A stopped clock called Michele
Michele Bachmann has caused quite a stir today with yet another of her looney claims:
BACHMANN: A couple of months ago I was in the White House with President Obama. We asked him three times, ‘what’s your plan to make Medicare solvent.’ He mumbled around and didn’t give answer…he said, ‘Obamacare.’ And so what senior citizens don’t realize is that President Obama’s plan for Medicare is they will all go into Obamacare. There won’t be a Medicare going forward under President Obama.
Obviously, she didn't understand whatever it was that he was saying about the savings under his health care plan and he clearly didn't suggest that this would happen in term. But this isn't the first time she's said this ---she said it in the first GOP Presidential debate. And support for it came from an unlikely source:
Ezra Klein explains that she's right:
If Republicans can make their peace with the Affordable Care Act and help figure out how to make the Affordable Care Act's exchanges work to control costs and improve quality, it'd be natural to eventually migrate Medicaid and Medicare into the system. Liberals would like that because it'd mean better care for Medicaid beneficiaries and less fragmentation in the health-care system. Conservatives would like it because it'd break the two largest single-payer health-care systems in America and turn their beneficiaries into consumers. But the implementation and success of the Affordable Care Act is a necessary precondition to any compromise of this sort. You can't transform Medicaid and Medicare until you've proven that what you're transforming them into is better. Only the Affordable Care Act has the potential to do that.
So Bachmann is perhaps right to say that the president is moving us towards a day when ObamaCare -- or, to put it more neutrally, "premium support" -- might come to Medicare. He's seeing whether it works in the private health-care market first and, if it does, there's little doubt that the political pressure to extend it to other groups will be intense. The question is why Bachmann and her party are doing so much to stand in his way? The corollary to Bachmann's accusation that the president has a realistic plan to privatize Medicare is that the Republicans, for all their sound and fury over the Ryan budget, don't.
I reacted rather badly to that when I first wrote about it. I certainly don't recall anyone saying that the health care reform would eventually lead to Medicare being abolished. Indeed, those of us who favored Medicare for all were told repeatedly that the Rube Goldberg ACA was necessary as a first step to its expansion.
Bachman's been saying this for a while and it's a clever line. I wouldn't be surprised to see the GOP adopt it more widely. Her understanding of how and why that happens is silly and confused, but according the Ezra she isn't wrong. Indeed, it's apparently the dream of all the policy wonks who designed the ACA. You can't blame the Republicans for using it --- it has the ring of truth.