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Monday, November 14, 2016


Hold onto your spleens

by Tom Sullivan

But first, hold onto this phone number: (202) 225-0600. That's the number for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. You will want to use it in a minute.

Q: When is Medicare not Medicare?
A: When it's been Trumped.

No, I don't think that's funny either. Or this: Ryan Plans to Phase Out Medicare in 2017. Josh Marshall looks at statements (including false ones) Paul Ryan made to Fox's Special Report:

First, Ryan claims that Obamacare has put Medicare under deeper financial stress. Precisely the opposite is true. And it's so straightforward Ryan unquestionably knows this. The Affordable Care Act actually extended Medicare's solvency by more than a decade. Ryan's claim is flat out false.

Second, I've heard a few people say that it's not 100% clear here that Ryan is calling for Medicare Phase Out. It is 100% clear. Ryan has a standard, openly enunciated position in favor of Medicare Phase Out. It's on his website. It's explained explicitly right there.

Ryan says current beneficiaries will be allowed to keep their Medicare. Says. But after the cord is cut between current and future beneficiaries, everything is fair game. For those entering the system, Ryan proposes phasing out Medicare and replacing it private insurance with subsidies to help seniors afford the private insurance. That is unquestionably what it means because that is what Ryan says. So if you're nearing retirement and looking forward to going on Medicare, good luck. You're going to get private insurance but you'll get some subsidies from the government to pay the bill.
When Ryan's done he'll still call what's left Medicare. You know, the way what's left after a lobotomy they still call your brain.

The Washington Post and other analysts concur with Marshall:
As for whether Medicare is “going broke,” the program’s trustees say that the “Part A” trust fund — the costliest component of Medicare, covering hospital visits — is set to become insolvent in 2028. In 2009, before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, however, the trustees projected that fund would be insolvent in 2017.

The latest projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office show that Medicare spending is set to rise from the current level of about 3 percent of gross domestic product to more than 5 percent of GDP in 2040. But that is considerably less growth than the CBO projected before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which showed Medicare spending in the realm of 7 percent around 2040. In the next 10 years alone, the difference between those projections could amount to $2 trillion, according to an analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress.
Doesn't matter. These characters despise safety net programs that obviate God's own law of the jungle. And they've never been too shy about it amongst themselves. But in public, voters must be herded to the cliff with dulcet phrases like "strengthening Medicare" and "premium-support payment" and "reform aimed to empower individuals," but these are euphemisms for gutting Medicare the way "counterinsurgency strikes" once meant B-52s carpet-bombing Cambodia.

That number again is (202) 225-0600.

Harper's looks at how Republicans have spun funding Medicare on Capitol Hill:
The big question is who should bear the burden of necessary revenue increases—taxpayers or Medicare beneficiaries. So far the answer from the government, many economists, and conservative advocacy groups is, unequivocally, the beneficiaries. Moon and her colleagues note that the “potential depletion of the trust fund in the future is taken as ‘proof’ that benefits must be reduced.” But in a subsequent interview, she warns that as more of the cost burden is shifted to the beneficiaries, “the likely reaction will be that benefits become so small Medicare won’t remain viable. It would destroy the program.”

It’s ironic that when it comes to one of the government’s most popular public programs, there’s no talk of raising taxes—an option polls show much of the public is willing to support. The failure of policymakers to consider revenue increases reflects the success of the right’s thirty-year crusade to change the conversation. “Those of us at the Heritage Foundation and allied public-policy institutions like the American Enterprise Institute have effectively defined the terms of the debate on Medicare reform,” says Robert Moffit, a senior fellow at Heritage. The Democrats, he adds, “are debating our proposals. We’re not debating theirs.” Former Iowa senator Tom Harkin tells me that his fellow Democrats were poor strategists, always finding themselves in rearguard actions trying to block provisions they didn’t like. “The Democrats were talking a good game for the immediacy, not the long term. It’s like checkers,” he says. “They knew how to block the next move, but were not seeing the row lined up at the back of the board.”
Here we are again, in a rearguard action against what appears, for all intents and purposes, to be an incoming administration intent on sweeping away the last remnants of the Old Republic. Except the Wall Street Journal reports Lord Flauntleroy didn't realize he'd have to hire all his own stormtroopers: