Steven Sloan and John Bresnahan of Politico have a story on Paul Ryan’s decision to vote against the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission’s final proposal. Only at the end does it glancingly reference the fact that the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission failed to consider the Medicare reform proposal Ryan had worked on with Alice Rivlin, President Clinton’s former budget director. Moreover, Sloan and Bresnahan don’t reference the fact that the commission essentially entrenched the four-tranche universal health system created under PPACA, which Ryan and other conservatives considered deeply flawed. Having worked tirelessly to oppose PPACA, why would Ryan and his allies endorse it just months later? Sen. Tom Coburn, with whom Ryan collaborated on an alternative to PPACA, did back the deficit commission’s final proposals, and he defended Ryan’s decision not to do the same.
Far from being intransigent, it seems that Ryan was quite open to a compromise on revenue provided there was significant movement on structural entitlement reform.
As I have written, Obama directed the panel to pass on health care reform, essentially turning the Bowles-Simpson plan into mostly a tax-hike plan.
If the Ryan-Rivlin plan to fix Medicare and Medicaid plan had been part of the recommendations, Ryan might well have voted for Bowles-Simpson given that it would then truly address America’s fundamental fiscal problems. But Obama made sure that was an impossibility from the get go.
I think many Republicans would vote for a plan that reformed Medicare into a premium support plan but also raised taxes — as long as it didn’t raise marginal income tax rates.
Again, Obama stiff-armed a plan that entrenched Obamacare and would permanently raise tax revenues to levels unheard of in U.S. history. But that was not enough. And if not that, then what?