The RyanCare Backlash


When Rep. Paul Ryan released his budget plan earlier this year, he knew what was coming. He warned that Democrats would take the plan's myriad details, and its Medicare reform in particular, and twist them into a "political weapon." Sure enough, Democrats took Ryan's plan, loaded it full of ammo, and began firing: In the weeks since the plan came out, Nancy Pelosi has tried to scare seniors with her argument that their benefits are at stake despite the fact that Medicare would remain essentially as it was pre-ObamaCare for current seniors and those over 55. Obama's Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius predicted, baselessly, that under Paul Ryan's plan seniors would "die sooner." And now there's this video from The Agenda Project, a group which claims its mission is to build an "intelligent, well-connected political movement capable of identifying and advancing rational, effective ideas in the public debate":

So much for rational ideas in public debate.  

Sadly, but maybe not surprisingly, the Democratic line seems to be working on both the public and wavering Republicans. GOP Senators like Scott Brown and Lisa Murkowski are refusing to support the plan. Others, like Ryan's fellow Republican Rep. Dave Camp, are attempting to send the message that they were always against the plan. And Politico is running stories with headlines like "GOP braces for Medicare blowback":

First up is New York's 26th District in a special election Tuesday. If Democrat Kathy Hochul wins — she is leading by 4 to 6 points in the latest polls — it not only would be a setback for House Republicans but would send a message to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his key lieutenants that their Medicare overhaul plan could become a serious political liability.

And on the Senate floor later this week, Democrats are planning to force a vote on the 2012 budget proposal offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other top Democrats want to put Senate Republicans on the record voting for — or against — the Ryan proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program for seniors. Already, a few moderate Republicans — the latest being Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have bailed on it or look ready to jump.

For Democrats, these crystallizing moments would affirm that their Medicare-centric attacks are working — and that they're on the popular side of a major policy issue, maybe for the first time since the rise of the tea party movement two years ago. For moderate and vulnerable Republicans, these events have the potential to create a lot of hand-wringing and second-guessing for a party that's been on a roll.

Has a sad.

Democratic gloating glosses over the fact that the GOP's current turn from Medicare reform merely sends the party back to its starting point. When Ryan released his original budget plan, the Roadmap to America's Future, he had trouble picking up even a handful of fellow Republican supporters in Congress. Prominent Republican leaders like John Boehner and Tim Pawlenty explicitly distanced themselves from it. Now we're seeing the same thing again. It was probably bound to happen. In part that's because the votes to pass a major entitlement haul never existed. Either way, it's quite a political pickle:

"Republicans are getting the worst of both worlds," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday during a conference call with reporters. "They want to distance themselves from this vote, but there is no face-saving way to do so. They have tried to turn themselves into pretzels to figure out how to deal with this awful plan introduced by the House."

Schumer is right that Republicans did this to themselves. But voting for the Ryan plan wasn't the only way the GOP helped cause the Medicare backlash. During the ObamaCare debate and the 2010 election, the party's loudest, most frequent criticism of last year's health care overhaul was that it cut Medicare. That was an effective message, but also a short-sighted one. Now as Republicans look for ways to reform Medicare on their own, their own words are coming back to haunt them.

As someone who would like to see Medicare overhauled along the lines that Ryan proposes, I can't say it's fun to watch. But the GOP—Rep. Ryan and a handful of others excepted—helped ensure that the Democrats' current Medicare message would be popular and effective. One of the reasons Ryan knew what was coming, it's safe to say, was that his own party had been there before. 

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  1. That was an effective message, but also a short-sighted one. Now as Republicans look for ways to reform Medicare on their own, their own words are coming back to haunt them.

    Nope, exactly wrong. If Republicans had never said that, they’d be in even worse shape now. With the current situation, some of the short-sighted voters don’t trust the Democrats either.

    Note that polls show that Democrats and Independents are still much more likely than Republicans to think that we can magically get away without reforming Social Security and Medicare.

    But the GOP?Rep. Ryan and a handful of others excepted?helped ensure that the Democrats’ current Medicare message would be popular and effective.

    I’m interested to see your interpretation of the facts above that squares with this claim of yours. I think you’re extremely wrong.

    1. I big part of the Republicans bringing the ‘Obamacare cuts Medicare’ message to the public is that Obama was lying about this constantly. How does ‘if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor’ square with $50 billion a year in Medicare cuts? Of course, that will always be a lie. Doctors leave Medicare all the time. My Mother lost her GP and heart doctor within a 12 year period, both doctors dropping Medicare patients (this following years where they accepted no new Medicare patients).

      If the Republican hadn’t broached this the Dems and the Media would have happily let the public think that Medicare wasn’t being cut.

