Having secured “draconian” cuts in a last-minute budget deal last week, House Republicans are hyping House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) new “Path to Prosperity” plan. The proposal professes to reform programs like Medicare and Medicaid to rein in spending by $6.2 trillion over the next decade. But as the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein notes, Ryan’s Medicare and Medicaid plans “rely on the same bait-and-switch: They use a reform to disguise a cut.” By making Medicare a voucher program and Medicaid a block grant program with $750 billion less in funding, Ryan’s plan forces seniors to pay more for the same benefits, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and jeopardizes vital health care services for millions of low-income Americans.
Today on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace questioned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) support for a plan in which Americans “pay more out of pocket.” Defending the proposal, Cantor argued that these programs sometimes provide a “safety net” for “people who frankly don’t need one” and that the shift of the burden from the government to the beneficiary will teach government “to do more with less”:
In reality, the Medicaid cuts will actually force states to do less with less. As the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky points out, Ryan’s block grant idea would actually “destroy Medicaid” because the annual federal appropriation would be less than projected growth. States would thus make up the difference “by increasing spending or (more realistically) capping enrollment, cutting eligibility, limiting mandatory benefits and lowering provider reimbursements.” Numerous GOP governors are already itching to do so. And for Medicare beneficiaries, not only would low-income seniors end up paying more for the same benefits, but health insurers “will likely cherry-pick the healthiest enrollees” thereby increasing the costs for sicker individuals.
The Ryan plan does, however, provide a “safety net” for one specific demographic. Ryan’s plan will reduce the top marginal income tax rate and the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent — a move that, as the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo notes, shifts the tax burden down the income scale onto the middle class. Given these priorities, it appears that, for Cantor, those in need of a safety net are America’s wealthy.
(Video and transcript at THINKPROGRESS link)