Posted by | June 3, 2011 15:04 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

Republicans have been crying and whining for the past few weeks about Democrats attacking Paul Ryan’s Medicare voucher plan with campaign ads. Paul Ryan has referred to this Democratic tactic as “Mediscare,” because Democrats are scaring seniors by having the audacity to tell them exactly what is in Ryan’s plan. Republican hypocrisy has been so obvious and shameless that I’ve become jaded and desensitized to it, but in a recent appearance on Fox News, Ryan reached unprecedented levels of shamelessness that actually left me stunned for a few moments.

When speaking to Bill Hemmer on Wednesday, Ryan argued that:

Millions of dollars of negative ads are being run to try and scare seniors and trying to confuse seniors. You know, the irony of this Bill, is with all this Mediscare that the Democrats are running, it’s Obamacare itself that ends Medicare as we know it. Obamacare takes half a trillion dollars from Medicare — not to make it more solvent but to spend on this other government program, Obamacare. And then it creates this 15 panel board of unelected, unaccountable, bureaucrats starting next year to price control and ration Medicare for current seniors.

First off, the $500 billion in Medicare cuts that Ryan is referring to comes from cutting wasteful payments to health care providers, and inefficiencies in the Medicare Advantage program. Medicare Advantage is Medicare money used to subsidize private health insurers to provide the same services as Medicare, while collecting much higher overhead. But Republicans don’t give a damn about “waste, fraud, and abuse” when it means more money for their wealthy campaign donors in the health care industry. What Ryan also fails to mention to Bill Hemmer is that his plan has the exact, same, cuts to Medicare Advantage as “Obamacare.” Not something similar or reworked — the exact same cuts.

The second part of Ryan’s statement about the unelected, unaccountable, board designed to ration health care for seniors is intended to conjure up images of “death panels,” and is another distortion on his part that actually refers to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Members of the IPAB have to be confirmed by the Senate, so they are not unaccountable, and they are not allowed to “include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums… increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co- payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria” (Section 3403 (page 409) of the Affordable Care Act stipulates.)

“Mediscare” indeed.

But the best part of Paul Ryan’s hypocrisy is that he had his own stronger version of the IPAB in a plan he proposed back in 2009 to help control rising costs in Medicare. The phrase “bold-faced liar” doesn’t seem to do Paul Ryan justice here, but I guess it will have to do.

Finally, the last part of Ryan’s statement which focuses on “current seniors,” is most telling of his, and the Republican mentality as a whole. Republicans really believe that the reason seniors don’t like their plan to privatize Medicare is because they think it will affect current beneficiaries. They really believe that America’s seniors are selfish enough to support the Republican plan to destroy Medicare for their children and grandchildren, just because their own benefits will be spared. Someone needs to tell Paul Ryan that not everyone went to sleep every night cuddling their copy of Atlas Shrugged or, as I like to call it, The Sociopath’s Manifesto.

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