POSTED BY ORHAN
Economist Dean Baker points out that Republicans are a tad miffed that their vote for Representative Ryan’s plan to end Medicare is being used against them. Various groups around the country are using the vote in attack ads against incumbents, and they lost an upstate New York congressional seat that they held for 50 years. Says Baker:
Medicare is a hugely popular program. Polls consistently show that the program has enormous public support among all political and demographic groups. Not only do Democrats and independents overwhelmingly support the Medicare program, even Republicans overwhelmingly approve of Medicare. Even Tea Party Republicans overwhelming approve of Medicare.
The Republicans can try to deny that their plan actually ends Medicare and hope that voters will be sufficiently confused that they won’t hold the vote against them. They have already been staking out this ground, claiming that they just want to “change” Medicare. Instead of saying that they would give beneficiaries a voucher to use to buy a health insurance policy, which would allow people to understand their proposal, they are instead saying that it is a system of “premium support,” which is a term that no one understands.
This may help with a few pundits, but if the Republicans can’t keep their political opponents from pointing out that their plan actually does replace Medicare’s insurance with a voucher system, this silly charade will not buy them much. People know the difference between being handed a check for $8,000 and being told to go buy insurance and the current Medicare system, which covers most of the cost of most care.
The problem is that those pesky Democrats are actually talking about what the Republicans did. For instance, New Hampshire Representative Charlie Bass tried to keep television stations from running ads that said that he voted to end Medicare, but ran up against that other pesky little problem, the first amendment. In any case, Republicans are going to do their best to convince the public that they didn’t really do what they did: vote to end Medicare.
Baker offers the GOP a simple solution: reverse the vote. Since Republicans control the House, they could hold a vote tomorrow and repeal the budget plan. And they could probably convince Harry Reid to permit a vote that would allow Senate Republicans to do the same. As Baker says, “This is the sort of advice for which they would pay political consultants millions. But the Republicans can get it here for free. If they were smart, they would take it.”