At his news conference President Obama explained:
“The vast majority of Democrats on Capitol Hill would prefer not to have to do anything on entitlements. Would prefer, frankly, not to have to do anything on some of these debt and deficit problems. And I’m sympathetic to their concerns, because they are looking after folks that are already hurtin’ and are already vulnerable. And there are a lot of families out there and seniors who are dependent on some of these programs. And what I’ve tried to explain to them is number one, if you look at the numbers, Medicare in particular will run out of money, and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up. I mean, it’s not an option for us to just sit by and do nothing.”
Gosh that sounds sort of like what Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has been saying while the Democrats have been conducting the Mediscare offensive. I asked Ryan’s office for the congressman’s reaction to the president’s admission that Medicare as we know it is going away. A spokesman replied, “As the President made clear — and the Congressional Budget Office has confirmed — Medicare is on an unsustainable path. That’s why House Republicans passed a plan to save Medicare for current and future retirees: the Path to Prosperity.” But he said the Democrats aren’t really standing pat: “The Democrats’ plan is not simply “to just sit by and do nothing. The Democrats’ health-care law already took $500 billion from Medicare in order to fund another open-ended entitlement program, and put in place a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to cut Medicare further for current seniors.”
That’s where Ryan is now directing his fire. His spokesman tells me, “This Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) was buried inside the President’s 2,700 page health-care law, and empowers 15 people with the authority to unilaterally slash spending as they see fit.” So coming up tomorrow, he reminds us, “Health and Human Services Secretary HHS Secretary Sebelius will explain and defend IPAB at the House Budget Committee hearing at 10 a.m. in Cannon 210.” That should be enlightening.
Meanwhile, my Post colleague Greg Sargent catches the Democrats panicking that their Mediscare scam is going up in smoke, at the White House no less. (A source close to Sen. Patty Murray tells Greg: “For the first time in the past two and a half years we have an unmitigated advantage on a single issue where our entire caucus is united. . . . This is a case where the whole morale of our party was lifted by the fact that we were taking the fight to Republicans.”) If that isn’t an embarrassing, albeit perfect, encapsulation of the bald-faced partisanship with which Democrats view Medicare I don’t know what is. Thankfully for those who would like to repair and preserve Medicare, the president at least shot down their message. No wonder they are fit to be tied.