Bill Clinton Warns Democrats On Medicare: Doing Nothing Isn’t An Option

Former President Clinton doesn’t necessarily think his fellow Democrats are pursuing the right policy in their response to the Ryan Plan:

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — Bill Clinton had a word of warning on Wednesday for fellow Democrats: Don’t get too cocky about voters’ rejection of Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan.

In a special election for a vacant House seat on Tuesday, a Democrat candidate upset a Republican in a GOP-stronghold in upstate New York.

The race was widely seen as a proxy on Ryan’s controversial Republican proposal plan to convert Medicare into a voucher program.

Clinton, speaking at a fiscal summit sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, said the race showed that voters don’t like the Republican plan.

But he also told Democrats not to shy away from tackling entitlement programs.

“You shouldn’t look at the New York race and think that nobody can do anything to slow Medicare costs,” Clinton said.

Of perhaps more interest is a behind the scenes exchange between Clinton and Paul Ryan after the former President spoke:

ABC News was behind the scenes with the Wisconsin Congressman and GOP Budget Committee Chairman when he got some words of encouragement none other than former President Bill Clinton.

“So anyway, I told them before you got here, I said I’m glad we won this race in New York,” Clinton told Ryan, when the two met backstage at a forum on the national debt held by the Pete Peterson Foundation. But he added, “I hope Democrats don’t use this as an excuse to do nothing.”

Ryan told Clinton he fears that now nothing will get done in Washington.

“My guess is it’s going to sink into paralysis is what’s going to happen. And you know the math. It’s just, I mean, we knew we were putting ourselves out there. You gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving,” Ryan said.

Clinton told Ryan that if he ever wanted to talk about it, he should “give me a call.” Ryan said he would.

Interesting to say the least.

Video:

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Health Care, Quick Takes, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Derrick says:

    My guess is it’s going to sink into paralysis is what’s going to happen.

    That’s what happens when you push a proposal without even a hint that you cared about converting anyone but the non-believers. People can hate the AHCA, but it was obvious from the start that every proposal at least had something that was at least intentioned to get some moderate-conservative votes. Ryan’s budget was a pretty big double-middle finger to everyone who isn’t on the Right with its hack-saw approach to Medicare and more tax cuts for the wealthy. Why he thinks that Dems would receive this as anything but a power grab shows how either delusional or just deceptive he is.

  2. Steve Verdon says:

    That’s what happens when you push a proposal without even a hint that you cared about converting anyone but the non-believers.

    So what you are saying is if the Democrats do nothing that too is the Republican’s fault as well.

    Grow up Derrick.

  3. legion says:

    The basic problem with Medicare is the same problem with all health coverage in the US, private or otherwise – costs are rising much faster than inflation, with no clear increase in benefit. Any “plan” that doesn’t address that somehow is just a political betting chip.

    The Ryan plan doesn’t even do that much; it amounts to nothing more than than Congress throwing up its hands and yelling “not it!” while simultaneously giving a completely irrelevant and unproductive tax break to the wealthy, _again_.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Democrats should listen to Clinton, he is one of the best political brains in the business.

    As for Ryan, the overreach was predictable, as is the attempt to spin the fallout of his plan’s dramatic crash & burn.

    It would be nice if all parties could sit down, roll up their sleeves, and address this rather large problem with an eye towards a compromise that addresses the concerns of both sides. I am not holding my breath.

  5. legion says:

    Anjin-san,
    Nor should you. The GOP won’t stop until they hit bottom & go a few more yards on momentum. I normally don’t think very highly of Harry Reid & the way he does things, but I gotta give him credit – forcing the vote to get the Repubs to put their names on that disaster of a “plan” was absolute frigging genius.

  6. mike says:

    The Democrats passed Medicare in 1965 and today it’s literally bankrupting the country. Taxes have never been cut for this program; they’ve always been increased. Did I mention Medicare is bankrupting the country. This is a Democrat party program and the Democrats can’t fix it because it’s unfixable. Did I mention Medicare is bankrupting the country. The Democrats would rather co-opt the rest of our healthcare system and use it’s healthy free market to hide the medicare losses for 6-7 years while ruining the the part of the healthcare system that runs on the free market. Did I mention Medicare is bankrupting the country. When the current healthcare system is in a shambles because of the Democrats it will be too late to save the system. Did I mention Medicare is bankrupting the country.

