Senate Conservatives' Budget Doesn't Match Ryan's Medicare Plan

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 10 2011 12:38 PM

Senate Conservatives' Budget Doesn't Match Ryan's Medicare Plan

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., is introducing a plan to balance the budget in nine years. It's co-sponsored by eight Senate conservatives, including Jim DeMint and the freshman trio of Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and Ron Johnson.

It also doesn't privatize or voucherize Medicare. While the Toomey plan would block grant Medicaid, it does not feature Paul Ryan's long-term Medicare plan of making the system voluntary and means-based, with future senior citizens getting vouchers to pay for health care from private insurers. From the short form of the plan:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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This budget doesn't reduce Medicare spending; it actually spends more on Medicare than either the president's budget or the House-passed budget. The results from the fact that this budget permanently reforms the so-called "sustainable growth rate" so doctors do not face the prospect of devastating cuts each year. This plan also calls for medical malpractice reform.

In remarks this afternoon, DeMint cited the Medicare part of the plan in particular. "Senator Toomey has advocated more money for Medicare than the president did," said DeMint. "You want to look at real cuts in Medicare, look at what the president is proposing."

UPDATE: When I asked, Toomey explained that his budget plan doesn't touch Medicare because "we were focused exclusively on the next 10 years."

"His goal is different than the goal we set in this budget," said Toomey, explaining that the Ryan plan makes structural changes because it focuses on long-term budget deficits, not just the next decade. "If [Paul Ryan's] bill comes to the Senate floor, I expect to vote for it. This bill has a different focus."

Marco Rubio took a more blunt question, about whether Senate conservatives were tacitly admitting how risky Ryan's bill is.

"I think you're comparing apples and oranges," said Rubio.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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