Friday, June 03, 2011

Honorable Response

Ryan’s budget plan is unacceptable. I do not dispute that for a moment. But in the process of arguing against it, let’s be honest about what it is and is not. When Debbie Wasserman-Shultz says that seniors would “have to go out on the open market and search for a plan” and that “they would not be able to find a plan that would cover them” she either has not read what Paul Ryan is proposing, or she is lying.

Do seniors signing up for Medicare Part D have to “have to go out on the open market and search” for a drug plan? No, they do not. They are offered a set of plans from which they may select the one which suits them best. For each plan the individual pays part of the premium and the government pays the rest. These plans are offered by the private sector, they may not decline anyone, and they must offer the plans on a “one price fits all” basis. That is precisely the type of plan that Paul Ryan is proposing for Medicare.

What makes Ryan’s proposal unacceptable is in part that the portion of the premium paid by the government is too small, and even more in that it does not increase based on the rate of increase of health care costs, but rather at the lower rate of overall inflation. Thus it is shifting the cost of health care onto the individual rather than making any real attempt to lower that cost.

Paul Ryan had a valid point when he said that his plan had been "mis-described" and asked the president to ease up on the "demagoguery" regarding the plan. Obama also had a valid point when he replied that he is, “the death-panel-supporting, socialist, may-not-have-been-born-here president," and got a good laugh with that line.

Democrats do not, however, do themselves any favor by dragging themselves down into the mud with their opponents. Obama ran a campaign in 2008 that was resolved to remain above the fray of slander, distortion and mudslinging, and it got him elected. He, and the rest of his party, should be drawing on that experience today. Responding to distortions uttered by your opponent with distortions of your own does not constitute honorable response.

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