Obamacare

The GOP's Medicare Problem

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Congressman Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future—his sweeping entitlement and budget proposal—would cut Medicare. It would cut Medicare by a lot—more, as Paul Krugman notes, than even ObamaCare would cut it. Indeed, that's exactly the point, and the virtue of the proposal: In its current form, Medicare is unsustainable. Unlike ObamaCare, Ryan's proposal would fix that. And unlike ObamaCare, it would not plow funds generated from those cuts back into propping-up and expanding a failing, third-party-payer, employer-provided insurance system that pretty much everyone dislikes. But yes, it would cut Medicare significantly.

Medicare is awesome! Except when it's not!

That's a good thing, except that the Republican party is going to have a tough time fully embracing it. The problem is that by using opposition to Medicare cuts to build opposition to ObamaCare, the GOP has rendered itself unale to seriously deal with the program's long-term problems.

I've called out Michael Steele for this on a number of occasions, but he's not the only one. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned against Medicare cuts earlier this week. And yesterday, Newt Gingrich offered "ten GOP health ideas for Obama." One item on the list: "Don't cut Medicare. The reform bills passed by the House and Senate cut Medicare by approximately $500 billion. This is wrong." That's the same Newt Gingrich who shut down the government in 1995 because then-president Bill Clinton wouldn't agree to cuts in Medicare, among other programs.

There's room to disagree over the mechanisms that Ryan has proposed, but even White House OMB director Peter Orszag has called it a legitimate plan. Yet legitimacy only goes so far when much of the rest of the party seems less interested in workable policy and more interested in short-term political advantage.?

NEXT: One Frown Over the Line

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  1. Newt Gingrich – Satanic Leprechaun

  2. Newt Gingrich – Satanic Leprechaun

    That’s what I’m saying dude! LOL
    jess

    FU spam filter.

    1. That pic scares me. It’s like his jaw is going to unhinge and swallow me.

      1. Newt Limbjaw

  3. It’s nice to see a Congressman who wants to address issues head on. Unfortunately, Rep. Ryan is surrounded by demagogues to his left and his right who are more than content to keep sweeping long-term problems under the rug.

  4. “The problem is that by using opposition to Medicare cuts to build opposition to ObamaCare, the GOP has rendered itself unale to seriously deal with the program’s long-term problems.”

    I must have missed the news item pronouncing the death of political double-talk, so that’s impossible now?

    Why?

  5. Gee- politicians are more interested in clubbing each other over the head (if only!) than working on long term solutions. Imagine my surprise.

  6. Paul Ryan is one of a small handful of Congressional ‘Pubs that actually warrants deep respect.

    1. Heard him on NPR yesterday and kept waiting for him to say something asinine, transparently false, or (at the very least_ completely partisan, but he didn’t. Kind of amazing.

    2. I actually met him several years ago. Really nice guy. Very charming wife. He was new to Washington then, but he seemed like a pretty straight shooter.

      1. With upper management written all over him.

  7. But this could give us a small tactical advantage in one election! Small Tactical Advantage!!!

  8. Free unlimited health care for everybody; it’s right there in the Constitution, dammit.

  9. I think the fire is too far along. The house is lost. Let’s minimize damage by fanning the flames to bring the structure down faster.

    So, Paul Ryan: lower the retirement age! Add everyone to Medicare! Put a garrison of troops in 230 countries instead of just 130! A free pony for everyone!

    1. Keep the pony. I want a mule and 40 acres.

  10. Soak the young so the old can soak.

    1. Lots of people have children as a form of old-age insurance. We should all adopt the meme and encourage everyone to soak the young. The young collectively have strong backs, and believe what you tell them.

      Now to devise the next change in the national curricula to encourage more Confucianism…

  11. The problem is that by using opposition to Medicare cuts to build opposition to ObamaCare, the GOP has rendered itself una[b]le to seriously deal with the program’s long-term problems.

    This is not the first time they have done that [talk from both sides of their mouths], so why worry about it now?

  12. My understanding is that Ryan’s cuts only affect those under 55, so they shouldn’t be so politically damning.

    1. That is a fact that will be irrelevant to the frothing attacks on Paul Ryan, grandma-killing spawn of Satan.

    2. Heh, Bush’s Social Security proposals did the same, and that didn’t change the negative political calculus.

  13. That’s a good thing, except that the Republican party is going to have a tough time fully embracing it. The problem is that by using opposition to Medicare cuts to build opposition to ObamaCare, the GOP has rendered itself unale to seriously deal with the program’s long-term problems.

    And by having only 41 seats in the Senate, the GOP was already unable to seriously deal with the program’s long-term problems.

    I must have missed where honesty and a program that didn’t affect those over 55 was so successful for the Social Security proposals a few years back.

    Peter, do have any evidence whatsoever that honesty would actually make a party “able to seriously deal with the program’s long-term problems?” I think not; you’re not able to deal with the program’s problems by being a minority, and the program is popular and changes unpopular.

  14. “a failing, third-party-payer, employer-provided insurance system that pretty much everyone dislikes.”

    Everyone, that is, except those who are covered by it (like me), who happen to be a majority, which is why health “reform” never seems to go anywhere.

    One sign I have never seen, at any demonstration, is “Take away my health insurance subsidy. Please!”

    1. I don’t think you have to love the current system to hate the democrats health reform proposals

  15. Hypocrisy in the GOP?

    Why I never….

  16. I love Sarah Palin.

  17. IF the House and Senate bills really did anything good they might be worth discussion, but they don’t. This really not a Democrat or Republican problem, rather it is a problem of the way the House and Senate Operate. The fact that they are organized based on the two political parties causes them to be the victim of massive “group think”. The individual members of either party have little room to act based on the ideas of those who elected them. They are forced to “toe the line” or trade votes for favors. These things I think are the Problem.

  18. Republicans need to sell partially privatized Social Security as “security”. That is, “if we don’t partially privatize it, and raise the eligibility age, it will be bankrupt by 2016…you want that? huh? do ya, smartguy?”

    1. Of course, no matter what happens, that is, even if the Republicans take both the House and Senate in 2010 and then the Presidency in 2012, there would be just as much leftist entitlement outrage at the Ryan bill as there is teaparty outrage now at Obamacare. There’s no way anything other than the status quo (or more spending) gets passed.

      We’re on the Titanic. Only this time we all know the iceburg is up ahead. It’s only a matter of time…

  19. This Roadmap for America’s Future concerns me a lot, because it seems like senior citizens and other Medicare recipients are not part of that future. How can we afford any more cuts to Medicare? When I did my 2010 Medicare enrollment at PlanPrescriber.com, there were many choices for my zip code when I used the search and compare tool. But we are already seeing cuts in terms of benefits and higher co-pays and deductibles. Rather than make cuts, why not address all the fraud and waste in Medicare?

  20. Freeze the budget to 2006 levels. Enact a moratorium on all new spending legislation. Appoint a tough new Grace Commission with sharp teeth. Begin a top-to-bottom audit of all government agencies. End the unionization of government employees. End gerrymandering. WE ARE BANKRUPT. folks. B-A-N-K-R-U-P-T. The fools we have in Congress will be passing more entitlements, bailouts, and porkulous as Chinese are repossessing furniture in the White House. WE ARE BANKRUPT!!!

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