  7. flataffect says:

    Unless the GOP gets its act together, this opportunity to address the problem will just be smothered by the fear tactics of the Democrats with the other attempts of the past. Our own corruption has doomed us.

    Point one: Obamacare already destroys Medicare.
    Point two: Nobody 55 or older will be touched by Ryan’s plan.
    Point three: Has anybody mentioned that Medicare is bankrupting ux?

  8. André Kenji says:

    You can´t have a free market on health care if the government is paying the most expensive part, health care to seniors.

  9. Mike Drew says:

    What does WJC have but time to work out and lay out *WHAT* he thinks his fellow Dems should do about Medicare cost growth. It’s fine that he undercuts the Dems’ position at this time of (temporary) victory on the issue, whether it was meant as merely a warning or not. But he’s a smart fellow who knows the issue inside and out. There’s NO REASON for him to put his party into a rhetorical hole like that without offering ideas of his own about what should be done. That way, if his ideas are not better than Ryan’s, at least the public is left with the perception that it really is a hard problem, not that the party’s most popular president of the last half century considers today’s party weak-willed. Classic Clintonian two-edged backbiting here. Ya gotta admire the dude.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    The basic problem with Medicare is the same problem with all health coverage in the US, private or otherwise – costs are rising much faster than inflation, with no clear increase in benefit. Any “plan” that doesn’t address that somehow is just a political betting chip.

    Hear, hear, legion. We don’t merely have a Medicare or Medicaid problem: we have a healthcare system problem. It extends beyond federal and state governments to local governments and individual pocketbooks. Here in Cook County, for example, the county’s fiscal problems can be traced directly to healthcare costs. Costs are rising faster than revenue sources and show no signs of slowing.

  11. Fog says:

    “You can´t have a free market on health care if the government is paying the most expensive part, health care to seniors.”
    It’s pretty ironic that libertarians have torpedoed any chance for a free market solution to the coverage problem. Companies won’t insure the old and the sick because their premiums won’t cover their treatments. The only way around this is to have those same companies also insuring the young and the healthy to generate revenue. This is accomplished by an individual mandate, which libertarians oppose. So, congratulations Randians, you’ve just guaranteed that the government has to get involved in elder care, since no one else will do it.

  12. Dave Schuler says:

    The Democrats passed Medicare in 1965

    Unlike PPACA the Social Security Act of 1965 AKA Medicare passed with bipartisan support. I agree with you that healthcare costs of which Medicare are a major part are causing severe economic distress for the country.

    However, if Medicare were abolished tomorrow it wouldn’t solve the problem. It would just bankrupt seniors and push the problem down to the states (where most of the funding for Medicaid comes from). The reason that the bill was passed in the first place was that poverty among seniors was widespread. That isn’t the case any more, largely due to Medicare.

    Allowing seniors to live independently in their own homes as long as is practicable is not only merciful it’s a cost-saving measure. Unless we just throw indigent old people out on the streets independent living is a lot cheaper than state-financed old folks’ homes.

  13. Brandon says:

    @Mike…
    Medicare is not bankrupting the country. medicare would be fine if we had everyone in this country paying their fair share of taxes. But the rich, who would contribute a large amount of revenue for the government, do not pay nearly enough taxes. My wife and I live pretty decently on 65,000 a year. We have two children. And we pay a fair amount of taxes. Those taxes if we still had them, would help a good deal. But if you make 1 million plus a year, why should you be so upset about getting hit with 40% tax? You still bring home over 600,000 a year! If you can’t live a healthy lifestyle on 600,000 a year, well the problem isn’t you need a tax break. You need to learn to spend your money wisely. It’s ridiculous that people with lower income should have their assistance cut from them, so that dorko, who makes 10 mill a year, off the backs of those middle class folks, should get a break! Medicare doesn’t need an overhaul, the insurance industry does. The rates keep going up for the same amount of coverage. And what’s worse is i have had to pay for medical insurance since I was 18, and in those 13 years, it has steadily rose. And I have not even once used my medical benefits for anything other than to be weighed, and turn my head an cough once a year.Meanwhile insurance companies have collected close to 10,000 dollars from me, money i’ll never get back. And for what? Nothing. People are real good at blaming the government, but people should also look in the mirror once in a while, and see how wasteful their spending is.