The opinions-of-shape-of-earth-differ offender is one Rosalind Helderman. She quotes Robert Bixby, Steven Bell, Jim Cooper, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin--and manages to tell her readers absolutely nothing about what the candidates plan for Medicare. Admittedly, it is hard to say what Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare since they will no longer tell us. But you can say that...
The Morning Plum: Yes, one side is more to blame than the other for scuttling real debate: Today’s Post has a big story quoting a number of bipartisan deficit experts who are very upset that the tone of the debate over Medicare in Campaign 2012 has taken a nasty turn. One after another, they complain that both candidates are making a serious discussion about Medicare’s long term problems — and the deficit — impossible.
Can we please talk about this?
The problem is not that both candidates are equally responsible for making this debate impossible. Rather, one candidate is far more than the other for making this debate impossible. The candidate who is far more responsible is Mitt Romney. There is no comparison between the claims Romney is making and the claims Democrats are making. Dems are making two main assertions: They argue that Romney and Paul Ryan would “end Medicare as we know it,” and that people could die as a result of the GOP agenda…. The plan actually would gradually end Medicare’s core mission as it’s been defined for decades, and replace it with a differently organized program. Meanwhile, Republicans keep arguing that the Ryan plan would not change anything for people over 55. But the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare would change things for those people, driving up their health care costs.
The second charge is a harsh one, to be sure. But as Paul Krugman writes, it’s not unreasonable to assume that people could die as a result of repealing Obamacare, depriving untold numbers of people of insurance, as well as deep cuts to Medicaid and other social programs. Policy changes have actual real world consequences for real people.
Romney, on the other hand, is making claims that are far more responsible for scuttling the debate, because they are designed to obfuscate, rather than clarify, the differences between the candidates. The Romney camp continues to claim Obama “raided” Medicare for $716 billion to pay for Obamacare, casting Obama as the real threat to Medicare and to seniors. But those savings are wrung from providers, not benefits, and Obamacare lowers costs for the very same seniors Romney and Ryan are pretending to defend from the alleged “cuts” to Medicare.
Some news organizations are beginning to subject the Romney/Ryan Medicare claims to serious scrutiny. The Associated Press has a great piece today detailing that Romney’s vow to undo those savings would actually make the program insolvent faster. As the AP piece demonstrates, the Romney position is completely untenable.
More broadly, the GOP ticket is proposing a tax plan that they say they is revenue neutral without telling you how its deep tax cuts for the rich would be paid for. And only one side is actually willing to take real steps towards compromise on the deficit. As the supercommittee talks showed, Dems are willing to accept Medicare cuts — to a fault, in the minds of liberals — in exchange for tax hikes on the rich. Republicans are not willing to accept tax hikes on the rich in exchange for Medicare cuts.
Here’s hoping for more reporting that shows there really is no equivalence between the two sides on this.