The dishonesty of Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan introduced a new argument about Medicare today. I love it, because it shows that his critics have been right all along: Ryan isn’t nearly as candid about policy and trade-offs as his reputation suggests.

The argument is about the $716 billion of Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act. Ryan and Mitt Romney have been citing those reductions as proof that Obamacare “raided” Medicare. If you haven’t heard the line in one of their speeches, then perhaps you caught it in their new advertisement, which has all the sublety of Cialas ad.

Jonathan Cohn  It’s Time to Revoke Paul Ryan’s Wonk Card

Jonathan Cohn offers a guide to understanding Paul Ryan.

Many millions of working-age Americans would lose health insurance. Senior citizens would anguish over whether to pay their rent or their medical bills, in a way they haven’t since the 1960s. Government would be so starved of resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance. And the richest Americans would get a huge tax cut.

This is the America that Paul Ryan envisions. And now we know that it is the America Mitt Romney envisions.

Of course, we should have known that already. Romney committed himself to the Ryan agenda during the presidential primaries, both by embracing the Ryan budget rhetorically and specifically proposing key features of Ryan’s agenda, starting with a tight cap on federal spending. But if anybody doubted that Romney was serious about these commitments, the Ryan pick should put those doubts to rest. Maybe Romney sincerely believes these ideas are right for the country and maybe he feels that endorsing them is necessary to please his party’s base. It really doesn’t matter. It’s the way he intends to govern.

Jonathan Cohn — “Six Things to Know About Ryan (and Romney)

Income Inequality and the Unseen Barriers to Good Health

"I tuned out her blessings and her current list of maladies until she told me about her terrible arthritis. I shouldn’t worry, she said, because between the power of prayer and WD-40, her joints were working fine. I asked her, in my halting Spanish, to repeat what she had just said, especially that bit about WD-40. "The spray stuff, we we used on the trucks, Gramma?" I asked. "El es-sprayo por los truckos?

“Yes, that’s the stuff,” she said (en español). “I just say a prayer over it and spray my knees and my elbows, and, in the name of Jesus, the heat from the WD-40 loosens my arthritis.”

"What are you now, a robot?" I yelled at her (in English). She didn’t understand me. But she laughed."

—Domingo Martinez, “Quarantined: The unseen barriers to good health.

Was the mandate a mistake?

The individual mandate is the most unpopular element of health care reform. It has also made the new law vulnerable to a court challenge, however weak that challenge may seem.

So were President Obama and his allies mistaken to include a mandate in the law? TNR’s Paul Starr thinks so, and earlier this week he weighed in on the political consequences of the mandate, but TNR Senior Editor Jonathan Cohn begs to differ:

"The idea behind the mandate is pretty straightforward: If you’re going to require that insurers sell policies to all comers, and at the same price, then you have to make sure everybody gets insurance. Otherwise, some people are likely to game the system. Particularly if they are young and healthy, they may not buy insurance until they get sick or have an accident. If that happens frequently, insurers will have to jack up rates or stop offering coverage altogether. This process is called “adverse selection” and it could unravel the insurance market."

Read the rest of Jonathan Cohn’s response to Paul Starr on the individual mandate, here.

Photo courtesy of Politico.

Do we even need fact-checkers anymore? 

Yesterday, PolitiFact awarded its “lie of the year” award to the Democrats’ claim that the Paul Ryan proposal approved by House Republican would “end Medicare.”

Read TNR Senior Editors Jonathan Cohn and Alec MacGillis on why Politifact’s "lie of the year" distortion may actually be getting at the truth of the matter on fact-checkers.

Photo courtesy of the Atlantic Wire.

Our neighbors at Think Progress published a beautiful pie chart this afternoon, breaking down the sources of Medicare savings in President Obama’s recently announced deficit reduction package.

While the plan spreads the pain among all groups, it finds its greatest savings in drug rebates and modernizing provider payments to achieve greater efficiency.

It can be tricky though to figure out exactly where all of the savings are coming from and what impact they may have on Medicare. That’s where TNR’s Jonathan Cohn steps in and dissects the chart in a blog post today, here.

The plan does call for wealthier seniors to pay higher premiums for Part B, which is the portion of Medicare that covers physician services. That means that 25 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries would eventually be paying higher premiums than the rest. That 25 percent would include some seniors who are more middle class than wealthy.

The new Obama plan would also take $3.5 billion away from the Prevention and Public Health Care Fund, which will fund everything from campaigns to promote vaccination to modernization of public health departments.

Expect this breakdown to be talked about a lot more frequently in the coming days, as the details of President Obama’s deficit reduction package continue to roll out.

Courtesy of Think Progress