Watching Paul Ryan earlier today talking at the Peterson Fiscal Summit I was amazed by the number of times he said the word “Mediscare,” which is a conservative jargon term for telling the truth about proposals to eliminate Medicare.
Mr. Ryan may claim — and he may even believe — that he’s facing a backlash because his opponents are lying about his proposals. But the reality is that the Ryan plan is turning into a political disaster for Republicans, not because the plan’s critics are lying about it, but because they’re describing it accurately.
Take, for example, the statement that the Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it. This may have Republicans screaming “Mediscare!” but it’s the absolute truth: The plan would replace our current system, in which the government pays major health costs, with a voucher system, in which seniors would, in effect, be handed a coupon and told to go find private coverage.
The new program might still be called Medicare — hey, we could replace government coverage of major expenses with an allowance of two free aspirins a day, and still call it “Medicare” — but it wouldn’t be the same program. And if the cost estimates of the Congressional Budget Office are at all right, the inadequate size of the vouchers — which by 2030 would cover only about a third of seniors’ health costs — would leave many if not most older Americans unable to afford essential care.
I’m also amused that Karl Rove has decided to advocate the same political strategery as Col. Mustard. Trying to find the “right messaging” for a plan to destroy Medicare to fund massive upper-class tax cuts is like trying to find the right metrics to show that Melky Cabrera is the greatest player in baseball.