Mediscare: Boo!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 14 2011 4:09 PM

Mediscare: Boo!

I'm getting pointed a lot to this Glenn Kessler fact-check of a Democratic petition to raise hell over Medicare. Kessler says it's completely unfair. The language:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to tie the debt ceiling vote to ending Medicare. He’s willing to let the United States default on its obligations – putting our economy in peril – to take needed health care coverage away from our seniors. 

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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The debunking:

McConnell essentially concedes the Ryan plan is a nonstarter in the negotiations.

"How many times you ask me to kind of craft what the Medicare fix should be like, I’m not going to give that answer to you today, because that’s a subject to be negotiated with the president of the United States," he said. At another point, McConnell says: "I’m personally very comfortable with the way Paul Ryan would structure it in the out years. But we have a Democratic president. We’re going to have to negotiate with him on the terms of changing Medicare."

Moreover, the National Journal last week profiled McConnell and his demands for the debt ceiling. The magazine reported: "One of the few demands not on the debt-ceiling ransom list is inclusion of the Ryan Medicare plan."

Since then, Major Garrett has talked to McConnell again.

Out of this debt-limit discussion we need entitlement changes. I’m not going to get into what kind. But we need entitlement changes that bend the trajectory significantly downward. 

Look: We're really letting Republicans off the hook if we hear the position that entitlement cuts must be part of a debt deal and argue that Republicans aren't holding the debt ceiling hostage for an unpopular program. In this interview, as he's been doing, McConnell rules out any tax increases as part of a deal while comparing the 1983 Social Security deal to what he wants. But the 1983 deal included tax increases! By ruling them out McConnell is just mathematically in favor of massive cuts or privatization -- which is fine, but it's not preserving Medicare as-is and being unfairly attacked.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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