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”:
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From E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post:
Take yourself back to the endless wrangling in Sen. Max Baucus’ Finance Committee – or, more particularly, among his select “gang of six,” including three Republicans, two of whom clearly never had any intention of voting for health-care reform. They negotiated and negotiated and negotiated and negotiated — and got nowhere. Baucus failed to produce a draft bill before the August recess. The Democrats’ summer of discontent and the tea party madness followed.
This, it turns out, was a crucial moment. It set back the schedule for a health-care bill by at least a month, maybe two. There was no urgency in the Baucus process. Now there is urgency. And that gave Joe Lieberman his near dictatorial powers to kill a Medicare buy-in proposal that he had supported as recently as three months ago.
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From Ezra Klein at The Washington Post:
The list of senators charged with merging the Finance and HELP bills into the legislation that will actually come to a vote on the Senate floor is vanishingly small, and every participant is there for a reason. Harry Reid will preside. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, will be one of the chief negotiators. Chris Dodd, who led the HELP Committee’s health-care efforts, will be the other. And that’s about it. Oh, except for one other person:
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, said that Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the lone Republican on the Finance Committee to vote in favor of the bill, would be invited to future sessions. And Mr. Manley said the Democratic leader was prepared to go to substantial lengths to keep Ms. Snowe’s support.
“He is prepared to do what he can to keep her on board while putting together a bill that can get the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster,” Mr. Manley said.
Democrats really want this bill to be bipartisan — to the point that they’re giving the Republican a space in the negotiations equivalent to the chairmen of the two relevant committees.
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