      1. Ding ding ding.

        It’s kind of tough to craft a winning strategy when your opponent has the media in his pocket.

  2. Hey Reason, you had to pick that picture of Ryan? Really? Ryan is a friend of freedom, you should be nicer.


      1. Why don’t you save that bullsh!t for facebook already?

        You are a one-for-one subtraction from the quality of every thread you post in.

        1. Irony, thy name is Danny. Is it even possible to have said something so self-unaware and stupid without being retarded?

          I think we all know the answer to that, big guy. You wanna watch Veggie Tales now?

          1. EPIIIIIIII!!!

            lol omg lmao rofl

            Hey, where’s the “like” button?

            1. Danny, if you’re good, we can go to Mickey D’s and you can get a Happy Meal. Is that what you want, buddy? But you have to be good: no masturbating in public or smearing feces on your eyeballs, OK, big guy?

              Oh shit, too late.

              1. I would like that, but I only want the toy. You can have the burger and the fries.

                1. Well, then, go clean the feces out of your eyes and we can go.

                  1. It will only continue to get in his eyes when he cries for poor Granny, due to his shit for brains.

                  2. I love when fucking Dan T tries to admonish people for not being good posters. Priceless.

                    You’re too stupid to understand why this is funny, Danny. Don’t try.

                    1. What the hell is going on back there?!?!

                      Am i going to have to pull this car over and come back there?

                      Don’t you try me cuz I will do it!

        2. Whatever Danny, I’m gonna post whatever I want, whenever I want to. You can’t stop me.

    2. Ryan is a friend of nothing and no one except colored contact lens pushers.

      1. That’s (colored contact lens) pushers, not colored (contact lens pushers). You racists.

  3. Let the thing collapse. The sooner the better. America’s chickens are coming home …. (who said that?)

    1. Malcom X coined the specific use of the phrase in response to the JFK assassination, precipitating his split with Nation of Islam. Reverend Wright rehashed it after 9/11, much to the chagrin of Obama.

      Yes, let the thing “collapse” of its own accord, just as everyone here is predicting it will. Just sit back, relax, do nothing, and it will “collapse.”

      I promise.
      Stop troubling yourself.
      Cross my heart.

      1. It’s Danny! Hey everyone, Danny’s here! How ya doin’, Danny?

        1. His alcoholic mom finally got tired of slapping him around so he decided to swing by and take it out on us.

          1. Finally, somebody acknowledges my pain.

            Thank you, SugarFree.

            The rest of you are cold, unfeeling bastards.

            1. Nope. Still not yelling loud enough, Dan T. Yell Louder. LOUDER!

      2. The problem is that you’re right, in a twisted way. Medicare won’t collapse, the government will continue to fund medicare. But the only means they will have to do it, since the program is insolvent already and immune to reforms because the average American voter has the intelligence of a dung beetle, is through currency printing. We’re already seeing it; and this is before both programs really begin to tread water under the weight of the boomer retirements. The fed is buying well over half of the newly issues T-Bills (T is for Timmmmay). That is called monetizing the debt.

        So you’re right Danny. Medicare won’t collapse, because the only people that vote with any great consistency are seniors. Instead, the currency will collapse in an effort to continually feed the Gray Beast.

        1. So you’re right Danny. Medicare won’t collapse, because the only people that vote with any great consistency are seniors. Instead, the currency will collapse in an effort to continually feed the Gray Beast.

          This is the best, most succinct comment I’ve seen on this subject in a while.

          When people say, “collapse,” they generally mean, “we’ll only change our ways when we get to the edge of the abyss.” But some people, DANNNY! included, would just as soon go over the cliff and cling to political power while letting everything else collapse around them.

          There will always be haves and have-nots (and perks!), even in a banana republic.

          Hell, the perks in a banana republic are usually even more pronounced.

          1. I am rooting for full on fiscal meltdown with rampant starvation, disease and general disorder.

      3. If it will not collapse, then what is all the sturm und drang? If it does collapse, then a train wreck is always good for a thrill. I stopped troubling myself long ago, when I went on the dole and stopped paying taxes. Taxpaying suckers can worry. What, me?

  4. Getting rid of Medicare means getting rid of highly regressive FICA contributions. Why does Pelosi hate the poor?

    1. I think FICA is a flat tax now. Only Social Security tax is still regressive.

      1. A flat tax is regressive, since poor people get more utility out of those first few dollars of income.

  5. I heard the Ryan Plan even phases out tax credits for Old Glory Insurance for seniors.

    1. Ha! I was gonna’ post the same link. That commercial kills me. Plus, it’s fun to clown the paranoia of old people!

  6. Fuck it we can just go broke then. Lets see how they like it when the government defaults and there is no more medicare.

