wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program.

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

Post Partisan
Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 05/19/2011

The Rivlin-Ryan divorce


When I wrote a column this week about House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal, I had no idea it would land me in divorce court.

The case: Rivlin v. Ryan.

The column noted that that Ryan “worked with Alice Rivlin, who had been Bill Clinton’s budget director, to develop a Medicare reform plan.” But, it continued, Ryan “abandoned his partner Rivlin, proposing a Medicare reform that has a lower Medicare growth rate than they had agreed on, and one that doesn’t maintain fee-for-service Medicare as an option.”

Then I got an e-mail from Ryan’s spokesman, Conor Sweeney, saying that this is “false” and that the Rivlin-Ryan Medicare plan did not keep fee-for-service Medicare as an option.

Oh? This claim from Ryan’s office appeared to contradict what Rivlin had told my colleague Ezra Klein – that one of the reasons she wouldn’t support the Medicare plan in Ryan’s budget is “because it doesn’t preserve fee-for-service Medicare as the default option.”

So I asked Rivlin about Ryan’s claim that fee-for-service Medicare was not part of the Rivlin-Ryan plan. Her reply: “My position is clear. I support premium support that includes traditional Medicare as the default option. ‘Rivlin Ryan’ was never a ‘plan.’ It was a draft discussion document for Simpson Bowles [the debt commission] that never went anywhere.”

Rivlin-Ryan was never a plan? So why has Ryan been claiming with some frequency that the “Rivlin-Ryan plan” was the basis for his Medicare proposal in the House GOP budget? When he unveiled his budget and Medicare last month, Ryan claimed: “Alice Rivlin is a great, proud Democrat, Brookings Institution, Clinton OMB director. This path to prosperity builds upon those Rivlin-Ryan plans that we put in here.”

In happier times, before he released his Medicare proposal, Ryan referred to Rivlin as one of his “new favorite Democrats.” But that was before she said she wants out of their hyphenated relationship.

By  |  03:00 PM ET, 05/19/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company