Political Animal


January 04, 2013 12:53 PM House GOPers Fighting For Your Medicare

By Ed Kilgore

So according to Sam Baker of The Hill, House GOPers paused briefly from their 24-7 campaign to insist the president and congressional Democrats propose cuts in entitlement benefits if they want the debt limit to be increased any time soon in order to throw a big monkey-wrench into the one existing effort to hold down Medicare costs:

House Republicans signaled Thursday they will not follow rules in President Obama’s healthcare law that were designed to speed Medicare cuts through Congress.
The House is set to vote Thursday afternoon on rules for the 113th Congress. The rules package says the House won’t comply with fast-track procedures for the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) — a controversial cost-cutting board Republicans have long resisted.
The rules package signals that Republicans might not bring up Medicare cuts recommended by the IPAB — blocking part of a politically controversial law, and resisting Medicare spending cuts.
The rules could be challenged in court, because they seek to override a law that Congress passed, but unless that happens, the House can likely abide by the rules it adopts Thursday.

Amazing, but not that surprising. Having medagogued the IPAB—which Sarah Palin notoriously labeled a “death panel”—and the health care cost savings it was charged with securing not just by Obamacare but by earlier Republican legislation, it figures House Republicans would make this the first step to obstruct implementation of ACA, despite the massive hypocrisy involved.

What’s really maddening is that IPAB—following the overall thrust of Obamacare—is designed to secure savings not just for Medicare but for the entire health care system by encouraging better medicine, not reductions in health coverage for seniors. It seems Republicans are only interested in health care cost containment measures or “entitlement reform” if it comes at the expense of beneficiaries.

I know the White House is probably touchy about IPAB given its phony reputation as a heath care rationer, but they need to raise holy hell about this, and yes, go to court to stop it. We will never get hold of health care costs at any level if we continue to pretend the only choices are an endless cost spiral or constantly reduced benefits.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Mimikatz on January 04, 2013 1:06 PM:

    Yet more proof that the GOP really doesn't give a flying fig about debt reduction, or about saving Medicare. They probably either just want to stick it to Obama out of petty pique and jealousy, or they think they are protecting overcharging doctors and hospitals. Either way, they are stupid stupid stupid. Ed is right. Go to court. Bring in the adults here.

  • Gandalf on January 04, 2013 1:09 PM:

    I defy anyone to name one single solitary thing that republicans in congress have done to benefit the american people as a whole and not just their oligarch masters. Somebody care to throw a bone out there?

  • Ted Frier on January 04, 2013 1:13 PM:

    Republicans want to keep Medicare costs high and unsustainable because they can then use the program's impending bankruptsy as the reason to eliminate it altogether or to "save" it by preventing Medicare from paying out benefits, which was the point of turning it into a voucher program. The same logic holds with the Republican obsession with "deficits" while they make the problem worse by cutting taxes while increase spending (at least when they own the White House). As long as you understand that Republicans make the deficit problem worse so they can then turn around and use these same deficits to eliminate government they don't like you are all set.

  • bleh on January 04, 2013 1:14 PM:

    Republicans are perfectly fine with Medicare payments going to middle- or upper-class white Christian two-parent families, especially if those families vote Republican.

    What they object to is the tax dollars of those middle- or upper-class white Christian two-parent families paying for medical benefits to unemployed or poor or brown or black or Latino or Native American or Islamic or Buddhist or Hindu or atheist or LGBT people or single parents. You know -- those people.

    What's so difficult to understand?

  • Th on January 04, 2013 1:18 PM:

    While holding taxes low for the wealthy has been the main focus over the past 4 years, stopping any effort to juice the economy in order to defeat Obama was a close second. I am curious to see if that part of their agenda will take as prominent a place the next 4. UI and SNAP benefits went through pretty well and killing IPAB ideas means higher Medicare expenditures.

  • boatboy_srq on January 04, 2013 1:38 PM:

    @Gandalf: I think it's simpler than that: the GOTea defines "the American people" in distinctly different terms. To them, the only "Americans" are the ones that support them: anyone else is one of those "takers," people who "pay no taxes" or are otherwise Othered. Those Other people, simply because they don't contribute in some quantifiable way - either by paying (as little as possible in) taxes, or by providing those "job creator" functions they tout - aren't considered part of their equation.

    Looking at it that way, the tactics become far easier to understand. Shrinking the debt is good for "the American people" because it lowers the liabilities. Reducing "entitlements" is good because "the American people" don't take advantage of those the same way Others do, and the loss of those "entitlements" is bearable by "the American people" since they already have their own private provisions made. Privatising Social Security also makes sense, since "the American people" will have already made their own retirement plans and are at least somewhat familiar with investing, so they won't be significantly impacted; and the primary benefit of SocSec is realised by the same Other people who should not be "the American people's" concern.

    The segment of US citizenry represented by the GOTea is bigger than "their oligarch masters" - but it's still ssubstantially less than what most of us consider "the American people" would contain.

  • biggerbox on January 04, 2013 3:06 PM:

    "medagogued"? Is that like demagogued, but in the media age?

    Perhaps in the next round of "negotiations" from the White House, the opening should be to demand proof that the GOP will stand by anything it 'agrees' to. Their commitments are as worthless as the scorpion's that it won't sting.

  • schtick on January 04, 2013 4:17 PM:

    In a conversation with a teabagger I explained we've had death panels for years, they're called insurance companies.

    Gandalf, I've asked what law the teapubs have promoted and passed for the last 30 years and never get an answer. I can't think of one. That so many support them and think they are the flag waving, Constitution supporting party amazes me. They ignore all the lies, cheating and stealing the teapubs do and repeat the projection they have mastered so well.

  • Sidney18511 on January 05, 2013 12:55 PM:

    Boatboy.......your theory doesn't hold water when you look at the facts. The republican voters from the redstates are the poorest most helpless ignorant supporters they have. If the reps get their way, these people will be up shites creek without a paddle.