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The Right's Ideas Man

Here's Republican Paul Ryan, touting his alternate health care/budget plan that's being touted as proof of Republican intellectual seriousness:

The Roadmap [Ryan's plan] preserves the current program for those 55 and older. ... Contrast this plan with the Democrats’ health-care bills. Their legislation relies on cuts to Medicare for current retirees — and uses the proceeds to pay for a new entitlement instead of making the program solvent. These Medicare reductions would significantly affect the delivery of services to beneficiaries.

And here he is later in the same interview:

Those who would rather kick the can down the road are consigning the next generation of Americans to not only a broken social safety net, an inferior standard of living, and bankruptcy — but a future in which America’s best days are behind it.

See the problem here? Ryan 1) attacks Democrats for cutting Medicare for current retirees, 2) promises not to do anything to mess with those same retirees, 3) develops a plan that loads all the burden onto future retirees, and 4) accuses his critics of preferring to "kick the can down the road."

I'm not just trying to make a clever point about rhetorical inconsistency. The conservative criticism of the Democratic health care plans is that the savings won't stick. Sure, they can order up cuts to providers, and have a tax on expensive plans that will bite deeper and deeper over time, but conservatives are united in their skepticism that any of these cuts will really take place.

Meanwhile, here comes Ryan with a Real Plan. Ryan's plan is based on turning Medicare into private vouchers, which over time would be set to grow at a rate lower than the rate of medical inflation. Over time, this would make medical care less and less affordable for seniors on Medicare. Except, of course, the slowly ratcheting lower rates can always be ratcheted up. If Medicare recipients start to feel the pinch, won't Congress want to step in and jack up the vouchers one year, or maybe a lot of years?