Sunday, August 26, 2012

David Brooks on the Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan

Can David read Mitt Romney’s mind?
When you look at Mitt Romney through this prism, you see surprising passion. By picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney has put Medicare at the center of the national debate. Possibly for the first time, he has done something politically perilous. He has made it clear that restructuring Medicare will be a high priority. This is impressive. If you believe entitlement reform is essential for national solvency, then Romney-Ryan is the only train leaving the station. Moreover, when you look at the Medicare reform package Romney and Ryan have proposed, you find yourself a little surprised. You think of them of as free-market purists, but this proposal features heavy government activism, flexibility and rampant pragmatism. The federal government would define a package of mandatory health benefits. Private insurers and an agency akin to the current public Medicare system would submit bids to provide coverage for those benefits. The government would give senior citizens a payment equal to the second lowest bid in each region to buy insurance. This system would provide a basic health safety net. It would also unleash a process of discovery. If the current Medicare structure proves most efficient, then it would dominate the market. If private insurers proved more efficient, they would dominate. Either way, we would find the best way to control Medicare costs. Either way, the burden for paying for basic health care would fall on the government, not on older Americans. (Much of the Democratic criticism on this point is based on an earlier, obsolete version of the proposal.)
Uh David – Romney has made everything Ryan has said on Medicare obsolete. The truth is that Ryan and Obama have the same basic goal of capping the growth of Medicare over the next 10 years but Romney has decided that he doesn’t want any such reductions. Which by the way makes David’s close another lie:
The priority in this election is to get a leader who can get Medicare costs under control. Then we can argue about everything else. Right now, Romney’s more likely to do this. All of which causes you to look over to the Democrats and wonder: Why don’t they have an alternative? Silently, a voice in your head is pleading with them: Put up or shut up. If Democrats can’t come up with an alternative on this most crucial issue, how can they promise to lead a dynamic growing nation?
Again David – Obamacare strives to curb Medicare spending growth over the next 10 years by as much as the Ryan proposal wanted to do AND Romney said no! Now there is a big difference in the out years as Ryan proposes an underfunded voucher system that would lead to rising total health care cost rising for seniors but with less help from the government. So to say “we would find the best way to control Medicare costs. Either way, the burden for paying for basic health care would fall on the government, not on older Americans” makes two lies in just two sentences. David Warsh writes:
Brooks is a prestidigitator, that wonderful word borrowed from the French, descended from the Latin, meaning juggler, deceiver.
Me thinks Mr. Warsh is being way too kind to Mr. Brooks.


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