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Remember the hoorahs from Republicans just 4 months ago, when House budget chairman Paul Ryan issued the GOP’s “bold” plan to slash federal spending? Gosh, how quickly that cheering turned to silence.
That’s because the budgetary jewel in Ryan’s creation was the elimination of Medicare. He proposed replacing it with a privatized voucher program that would pay only a fraction of what Medicare covers. This turned out to be a spectacularly stupid idea, resulting in angry seniors showing up at one of Ryan’s town hall meetings to whack him over the head with his own proposal. The “bold” plan suddenly had a stench worse than week-old road kill, and Republicans are now trying to disown it.
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But don’t mistake the GOP’s sudden squeamishness for meaning that Ryan’s Let’s-Kill-Medicare effort has gone away. The big stinker is still in the Republican budget and still a core tenet of right-wing orthodoxy. Indeed, all eight of the party’s presidential contenders are on record in favor, but not publicizing it.
Mitt Romney says he’s “on the same page” with Ryan. Michele Bachmann voted for the Ryan plan and says we need to “wean everybody off” Medicare. Tim Pawlenty waffled, but, when cornered, said that “of course” he’s for killing it. Jon Huntsman supposedly the moderate in the race says “I would’ve voted for it.” Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum also are enthusiastically on board. However, in a rare moment of candor, Newt Gingrich called the plan “radical, right-wing social engineering.” But he got a public spanking by party dogmatists and now says he would’ve voted for Ryan’s scheme, too.
The GOP intends to make an all-out assault on Medicare in the next Congress, but don’t want to campaign on it. So, get in their face – the time to confront them is not after the elections, but now.
“Karl Rove’s $20 Million Distraction,” www.thinkprogress.org, June 28, 2011.