Trashing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) as "Dr. Kevorkian," CNN political
contributor Paul Begala condemned the congressman's bold proposal to
revamp Medicare in his latest op-ed for CNN.com . If the GOP follows Ryan's plan, "like lemmings," Begala wrote that their agenda will end in disaster.
He interpreted the plan as nothing less than an attempt "to deny ill and infirm seniors the health care they deserve - while giving oil companies billions in taxpayer subsidies." The "lives and health" of the elderly are now in the hands of the "tender mercies" of the insurance companies. Is this a hint at death panels?
Ryan's plan involves transforming Medicare, which he sees as a fiscally unsustainable program in the long run, into a voluntary system where the elderly are covered by private insurance companies and their premiums are subsidized by the government.
The subsidies are also income-dependent, where the top eight percent income earners receive less support for their subsidy and those earning less than 150 percent of the poverty level will receive extra money in a medical savings account.
The CBO reports that seniors will end up paying much more for their health care under Ryan's plan than under the current Medicare system. However, Ryan claims that Medicare as it currently stands is unsustainable in the long run, and that something must be done. Begala ignores this and instead asks why Ryan doesn't want to end subsidies for oil corporations and special insterests.
"Republicans have always hated Medicare, but most Americans have always loved it," Begala ominously begins his screed. While admitting that Ryan is "bright" and "engaging and charming," Begala hammers him as gutless, a "young and privileged man harming the most vulnerable while rewarding the most wealthy."
And cue the character assassination."Born into a family whose 125 year-old corporation boasts that it is 'one of the nation's largest site-work contractors,' Mr. Ryan won the genetic lottery," Begala writes rather enviously. But he is quick to frame Ryan as someone who didn't attain his present position by getting his hands dirty. Ryan "has no calluses on his hands. Just on his heart."
Will the GOP show "true grit" and go after the oil corporations and special interests to reduce the deficit, Begala asks. Or, he adds, "will they once again succumb to the sirens' song of pseudo-courage and run once more into the Medicare buzz saw?"
- Matt Hadro is an analyst with the Media Research Center.