Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Does GOP Intend the Dumpster for Oldsters

(Guest post by Suzy Khimm) Mother Jones

For Democrats, it seems like a gift from above. On the very day that President Obama officially launches his reelection bid, House budget guru Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announces a plan to privatize Medicare. This latest GOP cost-cutting scheme amounts to a medical voucher system: Rather than paying for care directly, the government would help elderly Americans purchase private insurance. "It's going to end Medicare as we know it," says Nadeam Elshami, communications director for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), repeating the new Democratic talking point.

It's also a politically risky move, effectively gutting one of the nation's most popular entitlements—one that Lyndon Johnson fought long and hard to enact back in 1965. Ryan's proposal would allow Democrats to claim that the GOP is declaring open season on seniors. "This should be one they should hit out of the park," says Dean Baker, co-director of the left-leaning Center for Economic Policy Research.

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