Monday, May 16, 2011

Newt wants the Medicare changes to be optional, not compulsory

While much -- much -- has been written of Newt's appearance on Meet the Press Sunday and his criticism of Paul Ryan's proposed changes to Medicare, the journalists and others have missed a very important part of the story.

Newt does not oppose changing Medicare; instead, he wants seniors to have an option. Newt and Ryan both want to modify Medicare, making it a premium support system, but whereas Ryan forces seniors to buy private insurance, Newt would allow seniors to use the subsidies to purchase private insurance or stay in the traditional government-run insurance.

Much like how conservatives have proposed making any flat tax proposals optional -- so as to avoid political blowback and make important, needed reforms possible -- Newt is doing the same with Medicare. The current Ryan budget -- which is great policy -- is proving to be a headache for many House Republicans.

Newt's optional change to Medicare should not have been such a shock to people. On an April 20 Facebook post, Newt explained he wanted to "allow seniors to choose, on a voluntary basis, a more personal system with greater options for better care."

Many of the conservatives going after Newt today have intimated that it is contradictory for Gingrich to have said he would have voted for Ryan's budget -- and calling it "brave" -- and yet criticizing it. Which means that anyone who criticizes any piece of legislation cannot ultimately vote for it. That's nonsense.

John McCormack of The Weekly Standard writes:
I pointed out that Paul Ryan doesn't see much difference between his plan and what Gingrich was calling for on April 20, and Gingrich's spokesman agreed. "There is little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich," he wrote. "But look how it gets reported. Newt would fully support Ryan if it were not compulsory. We need to design a better system that people will voluntarily move to. That is a major difference in design but not substance."

But if there's "little daylight" between the two, why did Gingrich call Ryan's plan "radical" and "social engineering"?

"Radical means that politically you can't get to what Ryan wants from where we are," wrote Tyler. "It will be demagogued to death. Right wing social engineer refers simply to compelling people to participate without giving them a choice. That is a political mistake."
The biggest political mistake involving the issue was done by the House Republican leadership holding a vote on the issue, which exposed vulnerable members to the political heat -- when there was absolutely no chance of it passing with the current Senate and President.

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