Political Animal


May 10, 2011 10:00 AM Senate GOP balks at Medicare privatization, too

By Steve Benen

By late last week, the House Republicans’ commitment to their own Medicare plan was quickly “unraveling.” GOP House members already voted to end Medicare and replace it with a privatized voucher scheme, but party leaders signaled their intention to drop it as budget talks continued.

But what about the Senate? The Hill is reporting that a “deep rift is opening wider and wider” within the Republican Party over Medicare.

Senate Republicans have decided to avoid jeopardizing their chances of capturing the upper chamber in next year’s elections and will not echo the House GOP’s call for a major overhaul of the popular health entitlement for seniors.

The Senate Republican decision to split from their colleagues in the lower chamber comes after a month during which Democrats, led by President Obama, have excoriated House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) spending blueprint. […]

The Medicare split is the first indication of major differences on the budget between Republicans in the House and Senate during the 112th Congress.

This isn’t about the Democratic intention to force a vote on the House budget agenda, though that’s certain to put a lot of Republicans in an awkward position. Rather, this is apparently part of a Senate GOP plan to present a budget proposal of its own.

Intra-party hopes that Senate Republicans would follow the trail already blazed by House Republicans will be dashed. The Senate GOP won’t end Medicare, and by bypassing the House agenda, will serve as something of a rebuke to the lower chamber’s majority.

The party will be paying for this overreach for quite a while. Boehner & Co. really should have thought this through.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • flyonthewall on May 10, 2011 10:11 AM:

    Something else missing from this debate is the fact that democrats included a provision in the ACA in section 1312 requiring all members of Congress and staff to be enrolled in an exchange created by the legislation. Ryan's plan does not and continues with the meme that the plan offered to the minions will be "just like" the plan members of Congress receive. The ACA does the opposite and requires Congress to be just like everyone else. Can anyone say elitists?

  • rikyrah on May 10, 2011 10:15 AM:

    Reid still should force the Senate GOPers to vote on the Ryan Budget

  • c u n d gulag on May 10, 2011 10:22 AM:

    Yes, but never underestimate the Democrats ability to make a sows ear out of a silk purse.

  • Gandalf on May 10, 2011 10:22 AM:

    Steve don't quit your day job for comedy. Boner and co should have thought it through.Bwahahahahaha.

    Oh by the way the format for this site now officially sucks. And get rid of the captcha feature.

  • Jim Pharo on May 10, 2011 10:24 AM:

    No one will remember this Medicare saga since we will are consumed with the need to "re-structure" Medicaid. Most people don't understand the difference ("Medi-whatever'), and both parties will agree on the need and basic fairness of asking poor and disabled people to get sick less often and less expensively.

  • jcricket on May 10, 2011 10:25 AM:

    Ryan's plan exposes the R's for the craven scavengers that they are.

    Reid should hold the plan up for a vote and therefore more public scrutiny - of both the plan and the people that support it.

  • allamr18 on May 10, 2011 10:26 AM:

    You know what would be awesome? If President Obama Harry reid and Nancy Pelosi went on camera and said,

    " Over the last month House Republicans voted to fundamentally eliminate Medicare for seniors. For over a week the media called this plan courageous, serious, and adult. We were told nonstop that this plan is serious and that its the first one of its kind. I think that is a strong statement for this bill. With that being said Senator Harry Reid will hold a vote on this house bill. We will see if the our republican colleagues feel the same way the media does about this bill. Do they have the courage strength and ability to be adults and vote for this plan, or are they correct in their assessment that medicare is a pillar and mainstay of the american fabric? I guess this vote will tell just how serious this plan was and how serious a plan going forward will be.

  • kindness on May 10, 2011 10:27 AM:

    Let's not fool ourselves about the Senate Republicans though. They also want to privatize Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security. Unless some private corporation is making money off American's tax dollars, they just can't support it as to them it's socialism. But Senate Repubs are more timid & less naive than their House counterparts. Will that be a bullet dodged in the 2012 elections? No, I don't think so. They still want to privatize it and they can still have that albatross hung around their necks.

  • grape_crush on May 10, 2011 10:39 AM:

    The party will be paying for this overreach for quite a while.

    It really is a mess, isn't it? On one hand, we have the GOP-lead House pitching a highly unpopular legislative agenda that's being pushed by the far-right-but-very-activist-base. On the other, you have to wonder if the Senate GOPers will go along with the House agenda and get 'Angled' in a general election (or, if not, get 'Bennetted' in a GOP primary.)

    Good times.

    Boehner & Co. really should have thought this through.

    They did. The problem is that the thinking is based on right-wing ideology, not the political optics.

    They put their money where their mouths are, which is commendable. Too bad that their ideas suck.

  • POed Lib on May 10, 2011 12:53 PM:

    The Democrats are morons. What they should be doing is discussing the size of the iceberg that the republicans will put grandma on WHEN THEY GET THE SENATE MAJORITY. It's obvious that the Repukes are going to vote to destroy Medicare.

  • OKDem on May 10, 2011 1:27 PM:

    Notice the Beltway thinking that voters will see the Senate separate from the House. If you have an R after your name, you want to kill Medicare, Senate vote or not.

    As to Medicaid, that proposal is careening toward a brick wall the second middle class voters realize cuts mean Grandma is moving from the retirement home into the spare bedroom and they are footing the cost of nursing visits.

    Most nursing and retirement home care is paid by Medicaid.

  • MuddyLee on May 10, 2011 3:56 PM:

    The Democrats should blast the repubs every chance they get on Medicare and Medicaid -- plus Social Security. No subtlety - no nuance - just blast away. The lying repubs who won in 2010 with their campaign of lies and distortions funded by Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers deserve all this and more - Mick Mulvaney I'm talking about YOU.

    By the way - new web site bad - old web site good.

  • smartalek on May 10, 2011 4:46 PM:

    "The party will be paying for this overreach for quite a while."

    As my people are wont to say, "from your mouth to God's ear."
    (Though they usually say it disemvowelled.)
    I wish I could be so sanguine.
    The party will pay for the overreach only if Jane and Jo Sixpak (a) learn of it (b) accurately (c) and in sufficient detail to be able to appreciate just what it means to them.
    With the current reality (that the corporate mass media are the propaganda arm of the Publican Party in all but name), that is far from a given.
    And no, that is not hair-on-fire hyperbole or conspiratorial kookiness; it is simply the truth of the matter.
    If you doubt this, please recall that some Publican(s) (can't recall whether it was Boehner, Cantor, or one or more of the lesser lights) last year took to the media to announce that the Democratic proposals to rein in the worst excesses of our financial world would result in "endless taxpayer bailouts"(the reality was of course closer to the direct opposite) -- and was believed by many.

    Oh, and yeh -- the captcha sucks; I can't even read one of the words in many cases.