Republicans seem to be backing away from Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) much-debated plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system. Senate Republicans are introducing their own budget plan, sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), that doesn't touch Medicare (although it would still turn Medicaid into a state block grant program), and even House GOP leaders are distancing themselves from Ryan's bold Medicare proposal. Is this a short-term tactical retreat, or a burial?
Ryan's plan is dead: When House Republicans made the politically disastrous decision to back Ryan's plan, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, they were obviously hoping their Senate colleagues would follow. What they got instead was "something of a rebuke." And "the party will be paying for this overreach for quite a while."
"Senate GOP balks at Medicare privatization, too"
Medicare reform is on hiatus, not in the grave: Sen. Toomey's rival plan does hold "far less political risk for the GOP," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. In fact, "his budget's softer on Medicare than Obama's is," even as it aims to zero the deficit in 10 years without raising taxes. But don't count the GOP out on Medicare reform. They're banking that the public will eventually wake up to the need for real change. And if the GOP wins the Senate and White House in 2012, Ryan's plan is sure to come roaring back.
"Pat Toomey introduces budget that... wouldn't touch entitlements"
Republicans are hoping Obama bails them out: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) "doesn't have the stomach for putting the Republican name to a concrete proposal to slash Medicare," says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, but his Tea Party faction "will feed him to the dogs" if he doesn't demand huge cuts. So a trapped Boehner may to be trying to goad Obama into proposing his own risky Medicare plan even though there's no reason the president should. "[Obama] knows that eventually Boehner has to cave."