It is a familiar line of attack for the Left, who last year engaged in outright defamation of Ryan’s character with an ad that portrayed the Wisconsin Congressman throwing an elderly lady off a cliff. It is also a sneak peek at the main themes of the Obama campaign, which will try fear-mongering to divide Americans over Medicare and other popular entitlements.
Nevertheless, as with the President’s smearing of Mitt Romney as “Romney Hood” (which I believe he should embrace), Medicare reform could make the Republican campaign far more than it might break it.
In an article today in the Wall Street Journal, Joseph Rago penned an excellent piece that makes exactly that point. The Ryan Plan – that has been so roundly ridiculed by the Obama Administration and its allies – is a way to prevent Medicare from disappearing. It is certainly not an effort to completely upend and uproot the program altogether.
When Harry Reid claims that Republicans would “end Medicare as we know it,” Americans in general, and seniors in particular, ought to be thrilled.
According to a Medicare actuary report earlier this year, the healthcare program for seniors as we know it today faces a nearly $38 trillion dollar unfunded mandate on promises it has made to living Americans. This liability is not only unsustainable, but mathematically impossible to meet.
Ending Medicare as we know it is the best way to ensure that Medicare still exists ten or fifteen years down the road.
What’s particularly fascinating about the vehement Democratic opposition to Ryan’s Medicare plan is that Democratic and Liberal think tanks supported it in the 1990s. The centerpiece of Ryan’s proposal is to provide premium subsidies rather than to have government directly paying (or really not paying) doctors and medical providers.
Under a premium subsidy program, a Federal cash allowance of approximately $9,500 per year (which will buy an excellent insurance plan) will be remitted to Medicare participants to purchase private plans. This use of the free market will improve both the quality and efficiency of care, and shift the unfunded liability off of the government’s books into the private market where investments and other instruments can meet this liability while growing our economy.
This common sense proposal was supported by none other than the left-leaning Brookings Institution. Brookings fellow Henry Aaron was among premium support’s chief proponents during the Bush and Clinton eras, until Democrats decided it was time to mischaracterize premium support to politically punish Congressional Republicans.
I believe that Medicare reform should be a centerpiece of the Romney-Ryan presidential campaign. They should unapologetically and courageously take on Medicare reform and staunchly defend Ryan’s proposal.
Telling the American people the truth is a winning strategy, because the Left is willing to lie and cover up grim realities just to get through the next election cycle. This point was well illustrated by ObamaCare advocate Chip Kahn’s comments about why he supported the bill. Kahn, according to Mr. Rago at the Journal, is president of a for-profit hospital trade group that advocated for the passage of ObamaCare, even though Medicare actuaries have indicated that ObamaCare’s Medicare cuts will bankrupt 1 in 6 American hospitals. The reason Mr. Kahn favored it anyway is that the immediate mandate for 30 million more Americans to enter the healthcare market will make him richer in the short term, though it will destroy American healthcare in the longer term. Kahn is on record as having said “you can say ‘did you make a bad deal?’ Fortunately, I don’t think I’ll probably be working after 2020.”
I think that Chip Kahn’s comments sum up the extent to which the Left has policy foresight, and it isn’t a pretty picture. This absence of a multi-generational policy approach threatens to end the American Dream for future Americans. With such statements, and the thinking behind them, it is absolutely no wonder that only 14% of Americans believe the American Dream will survive for our children and grandchildren.