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Friday, May 27, 2011

Paul Krugman: Medicare and Mediscares

Paul Ryan is having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that his budget plan is a "political disaster":

Medicare and Mediscares, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Yes, Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is a sore loser. Why do you ask?
To be sure, Mr. Ryan had reason to be upset after Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District. It’s a very conservative district.... Yet ... Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, took the seat, with a campaign focused squarely on Mr. Ryan’s plan to dismantle Medicare and replace it with a voucher system.
How did Ms. Hochul pull off this upset? The Wisconsin congressman blamed Democrats’ willingness to “shamelessly distort and demagogue the issue, trying to scare seniors to win an election,” and he predicted that by November of next year “the American people are going to know they’ve been lied to.” ...
But the reality is that the Ryan plan is turning into a political disaster for Republicans, not because the plan’s critics are lying about it, but because they’re describing it accurately. Take, for example, the statement that the Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it. This may have Republicans screaming “Mediscare!” but it’s the absolute truth...
The new program might still be called Medicare ... but it wouldn’t be the same program. And ... the ... vouchers — which by 2030 would cover only about a third of seniors’ health costs — would leave many if not most older Americans unable to afford essential care.
If anyone is lying here, it’s Mr. Ryan himself, who has claimed that his plan would give seniors the same kind of coverage that members of Congress receive — an assertion that is completely false. ...
Still, are Democrats doing a bad thing by telling the truth about the Ryan plan? “If you demagogue entitlement reform,” says Mr. Ryan, “you’re hastening a debt crisis; you’re bringing about Medicare’s collapse.” Maybe he should have a word with his colleagues who greeted the modest, realistic cost control efforts in the Affordable Care Act with cries of “death panels.”
Anyway, the underlying premise ... is ... that the Ryan plan represents a serious effort to come to grip with America’s long-run fiscal problems. But... Once you remove the absurd assumptions — discretionary spending, including defense, falling to Calvin Coolidge levels, and huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, with no loss in revenue? — it’s highly questionable whether it would reduce the deficit at all.
What the Ryan plan is, instead, is an attempt to snooker Americans into accepting a standard right-wing wish list under the guise of deficit reduction. And Americans, it seems, have seen through the deception. ...
What of Mr. Ryan’s hope that voters will realize that they’ve been lied to? Well, as I see it, that’s already happening. And it’s bad news for the G.O.P.

    Posted by on Friday, May 27, 2011 at 12:42 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Health Care, Politics, Social Insurance | Permalink  Comments (100)


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