Thursday, June 2, 2011

What did Ryan tell Obama? Not much, it turns out

A lot of hype and not much substance in the second hand reports of an Obama-Ryan exchange during a private White House meeting of the President and GOP leaders.  Or, as Gawker put it, Paul Ryan brought his sad face to the White House.

Did Ryan really call Obama a demagogue? Was it a smackdown?

Far from it.

"Hey, I'm that Ryan guy," Ryan said at the start of his remarks at the meeting, according to a Republican aide, the LA Times said:
Later, speaking to reporters, Ryan was asked if he had told Obama that he hadn't shown leadership on budget issues.

"That's not exactly what I said," he responded. "I said we've got to take on this debt and if we demagogue each other at the leadership level, then we're never going to take on our debt."

Ryan went on to say that Obama has "mischaracterized" his Medicare plan when talking publicly about it. So he said he explained to Obama how the plan works, in the hopes that "in the future he won't mischaracterize it."

"I simply explained what our plan is, how it works," Ryan said, standing before a bank of cameras outside the White House. "It's been misdescribed by the president and many others. So we simply described to him what it is we’ve been proposing so that he hears from us how our proposal works."

Did Obama agree that the Republican Medicare proposal is not a voucher plan?

"He didn’t mention one way or the other," Ryan said.
So is it a voucher? Maybe not, technically, but it has the same impact. If it makes Ryan feel better maybe Dems can call it a 'voucher-like" program. Politico explains:
Is it a voucher? Technically, no. Ryan’s plan is something called “premium support.” Unlike a voucher, where the money goes to the person, premium support is a subsidy that goes directly to the health insurance company.

What’s the difference? In Ryan’s view, there’s a huge difference. Ever since the House Budget Committee chairman first started promoting the budget plan before its release in April, he has insisted that his Medicare plan is premium support, not a voucher. The difference, to Ryan, is that premium support is more like the health care plans for members of Congress, or the Medicare prescription drug program — where consumers can pick which plan they want and the federal government pays for it.

In practical terms, though, that distinction probably won’t make much of a difference to seniors’ pocketbooks. “Voucher” is a politically loaded term because it suggests to people that the money won’t keep up with their costs.

That’s exactly what would happen under Ryan’s premium support plan, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It said a typical senior would pay 68 percent of his or her Medicare costs in 2030 under the Ryan plan, compared to 25 to 30 percent of the costs under the current system — because the amount of Medicare spending would be controlled so it wouldn’t grow so fast.
Meanwhile, Leonard Berman on Forbes is reduced to fabricating a conversation Obama and Ryan could have had, but didn't. Read it here.

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