Paul Krugman accuses Republicans of “having it both ways on Medicare”: “You almost have to admire the audacity: Republicans are denouncing Obama for proposing Medicare cuts, while themselves proposing much deeper Medicare cuts. And they’re getting away with it.”
The Medicare cuts he has in mind? The ones in Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America.”
Of course, the Republican response to the Roadmap has been a little tepid, precisely because of its treatment of Medicare. Senate Republicans and key party leaders haven’t exactly shouted it from the rooftops.
Ross Douthat asked Ryan about the Republican attitude toward addressing Medicare’s problems in an interview:
He talked hopefully about the “maturation” of the G.O.P., as it goes from being “an opposition party to being the alternative party,” and suggested that “we’re going through our growing pains faster than I’d expected, which is a pleasant surprise.” At the same time, he allowed that “the problem in the minority [is that] you sometimes revert into a posture where ‘I don’t have to do anything controversial, I just can be against that and win by default.’ I’m not interesting in winning by default. And I’m worried that if we get the majority back by default, we’ll screw up again.” And when I brought up Republican politicians who have embraced a “Medicare now, Medicare forever” approach to critiquing the Obama health care proposals, Ryan turned grim in a hurry. “I don’t do that,” he said sharply. “I don’t do that.”
So to be clear: Ryan is against using threats about cutting Medicare against the Democrats, and he’s also for cutting Medicare. Republicans in general, and especially in the Senate and official party organs, have been criticizing Democrats for cutting Medicare and haven’t fully embraced the Roadmap.
So the charge of hypocrisy falls flat. Honestly, hypocrisy would be better: you have to assume that politicians are hypocrites, and hope that Republicans will at least favor reforming the giant government programs that need to be reformed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Paul Ryan has presented a credible plan for reducing Medicare. The Republican Party, as a whole, hasn’t shown even a desire to trim Medicare.
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