Monday, April 16, 2012

GOP Tarnished Brand, Medicare Crisis, The Good in Medicare, Romney and Congress

The Democrat Advantage

"The history of these primaries really begins twelve years ago when George W. Bush first ran for president on the theme of 'compassionate conservatism.'  This notion allowed Bush to separate and contrast himself with the negative image of the GOP during the 1990s.  During that decade, congressional Republicans proposed significant cuts to federal entitlement programs like Welfare, Medicare and Medicaid.  These proposals made it easy for Bill Clinton and the Democrats to move to the political center.  They cast then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole as callous, hostile to the poor and the elderly."

These same Republicans are STILL proposing huge, unpopular ideological cuts to social programs.  In fact, you can look back to Truman's re-election troubles -- although he won -- and trace the beginnings of today's Republican "dirty" politics and hostility toward social programs.

Ducking the Medicare Crisis

"But the politics of Medicare have been poisonous, so toxic that Democrats haven’t been willing to engage seriously on the issue, while Republicans have advanced a proposal that would eviscerate Medicare rather than preserve it.  The current effort to trim Medicare costs, through initiatives like limiting payment increases to health care providers, amounts to picking the low-hanging fruit.  What comes next will surely be more painful and contentious."

Medicare Concern

"Some readers have asked me for a reaction to Steve Rattner’s piece on Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.  The short answer is that it’s a classic piece of concern trolling -- the practice, all too common among a certain class of commentators, of professing sympathy with progressive policy goals, then, invariably, finding a way to support right-wing talking points.  The way to cut through the whole double-counting nonsense is to ask the following: did the ACA improve or worsen the fiscal outlook compared with what it would have been without the legislation?  The answer is that it improved the outlook -- the additional revenues plus cost savings outweigh the cost of the subsidies.  End of story."

Congress and Romney Work Together

"Before Rep. Paul Ryan rolled out his controversial budget plan last month, there was one man eager to learn its details.  Over the course of several phone calls with Romney, the Wisconsin Republican explained -- point by point -- his plan to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid and to cut the budget deficit. It gave Romney fodder to defend the plan against sharp campaign attacks.  The private phone calls are one sign of increased communication between the presumptive presidential nominee’s team and top congressional Republicans, marking a new effort to build a relationship critical to their party’s success in November."

The Republican Reality-Free Zone

Mitt Romney: Mothers Should Be Required To Work Outside Home Or Lose Benefits (What!  I thought family values meant the mother stayed home.)


Friday, April 13, 2012

Pals: Romney and Ryan, How the Banks Destroyed Medicare, Ryan's Faith

New Best Buds Getting Along

"One of the sharpest dividing lines emerging between President Obama and GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is the budget introduced in Congress by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., with its sharp cuts in domestic spending and lower tax rates."

"Linking himself to Ryan's proposed tax cuts and structural reforms for Medicare was a bold conservative move, says Vin Weber, an informal adviser to the Romney campaign.  'It helped with the Republican base, and it helped unify the Republican Party more broadly than that,' says Weber.  'But I think at the end of the day the question is, 'Will a serious approach to reforming Medicare -- and thus dealing with our long-term debt problem -- be a winning issue in the fall, or won't it be?' I genuinely fear for the country if it's not.  But it is an open question.'"

Banking Off the Hook

"The world’s largest banks have been accused of many things in recent years, including taking excessive risk in the run-up to 2008, doing great damage to the American economy by blowing themselves up and then working hard to resist any sensible notions of financial reform."

"All of this is true, but it misses what is likely to be the most profound negative impact of the banks’ behavior on most Americans.  The banks’ actions led directly to an increase in government debt, which in turn has made the reduction of that debt by 'cutting runaway spending' a centerpiece of the Republican presidential campaign to date.  As a result of this pressure, Medicare now stands on the brink of being eliminated as a viable form of social insurance.  Yet the executives who lead these banks -- and the politicians with whom they work closely -- will not be held accountable this election season."

Religious Leaders Slam Ryan For Using Catholic Faith To Justify Cutting Programs That Help The Poor

"House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Christian Broadcast Network earlier this week that the House GOP’s budget, which he wrote, was driven by his Catholic faith.  'A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,' Ryan said, and Catholic principles are what led him to cut programs for the poor so as to keep people from becoming 'dependent on government."

"'By these measures,' the release [from the PICO National Network, the largest national coalition of religious congregations] says, 'the Ryan budget is a severe failure,' noting that it cuts Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, food stamps, and 'other programs that help vulnerable working families make it through tough times and live better lives,' while giving massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporations."


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

GOP Reform, Medicare Political Fallout (Bush II), Tea Party Visions

Ask Republicans About Healthcare Reform

"As we await the verdict of nine Supreme Court Justices on the constitutionality of all or part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is worth asking what the remaining Republican Presidential nominees would create in its place."

"We know that Mitt Romney would 'direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health care solutions that work best for them.'  We know that he has changed his position from 'pro-choice' to 'pro-life,' and that he now supports the Blunt proposal allowing employers and insurers to limit coverage of contraceptives if they have religious/moral objections to that provision.  We also know he is proposing to return Medicaid spending entirely to the states, that he would raise the Medicare eligibility age by one month per year during his presidency, and that he would offer Medicare recipients (by 2022) a choice between 'the traditional, fee-for-service government health-care program and a new option to purchase private insurance, with the cost partly supported by the government.'  Since so many of those proposals also appear in the 2012 Ryan budget passed by the House in March, we also know that Romney has declared that budget 'a bold and exciting effort, very much consistent with what I put out earlier.'"

Still Feeling the Effects

"Now we have a yawning federal deficit that continues to grow past $15 Trillion.  Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who was fired by VP Cheney for advocating that the four Clinton years of budget surpluses be used to put social security and Medicare on a more secure footing, described the result of the debate that led to such a disastrous decision in The Price of Loyalty.  It was to return government to its 1900 size, the era of William McKinley and the Robber Barons, by reducing government spending enough 'to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub', Grover Norquist, architect of the no tax increase pledge signed by more than 200 Republican legislators, once famously said."

Which America?

