Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Republican Media- No. 35

Campaigning at The Villages, an enclave of elderly people and golf carts in Florida, Paul Ryan, campaigning with his mother, contended

What's worse is the president's campaign calls this an achievement.  Do you think raiding Medicare to pay for 'Obamacare' is an achievement? Do you think empowering a board of bureaucrats to cut Medicare an achievement? Neither do I. Medicare should not be used as a piggy bank for 'Obamacare.' Medicare should be used to be the promise that it made to our current seniors. Period. End of Story.

As The Incidental Economist explains, the Affordable Care Act creates the IPAB, a board of 15 full-time members who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.     The Patients' Choice Act, introduced by "small-government" advocate Ryan in May, 2009, creates not one, but two, boards.    The Health Services Commisssion consists of five full-time members, also appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.   The Commission in turn would appoint a 15-member board to be called the Office of the Forum for Quality and Effectiveness in Health Care.

So Paul Ryan was against a board of bureaucrats before he was for them. The larger problem, however, is Ryan's claim that President Obama uses Medicare "as a piggy bank for Obamacare."   Add to that Ryan's claim "Our solution to preserve, protect, and save Medicare does not affect your benefits."   Then add the media, all agog over the hip and healthy congressman, buying the story uncritically.

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, and Romney-Ryan all have pledged to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. While Romney charges President Obama with "robbing" elderly people with the reduction, Ryan terms the $700+ billion cut a "piggy bank for Obamacare."

Most of those savings, however, are plowed back into health care for the elderly, eliminating the prescription drug doughnut hole and providing preventive care without co-pays or deductibles.   Representative Ryan proudly maintained the same reduction in his own proposal. They would not bolster health care of the elderly, but rather, Ryan boasted, "extend its solvency" (destroying the village in order to save it).     He criticized the President's plan, saying it "takes that money from Medicare to spend on Obamacare"; "robbing" it, in his running-mate's words, to spend on health care for the elderly and for the poor, through an expansion of Medicaid.

Still, some in the media are, to be generous, confused.    Tim Curry of NBC News asks himself "If you are 65 years or older and now receiving Medicare beneifts, would Ryan's Medicare proposal affect you?  If so, how would it affect you?"

It's a good question but, remarkably, Curry replies to himself "No- if you're receiving Medicare benefits now, Ryan's proposal would not affect you."  But of course it would.   Ryan's proposal takes out the same money as does the ACA- and then makes sure it doesn't go to the elderly (or the poor).

These are confusing times.   A Democratic president enacts "historic" health care reform which builds upon a proposal of the Heritage Foundation.    Republicans then attack the legislation, in part for the cost controls it contains.    Their presumptive presidential candidate selects as his running mate a guy who ran interference for President Bush's Medicare privatization scheme, a boon for the high-stakes gamblers on Wall Street.   That same guy now pledges to "preserve, protect, and save" Medicare by slashing benefits for nearly all recipients except those now elderly.   It doesn't take a biased or liberal media to lay bare the dishonest claims of the GOP ticket.  Only an attentive one.

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