Election 2012

Republicans Likely to Stick With Medicare Cuts Romney Criticized


Mitt Romney's presidential campaign featured frequent attacks on President Obama for cutting $716 billion out of Medicare. Romney made ads criticizing the president for the cuts, and pegged Obama as the only president who has cut Medicare. "When you see your friends with signs that say keep your hands off our Medicare," Romney said last year, "they are absolutely right."Well, anyone who liked that line may be disappointed. The cuts are back. And this time it's Republicans who are proposing them. Again. 

The attacks were politically convenient, and seemed with resonate with seniors. But they never made much sense. In part that's because Romney was simultaneously pretending to be running as someone who wanted to cut spending and reform health care entitlements. An even bigger reason, though, is that Romney's own running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP Chair of the House Budget Committee, had proposed those exact same cuts in budgets that he and most of the House Republicans had voted for.

Romney promised to nix Obama's Medicare cuts, and restore spending to the program. But now it looks like Rep. Ryan will once again propose to keep those cuts in place. The Hill reports that Republicans on the Budget Committee expected that the cuts will remain in the next GOP budget, despite their prominence in the campaign. 

Stories like these tell you something about the lack of a strong policy vision in the Romney campaign, as well as the willingness of other Republicans to follow along, despite the campaign's weaknesses. More than that, they offer a reminder that Romney's line of attack was always a gamble for entitlement reformers. And at this point it's clear that it was one that didn't pay off. 

No, Romney wasn't the first Republican to run against cutting Medicare, and I suspect he won't be the last. But Romney's attacks, combined with his frustratingly non-specific Medicare reform proposal, helped position the GOP as a party defending against cuts and changes to Medicare. The party that won't make cuts, that wants the government to keep its hands off Medicare, not the party that wants to transform and reform the nation's biggest long-term fiscal problem. 

In this case, I suspect that Republicans will just ignore what Romney said during the campaign and proceed to include the $716 billion in cuts in future budgets. But I also suspect that if the time comes to negotiate more substantial Medicare reform, the GOP will have Romney's words thrown back at them. 

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  1. Republicans, Standing for nothing since 1967.

    1. Take THAT FOE!!!!

        1. His move to the Dark Side is complete.

          1. Still more believable than Anakin’s.

  2. Let Medicare die.

  3. Another looking-glass moment: Mitt attacks Obama for cuts to Medicare. Libbies go nuts because Mitt and ermahgerd PAUL RYAN are going to kill grandma by cutting Medicare.

    1. Basically, the Republicans are the ’05 Buckeyes and the Democrats are the ’05 Gators.

  4. “I suspect that Republicans will just ignore what Romney said during the campaign and proceed to include the $716 billion in cuts in future budgets. But I also suspect that if the time comes to negotiate more substantial Medicare reform, the GOP will have Romney’s words thrown back at them.”

    I don’t think anything Romney said or did makes one iota of difference to Republican policy positions long term. I can’t think of anybody right now whose opinions matter less to Republican policy positions than Mitt Romney.

    Meanwhile, I’d like to think Ryan keeping cuts to Medicare in the Republicans’ budget proposal is somehow indicative of something, but other Republicans completely ignoring Medicare cuts Paul Ryan has put in their budget proposals isn’t exactly unprecedented.

    Seriously, if we end up with $716 billion dollars in Medicare cuts because the Republicans in the House stuck to Ryan’s budget proposal, it’ll be a bigger surprise to Paul Ryan than anybody else…

    The suggestion that the Republican Party is really all about slashing Medicare is way more ridiculous than the suggestion that they’re against cutting Medicare.

  5. I mean, who takes anything Romney said during the campaign seriously? Nobody took anything Obama said during the campaign seriously–why would what Romney said during the campaign be of any importance?

    And if we’re playing dueling statements on Medicare between Ryan and Romney, Ryan’s the one that looks like a buffoon here. Romney was right if he thought the Republican Party was likely to make sure there were no cuts to Medicare whatsoever, and if Ryan is taking his own proposals to slash Medicare seriously, then all the other Republicans in the House must think he’s an idiot.

    What is it about the results of the last election that makes you think the American people want entitlement reform? Didn’t fiscal conservatives just get crucified? What color is the sky in your world?

    1. Didn’t fiscal conservatives just get crucified?

      Being white, not being “caring”, and running gang rape camps is what was crucified in the election.

  6. You got your wish Suderman, Obama won and Romney lost. The election was almost a month ago; it’s safe to walk away from that corpse now.

  7. Today’s comment on the fiscal cliff.

    It looks like the Democrats are planning to do what I was advising the Republicans to do last week – pass just the tax cuts for the middle class. Only they are going to do it after January when all of thge tax rates rise. the Republicans will then be forced to either take what th Democrats propose, or accept a tix hike on everyone.

    IMO, it would be extremely unwise for the R’s to let that happen, not only because it would allow the Democrats to get credit for extending the tax cuts, but it would also (potentially) allow the D’s to attachs all osrts of additional spending measures to the bill and (in effect) hold the tax cuts hostage to a slew of Democratic pet projects.

    If the R’s in the house take the initiative they can control what else goes into the bill (I would advise nothing so as not to give the D’s a fig leaf to vote against it). If they wait until after the fiscal cliff they hand the leverage over to the Democrats. The D’s will load it upp with crap like clean energy subsidies and the media will pretend those odn’t exist and spin it that the R’s are obstructing middle-class tax cuts.

  8. Heck, even the Tea (or TEA, i.e. Taxed Enough Already) Party here in the Bronx began as the Campaign to Save Medicare.

  9. Pay market prices. All over the country there are retail establishments that are offering primary care services to cash-paying patients. Walk-in clinics, doc-in-the-box clinics, and free-standing (that is, not connected with a hospital) emergency-care clinics post prices and usually deliver high-quality care. Many follow evidence-based protocols, keep records electronically, and order prescriptions electronically.

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