"Americans have long debated two fundamentally different visions of what kind of country the U.S. should be.  The first is the vision of a society that provides unrestricted liberty to acquire wealth.  The second is the vision of a realized democracy in which rights over society's major institutions are established."

"The Tea Party is overwhelmingly white, middle-class, and either middle-aged or elderly.  It thrives on a deeply felt dichotomy between the deserving and the undeserving.  At the grassroots level, much of the Tea Party is not hostile to Social Security or Medicare, unlike the professional ideologues that are exploiting it.  Tea Party Republicans are quite certain that they deserve their own Social Security and Medicare.  But they are outraged that undeserving people get taxpayer-funded benefits from the government.  In the Tea Party version of the American dream, there is no such thing as the common good.  There is only the sum of individual goods, which many people do not deserve."

For Your Information


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Local Politics of Medicare

Yes, they're at home for Spring break.  Here's a sampling: 

New Hampshire Voters and Medicare

"At home in New Hampshire, the land of Yankee skepticism, congressman Charlie Bass was being asked to explain his support for the new Republican budget.  'What I have heard is that it would end Medicare as we know it,' a nurse from Charlestown, New Hampshire, told Bass during a town hall meeting last week, holding a printout of an e-mail in her hand."

"At a time of high unemployment and home foreclosure rates, frustration with Congress and rising anxiety over how to deal with the national debt without gutting programs such as Medicare health insurance for the elderly and the Social Security retirement program, such meetings aren't always comfortable for lawmakers."


"Altmire ran a commercial accusing Critz of endangering Medicare and Social Security because he did not vote against a Republican budget.  Technically, Critz did not vote for or against the budget: He voted 'present' as part of a move Democrats engineered to embarrass Republicans by making them kill their own budget."


"He saved his most heated comments, however, for the Republican budget plan -- often known for its architect, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. -- that would effectively transform Medicare into a voucher program.  'It's a disaster. In a finite number of years, seniors will be back to where they were in 1955, which is sick and unable to get treatment,' King said.  'I don't know what they're thinking.  Except, I think that proposal represents a strain of thinking that goes back to -- they want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare.'"


Monday, April 9, 2012

More Against Ryan Budget, Want Social Darwinism?, Romney Deception, Politics Prevents Jobs

Obama Against Prescription for Decline

"Budget politics and the 2012 campaign merged today, as President Obama lit into Republicans and their priorities.  His main target was the House Republican budget plan.  It would cut the deficit by $3.3 trillion in the next decade, over and above the $4 trillion in savings in the Obama budget.  The president addressed the Associated Press annual meeting in Washington."

"PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: For much of the last century, we have been having the same argument with folks who keep peddling some version of trickle-down economics.  They keep telling us that if we convert more of our investments in education and research and health care into tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, our economy will grow stronger."

Budget Promotes Social Darwinism

OPINION:  "The returns weren't all in yet on Tuesday's Republican primaries but President Obama didn't wait. He kicked off his 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney with a hard-hitting speech centered on the House Republicans' budget plan -- which Romney has enthusiastically endorsed.  That plan, by the way, is the most radical reverse-Robin Hood proposal propounded by any political party in modern America."

"It would save millionaires at least $150,000 a year in taxes while gutting Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, transportation, child nutrition, college aid, and almost everything else average and lower-income Americans depend on.  Here's what the president had to say about it:  'Disguised as a deficit reduction...  it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country.  It is thinly veiled social Darwinism.'"

Romney Tales

"Romney proclaimed that Obama 'is the only president to ever cut $500 billion from Medicare.'  Given that Romney supports the GOP-backed Ryan budget that calls for severe slashes in Medicare spending, this is an odd charge.  It is also false.  As PolitiFact notes, Obama's 'health care law reduces the amount of future spending growth in Medicare.  But it doesn't cut Medicare.'  By the way, Obama's law expanded certain Medicare benefits.  The fact checking site also points out that Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton each enacted Medicare cuts."

Jobs and Medicare: The Ryan Budget

"Not only does this budget seek to change the fundamental structure of the U.S. economy and American society by undermining the popular and successful Medicare program and gifting $3 trillion in tax cuts for the already wealthy, but it also slashes nearly $900 billion from public investments in education, science, and infrastructure critical to growth -- all without offering specific policies for job creation or new revenue sources.  This budget would threaten the progress we’re making by undermining growth and weakening middle-class families."

For Your Information


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mitt Romney Claims President Obama Will 'End Medicare'

Romney Strays From Truth, No Surprise

"In a speech Wednesday, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney attacked President Barack Obama's signature health care policy by falsely claiming that Obama 'has taken a series of steps that end Medicare as we know it."

"Romney's speech before the American Society of News Editors was clearly an effort to turn the tables after Obama's own speech before the group on Tuesday, in which the president strongly criticized the federal budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee. The Ryan budget would cut Medicare and convert it into a voucher program, cut food stamps and health insurance for poor children, and provide large tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Romney recently called the budget 'marvelous.'"

Just when you  think you've seen almost everything in politics . . .  Although, there were hints of such an attack recently when Republicans tried to criticize the President for "cutting" Medicare.  Meanwhile . . .

President on Attack

"President Obama made clear Tuesday that he’s not about to soften his criticism of Republicans’ Medicare proposals, charging again that the GOP plan would 'end Medicare as we know it.'  Obama also referred to the GOP’s Medicare proposal as a 'voucher' system -- another characterization that Republicans insist is inaccurate."

Last year, we said the Republicans would try to change the terminology, because their market research told them that "voucher" was a four letter word.  Of course, it wasn't long before they began to call it "premium support."


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Revamping Medicare, Medicare For All, Thoughts on Affordable Care

Proposals to Revamp Medicare

From Kaiser Health News:  "Congress is unlikely to consider legislation that would fundamentally restructure Medicare until a new Congress -- and possibly a new president -- are seated in 2013.  But politicians have sought to tackle the growth in Medicare costs several times in the past two years, most notably in the 2010 health care law and, then again, in last year's budget deal."

