What’s Paul Ryan’s favorite whine?
The House Budget Committee chairman admits that his advocacy for the deconstruction of Medicare as we know it cost his party a previously “safe” Congressional seat in upstate New York’s 26th district. Asked on Wednesday morning about the role that concerns about Medicare’s future played in Tuesday’s upset win by Democrat Kathy Hochul, Ryan said: “I think that’s a big part of it.”
But the Wisconsin Republican claims that is only because the voters—presumably Republicans who switched from their usual pattern of voting for George Bush and John McCain to back a progressive Democrat—were duped by a campaign to deliberately “distort and demagogue.”
“There is a Medicare story to be told here…and it’s that the president and his party have decided to shamelessly distort and demagogue Medicare,” Ryan explained on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
The budget committee chair branded the Democratic strategy a “Mediscare” campaign.
But the scariest talk about Ryan’s plan is not coming from Democrats.
First, Newt Gingrich dismissed the plan Ryan rushed through the House with the support of all but four Republican members as “right-wing social engineering”—before he was beaten back into line by the right-wing thought police.
Now, Republican senators are going far beyond any Democratic “Mediscare” campaigning.
When the Senate considered the Ryan budget Wednesday, it was rejected 57-40. And the rejection was a bipartisan one. Of the fifty-seven “no” votes, fifty-two came from members of the Democratic caucus, while five of the “no” voters were Republicans.
One of the dissident Republicans was Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who objects that Ryan’s plan—which would not balance the budget for decades—is not a serious response to fiscal challenges facing the country.
The other four Republican “no” votes—Mainers Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Massachusetts’ Scott Brown and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski—came from comparably more moderate members, who based their objections on Ryan’s assault on Medicare, among other concerns.
In announcing her opposition to the Ryan plan, Snowe said, “I am going to vote ‘no’ on the budget because I have deep and abiding concerns about the approach on Medicare, which is essentially to privatize it.”
Most Democrats have danced around the fundamental fact of Ryan’s plan: That is does not “reform” or “improve” Medicare. The congressman’s voucher scheme prepares the way for the popular and necessary program’s elimination in any form that Americans have understood or appreciated it. Instead of steering public funds toward the care of the elderly, the Ryan plan steers the elderly—via vouchers—into the clutches of the for-profit insurance companies that make their money by denying care to the sick, the disabled and the vulnerable elderly.