Would Ryan really destroy Medicare, as Obama and the Democrats say? The answer is an unequivocal no.
Under the Ryan-Wyden plan, "all Medicare beneficiaries would be guaranteed the level of benefits" now offered in traditional Medicare, says a new study of the proposal by Heritage Foundation health care analysts Bob Moffit and Rea Hederman.
Gone under their plan would be the waste-ridden price control system that vastly overprices medical care costs, pushing Medicare spending through the roof. In its place would be a premium-support system, not unlike the health care plans purchased by retirees now.
The program would provide "higher payment to plans that have a higher number of high-risk and sicker patients." But it "would also provide lower taxpayer subsidies to high-income beneficiaries by requiring these beneficiaries to pay higher premiums," says Heritage's latest analysis.
Finally, the Ryan-Wyden plan "would put Medicare on a budget, just like other government programs." Its medical costs would no longer be on automatic pilot, pushing costs upward at an unsustainable rate that threatens its viability.
Spending would be indexed to the economy's growth (GDP plus 1 percent). If it exceeds those levels, Congress could institute measures to slow its spending growth.
This is still a work in progress, and at present would not be implemented until 2022. It will no doubt undergo further changes as it travels through the law-making process, but all those now in Medicare or nearing eligibility for it, will be untouched by their plan.
Can Obama make this the central issue of the campaign and thus frighten voters into supporting him? That will be tough to do when voters have more pressing fears, such as finding a job, making ends meet, and paying Obama's rising gas prices.
Romney and Ryan intend to make their campaign about Obama's weak, job-starved, slow-growth economy and a four year spending binge that threatens to suffocate our future prosperity.
With 23 million unemployed or underemployed workers looking for full time jobs , millions of businesses struggling to survive, and poverty rates nearing another record high, the Republican ticket will have plenty to talk about on the stump.
As for Medicare's sustainability crisis, Obama has made no effort to save it, even though its problems worry many seniors and those who will soon join its rolls. A Democratic poll conducted by Democracy Corps found that when the Ryan plan was portrayed as "saving Medicare," voters in Democratic-leaning battleground districts supported it by a margin of 52 percent to 37 percent.
Still, fear can be a very effective political weapon and no one knows how to play the demagoguery and demonizing game better than the Obama campaign.
But maybe this time, voters have much bigger fears that will trump Obama's Mediscare tactics. Like how can I find a job that will pay enough to feed my kids. Or how will I be able to meet my payroll this week to keep my workers and my business going when so many consumers are cutting back on their spending.
Obama doesn't want to talk about any of this because he's failed to provide the jobs and the growing economy that he promised us in 2008.
Romney and Ryan will be reminding Americans of his economic failures day after day between now and Nov. 6.
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