cuts on Sean Hannity’s show.

I wasn’t shocked that Boehner was referring to non-existent cuts. (Medicare spending is projected to jump from $519 billion in 2010 to $677 billion in 2015 according to the Congressional Budget Office). I’ve been dealing with Washington’s dishonest definition of “spending cuts” for decades, so I’m hardly fazed by that type of routine inaccuracy.

But I was amazed that the presumptive future Speaker of the House went on a supposedly conservative talk radio show and said that increasing Medicare spending would be on the agenda of a GOP-controlled Congress.

I have serious problems with the way the PPACA handled Medicare. However, as I've noted many times before, I also think long-term reductions in planned Medicare spending are both necessary and unavoidable. Yet with a few notable exceptions, the GOP has largely declared Medicare off limits, and made a point to avoid talking about entitlements except to criticize the way the PPACA alters Medicare. At the same time, the party has been fairly vocal in worrying about our unsustainable debt levels. Yet Medicare is a major contributor to the long-term deficit problem. Of course, as Republicans are well aware at this point, it's also very popular with seniors. That turns Medicare policy into a pretty clear test of whether Republican leadership is actually serious about making good on its fiscally responsible rhetoric. And right now, with Rep. Boehner primed to become Speaker of the House after the election, it's a test the party is failing. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    That turns Medicare policy into a pretty clear test of whether Republican leadership is actually serious about making good on its fiscally responsible rhetoric. And right now, with Rep. Boehner primed to become Speaker of the House after the election, it's a test the party is failing.

    No shit. Vote for a Democrat or a Republican next week and you are complicit in continuing the bi-partisan borrow and spend junkie economic policies of the last twelve years.

  • Joe M||

    Twelve?? Try, oh, maybe forty five.

  • ||

    Gridlock? How's never? Is never OK with you?

  • Special Sauce||

    "But I was amazed that the presumptive future Speaker of the House went on a supposedly conservative talk radio show and said that increasing Medicare spending would be on the agenda of a GOP-controlled Congress."

    Someone has to subsidize senior tanning centers, that shit ain't cheap as Boehner can attest.

  • Paul||

    Wow, Republicans haven't even taken over the House yet, and they're already pulling back on their "smaller government" rhetoric.

    Whelp, at least we don't have to wait until they're the majority party to know they're gonna screw us.

  • ||

    This is where the Republicans are vulnerable, philosophically speaking. These guys (and they're mostly the same guys) seriously exacerbated the actuarial disaster of Medicare in 2004. It was another ram-it-down everyone's throats bill not unlike Dr. Obama.

    Ironically, it was recalcitrant Republicans who had to take the DeLay ramming...the Democrats mostly we're all on board of course, except for more taxes to pay for it not being appropriated as well because it was "only" going to cost such-and-such (bogus accounting on par with any lefty book-cooking).

  • 2010 Voter||

    Every. Incumbent. Out.

    Vote third party or independent.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Or don't vote at all. Even voting third party legitimizes the omniparty hegemony.

  • 2010 Voter||

    Point taken.

    However, writing in "None of the above" might have a greater effect.

  • Paul||

    Voting only encourages them...

    Of course I'm breaking my "I don't vote" stance this year for the first time in about a decade... mainly because of local elections. Washington has some stuff on the ballot that actually reduces the jackboot footprint of government, and let me tell you, government's squealing like a pig.

    I got a flier in the mail yesterday on an initiative 1098. I don't even know what it is, but the Washington Federation of State Employees endorsed it. Guess how I'm gonna vote on 1098?

  • ||

    Someone is always going to vote. And they could not care less if they get elected by one or one hundred percent of the voters. If you don't vote, someone else will and the guy who wins will brag about how big of a mandate he has. You are pissing in the wind.

  • Paul||

    You are pissing in the wind.

    All I'm trying to do is figure out how far into the wind I'm pissing. I used to vote and I quit because I was pissing in the wind. I didn't vote for about ten years and have decided to go back to it, if not for national elections but for local ones... because I began to feel I was pissing in the wind.

    Being libertarian r hard. You're forever pissing in the wind.

  • ||

    Surely, no one thought that Boner would seriously talk about cutting Mediwelfare. That's HIS JORB you're talking about, right there. He's got to pander to somebody.

  • ||

    Whoever talks about cutting Medicare first, loses. Cuts to Medicare NEEDS to happen. But saying it is political suicide. It's like telling your wife the truth that her butt is too fat.

  • ||

    How would anyone know this, since no one has ever tried?

    It's like that big, red button (shiny, candy-like) on the console that no one has ever pressed because all the other kids said that bad things will happen if you do press it.

