Mitt Romney is taking a page from the 2010 Republican playbook and trying to position himself to the left of President Obama on Medicare, while at the same time lying not just about Medicare under the Affordable Care Act, but about Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan which he has embraced. Greg Sargent has the Romney campaign’s statement on Medicare issued today.
“There are two proposals on the table for addressing the nation’s entitlement crisis. Mitt Romney—along with a bipartisan group of leaders—has offered a solution that would introduce competition and choice into Medicare, control costs, and strengthen the program for future generations. President Obama has cut $ 500 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare and created an unaccountable board with rationing power — all while America’s debt is spiraling out of control and we continue to run trillion-dollar deficits.
“If President Obama’s plan is to end Medicare as we know it, he should say so. If he has another plan, he should have the courage to put it forward.”
Putting aside the fact that Sen. Ron Wyden is hardly a leader, and his working with Ryan hardly makes their idea for Medicare bipartisan, there’s not an honest sentence in this statement. As Sargent points out, the $ 500 billion referenced is trimmed from Medicare providers, not from beneficiaries—it does not affect the Medicare recipients’ benefits or access to care. The rationing board is a figment of Romney’s imagination. As Sargent says, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (which is confirmed by the Senate, and thus accountable) is set up to find cost savings, and is forbidden by the law from making “rationing” kinds of decisions. There is nothing in the health law that ends Medicare, as we know it or any other way.
Of course, at the same time, Romney is backing the Ryan plan which absolutely could lead to the end of Medicare as we know it. The alterations made to Ryan’s original voucher plan with the addition of Wyden’s ideas still don’t “save” Medicare; Medicare enrollees would still be diverted into private plans, lessening Medicare’s bargaining power and allowing it to do exactly what Republicans want it to: wither on the vine.
Substance aside, this is as fundamentally dishonest as Romney has been on any policy issue. He’s smart enough, and has a sophisticated enough grasp of health care policy (Romneycare and all that) to know that this statement is nothing but flat out lies. Which gives a very simple answer to Sargent’s basic question: “Is there any limit to Mitt Romney’s dishonesty?”