Republicans Cave, Take Medicare Reforms Off The Table UPDATE: Maybe Not
Update: The Washington Post has updated their story, sending out a news alert apologizing for mischaracterizing the GOP position. They’re now reporting that Republicans have conceded that a deal on the Medicare reform is “unlikely” after the President “excoriated” them on it, and that they may have to look elsewhere for deficit reductions.
Update: Politico is reporting that Cantor says he’s still with Ryan on Medicare.
The most pressing budget problem facing this country is entitlement spending. One of the most appealing aspects of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which has already been voted on by Republicans, was the fact that it addressed entitlements. Specifically Medicare. In fact, it was perhaps the most audacious entitlements reforms proposed in a generation.
Democrats, however, deployed their usual tactics of demagoguery (picked up by an eager and sympathetic media) accusing Republicans of seeking to leave the poor and the elderly out in the cold. And they just won a victory, with Republicans offering to take these entitlement reforms off the table.
Senior Republicans conceded Wednesday that a deal is unlikely on a contentious plan to overhaul Medicare and offered to open budget talks with the White House by focusing on areas where both parties can agree, such as cutting farm subsidies.
On the eve of debt-reduction talks led by Vice President Biden, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said Republicans remain convinced that reining in federal retirement programs is the key to stabilizing the nation’s finances over the long term. But he said Republicans recognize they may need to look elsewhere to achieve consensus after President Obama “excoriated us” for a proposal to privatize Medicare.
That search should start, Cantor said, with a GOP list of proposals that would save $715 billion over the next decade by ending payments to wealthy farmers, limiting lawsuits against doctors, and expanding government auctions of broadcast spectrum to telecommunications companies, among other items.
You’ve got to think that there are a lot of rank and file House Republicans who are feeling stabbed in the back right about now. They voted for the Ryan budget which contained these reforms, they took their lumps from union protesters and media talking heads, and then their leadership goes and takes these reforms off the table.
The things Cantor is talking about are all good things, but let’s be clear: Without entitlement reforms we may as well not even bother trying to fix the budget.
We could end every single penny of discretionary spending and still be running a deficit from this year alone that’s in the hundreds of billions. Our entitlement spending is eating this country alive. No meaningful budget reform can take place without it.
And Republicans just took it off the table.
Obama and Democrats just got a big victory, but the country as a whole just lost.Tags: deficits, entitlements, medicare, national debt