In the last two days, there were a couple of great if depressing editorial pieces in the WSJ. Yesterday, Peggy Noonan wrote, Word of the Decade: ‘Unsustainable’ Washington finally acknowledges the debt crisis. But can it act?
The final few paragraphs stated quite well,
Supporters of Mr. Ryan’s Medicare plan must talk very specifically about how this would all work, and why it would make your life better, not worse. They also have to make two things clearer. One is that if nothing is done to change Medicare, the system will collapse. You’ll give the card to the nurse and she’ll laugh: “We don’t take that anymore.” This already happens in doctors offices. Without reform it will happen more often.
Democrats, on the other hand, should be forced to answer a question. If you oppose the highly specific Ryan plan, fine, but tell us your specific proposal. How will you save Medicare? Will you let it die?
If Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling’s presentation at the summit was indicative of White House strategy, then we’re in trouble. Because that strategy comes down to windy and manipulative statements about how “we’re all in this together” but GOP proposals “will lead to millions of children . . . losing their coverage.” He added: “We are not criticizing their plan, we are explaining it.”
It is a long time since I’ve seen such transparent demagoguery, such determined dodging. It’s obvious the White House political plan for 2012 is this: The Democrats will call for fiscal discipline and offer no specifics or good-faith starting points. They will leave the Republicans to be specific, and then let them be hanged with their candor. Democrats will speak not of what they’ll do but only of what they would never do, such as throw grandma out in the snow. In honeyed tones, Mr. Sperling said both parties should “hold hands and jump together,” like Butch and Sundance. But it was clear Sundance was going to stop at the edge of the cliff and hope Butch gets broken on the rocks.
I’m disturbed by this idea, but feel, unfortunately, there is much merit to it. The other night Rep. Ryan was on mic and former Pres. Clinton approached him for a few informal words. ABC ended up releasing their exchange. The candidness of the remarks about the fears Pres. Clinton has of his own party, now utilizing the newly won seat to possibly stop negotiations about the budget and debt was telling. This is a man who learned that working as a team, as a centrist, was in the best interest for our country, as well as for himself politically. This approach balanced our budget, and helped make Bill Clinton a very successful and well liked President. He also realises the big picture that something must be done.
Today there was an article by Thomas R Saving and John C. Goodman, Mediscare: The Surprising Truth, Republicans are being portrayed as Medicare Grinches, but ObamaCare already has seniors’ health care slated for draconian cuts. It shows how the stone throwing is ridiculous, and that:
In light of the heated rhetoric of recent days, it is worth noting that for everyone over the age of 55, there is no difference between the amount of money the House Republicans voted to spend on Medicare and the amount that the Democrats who support the health-reform law voted to spend. Even for younger people, the amounts are virtually identical with GDP indexing.
The law’s spending path depends on making providers pay for all the future Medicare shortfalls. But since no one can force health-care providers to show up for work, short of a health-care provider draft this reform ultimately cannot succeed. The House Republican path, on the other hand, would make a sum of money available to each senior to choose among competing private plans—much the way Medicare Advantage provides insurance today for about one out of every four Medicare beneficiaries.
That’s a good starting point. But we believe that a truly successful overhaul of Medicare will require at least three additional elements.
First, there must be general system reform. You cannot credibly hold senior health-care spending way below everyone else’s spending, nor can we make taxpayers pay for all the future elderly’s health care. We must create a reform that reduces the rate of growth of health-care costs for everyone—young and old.
The best reform proposal for the non-elderly, interestingly, is a health plan Mr. Ryan has cosponsored with Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.). It would give all Americans the same tax relief for health insurance and encourage market forces to constrain costs.
Second, if federal spending is to be contained, young people need to be able to save in tax-free accounts during their working years in order to replace the dollars they will not be getting from Medicare.
Finally, providers need to be able to repackage and reprice their services under Medicare in ways that lower costs and improve quality. Anyone who saves Medicare a dollar should be able to keep 25 cents (or some other significant amount). Once that happens, private-sector innovations will spring up overnight.
An interesting perspective to study. I am not an expert in health care or economics, but find these options offered to be much more viable and logical. We need steps that work to fix our debt while ideally allowing continued high quality coverage, provider satisfaction, as well as affordability.