"The more immediate pressure is to reduce the deficit by the end of this year to stop automatic 2 percent spending cuts from going into effect in 2013, as required by last year's budget agreement.  That will likely entail slowing spending in Medicare, which provides health care to 47 million seniors and disabled people and consumes about 15 percent of the federal budget.  Kaiser Health News answered several frequently-asked questions about the timeline for overhauling Medicare and reducing spending, and the proposals under consideration."

Highly recommended, as is every piece of original work from Kaiser Health News.

Talk About Universal Medicare

"Conservatives and liberals may disagree about the constitutionality of the individual mandate requiring all uninsured Americans to buy health insurance from private companies or pay a penalty to the IRS.  But there is no debate about whether single-payer Medicare For All would be constitutional.  No one -- not even the most hard core, right-wing libertarians -- disputes that the federal government has the constitutional authority to tax all Americans to pay for Medicare-style health insurance for all, as it pays for Medicare for everyone over 65."

Supreme Court and Affordable Care

"Conservative intellectuals are feeling giddy.  Last week they feasted on the veritable mauling of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli by the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices.  (In truth, Verrilli was only questioned by four of the conservatives -- Justice Clarence Thomas, true to form, didn’t speak.)"

"... there is really no question that existing Commerce Clause doctrine squarely supports the law.  If the court wants to redefine Commerce Clause doctrine, five votes can do it.  But it will be an act of judicial activism and require an entire rewriting of our understanding of what powers Congress does and does not have in its arsenal to deal with national economic problems.  Bear in mind, the mandate in this case is conceptually no different from the existing mandate that every employed person pay into the fund that supports Medicare, whether the individual does now, or ever will, benefit from the Medicare system."

Sen. Schumer's Take

"Senator Chuck Schumer is trying to reset the expectations for the Supreme Court's ruling on the president's health care law."  "'If they were to throw out the health care law, things like Medicare, Social Security, food-safety laws could be in jeopardy on the very same grounds,' he said.  'It would be a dramatic, 180-degree turn of the tradition of the Commerce Clause.'"


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 On Their Minds, Ryan Budget

Quieter on the national scene with Congress back home.

More About 2012

"Path to prosperity or road to ruin?  That is the question and how it is being defined as the Republicans approved a budget this week in the House.  The budget is literally a blueprint that would dramatically transform Medicare, cut domestic spending to levels not seen in almost 70 years and force a dynamic overhaul of the tax code."

"The plan was passed 228-191 without a single Democratic vote and 10 Republican defectors.  It provided the stage from which the 2012 elections will be fought with fierce determination and a clear choice for voters.  The Democratic side of the argument will attempt to portray the Republican budget plan as punishing the elderly and impoverished (Medicare cuts), while rewarding the GOP's 'base' with further and more lucrative tax cuts."

Yes, yes.  We know more and more about how the 2012 elections might play out.

Ryan Budget

"The Republican Medicare plan, which does indeed end Medicare as we know it (just a little bit slower than the Paul Ryan budget they adopted last year) isn't finding much support outside the party, despite the fact that the 'premium support' Ryan included in the budget is derived partly from a plan he cooked up with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)."

No Allies

"House Republicans are struggling to make the case that their proposed Medicare overhaul has broad support.   The GOP has been ramping up its argument that Democrats have, in the past, supported 'premium support' reforms despite the party's united attacks against the proposal ahead of the November elections.  They are trying to persuade voters that Republicans have a bipartisan plan to save the program from bankruptcy, while painting Democrats as hypocrites out to scare seniors."


Monday, April 2, 2012

Republican Health Care Hypocrisy, Medicare Toxic for GOP, Social Security, Affordable Care Support

GOP Loves Government-Run Health Care

"There’s always hypocrisy in Washington but past and present Republican presidential candidates have used the debate on healthcare to take it to heights unimaginable even in the nation’s capital. This week the Supreme Court heard arguments on the Affordable Care Act and the GOP tried again to cripple Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors."

"All of them say they oppose the Affordable Care Act because they claim it is 'government run healthcare.'  But don’t panic, because they’re wrong.  Since President Obama decided not to fight for a single payer plan or even for the public option, healthcare is still in the deadly clutches of the insurance companies.  Even if the Republicans candidates were right, they have some nerve even making the argument.  While they all criticize government run healthcare and Medicare, as members of Congress they took full advantage of the gold plated healthcare insurance provided by the United States government.  What the Republicans are really saying is that government run healthcare is fine for them but too good for working families."

Can Ryan Plan Destroy the GOP?

"The Paul Ryan-authored budget approved by the House on Thursday has zero chance of being enacted, thanks to Democratic control of the Senate and White House.  But there is a 100 percent chance that it will feature prominently in Democratic campaign ads and talking points from now through the November election."

"This is a potential problem for Republicans, since a major component of the plan is a radical overhaul of Medicare, one of the most popular government programs.  Ryan’s budget also calls for steep tax reductions that would disproportionately benefit the affluent and would potentially cut deeply into the social safety net.  Just like the Medicare voucher plan that Ryan proposed and House Republicans lined up behind last year, it is a document that Democrats are itching to run against this fall, and to which they hope to tie every Republican candidate.  Republicans, obviously, are well aware of this. Many of them don’t care."

It's charming to think that Republicans voting to kill Medicare might simple "have no choice."  I don't buy it!  Get some courage.

AARP & Social Security

"AARP, the most powerful lobby for senior citizens, is committed to keeping Social Security out of any deficit debate going on in Washington, a top official told The Huffington Post.  Three progressive organizations -- Social Security Works, Credo Action and the blog -- launched campaigns aimed at pressuring AARP to stand up for Social Security after HuffPost reported that the elderly lobby was planning to host a high-level 'salon-style conversation' with deficit hawks and advocates of cutting Social Security.  Tens of thousands -- including thousands of AARP members -- signed petitions urging AARP not to support benefit cuts."

"[AARP's top lobbyist, Nancy] LeaMond said that the group's recently organized national tour called You've Earned A Say is a way to give members a chance to let AARP know how they feel about Social Security and Medicare."

