Democrats dem­a­gogue Medi­care

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Medi­care is headed for bank­ruptcy faster than ex­pected. On May 13, the pro­gram’s trustees re­leased their an­nual re­port, con­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment’s oldage health-in­surance pro­gram will go bank­rupt in 2024. Last year’s re­port pre­dicted it could last un­til 2029. There is no more time for de­lay. As House Bud­get Com­mit­tee Chair­man Paul Ryan said at the Eco­nomic Club of Chicago yes­ter­day, “If we suc­cumb to this view that our prob­lems are big­ger than we are — if we sur­ren­der more con­trol over our econ­omy to the gov­ern­ing class — then we are choos­ing shared scarcity over re­newed pros­per­ity, and man­aged de­cline over eco­nomic growth.”

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Ti­mothy F. Gei­th­ner said the re­port showed “the need to act sooner rather than later to make re­forms to our en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams.” This is empty rhetoric. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion hasn’t pro­posed a sin­gle, real leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tive to re­form the Medi­care sys­tem. In­stead of get­ting se­ri­ous, Democrats are fall­ing back on scare tac­tics. On May 12, House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi railed, “100 per­cent of the ‘yes’ votes to abol­ish Medi­care were cast by the Repub­li­cans, ev­ery Demo­crat voted ‘no.’ ” Mrs. Pelosi re­ferred to the GOP plan as a vote to “end Medi­care as we know it” and “to un­der­mine one of the pil­lars of se­cu­rity for Amer­ica’s se­niors.”

Fear-mon­ger­ing aside, the plan crafted by Mr. Ryan, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, is the first se­ri­ous at­tempt to keep Medi­care sol­vent and slow the run­away costs con­tribut­ing to the fed­eral debt cri­sis. His idea is to shift Medi­care from a gov­ern­ment-run health care plan to a “pre­mium sup­port sys­tem” through which the gov­ern­ment sub­si­dizes pri­vate in­surance poli­cies. Tak­ing the gov­ern­ment out of di­rect pay­ments for health care bills would slow the dras­tic up­ward tra­jec­tory in gov­ern­ment spend­ing on Medi­care. Mr. Ryan has made clear his re­form wouldn’t af­fect any­one over the age of 55 (go­ing into ef­fect in 2022). That means there’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing for se­niors to worry about. Nonethe­less, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid blocked the House-backed re­form pack­age. House Speaker John A. Boehner re­sponded to Mrs. Pelosi’s po­lit­i­cal games on Medi­care by cit­ing the ur­gent need for “Amer­ica to get its fis­cal house in or­der.” The nation’s cur­rent pub­lic debt is $14.3 tril­lion, and the statu­tory debt ceil­ing was hit on May 16. “If we don’t do any­thing, se­niors are go­ing to see cuts,” the speaker said. “No one wants to see cuts in these pro­grams. We’ve got to make real changes to put them on a sound fis­cal foun­da­tion.” By play­ing pol­i­tics and re­sist­ing fis­cal re­al­ity, Democrats are putting the health of se­niors — and the nation — at risk.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.