    1. Danny said it won’t happen. No worries!

    2. All the old fucks will be dead by then. They don’t give a shit.

      1. true. What the hell is wrong with people?

        1. Moron has sex with moron. Lather, rinse, and repeat 7,000,000,000 times.

          1. When do we get our President Comacho though?!?!?!

          2. Nobody wants to hear about you and Warty’s mom, dude.

            1. Warty’s mom is a genius. She made one perfect human and then stopped ovulating through sheer force of will.

              1. If:
                Menopause = Force of Will?


                Menopause: The Musical = Leni Reifenstahl’s Triumph of the Will?

              2. That’s more or less true. I’m the middle child, though. My siblings are too terrible for the likes of you to contemplate.

                1. The middle child? I thought you ate both your weakling sibling. I am disappoint.

              3. Well then where did Warty come from?

                1. Warty is a self-made man. A closed loop. But he doesn’t know where all us zombies came from.

                  1. Warty is the Omega Man? But that makes you…Matthias?

                    1. I look PIMP in a robe, yo.

                  2. Warty is a self-made man. A closed loop.

                    Like God/Jeebus?

                    1. Warty is the the Solitary Godhead prophesied by unitarians to destroy the world.

                    2. Flying SpagWarty Monster?

                    3. Wartyfarian?

                  3. Warty is a self-made man. A closed loop.

                    So he went back in time in an alternate dimension and raped his female version of himself.

                    I have to say i am kind of impressed….the ability to have sex with a female version of Warty all the way through climax is godlike.

                    1. Just close your eyes and pretend it’s a man.

          3. Should a libertarian care if the government collapses because its leaders completely ignore the advice of libertarians or even their own party’s budget hawks?

            1. only inasmuch as the government that eventually forms after that may be more restrictive of freedom than the current one.

      2. I want to make sure they are dead before the medicare collapses.

  7. I need to know – what’s the context for that video?

    Maybe she had it coming.

    1. She was cheating on the guy who dumped her.

    2. Grandma is looking for the fainting couch after being told that people in Congress want to take her off Medicare and harvest her organs for some bizarre all you can eat cannibal buffet, and dump the remains on her white carpet to be eaten by her 18 cats.

      That’s my guess. I haven’t seen it.

      1. Man throws old wheelchair lady off cliff. Ad has all the wit and subtly of a Danny-tard drivel-comment. HURR DURR!

        1. BORING. I like mine better.

          1. Maybe you should start making propaganda PSAs yourself or STFU.

            1. Who will play the part of the old lady getting chopped up? Any takers?

  8. Is America Beautiful without Medicare?


    Is Medicare Beautiful without America?

    1. Is America Beautiful without Medicare?

      Youth and beauty have long been considered to go together. So, short answer is yes.

  9. The system will run out of money and collapse or they will make drastic cuts to save it.

    Libertarians will win either way. It’s inevitable…

    1. Meekness, Inheritance, something something.

    2. Libertarians will win. Hmm. If being able to say, “I told you so,” as we enter a new dark age can be counted as winning, then I guess so. To each his own.

      1. as we enter a new dark age can be counted as winning, then I guess so. To each his own.

        The dark ages were entered into by rational thinking and upon discovery of how reason can fail western civilization decided to abandon it….

        Sort of like the dada movement after WWI but on a much grander scale.

        The coming collapse is caused by irrational thinking….so Dark ages is not necessarily in the cards….and even less likely considering it is rational thinking that opposes the current statist dive into national bankruptcy.

        It is usually the opposition that picks up the pieces after the establishment crumbles.

        1. Yes and no, of course some of this is driven by irrationality. Perhaps most of it. But reason does not lose because of the collpase, reason loses because life becomes some unpredictable and fickle people look for metaphysical answers, metaphysical reason, to explain the harshness of life.

    3. Perhaps, but a debt-fuelled currency collapse is not necessarily the victory we want.

      1. Would you prefer that the current statist system be sustainable?

        I think George Orwell described such a sustainable system as a heel planted on the face of humanity until the the end of time.

        1. The system is based on violence, not money. As long as they have thugs, they can get their share of whatever meager wealth is available.

    4. Do you hear that sound Mr Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability…

  10. Someone should make an ad showing a bunch of middle-aged boomers running around mugging little kids and taking their candy/toys. Maybe that would get the idea across that the real price for all this bullshit will be paid by the next generation.

    1. I think it’s an apt analogy, but you are not going to win over the selfish piglets at the trough by pointing out that they are selfish piglets at the trough. Our only hope is to explain how and when Medicare will go away despite the popular desire to keep it alive.