A Wrinkle

"The individual insurance requirement that the Supreme Court is reviewing isn't the first federal mandate involving health care.  There's a Medicare payroll tax on workers and employers, for example, and a requirement that hospitals provide free emergency services to indigents.  Health care is full of government dictates, some arguably more intrusive than President Barack Obama's overhaul law.  It's a wrinkle that has caught the attention of the justices."

For Your Information


Friday, March 30, 2012

GOP Looks Back to Good Old Days: 1951 and Last Year, Ryan Under Scrutiny

Welcome to 1951, Courtesy of the Republicans

"House Republicans expect to adopt a budget resolution this week that envisions eliminating most federal debt by cutting government’s share of the economy to a level not seen since 1951, before Medicare, Medicaid, the Environmental Protection Agency and the space program.  Federal spending as a proportion of gross domestic product would fall by one-third by 2050 to 16 percent from 24 percent in 2011, according to calculations by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. T he last time it was at that level, Harry Truman was president, and Nat King Cole ruled the pop charts."

"'You end up in a very different world than we’ve been used to in the past 50 to 60 years,' said former CBO Director Robert Reischauer.  The blueprint, written by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, 'would eliminate many of the elements of government that people depend on and that people want,' Reischauer said."

Hey!  Truman supported government health care and the New Deal (mostly).  And Eisenhower, a Republican, was elected after Truman.  So, this would be a return to a pre-Republican era.

GOP Revisits Last Year's Medicare

"Brave or politically suicidal?  For the second year in a row, Republicans voted Thursday to effectively dismantle Medicare -- this time, just over seven months before a presidential election.  And Democrats are salivating at the political opportunity, eager to hang the vote around the neck of the party’s presidential nominee and its candidates in tough congressional races.  'A year ago, nobody was talking about Democrats having a shot at the House.  Now we’re talking about it,' a Democratic leadership aide told TPM after the vote, a party-line 228-191 that didn’t win a single Dem."

"The blueprint by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is similar to his controversial Medicare plan last year, in that it ends the health insurance guarantee for seniors and replaces the program with a subsidized insurance-exchange system.  Unlike last year’s plan, seniors can buy into traditional Medicare as a sort-of public option, and the vouchers it provides are more generous."

Ryan at Home

"Democrats have gone straight to Rep. Paul Ryan’s hometown to blast the Wisconsin Republican’s budget plan.  Ahead of Thursday’s anticipated vote on the spending proposal, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee purchased a billboard advertisement that reads, 'Congressman Ryan: Protecting Millionaires Instead of Medicare.'"

Affordable Care Debate

For Your Information


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mediscare from Republicans, Ryan Anti-Middle Class, Support Affordable Care, Medicare - For All

The Ryan Budget

" ... House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's budget for the coming fiscal year would have a devastating impact on the poor, elderly and disabled.  By turning Medicare into a private voucher system and Medicaid into a block grant program, along with cuts to food stamps, it paints a frightening picture of what would happen if Republicans sweep the next election.  Ryan's plan enjoys enough support to pass in the House.  In the Senate, which Republicans are likely to take over because Democrats have so many more seats up for re-election, it would only need a simple majority since budget bills can avoid being filibustered."

Scary stuff.

Ryan vs. Middle Class

"'Class warfare may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics.'  That's what House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Fox News Sunday last September.  I would argue it makes for both rotten politics and rotten economics.  And there is no greater example of that than Chairman Ryan's own budget.  That's right ... the Ryan budget ... the one that ends Medicare but continues tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires ... is back.  It's like a bad horror movie.  So what is different this time around?  The answer is not much."

Seniors and Affordable Care

From NCPSSM:  "The Supreme Court is wrapping up three days of hearings on the Affordable Care Act today.  Seniors with the National Committee’s 'Rally Corps' joined other activists on the steps of the Court urging Justices to uphold the health care reform law.  'The truth is the more seniors get the facts about healthcare reform the more they support it.  But unfortunately all the partisan bickering surrounding the law’s passage and continuing even now, two years later, has left too many Medicare beneficiaries unaware or misinformed about all the new benefits now available to them thanks to the ACA.'"

Universal Medicare

"In fact, there's a very easy way to achieve universal coverage, and that's just by deleting two words from the Medicare law, "over 65", because Medicare is a system that provides universal coverage to everybody over the age of 65, as well as people with disabilities.  And it does so in a much less expensive way than health care.  The administrative costs for Medicare are about 2 percent.  They've been that way for decades.  And the cost of insurance overhead and their administrative fees is about 16 percent."

MORE -- from another angle:  Can Obamacare be saved?

For your Information


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Medicare Still Wildly Popular, 2012 Politics of Medicare

Another Poll Shows Medicare Support

"House Republicans are sure they have a new message strategy for their plan to gut Medicare that will make the plan not devastatingly unpopular. They even did focus group testing on it. Apparently, they didn't focus on the right group.  ...  Asked what Medicare should look like in the future, just 26 percent said it 'should be changed to a system where the government provides seniors with a fixed sum of money they could use either to purchase private health insurance or to pay the cost of remaining in the current Medicare program.'"

Past and Future Medicare

"Last spring, when House Republicans passed Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan's ambitious fiscal agenda, it would have been easy to make two basic guesses about the proposal's lasting impact: On the one hand, it seemed that the budget's focus on the immense scope of the fiscal calamity heading our way would put the deficit and debt at the center of our politics for the rest of Barack Obama's term.  But on the other hand, it looked like the Medicare proposal in the budget would be highly controversial and politically risky."

"For a time, both predictions seemed to be confirmed by events.  The Ryan budget forced President Obama essentially to retract the budget he had proposed two months earlier and replace it with a vague series of promises to address the deficit and debt.  There followed several months of budget showdowns, with Republicans setting the agenda, even if they got only a small portion of the spending cuts they sought.  Meanwhile, the Democrats were in full attack mode on Medicare, accusing Republicans of pushing old ladies off cliffs and asserting that the defense of 'Medicare as we know it' would be the centerpiece of their own election platform."

Dems Say "Hands Off Medicare"

"House Democrats want to make a clear, election-year statement: they’re not going to touch Medicare and they’re going to raise taxes on the wealthy.  Determined to set their party apart from the Republicans’ fiscal blueprint that will dominate much of the campaign season, Democrats rolled out a $3.7 trillion spending plan that they say better protects the middle class in the still-recovering economy."

