In the 1980s, the pre-Blair leftist Labor Party issued its campaign manifesto to oppose Thatcher’s Conservatives in the coming national election. Its loony, leftist proposals were so extreme that the Tory media promptly dubbed it “the longest suicide note in history.”
The Republican proposal to shift Medicare from the current system to a voucher-based program of private insurance – in TEN years – falls into the same category. Don’t blame Newt Gingrich for saying so. In fact, we have to hope that Romney, Bachmann, Daniels and the other candidates join him in distancing himself from the plan if we have a hope of electing any of them president!
Worse, the Ryan budget continues the $500 billion in Medicare cuts which formed the basis of the Republican critique of Pelosi and Obama in the 2010 election. It keeps the money in the Medicare system rather than spending it on other entitlements as Obama did, but that is scant compensation for someone seeking care now to stay alive!
(When I first endorsed Ryan’s plan in a column and video, I was under the impression – as he had told me – that he would eliminate the $500 billion cut. I must have misunderstood him because his plan keeps that very cut on which we based our entire 2012 campaign. When I found that out, I switched to opposing his plan).
Gingrich was entirely correct in denouncing this part of the Ryan Budget. The rest of the document is fine. But Obama has, as we predicted he would, focused all his fire on the Medicare portion and that is what the campaign of 2012 will be about – unless the GOP candidate for president disavows the plan.
And the height of lunacy is that the Medicare voucher-based conversion is slated to take effect in a decade! Who can predict how medicine will evolve next week let along a decade hence? To hold the Republican Party’s political fortunes hostage to a program that might or might not take effect in a decade is pure insanity.
So Gingrich called it what it is – “right wing social engineering.” Granted, Paul Ryan has the best of intentions. He wants to keep the Medicare system solvent in the face of escalating costs, but even he concedes that changing Medicare is not necessary over the next nine years to reduce the budget deficit. It is only in 2021, when those who are now 55 turn to Medicare that he would effect his changes. The House should drop the Medicare part of the program, repeal the $500 billion cut that the Republicans vilified in the campaign, and go ahead and implement the rest of the Ryan budget.
Newt has acted responsibly and in the best interests of the Party by describing accurately what the stakes are. Don’t blame him. Honor him for saying and doing the right thing.