Paul Krugman: Medicare and Mediscares

Another great article by probably the smartest man in America…

I can’t help but think how different things might have been if President Obama had listened to Paul Krugman and made him a part of his administration.

But then, we would have missed all the wisdom he shares in his columns for the New York Times….

Yes, Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is a sore loser. Why do you ask?

To be sure, Ryan had reason to be upset after Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District. It’s a very conservative district, so much so that last year the Republican candidate took 76 percent of the vote. Yet on Tuesday, Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, took the seat, with a campaign focused squarely on Ryan’s plan to dismantle Medicare and replace it with a voucher system.

How did Hochul pull off this upset? The Wisconsin congressman blamed Democrats’ willingness to “shamelessly distort and demagogue the issue, trying to scare seniors to win an election,” and he predicted that by November of next year “the American people are going to know they’ve been lied to.”

You can understand Ryan’s bitterness. He has, after all, experienced quite a comedown over the course of the past seven weeks. Until his Medicare plan was rolled out in early April he had spent months bathing in warm approbation from many pundits, who had decided to anoint him as an icon of fiscal responsibility. And the plan itself received rapturous praise in the first couple of days after its release.

Then people who actually know how to read a budget proposal started looking at the plan. And that’s when everything started to fall apart.

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.

via Paul Krugman: Medicare and Mediscares | The Salt Lake Tribune.

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