Trouble Ahead for GOP?

"The GOP budget plan revealed this week by Rep. Paul Ryan may be a boon for millionaires but it is a disaster for our seniors, children, and working families.  It is also a blueprint for the Republicans' electoral defeat in 2012.  Why?  Because most Americans would strongly disagree with the Republicans that we should take Medicare away from seniors, and tell students and parents to pay more for education while extending taxpayer giveaways to millionaires, Big Oil, and corporations that ship jobs overseas."


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Preview, Affordable Care

California Dreamin'

"The messages in the phone calls and mail pieces targeting voters in one of the Sacramento region's most competitive congressional races vary, but the subject is the same: the future of Medicare.  The national debate over the federal health care program for seniors is expected to be a top issue in elections across the country.  The efforts already are fierce in the 7th Congressional District, a high-stakes rematch between Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera."

In Court

"On opening day in the health care cases, the Supreme Court justices made clear they would not let common sense get in the way of making constitutional history."  [Transcript available]

"In a little-noticed exchange Monday, conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts may have tipped his hand that he’s entertaining the possibility that the health care law’s individual mandate can be upheld on a constitutional basis that’s different from the one supporters and opponents have made central to their arguments."

"The justices appeared broadly skeptical that the law’s fine imposed on Americans who fail to carry health insurance qualifies as a 'tax.'"

Etch-A-Sketch Saga

For Your Information

"Aides to Lyndon B. Johnson, daughter Luci Baines Johnson Turpin, biographer Robert Caro and former Sens. George McGovern and Walter Mondale uniformly described the 36th president as a man who relished nothing so much as rolling up his sleeves and working with Congress to get things done.  Johnson did it to win passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, fair-housing laws and Medicare.  Indeed, in most of the Great Society measures, Republicans voted 'yea' in higher percentages than Democrats.  Despite Dem majorities in both houses, the measures mostly would have failed without GOP votes."


Monday, March 26, 2012

Ryan' Budget Makes 2012, Affordable Care on Trial

2012 Politics -- Budget & Medicare

"This week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released what amounts to the most substantive roadmap for fiscal policy that any Republican is likely to offer in 2012.  Many political pundits and policy analysts, especially those on the left, are eager to dig into the details to alert the public about the potential (negative) impacts of a budget that slices off $5 trillion in total federal spending compared with the plan offered by President Obama in February."

"While most of the Republican candidates for president have signaled support for Ryan’s proposal, Governor Romney’s proposals probably track the closest, particularly in the area of Medicare reform.  This is a big deal, since it suggests that the presumptive Republican nominee will be advancing an agenda that also echoes the key policy contrast that Ryan is purposely setting up for November."

Affordable Care on Trial

"The Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act will have immense political importance.  The law, which rivals Medicare in scope, is the biggest achievement of the Obama administration.  Striking it down has become a Republican crusade.  The justices, like the rest of the country, are clearly aware of the politics of the moment.  But a decision on the merits will endure long after this election season -- it could alter the allocation of power within American government and Congress’s authority to solve national problems."  "Here is a look at the issues to be argued over three days this week in this extraordinary case."

It seems to me that most Conservative Republicans are taking it for granted that the Supreme Court will strike down Affordable Care.

For Your Information

The Barbarism of the Health-Care Repeal Crusade  --  "I’m comfortable with the market creating vastly unequal rewards of many kinds.  But to make health insurance an earned privilege is to condemn people to physical suffering or even death because they failed to secure a job that gives them health insurance, or they don’t earn enough, or they happened to contract an expensive illness, or a member of their family did."

"Final Nail In The Coffin Of This Country": Another Year Of Wild Attacks On The Health Care Law  --  "After waging an epic misinformation campaign during the debate over the Affordable Care Act and throughout the year following its signing, right-wing media have continued attacking the health care law, claiming that it is the 'final nail in the coffin of this country' and that it 'makes everyone a slave.'  As the two-year anniversary of the health care law approaches, Media Matters looks back at the right-wing media's latest attacks on health care reform."

The Republican Reality-Free Zone


Friday, March 23, 2012

Budget Politics, GOP Votes Out IPAB, Wyden Woes, Bipartisan GOP?

GOP Budget Bad

"A year after House Republicans misfired on their plan to overhaul Medicare, they’re going right back at it in the budget they proposed Tuesday, tweaking the details but signaling their willingness to engage in a political battle over entitlement reform -- even in an election year.  It’s the third such GOP plan in the past month to try to change Medicare, and it runs smack into the White House and congressional Democrats, who say the GOP is tangling with an issue that will cost them votes in November."

Etch-A-Sketch.  The Republicans are trying to erase or reset Medicare.

Goodbye IPAB

"The GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted to repeal a key cost-control provision of the health care law Thursday.  The House passed the largely symbolic measure by a vote of 223 to 181, repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-member panel that is supposed to check Medicare costs if they rise too quickly.  The measure is primarily an election-year vehicle because it is unlikely to even be brought up in the Senate, and President Barack Obama has promised to veto it if is passed."

Wyden Under Fire

"It’s doubtful that this is what Sen. Ron Wyden had in mind when the Oregon Democrat worked with Rep. Paul Ryan to propose a plan for Medicare reform.  On Tuesday, House Republicans unveiled a federal budget blueprint that calls for transforming the tax code and balancing the budget by 2040 through deep cuts in domestic spending, including the sweeping changes to Medicare proposed by Wyden and Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is chairman of the House Budget Committee."

"The plan puts Wyden in an awkward position.  Wyden’s fellow Democrats clearly do not appreciate a senior member of their party allowing Republicans to claim bipartisan support for their Medicare reform plan."

Republicans Say They're Bipartisan

"One of the new twists of this year’s Republican budget is that Republicans are trying harder to present themselves as upholding ideas that have bipartisan support, making President Obama the partisan outside the consensus.  The biggest example here is Medicare, where Paul Ryan enlisted Ron Wyden to provide him with bipartisan cover on Medicare."

