Herger supports privatizing Medicare

Republican budget resolution would make seniors pay for tax cuts for the wealthy

Tuesday (April 5) was a big day in the nation’s capital. In addition to the budget logjam and threatened shutdown described above, President Obama officially announced his intention to run for re-election in 2012, and House Republicans—including our own Rep. Wally Herger—released, with much fanfare, a new, 10-year budget resolution that proposes to reduce the nation’s deficit in dramatic ways.

For one, it would reduce tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, apparently in the now discredited belief that doing so will create jobs. Second, it would privatize Medicare by turning it into a voucher program. And, third, it would cap federal spending on Medicaid and turn it into a block-grant program run by the states.

Its author, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the House Budget Committee, and his fellow House Republicans deserve credit for taking some potentially unpopular stands in an effort to reduce the deficit, but in doing so they’ve handed Democrats a political gift.

As Sen. Barbara Boxer put it, “The Republican budget would give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, all paid for by destroying Medicare for our seniors and denying health care to our most vulnerable children.”

Until now, Republicans have cast themselves as defenders of Medicare. They called the Affordable Care Act’s proposed cost-controlling effort a “death panel” and reviled the ACA’s call to save $500 billion by eliminating wasteful and inefficient subsidies for private insurers like Medicare Advantage. And yet those are the very insurers that would operate their proposed voucher system.

Wally Herger has some explaining to do.