Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Krugman versus Krugman on playing the "Scare seniors with Medicare cuts" card. 

Paul Krugman damns Republicans for playing the unethical "Democrats intend to cut Medicare" card -- then plays the "Republicans intend to cut Medicare" card. In the same column.

Krugman on a recent Newt Gingrich & John Goodman op-ed in the WSJ:

“Don’t cut Medicare. The reform bills passed by the House and Senate cut Medicare by approximately $500 billion. This is wrong.” So declared Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, in a recent op-ed article written with John Goodman, the president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Now, Mr. Gingrich was just repeating the current party line. Furious denunciations of any effort to seek cost savings in Medicare — death panels! — have been central to Republican efforts to demonize health reform. What’s amazing, however, is that they’re getting away with it.
To scare seniors by saying Democrats intend to cut Medicare -- how scurrilous!!

Of course, the Obamacare program does (did?) say it will cut Medicare expenditures by that $500 billion dollars.

Then Krugman promptly spins and turns on the "Roadmap" to fiscal solvency sketched out by Representative Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee. To Ryan's great credit, this is the only proposal by a sitting politician that actually puts an actual, scored-by-CBO solution to our impending fiscal crisis on the table -- showing the scale of things that need to be done. (No other politician wants to take the heat for doing any such thing -- and Krugman sure hasn't made any such proposal!)

Krugman's objection: Look out seniors, it cuts Medicare!

... what about those who already are covered by Medicare, or will enter the program over the next decade? You’re safe, says the roadmap; you’ll still be eligible for traditional Medicare. Except, that is, for the fact that the plan “strengthens the current program with changes such as income-relating drug benefit premiums to ensure long-term sustainability.”

If this sounds like deliberately confusing gobbledygook, that’s because it is. Fortunately, the Congressional Budget Office, which has done an evaluation of the roadmap, offers a translation: “Some higher-income enrollees would pay higher premiums, and some program payments would be reduced.”

In short, there would be Medicare cuts...

Forget that Ryan doesn't speak for Republicans, has entirely different views than Gingrich & Goodman, and sketched out only a "roadmap", not an actual program with any votes behind it.

"He proposes in theory to do what we are within one vote of actually doing in reality. How much worse could he be?"