      The problem is that we keep backsliding on the Kuebler-Ross model. We are stuck in denial. Obamacare briefly moved us to anger, and then our collective Alzheimer’s kicked in again and we’re back to denial. Paul Ryan tries to move us to bargaining while the libertarians try to move America towards depression and finally acceptance. Yet, here we are again at anger, which in turn will soon be replaced by denial.

      1. Why do you want a system that will inevitably be more expensive for elderly medical care recipients, cripplingly burdensome for their families in many cases? As it’s more expensive, it doesn’t actually save any money. It just funnels more to the private insurance industry, which will guarantee less coverage for more money.

        To recap: Medicare = more security for all, cheaper healthcare for the elderly, fewer oldies dying for the crime of not being able to afford to line the pockets of big insurance. In what universe does the opposite of this scenario = freedom?

        1. a system that will inevitably be more expensive for elderly medical care recipients, cripplingly burdensome for their families in many cases? As it’s more expensive, it doesn’t actually save any money. It just funnels more to the private insurance industry, which will guarantee less coverage for more money.

          Tony I think you just described everything that is wrong with Obamacare.

        2. Yawn. If Americans cannot pay for health insurance, then government cannot pay for health insurance. Hauser’s law indicates that there are no more rich people to steal from. One more kooky scheme to bring down the cost curve by having government take over the medical industry is not going to work. It didn’t work with Romneycare and it won’t work for Obamacare.

          You are still in denial, Tony.

          1. Yes. Of course at some point Medicare reimbursement rates will drop to the point that your pool cleaner is now your doctor. Unless you want to pay extra for one of those high fallut’n doctors with degrees and experience.

  11. Couple things I don’t get. How come Medicare is either solvent or at risk for total, compete, 100% collapse? Maybe we would just have to cut back on payments assuming the status quo.

    Also, how come the great unjust burden we are forcing on our precious little grandchildren–namely high taxes to pay for our debt–isn’t something that’s an option for us, right now? Why can’t we raise taxes, and if we can’t, why do we assume our grandkiddies will?

    Also, death panels, Obamacare will kill medicare, etc., were lies. Republican lies. Democrats attacks on Ryancare happen to be true, since it really is that radical.

    1. Well, the thing is that if we want to raise the revenues necessary to fund the program, it would literally have to be born by the entire population, not just the wealthy few. We could annex every dollar of income earned in excess of $250k and only yield $1.2 trillion, notwithstanding the substantial effects on the resulting GDP and potential revenue base from the following year. Assuming we could cut the defense department in half, every dollar of income in excess of $250k would come very close to balancing the budget. But, as I stated above, such a policy will have a profound effect on the amount of taxable revenue in excess of $250k the following year.

      So it is a situation where the only way to continue to sustain the current entitlement state is through a hefty tax increase on the middle class. That is politically untenable. As much as there is a whole wave of anger over the debt, it doesn’t motive people the way actual taxes do because most people have short time horizons and are not sufficiently frightened by the implications of the debt (i.e. the future tax liability, or much more likely to the point of approaching a near certainty, the dramatic devaluation of the currency which is already underway but is so esoteric and intangible a concept that few voters comprehend it or are even aware of its happening).

      1. Many wealthy Pompeiians reacted to the first columns of steam emanating from Vesuvius by having picnics on the slope so they could get a better view of this strange occurrence.

        America has always pulled through in most people’s lifetime. The worst case scenario has never materialized before, so clearly it will never materialize. (To be fair, you see this fallacy repeated on the pages of Reason when they talk about our competition with China — because Japan was touted as a US-beater and fizzled, therefore we have nothing to worry about, the line goes)

    2. You’d have a better case if the Dems weren’t hiding from tax increases except on ‘the rich’. You can’t get thar from har. Hell, the Democrats don’t even have a budget period. So you think nothing (presumably the status quo but since that’s not doable unless people buy our endless debt there really isn’t a budget) beats something? Seems to me you want to criticize you are REQUIRED to belly up to the bar with your own ideas (with a ‘no power’ caveat – the Dems didn’t have to have their own plan in 2006, the Republicans didn’t need a HC plan in 2009). You can applaud cowardice if you wish, but don’t mistake what it is.

      1. I know tax hikes on the rich aren’t enough… I’d just like to see republicans acknowledge that they are indeed part of the solution–the least painful part at that. Otherwise all their bellyaching about debt is obviously part of an ideological crusade and not fiscal responsibility.

  12. How the fuck are they not pushing this as THE ONLY PLAN anybody has put forth that makes Medicare sustainable?

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