  • Paul||

    I disagree. It has been tried. And the blowback was alarming.

    Newt Gingrich got kind of close to the button. Ie, he walked in the room, pointed to it and started talking about what the button did, but never pushed it, and he became the target of one of the most disingenuous political campaigns memory.

    What, no one remembers "Wither on the vine?"

  • ||

    But he never actually *tried* it, he just talked about it and wet his pants and backed off when they started saying mean things about him.

    Have the courage of your convictions. Politics shouldn't be a career and you shouldn't be worried about your job because you acted upon those convictions. (I do realize that we're talking about Gingrich here...I'm not trying to suggest that the man actually has any serious convictions.)

  • Paul||

    Please don't take my comment as an endorsement of Gingrich. But the situation was what it was. The man merely said, in relation to their private medicare option (which I don't even remember what it was called) would become so popular, that medicare would wither on the vine, 'cause no one would want to be in it.

    If that's as close as you get to 'touching medicare', and 10 million geezers come down Washington Avenue with pitchforks and table legs, I'm not sure I readily blame the politician that backs away from actual "Medicare Cuts".

    But of course I still hate the political class in general, so...

  • prolefeed||

    But I was amazed that the presumptive future Speaker of the House went on a supposedly conservative talk radio show and said that increasing Medicare spending would be on the agenda of a GOP-controlled Congress.

    To be fair, Boehner appears to have been talking about the illusory whopping 30% or so cuts to reimbursement rates that Congress keeps threatening over and over and not doing, basically stringing doctors along to get campaign contributions. Saying you're gonna quit lying seems like a tiny step in the right direction.

    Now, if those cuts in reimbursement actually went through, Medicare coverage would become largely illusory for many people because it would result in doctors being paid less for procedures than their costs. So, except for charity care, a lot of doctors would stop accepting Medicare.

    The real solution to Medicare and Social Security, the one neither major party will do, is to make the program voluntary. Let people opt out if they want, and then let the death spiral of charges to the remaining subscribers terminate the programs.

  • ||

    Then what do you do with the millions of elderly who we dumped onto medicare over the last 30 years, are uninsurable, and are too old to work? People forget that you have to be enrolled in medicare. My parents saved and invested and worked to ensure they would have health insurance when they got older only to find out they had to join medicare once they hit 65 and their private insurance was then a supplement. Get rid of medicare and they would be fucked because the private insurance wouldn't make up the difference. We basically by law forced people to be dependent on the government and lose their ability to provide for themselves.

    So now we are going to call those very same people deadbeats and kick them to the curb?

  • ||

    Then what do you do with the millions of elderly who we dumped onto medicare over the last 30 years, are uninsurable, and are too old to work?

    As the polar ice caps break up due to global warming, there should plenty of ice floes.

  • Almanian||

    Soylant green?

  • Almanian||

    "We're having Grandma for dinner tonight, kids!"

  • ||

    That made me laugh.

    I should feel guilty but I don't.

    [snicker]

  • Paul||

    I haven't read the details of this stuff yet, but there are Medicare Cuts, and there are Cuts to Medicare, and they represent slightly different things.

    One is a cut in the reimbursement rate medicare pays to doctors and medical facilities for the care they perform. The other are cuts to actual services to medicare recipients themselves. Ie, taking away your prescription drug coverage, for example.

    The first results in healthcare suppliers going broke or simply not taking medicare patients. Those kinds of cuts have already been taking place-- for a while now. The second is felt directly in the pocketbook of the medicare recipient. And the second is the one that reaps an immediate fiery political wind that chars everything in its path.

  • Mo||

    In Boehner's defense, taxpayers, left and right, don't want to make cuts in defense, Medicare and Social Security. We're pretty much screwed.

    http://thehill.com/house-polls.....dget-plans

  • Com'on man||

    There's an easy fix for the future Speaker's dilema. Come 2012, the bronze pillar of freedom will be fighting for his return to Congress along with The Prez returning to the White House!

    There are a lot of people terrified of the over-reaching cancer known as government other than the Tea Party. I guess we shall see how strong the electorate's will is.

    If the Republican front runner sucks, which they surely will, there might be an appetite for a libertarianish independent candidate with Chris Christie's fuck you governance.

  • Libertarian||

    You need to remember only two words of the Republicans' Pledge to America if you want the secret decoder ring of how they'll act: the Pledge said they would "repeal AND REPLACE" Obamacare.

    OBTW, didn't Boehner vote for TARP? Gee, I wonder what the future holds? zzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Almanian||

    "...and the parting on the left, is now the parting on the right, and our beards all grew longer overnight..."

    Woooooo!!!!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement