A candidate who promises to preserve, protect, and defend Medicare, save it from going bankrupt, implement his plan for only those under 55, and let you keep your benefits exactly as they are now if you don’t like his changes: this is the candidate Democrats are portraying as a faceless monster diabolically wheeling grandma off a cliff.
We’ve reached the apotheosis of the Democratic Party’s political strategy: take the Republican who’s most likely to do it the favor of justifying, rescuing, and strengthening its bloated, big-government welfare programs, and then smear him as their callous, murderous destroyer.
Ten days after Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential nomination announcement, liberals are still spreading the meme that Paul Ryan was a suicidal choice, because he dared come up with a serious Medicare reform proposal—gradually turn the program into a voucher-supported private system—and include it in two House-passed federal budgets. The Left waited five minutes after the VP pick, then cried, “See! Romney didn’t get a Ryan bounce. He screwed up!”
Wait until Americans hear Ryan debate Joe Biden and field questions from a smarmy, economically illiterate, and biased press. Then they won’t be crowing that Romney committed hari-kari.
Pundits imply that Romney should have picked a VP candidate with no strong positions on Medicare or any other issue of substance, lest he alienate independents. But the opposite will hold true: if any voters truly are undecided, they’re going to be blown away by what Ryan has to say on Medicare and every other budgetary topic he addresses in his upcoming campaign appearances, because it’s so much bolder and more honest than what any other politician has said to date.
Since they don’t like the Big Bad Wolf’s proposal, what are Democrats’ plans for shoring up Medicare?
They have none. They don’t even think there is a problem.
The New Yorker’s John Cassidy argues that Medicare is doing just fine, and that the only reason costs are out of control is the large number of retiring Baby Boomers.
Contrary to Democrats’ claims, Medicare is not more cost-effective than private health insurance. The federal government prohibits the sale of private health insurance across state lines, which cripples the private insurance industry’s ability to compete and innovate. No such hindrance exists for Medicare.
Medicare is not more cost-effective than HMOs. The IRS hamstrings HMOs by virtually forcing health insurance plans to be tied to employers rather than employees, which reduces flexibility and competitiveness. No such obstacle exists for Medicare.
Medicare could never survive on its own, not without sponging off of the much larger private insurance industry. If Medicare had such a bright future, more doctors wouldn’t be refusing to accept Medicare patients with every passing year.
So what is Obama’s proposal to address Medicare’s imminent bankruptcy? He says that we don’t need to cut benefits… that we can keep it solvent simply by reducing fraud and waste. In his words, “My plan saves money in Medicare by cracking down on fraud, and waste and insurance company subsidies… My plan’s already extended the life of Medicare by nearly a decade.”
Please. Every politician who wants to preserve the status quo and eschew cutting a dime from a popular federal program claims that gobs of money can be saved just by reducing fraud and waste. Everyone wants to reduce fraud and waste. John Gambino wants to reduce fraud and waste.
Obama also claims he can save hundreds of billions of dollars by reducing subsidies to insurance companies and hospitals—as if they’re going to altruistically pony up the difference rather than cutting services or finding a way to pass the cost on to customers.
Democrats show no interest in accepting that Medicare is going broke, and that benefits will soon be cut. They live in a fantasy land where, at best, they pretend they can save hundreds of billions of dollars via rosy projections of improved Medicare cost-efficiency a few years down the road, after the next couple of election cycles, by which time voters have forgotten about their unfulfillable promises.
At worst, they ignore the problem and demonize Republicans for proposing solutions.