Republicans Not Retreating On Medicare Reform

Reports of Cantor’s remarks apparently came as a surprise to… Eric Cantor.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is denying a published account claiming Republicans are preparing to ditch Rep. Paul Ryan’s ambitious plan to revamp Medicare in pursuit of a debt ceiling compromise with Democrats — but both sides have begun seeking common ground on oil subsidies, sources say.

The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that Cantor, highly influential with the party’s tea party wing, planned to abandon Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial Medicare plan, but a spokesman for Cantor said his boss was quoted out of context — and the GOP is keeping a hard line.

“Eric made very clear that our position is the Ryan budget which — as you know — assumes a debt limit increase and includes Medicare, Medicaid and $715 billion in mandatory savings,” Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring told POLITICO. “Whether the Democrats will agree to the proposals we’ve outlined is yet to be seen, but that is our starting point so we don’t continue to kick the can down the road and make real cuts and real reforms this year.”

In the end, Ryan’s plan will be seriously gutted. That’s the unavoidable reality of only controlling one out of the three power centers. The best we can reasonably hope for are some first steps down the road to bringing Medicare back toward fiscal sustainability. And the the Democrats will have to be dragged kicking and screaming even a few feet down that path.

So it’s good to know the House GOP aren’t simply going to pre-emptively surrender on their bargaining position. The Democrats will lie and demagogue Ryan’s plan whether it’s being actively pursued or not. Cantor might as well get as much for scaling it back as he can.

FILED UNDER: Deficit and Debt, Quick Takes
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp would tend to disagree.

  2. Tano says:

    Geez Dodd, you are so naive.
    Cantor is merely maintaining a facade of support, out of respect for Ryan, and so as not to support a public perception that the GOP has caved – something that would greatly upset the base. But, of course, that have caved.

    In the end, Ryan’s plan will be seriously gutted. That’s the unavoidable reality of only controlling one out of the three power centers.

    It won’t be seriously gutted merely because the Dems control the Senate and WH. It will be seriously gutted because it is hugely unpopular with the voters. Republican officeholders are smart enough, when it comes to their own survival, to do some basic electoral math.

    You remember what happened to Bush’s Social Security privatization plan – even though the GOP controlled everything in DC at the time?

  3. Falze says:

    “hugely unpopular with the voters”? No, actually it’s not. What’s “hugely unpopular with the voters” is the fantasy the press has spread about the Ryan plan. A recent poll shows majority support for just the sort of thing Ryan has proposed, the GOP has simply done a horrible job, as usual, making the point that they’re trying to give people exactly what they want.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/americans-favor-free-market-approach-health-care_559220.html

  4. wr says:

    In Doddworld, telling the truth about Cantor’s plan is “lying and demagoguing.” Well done, sir, you have now completely inverted reality and are now ready to take your place in the Republican party leadership.

  5. For me this doesn’t go to the merits of the plan, it’s simple political reality. The GOP doesn’t have the votes to get the Medicare reforms through, and they haven’t convinced the public that those reforms are necessary. If they’re going to win, they need to get both of those things in line first.

  6. TG Chicago says:

    And the the Democrats American people will have to be dragged kicking and screaming even a few feet down that path.

    There you go.

  7. Dodd says:

    In Doddworld, telling the truth about Cantor’s plan is “lying and demagoguing.”

    You might try actually clicking the helpfully provided link and getting some facts–just, you know, for a change of pace–before committing to such pablum in public.

  8. Tano says:

    You might try actually clicking the helpfully provided link and getting some facts

    Except that you won’t find facts there. Only opinions. Opinions informed by consulting “experts” at rightwing think tanks, no less.

    The issue is a semantic one. Does the Ryan plan abolish Medicare?
    Depends on what you mean by “Medicare”.

    If “Medicare” is a word that refers to the general concept of the federal government doing something or other that requires spending money, for helping with the health care of the elderly (the attitude that one finds at the link you provide), then sure, the Ryan plan does not end Medicare. It merely radically changes it.

    But if by “Medicare” you mean the actual Medicare program – the system of government insurance for the elderly – then obviously yes, the Ryan plan abolishes that program (for anyone who is under 55 today – meaning eventually everyone). He replaces the government insurance with financial aid toward purchasing private insurance.

    That seems like an existential difference to me. Wouldn’t you agree that if the change went the other way – that if we had a system of private insurance (with subsidies) and we were to change to a single payer government run system, that you see the change as an end to the previous system and the start of a radically new, and differently named system?

    Lets be honest here. Medicare is extremely popular. The Republicans very much see it in their interest to pretend to be making reforms to Medicare, so they can avoid the charge that they are ending this popular program. It is all a marketing scam, and it is no surprise that it is not flying with the public.