For Your Information


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Targeting Seniors, Faith Leaders Blast Ryan Budget, No Grand Bargain, IPAB Facts

GOP Has Sights on Seniors

From NCPSSM:  "If America’s seniors really want to get at the heart of the ongoing political debate about our nation’s economic mess and the solutions offered to change course, yesterday provided a good snapshot of what’s at stake.  House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has introduced the GOP/Ryan budget and as expected it envisions balancing the budget by turning Medicare into a privatized program giving seniors a voucher (designed not to keep pace with their health costs over time) to buy private insurance."

"The new twist offered this year is a promise to also keep traditional Medicare as an option.   Unfortunately, what that really means is private insurers will siphon-off younger-healthier seniors while older and sicker patients remain in traditional Medicare which will increase the programs costs, potentially limit doctor participation, and create a death spiral to the Medicare’s demise."

The Conservative Republicans want to "reset" Medicare.  They think it's just like Etch-a-Sketch -- you can give it a good shake, tip it upside down, and it goes away.  You have a blank slate upon which to create an insurer-friendly profit center called vouchers, or coupons, or even "stamps."

Believe in Helping

"That the GOP cuts vital programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety net programs while giving tax breaks to the richest Americans is 'immoral' and 'unconscionable,' other leaders said.  'The poor are not statistics,' Rabbi Jackie Moline said.  'Whatever one thinks of Congressman Ryan’s ideas, it is unimaginable to look into the face of a child who would go hungry without government assistance and say, ‘Sorry — we need to reduce the deficit.’'"

Sorry, No Big Deal

"On Sunday, the Washington Post published a detailed story about the arduous negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner last summer, trying to use the debt ceiling crisis manufactured by Republicans to forge a 'grand bargain' on revenues and spending cuts."

"What remained on the table, the official clarified, was the notion that there could be a deal.  But instead of including the specific elements previously agreed upon by Obama and Boehner, any major deficit reduction measure considered going forward will have to more closely resemble a separate plan introduced by the president in the fall as part of his presentation to the congressional super committee charged with deficit reduction."

IPAB - About It

"It sounds like a new Apple product, but IPAB is actually a controversial board that is at the heart of House Republicans' efforts to upend the 2010 federal health law -- or at least make it a strong campaign issue.  The Independent Payment Advisory Board, created by the health law, is designed to help hold down costs in Medicare, the federal health program for seniors and the disabled. It is not yet operating."

For Your Information

 The Affordable Care Act: Before and After  (From the Medicare Rights Center)


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ryan Budget Ends Medicare

Ryan Budget Proposes Major Medicare Alteration

From The Medicare Rights Center:  "Let’s be clear, the budget introduced today by Representative Ryan is still a voucher plan that ends the Medicare program as we know it.  The budget may include a few new provisions compared to 2011, but the premise is still exactly the same -- Medicare beneficiaries (those over 65 and people with disabilities) pay more for health care and the federal government pays a lot less.  The proposal replaces Medicare’s guaranteed benefits with a 'premium support' payment that consumers can use to buy private insurance or, in a new twist, the traditional Original Medicare program.  However, there is no guarantee that the subsidy or voucher would match the rate at which health care costs increase.  This means that in order to buy adequate coverage, people with Medicare and their families will need to pay more out of pocket."

MORE:  "House Republicans thrust their vision of a smaller government, a flatter tax code and a free-market Medicare system into the 2012 election season on Tuesday, banking that fears over surging federal deficits will trump longstanding voter allegiances to popular government programs.  The House Budget Committee blueprint for spending and taxation over the next decade would reshape Medicare into a system of private insurance plans, shrink programs for the poor and turn them over to state governments, and try to simplify the tax code for individuals and businesses."

AND MORE:  "House GOP leaders unveiled a 2013 budget blueprint Tuesday that has little chance of becoming law but draws a clear contrast with Democrats on taxes, spending, and a host of hot-button political issues -- all of which could play a pivotal role in the 2012 campaign.  Republicans cast the $3.53 trillion plan -- which doubles down on past GOP proposals to overhaul Medicare and other politically sensitive programs -- as a bold attempt to reverse skyrocketing federal deficits and avert a looming fiscal catastrophe."

FROM NCPSSM:  GOP/Ryan Budget Plan Targets Seniors…Again  "CouponCare for Medicare – Tax Cuts for the Wealthy – Benefit Cuts for Everyone Else"

For Your Information


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wyden Speaks Out, Ryan On Parade, Clinton Weighs In, Voting For Medicare

"Preserving the Medicare Guarantee: Why I've Been Working with Paul Ryan"

From Senator Ron Wyden:  "I know that polls show that the majority of Americans like Medicare the way it is today.  But don't let that number confuse what's at stake: unless Congress enacts meaningful Medicare reform in the near future, seniors will be faced with inevitable cost-shifting and eventual benefit cuts until Medicare doesn't look anything like the program does today.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund will be out of money by 2022.  And as MedPac explained in its report to Congress last year, Congress's continued inability to come up with a long-term solution for Medicare's reimbursement rate for doctors 'is undermining confidence in the Medicare program.'"

"I believe the most important aspect of Medicare is not the structure of the program but the guarantee to all Americans that they will have high quality health care as they get older.  I will always fight to protect traditional Medicare, but in my mind, what makes Medicare so important is its guarantee.  It is one of our nation's most solemn promises and history has shown what can happen when it doesn't exist. "

Recommended reading.  Although I don't agree with everything he says, Sen. Wyden does a good job of explaining his thinking on this issue.

Ryan Still Pushing For End To Medicare

"It seems like only yesterday when House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin introduced a federal budget that would change Medicare as we know it.  Actually, it was a year ago when Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, offered, controversially, a federal spending blueprint that would transform Medicare from a single-payer health insurer for seniors into a program that would give them money to purchase insurance on the private market, so-called premium support."

"Undeterred, Ryan and House Republicans are expected to make public Tuesday their latest budget proposal.  And while full details aren't out, the expectation is that it will once again propose that Medicare become a premium-support program for people under a certain age."

