The $700 Billion Shell Game

Aug 16 2012 @ 1:07pm

by Gwynn Guilford

Jared Bernstein breaks down the core elements of the Medicare debate:

[T]here’s been a lot of confusion generated by the $700 billion in cuts that both the President and Gov Ryan have in their budgets. I’ve written about this as have others: see here and here. The numbers may be the same, but…[i]n the Affordable Care Act, they’re derived from seeking efficiencies in way health care is delivered, and they’re used to provide health care to beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid.

In the Ryan budget, they’re at least partly used to pay for tax cuts weighted toward wealthy households.

After musing on Romney's ostensible rejection of the Ryan budget, he keeps up the full-court press on hypocrisy:

Republicans and other alleged chicken budget hawks are constantly complaining that the President is failing to lead on fiscal issues because he refuses to tackle the entitlement “crisis.”   Then, a sentence or two later, the nail him for cutting $700 billion from Medicare!

Josh Barro's view:

Cutting more than $700 billion out of Medicare over 10 years is hard. Ryan's position is that he will make those cuts, but they won't be through an IPAB or an IPAB-like mechanism. And they won't be through premium support.  And they won't hurt seniors. But we don't get to know how they will work. It is no surprise that defenses of this position fail.

Scott Galupo chimes in, referencing a post by James Capretta:

Never asked, let alone answered, is the question that if Romney’s Medicare reforms are so painless, why not demand that current beneficiaries accept them? Why is it necessary to spare them from structural reforms that are so self-evidently “sensible” (Capretta’s word)…?

That this Orwellian gambit is being pitched as the bold, courageous, grown-up alternative to politics as usual is, on its face, pretty astonishing.

Previous coverage here, here, here, here, and here.