Sunday, August 26, 2012

David Brooks on the Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan

Can David read Mitt Romney’s mind?
When you look at Mitt Romney through this prism, you see surprising passion. By picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney has put Medicare at the center of the national debate. Possibly for the first time, he has done something politically perilous. He has made it clear that restructuring Medicare will be a high priority. This is impressive. If you believe entitlement reform is essential for national solvency, then Romney-Ryan is the only train leaving the station. Moreover, when you look at the Medicare reform package Romney and Ryan have proposed, you find yourself a little surprised. You think of them of as free-market purists, but this proposal features heavy government activism, flexibility and rampant pragmatism. The federal government would define a package of mandatory health benefits. Private insurers and an agency akin to the current public Medicare system would submit bids to provide coverage for those benefits. The government would give senior citizens a payment equal to the second lowest bid in each region to buy insurance. This system would provide a basic health safety net. It would also unleash a process of discovery. If the current Medicare structure proves most efficient, then it would dominate the market. If private insurers proved more efficient, they would dominate. Either way, we would find the best way to control Medicare costs. Either way, the burden for paying for basic health care would fall on the government, not on older Americans. (Much of the Democratic criticism on this point is based on an earlier, obsolete version of the proposal.)
Uh David – Romney has made everything Ryan has said on Medicare obsolete. The truth is that Ryan and Obama have the same basic goal of capping the growth of Medicare over the next 10 years but Romney has decided that he doesn’t want any such reductions. Which by the way makes David’s close another lie:
The priority in this election is to get a leader who can get Medicare costs under control. Then we can argue about everything else. Right now, Romney’s more likely to do this. All of which causes you to look over to the Democrats and wonder: Why don’t they have an alternative? Silently, a voice in your head is pleading with them: Put up or shut up. If Democrats can’t come up with an alternative on this most crucial issue, how can they promise to lead a dynamic growing nation?
Again David – Obamacare strives to curb Medicare spending growth over the next 10 years by as much as the Ryan proposal wanted to do AND Romney said no! Now there is a big difference in the out years as Ryan proposes an underfunded voucher system that would lead to rising total health care cost rising for seniors but with less help from the government. So to say “we would find the best way to control Medicare costs. Either way, the burden for paying for basic health care would fall on the government, not on older Americans” makes two lies in just two sentences. David Warsh writes:
Brooks is a prestidigitator, that wonderful word borrowed from the French, descended from the Latin, meaning juggler, deceiver.
Me thinks Mr. Warsh is being way too kind to Mr. Brooks.


Aaron said...

If David Brooks were truly interested in balancing the budget, he would be talking about the next one or two years, not pie in the sky plans that won't take effect for a decade or two.

If Brooks truly believed that the Ryan plan (in its present form, which may be different than yesterday's) was going to fix Medicare without any serious affect on the ability of seniors to get health care, he would be advocating for the immediate implementation of the plan.

As would Ryan and Romney.

You don't have to think very hard about these issues to see through the nonsense. The sad part is, I think David Brooks sees through the nonsense. But you put speaker fees and book contracts and risk if you bite the hand that feeds you, and there's actually a reward for nipping at the heels of the opposing party, so....

Procopius said...

I'm pretty sure that David Brooks, and the other "pundits" that draw large salaries from corporate-owned media really believe they are being given such large speaker fees and book contracts because lots of people believe what they write or say and are overjoyed to hear/read these pearls of wisdom. They probably have not read Lewis Powell's memo on how the super-rich can take over and control the "public intellectuals." I'm beginning to think that the weekly explanations of how stupid David Brooks is are counter-productive. All we're doing is feeding the trolls. It would be better to do what the media are finally doing with Sarah Palin -- ignore them and they will disappear.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too sure if Brooks can really read Romney's mind, but Medicare should be a serious issue this election, especially in regards to our debt and deficit for two big reasons.

The CBO reported that the federal budget deficit for this year will be $1.1 trillion ( That number is in addition to total debt over $15 Trillion and projections that by 2021 federal debt will be over $20 trillion (

And, Medicare is running out of money. The 2012 Trustee's Report reports the exhaustion of Medicare's trust fund in 2024 (