Obamacare

Sen. Scott Brown Doesn't Think Paul Ryan's Budget Plan Is Hot Stuff

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No need to lose your shirt over this, Senator.

Remember when GOP Sen. Scott Brown nearly killed ObamaCare? In early 2010, he swooped in unexpectedly to win a special election in Massachusetts and nearly took down the president's big health care overhaul with him. Too bad he didn't!  Worse, Brown is now set to make things tougher for a plan that is in many ways the antidote to ObamaCare: Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan.

Although Brown's successful candidacy was arguably partially the product of the ObamaCare backlash—and in the state that gave us ObamaCare's model, RomneyCare, no less—it was never actually clear what sort of health policy Sen. Brown actually supported. When pressed on the issue around the time of his election, Brown's answer was confused enough that he had to blame a lack of sleep—not exactly comforting for anyone hoping for a substantive policy voice.

Now, a year and a half later, it's still not entirely clear what sort of health policy Brown favors. But we know more about what kind he doesn't: In Politico, Brown has announced his opposition to the budget and entitlement overhaul proposed by the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan. The primary reason why? Medicare.

Brown writes that Medicare's "increasing cost must be addressed" and that attempts to do so are "long overdue" as part of any "serious" effort to do something about the long-term national debt. But Ryan's plan is just too stingy, apparently: "As health inflation rises," Brown writes, "the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support—and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays." So Brown agrees that the problem with the current Medicare system is that it puts the public on the hook for ever-rising health care expenses, which are growing faster than we can afford to pay for them. Yet his first complaint about Ryan's plan is that it backs away from that commitment, altering the system in such a way that the federal government doesn't continue to spend on Medicare at a rate that's rising at a dangerous and unsustainable rate. Like many Democrats, Brown seems to be upset that Ryan's plan solves the problem Rep. Ryan intended it to solve.

Somehow, though, the former Cosmo pin-up model managed to support last year's financial regulation bill, despite the fact that it didn't solve the problems it was intended to solve.