  9. Mithras says:

    Quinnipiac:

    Half of the 1,408 voters surveyed were told Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and defense comprise 60 percent of the federal budget; the other half was not told. Yet responses were similar. Voters who were told of the 60 percent figure oppose limits to entitlement growth:

    70 – 27 percent against limiting Medicare; 75 – 23 percent among those not told;
    72 – 26 percent against limiting Social Security; 72 – 24 percent among those not told;
    57 – 40 percent against Medicaid limits, compared to 59 – 38 percent.

    Among those told the budget figures, 54% of Republicans oppose limiting Medicare growth; among those Republicans not told, 65% percent oppose limits.

    There’s your problem, right there.

    Overall, voters back 69 – 28 percent raising taxes on households earning $250,000 or more. Among Republicans, a scant plurality support raising taxes on the rich.

    All voters say 60 – 34 percent that Medicare should remain as is, rather than giving seniors money to buy private health insurance beginning in 2022. A narrow plurality of Republicans like the voucher program.

    Gradually raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67 by 2033 is a good idea voters say 51 – 46 percent; Republicans like it 2-1.

    But moving responsibility for Medicaid to the states is a bad idea, voters say 54 – 38 percent; again, Republicans like it 2-1.

    So, Ryan’s voucher-and-mandate plan for seniors is intensely unpopular with everyone except Republicans, who can’t even muster a majority in favor of it. And Republicans are way out of step with the rest of America on the issue of making Medicare states’ responsibility. I think everyone who isn’t naive realizes both proposals are just backdoor attempts at repealing Medicare entirely.

    Even the Rasmussen poll that Falze cites above as proof that people like “free market” solutions as a way of limiting health care cost growth in general, not specifically Medicare, and anyway a “free market” solution doesn’t necessarily mean vouchers. That Ramussen poll also says:

    Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Democrats oppose Ryan’s Medicare plan, as do a modest plurality (39%) of unaffiliated voters. Only 39% of GOP voters support the proposal, with 44% unsure about it.

    So, again, even Republicans are tepid in support of Ryan’s Medicare plan.

    Also, Quinnipiac says support for ObamaCare has changed since January. Then it was 48% repeal, 43% keep it. Now, it’s 45% keep it; 44% repeal. On that one, Reps and Dems are diametrically opposed. A plurality of independents support repeal, 44-40.

  10. sam says:

    “You might try actually clicking the helpfully provided link”

    Well, you might acknowledge that the Politifact piece has been subjected to substantial criticism by folks not considered to be part of the wild-eyed left: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_04/029053.php and http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/politifact-insists-republicans-dont-want-to-end-medicare-video.php#more

  11. Dodd says:

    I will readily acknowledge they’re not usually considered “wild-eyed.” But why you’d think that “substantial criticism” from a died-in-the-wool spinmeister like TPM or reliable, knee-jerk lefty like Drum would carry any more weight that Politifact is a mystery to me. I doubt you’d give more credence to, say, Hot Air or NRO than Politifact if they disagreed.

  12. An Interested Party says:

    Oh yes please let the GOP push hard for the Ryan plan…in fact, let the party use that as the centerpiece of their election campaign next year…how well do you think they will do if they do that?

  13. sam says:

    “But why you’d think that “substantial criticism” from a died-in-the-wool spinmeister like TPM or reliable, knee-jerk lefty like Drum would carry any more weight that Politifact is a mystery to me.”

    Perhaps you’d read the links and discover that Kevin Drum’s site was not one of them. And BTW, Dodd, why are you always so fvcking angry?

  14. Dodd says:

    And BTW, Dodd, why are you always so fvcking angry?

    Angry? Me? Not a bit. The attitude I approach this stuff with is often bemused, occasionally arch, but mostly just conversational. But I don’t let stuff get to me (not even insipid insults).

    If you’re reading what I write in an angry ‘voice,’ well, that’s coming from you.

  15. wr says:

    Dodd, as a professional writer and teacher of writers, I’ve got to say that almost everything you post here comes across as angry, hostile, or defensive — doubly so in your responses. I don’t mean this as criticism — you are the poster and you have the right to choose any tone that appeals to you. But if you really think you don’t come across as angry, you need to learn how to read your own material a lot better.

  16. matt says:

    WR : Ditto… Especially when he starts posting smartass pictures instead of debating..

  17. Dodd says:
  18. matt says:

    Always feels like 4chan when I visit a dodd thread.

  19. anjin-san says:

    The GOP doesn’t have the votes to get the Medicare reforms elimination through,

    FTFY