MORE:  "When House Republicans unveil their 2012 budget on Tuesday, they are expected to include a Medicare privatization plan endorsed by one Democrat -- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). That, Republicans will claim, proves their controversial overhaul proposal has bipartisan support.  Leading Democrats say they won’t let the GOP get away with it."

President Clinton on Medicare

"Former President Bill Clinton said Saturday that the 2012 election boils down to a simple issue -- 'some version of how bad is government after all.'  He told a crowd of about 6,000 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks that Democrats have dealt with that question from Republicans for 30 years."  "Clinton said Republicans 'got away' with claiming the 2010 health care reform legislation slashed Medicare funding.  But he said the reform actually shifted funding from a Medicare program that was overly profitable for companies in order to add life to the Medicare trust fund, pay for the prescription drug program and close the so-called 'doughnut hole.'"

Older Voters

"Elections are decided by the people who show up at the polls.  In the United States, the oldest citizens are the most likely to cast their ballots, which gives them political clout beyond their numbers alone."  "Some 61 percent of citizens age 65 and older voted in the November 2010 election, the best turnout of any age group. More than half (54 percent) of those ages 55 to 64 also cast a ballot."


Monday, March 19, 2012

GOP Relentless on Disabling Medicare, Unhappy Wyden, Affordable Care Faces Test

Ryan's Own Mediscare

"In a new Internet video previewing his upcoming budget plan that aims to slash spending and overhaul the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly, Republican lawmaker Paul Ryan warns of a coming debt crisis if U.S. lawmakers fail to act.  It is part of the latest effort by Ryan, the influential chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, to project bold ideas for reining in huge budget deficits."

"But Republican strategists warn that Ryan's plan to partially privatize Medicare is fraught with political danger for the party in its bid to maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 6 election."

This is the Republican's own version of "MEDISCARE."

MORE:  "Now Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, is returning to center stage as the GOP doubles down on his conservative budget priorities -- including tax cuts for the wealthy and a new version of his plan for major changes in Medicare."

Tough Times for Wyden

"The question pings off Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden like a hailstone even now, three months after he locked arms with Wisconsin's Republican Rep. Paul Ryan on a plan to save Medicare.  Wyden is in an uncomfortable place these days.  Republicans discuss him with satisfied surprise while many Democrats bounce between incredulous and angry. "

Affordable Care At the Supreme Court

"Here's a thought that can't comfort President Barack Obama: The fate of his health care overhaul rests with four Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices.  His most sweeping domestic achievement could be struck down if they stand together with Justice Clarence Thomas, another GOP appointee who is the likeliest vote against.  But the good news for Obama is that he probably needs only one of the four to side with him to win approval of the law's crucial centerpiece, the requirement that almost everyone in this country has insurance or pays a penalty."

Romney Covert Attacks

OPINION:  "Question: What are the connecting threads between these two recent Mitt Romney news items -- the announcement that he's not enrolling in Medicare, and the revelation that Bain Capital helped him make money helping the Chinese government spy on its people?  Answer: They're both covert attacks on innocent civilians, and they're both based on Romney's own deceptions."

For Your Information

Keep checking 2012 Campaign Watch for updates on the candidate are getting wrong when it comes to Medicare and Social Security.  From NCPSSM.


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Ryan "Plan," Gingrich Still Talking, GOP Still Fighting Medicare, Medicare Vouchers

The Social Security & Medicare Double-Reverse

From NCPSSM:  "Kudos to the Center for American Progress for cutting through Paul Ryan’s Social Security & Medicare double-speak and putting the Budget Chairman’s relatively newfound concern for America’s poor in perspective.  Rep. Ryan has taken the 'greedy geezer' myth to new heights to bolster his claims that wealthy seniors are draining resources from the poor.  Scott Lilly with CAP exposes the many flaws in Ryan’s theory."

Definitely a must read and must click.

Newt Says Modernize Medicare

"Gingrich compared the 2012 presidential election to that of 1860, where Abraham Lincoln ran on a platform that called for technological change.  Calling for a more modern anti-fraud system in Medicare and Medicaid, Gingrich said by getting rid of a bureaucratic, paper-based system taxpayers will save billions of dollars."

GOP Continues Stealth Tactics to End Medicare

"When the Republicans release their budget next week, they'll likely say they have a 'new' Medicare proposal that will 'save' Medicare instead of eliminate it.  That's not true.  The Republicans still plan to end Medicare as we know it.  But this time they'll do so with the support of Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon."

The Results of Medicare Vouchers

"Helping younger generations is a noble sentiment, but unfortunately one reflected only in Republican speeches.  Take the recent debates on entitlement reform: The most prominent Republican plan, Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal, would retain the current system (the one that's supposedly overgenerous) for those 55 and older.  His program would then voucherize Medicare benefits for everyone else.  hese vouchers wouldn't be indexed to escalating health-care costs, and so by design the younger one is, the less one would receive."

For Your Information

"Former Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) made $19,359,927 as a lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies between 2006 and 2010.  Tauzin retired from Congress in 2005, shortly after leading the passage of President Bush’s prescription drug expansion.  He was recruited to lead PhRMA, a lobbying association for Pfizer, Bayer, and other top drug companies.  During the health reform debate, the former congressman helped his association block a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate for drug prices, a major concession that extended the policies enacted in Tauzin’s original Medicare drug-purchasing scheme.  Tauzin left PhRMA in late 2010.  He was paid over $11 million in his last year at the trade group.  Comparing Tauzin’s salary during his last year as congressman and his last year as head of PhRMA, his salary went up 7110 percent."


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mitt May Enroll in Medicare, IPAB Repeal Falters, Medicare Attack By "Senior" Group, Republicans Focus on Budget

Mitt May Find Avoiding Medicare Isn’t That Simple

As I mentioned earlier:  "Romney most likely will still be enrolled in Medicare Part A, which covers hospital services.  That piece is much harder to avoid.  But another high-profile Republican has tried to do it.  Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey joined a lawsuit with several other individuals in 2008 against the Department of Health and Human Services to force the government to allow them to un-enroll from the program."

"But the D.C. District Court of Appeals last month upheld a lower court ruling that individuals cannot 'choose' not to be covered by Medicare Part A."

