The New ‘Let them eat Cake while the Rich Eat it too!’ Paul Ryan Medicare Plan
Another plan doomed to fail because the GOP can’t seem to bear taxing anyone rich.
Democrats are thrilled with the political opportunity. Ryan’s original proposal would eventually have replaced Medicare’s guarantee of medical coverage with a plan that would have provided future seniors a fixed amount with which to buy their own insurance. Democrats see that as a prime example of the GOP’s rightward overreach since taking the House majority.
Ryan’s new budget is expected to include a revised provision backed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that addresses some of the criticisms. It would still give future seniors a fixed amount, but it would allow them to use the money to stay in the traditional Medicare program. They would have to pay out of pocket if the costs of the program were higher than the government subsidy — or buy an alternative plan. Wyden is likely to oppose the Ryan budget’s other provisions, limiting the patina of bipartisanship the GOP hoped for.
Democrats are unimpressed with the change. “You can dress up a pig, but it’s still a pig,” said Rep. Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The problem with Republican budgets is they consistently ask seniors to be the first to sacrifice their Medicare without asking millionaires to give up a nickel.”
Israel’s committee is circulating a horror-movie-style poster with Ryan’s image, alongside that of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and the tagline: “Just when you thought Medicare was safe — They’re back — This time they want to finish it for good.”
Less partisan budget experts say Ryan deserves credit for being willing to talk about Medicare spending, but that most seniors under his plan would face considerably higher costs for healthcare, in some cases many thousands of dollars a year. Some also call his proposals unrealistic for refusing to consider any increase in tax revenue to rein in the nation’s debt. Of concern to some, the budget is expected to avoid agreed-upon Pentagon cuts in favor of deeper reductions to other domestic programs.
Ryan dismisses such challenges. To him, losses such as the one the GOP suffered in last year’s special election are merely bumps along a career path trying to avert a national debt crisis. A protégé of Republican Jack Kemp, Ryan calls himself a next-generation supply-sider who matches the earlier conservatives’ zest for lower taxes with a new emphasis on deficit reduction.