Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is apparently so nervous about his reelection prospects that he has taken to Politico to write an opinion piece announcing he’d opposed to Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. After all, savaging Ryan and undermining the House Democrats worked out so well for Newt Gingrich. Unfortunately, Brown’s objections don’t suggest he understands the problem of rising medical costs or Ryan’s plan.
Let’s look at a few of his assertions: “I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support — and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays. Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform.” He’s simply doesn’t understand the Ryan plan. It is phased in, beginning with those under 55 years old. Current retirees and those approaching retirement aren’t affected.
He also says that instead of systemic reform we should go after “10 percent, or $47 billion, of annual Medicare spending [that] is nothing but waste, fraud or abuse.” My gosh, why didn’t we all think of that! Ryan’s plan does do that, in fact, but what serious observer thinks this is sufficient?
Brown also proclaims, “I’d also institute tort reform to limit frivolous lawsuits.” Umm, so does Ryan’s plan. Has Brown even read Ryan’s plan?
Next up for Brown: “What’s important is that we get started now and, where appropriate, phase changes in over time. This phase-in should be another principle of reform: give our future seniors enough years to adjust to the ‘new normal.’ ” That’s the basis of Ryan’s plan. Could the work of Brown’s staff be this shabby or is he trying to be oppositional for the sake of boosting his street cred in liberal Massachusetts?
Finally, he proclaims: “I plan on continuing to work with people of goodwill — in either party — to solve the very real problems we face. Our country is on an unsustainable fiscal path. But I do not think it requires us to change Medicare as we know it. We can work inside of Medicare to make it more solvent.” This is pathetic. How is he going to do it? By embracing rationing? By mimicking RomneyCare?
Maybe a primary challenge would sharpen Brown’s thinking on the subject. Ryan’s retort to New Gingrich on “Meet the Press” yesterday is equally applicable to Brown’s lame assault, “I have no problems with somebody who’s offering alternative solutions to fix this problem. I have problems with people who aren’t offering any solutions, who are just playing politics.” I tend to think Massachusetts voters will agree.