GOP Losing the IPAB Fight

"IPAB repeal legislation began to hemorrhage Democratic support Monday, after Republicans said they intend to pair the broadly popular House bill with a more partisan medical malpractice reform package.  'Typical right-wing overreach,' charged Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, one of 20 Democrats to co-sponsor the Independent Payment Advisory Board repeal bill.  'I’m baffled by it.  It’s a way to destroy the chances of bipartisanship.'”

GOP Budget Fight and Medicare

"At issue is the party’s budget plan laying out its fiscal agenda for the year.  Republicans were accused last year by Democrats of plotting to end Medicare when their budget proposed overhauling the health care program for the elderly.  They probably will revive their Medicare plan this year, though with changes to reflect a compromise that Ryan has since written with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon."

60 Plus At It Again

As you know, this is probably my least favorite group ever, even including the Conservative Republicans themselves.  "Conservative groups are gearing up to spend millions of dollars in advertising this year to hammer President Obama and congressional Democrats over a little-known health care board that is at the heart of a heated debate on holding down Medicare costs.  The latest barrage began this week with a $3.5 million TV and online advertising campaign from the conservative 60 Plus Association.  The commercials target Democratic senators up for re-election this fall in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Montana and Missouri.  In the ad, singer and association spokesman Pat Boone called the Independent Payment Advisory Board a panel of 'unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats' with the power to deny Medicare treatments."

For Your Information


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Inevitable Romney, Medicare for You

Romney Won't Take Medicare -- How 1% Can You Get?

"In case anyone in America didn't know, Mitt Romney is rich.  So rich, in fact, that yesterday on his 65th birthday, he announced that he's not planning to sign up for Medicare."

"I'm not sure what Romney's trying to prove, but what his action says is clear: I'm not like the Americans who enroll in Medicare.  I'm special.  I'm rich.  I'm better than you.  Ask yourself: If Romney doesn't need or want Medicare for himself, will he protect it for the rest of us who do?  Of course not.  Instead, he'll continue to support the Republican plan to eliminate Medicare as we know it.  He'll work to turn Medicare into a voucher program that will saddle seniors with thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket health care costs.  Because, after all, what senior can't afford to spend an extra $6,400 a year on doctors and hospitals?"

Of course, Mitt can afford it!  And, maybe, that's a great campaign slogan -- Mitt can afford it!  Unfortunately, 99 percent of us can't.

Romney on the March

"There’s a view that Romney’s likely emergence as the GOP’s 2012 standard-bearer invalidates the notion that the party’s base has cracked up in the Obama era, or at least proves it’s wildly overstated.  After all, would a party driven by rabid ideologues who value purity over electability really choose a former Massachusetts governor with such suspect conservative credentials as its candidate?"

"Or there’s Romney’s support for Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which would effectively end Medicare as we now know it.  The plan is an article of faith on the right -- and a Democratic ad maker’s dream.  And his efforts to distance himself from his own Massachusetts healthcare law, which was crafted when the individual mandate was still considered a conservative idea and before the term 'ObamaCare' existed, have made it impossible for Romney to enjoy any kind of advantage on the issue over Obama in the fall."

You Still Can Sign Up for Medicare: Deadline Near

FROM MEDICARE RIGHTS CENTER:  "Consumers who are eligible for Medicare, but who have not yet enrolled in Medicare Part B, should do so before March 31, when the General Enrollment Period (GEP) ends.  Part B of Medicare covers a range of services, including doctor visits and outpatient therapy. Consumers who enroll during the GEP will have coverage effective July 1, 2012."

From Rep. Steve Israel

OPINION:  "This Republican Congress of Chronic Chaos is dusting off last year’s same failed playbook -- where seniors would lose their Medicare while Republicans give more tax breaks to millionaires and Big Oil companies.  I have one response: Bring it on."

For Your Information

The Republican Reality-Free Zone


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Romney Steps Up Medicare Deception, Slower Medicare Spending, Romney Doesn't Want Medicare, GOP Prep for 2012

Who Me?  Romney Accuse President of Attacking Medicare

"As part of an effort to reverse the public’s perception of the parties’ positions on Medicare, Mitt Romney’s campaign is appropriating a common Democratic attack and using it against President Obama.  To wit, it’s Obama, not Romney and the GOP, who plans to 'end Medicare as we know it.'"

"There are multiple, and conflicting, facets to this claim, all of which are intended to obscure one fundamental fact -- the GOP broadly supports a plan that, over years, will phase out traditional Medicare, and replace it with a subsidized private (or private-public) insurance system for seniors; President Obama supports, and has signed into law, efforts to make the existing single-payer Medicare plan more cost-effective in order to avoid 'ending Medicare as we know it.'"

Well worth the time to read this article in full.  Conservative Republicans recognize that they already have waited years for the opportunity to destroy Medicare.  At this point in time, they're ready to be patient and wait a few more years.

Good News About Medicare Spending, Bad News For Republicans

"Talking Points Memo has a good post on the New England Journal of Medicine’s new report on slowing the cost growth in Medicare spending. NEJM asks, 'Slower Growth in Medicare Spending -- Is This the New Normal?'  'On the whole, we do not believe that the recent slowdown in Medicare spending growth is a fluke,' wrote the researchers ...."

MORE:  How The Affordable Care Act Could Quash The GOP’s Dream Of Medicare Privatization  "What if 'Obamacare' not only helped save Medicare from fiscal doom, but also quashed the GOP’s longstanding goal of privatizing the program?  It’s too early to know what will ultimately happen, but new evidence suggests that nightmare scenario for conservatives is within the realm of possibility."

Romney Refuses Medicare

For Your Information

"Watching with growing unease as the GOP presidential nomination fight promises to stretch into the spring, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are making moves to protect their own re-election prospects in the fall.  The aim is to fashion a political and legislative agenda to sharpen the party's case against President Barack Obama and Democrats, and make a coherent argument for why the Democratic-controlled Senate, and not the GOP-led House, is to blame for the congressional gridlock that has disheartened the public.  A side benefit is that the legislative strategy might shift public attention away from some of the social issues that have recently dominated their party's presidential contest."

Just a little look to the 2012 future.

The Republican Reality-Free Zone