Ryan challenges the president to stop playing politics with Medicare
June 1st, 2011
06:49 PM ET
3 years ago

Ryan challenges the president to stop playing politics with Medicare

Washington (CNN)–House Republican Budget chairman Paul Ryan directly challenged President Obama at a meeting with all House Republicans Wednesday, urging him to stop playing politics with Medicare and start leading on the issue of entitlement reform, according to Republican sources in the room.

The exchange came at a meeting at the White House with all House Republicans when Ryan told the president that he wasn't leading on the issue of Medicare and that leaders can either solve problems "or exacerbate them."

According to these sources, the Wisconsin Republican–who has been the main target of Democratic criticism because he authored the GOP proposal to dramatically change the current Medicare system–told the President during the White House meeting that he thought the discussions about reform started out right earlier this year. But he said the president's budget speech at George Washington University in April served as a signal to Democrats to paint Republicans as a party that doesn’t care about kids and grandparents. Ryan told the President it appeared he was more focused on the election in 2012 than dealing with entitlement reform this year.

Ryan also took issue with Democrats describing his proposal as turning Medicare into a "voucher" program and told the president Republicans were talking about a "premium support system." He said that his proposal would mean seniors would deal directly with Medicare, not with private insurance companies. Ryan argued his plan was an attempt to address entitlement reform and Democrats were demagoguing the issue.

After Ryan spoke his fellow Republicans gave him a standing ovation.

President Obama responded, according to one GOP source in the room, saying he's read Ryan's proposal and does not question that he's sincere about reforming entitlement programs. The president told Republicans he has made hard decisions and that he believes both sides want to solve the problem. He indicated that it's hard for both parties to find a solution because the public does not want any changes to Medicare. But the president said both parties need to come together on a bipartisan compromise.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described the meeting as a “frank discussion,” but also told reporters, “I would not say it was confrontational.”

“I think it was productive, and while nobody hid from the fact that there are differences, that it was a useful conversation,” Carney said

After the meeting Ryan was asked by CNN about the exchange, but seemed to downplay it, telling reporters, "I simply explained what our plan is, how it works.”

Ryan said of his proposal, “It's been misdescribed by the President and many others, and so we simply described to him precisely what it is we've been proposing, so that he hears from us how our proposal works so that in the future he won't mischaracterize it."

California Republican David Dreier, who attended the White House meeting, told reporters the discussion between Ryan and the president “was very friendly and respectful," but he added there were comments from Ryan and other GOP members in the meeting and, "there was strength shown on both sides."

Dreier said President Obama told House Republicans after Ryan spoke that "entitlements are on the table," which he took as a positive sign. Dreier noted that Obama told those in the room that he had been briefed on the House GOP plan "with a slightly different take" than the one Ryan outlined.

CNN White House Correspondent Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.


Filed under: Medicare • Paul Ryan • President Obama
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Frank

    Wait a minute. Ryan, a member of the GOP which advanced a pro-debt limit increase bill to a floor vote in the US House of Representatives last night solely so it (the GOP) could vote it down has accused the President of "playing politics?" What nonsense from a man who pretends that we do not need to raise taxes to reduce the national debt.

    June 1, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  2. Liberal Elite = Anyone with an education...

    "After Ryan spoke his fellow Republicans gave him a standing ovation." – I'm sorry who was playing politics again? It seems to me President Obama just showed himself to be the adult in the room...again...

    June 1, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Like the repubs didnt play politics with healthcare reform?

    June 1, 2011 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  4. GOP = Greed Over People

    "entitlements are on the table,"

    President Obama's code words for "I am going to cave and give the GOP the farm".

    June 1, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  5. DALE

    There they go calling the kettle black again.

    June 1, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  6. Sharon

    Paul Ryan's Medicare Bill mischaracterized??? Hardly!!!! First of all I am a college educated medical professional that has many years of experience and knowledge of the issues in his bill. I read CBO analysis fo his bill, reviewed governemnt analysis of present Medicare program, etc. Bluntly Ryan just did throw granny/grandpa off cliff!!! Not even going to waste my time listing the huge problematic issues of his disasterous plan!!! And then he has audacity to give wealthy and coprorations a tax deduction in same bill. Ryan and Republicans should be ashamed!!!!

    June 1, 2011 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  7. Chispter

    I'd appreciate it if Ryan and his fellow Republicans would stop trying to dismantle Social Security and Medicare. "Entitlements?" Yes! They're called entitlements because some of us have paid into the programs for 35 to 45 years! We ARE entitled to receive the benefits we paid for. I'd like Ryan to explain what seniors are supposed to do when their company pension plans are raided like they were by one of our local industries, leaving employees with nothing but Social Security and 10 cents on the dollar for 35 years of contributions to their pensions! After 35 years of service, my husband receives $1365 from Social Security because his company went bankrupt 15 years ago and his pension went with it. If I didn't work, we'd be homeless. Tell me your plan for Seniors when there is no Social Security! We paid for it and deserve the benefits! Want to cut spending, Mr. Ryan, let's start with pensions for our elected officials first!

    June 1, 2011 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  8. Warren

    The GOP needs to stop playing politics with Medicare.

    June 1, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  9. Jeff in Virginia

    Is this bizarraro world!? Paul Ryan is playing politics with Medicare, and he has been for months!

    June 1, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  10. Mike_T

    I'm just curious why bills always come off as ambiguous. Why can't the bills be very specific and direct. If that happened, Why would the bill need explaining?. It should be unlawful to write and pass disingenuous bills.

    June 1, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  11. Bill Jones

    Rep. Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare has been called a voucher plan by those who have scrutinized it, both in the press and by economists, since Feb 2010. Call it what you will, it privatizes Medicare and makes health care costs less affordable for seniors.Rep. Ryan and the rest of the Republican House needs to stop playing games. Americans are wise enough to know that is their side that is holding Medicare hostage. Their goal is to funnel public money to private hands at the expense of middle class Americans. Shame on him and the Republican party.

    June 1, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  12. Carlos Enrique Queso aka Chuck E. Cheese

    You're taking issue with Democrats accurately describing your proposal to get rid of medicare. Yet, you had no issues playing politics and demagoguing President Obama's health care legislation. Nice one.

    Your hypocrisy is beyond repulsive

    June 1, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  13. LegendRx

    The Republicans are still trying to push that horse manure on the american people. And it still reek!

    June 1, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  14. Tea bagger!!!!!

    hahaha...Stoping playing politic with medicare???It the fact that soon later the Ryan plan would cut medicare in the future and it turn out it woul cost more.. Stop playting politic?? What about your fake death panel claim during the health care debate, republican????

    June 1, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  15. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    President Obama is playing politics with Medicare, Mr. Ryan? Really? From a distance, it sure looks like you're the one who started the game-playing.

    June 1, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  16. Chispter

    Perhaps Ryan could explain why I pay the Social Security contribution on 100% of my income but people who earn more than $106,800 don't. If the cap is raised or, even better, removed, Social Security would be solvent forever. Perhaps the 6.2%, reduced to 4.2% for 2011, could even be reduced permanently if everyone paid the full amount. Why do those earning the most pay the least? They still collect it when they retire. $106,800 = $4485.60 contribution @ 4.2% $213,600 = $8971.20 @ 4.2 but anyone earning more than $106,800 contributes only $4485.60, They contribute @ 2.1%. Those who earn $1 million should pay $42,000 but – guess what – they only contribute $4485.60! Why do the wealthiest always contribute the lowest percent of their income while those who struggle to make ends meet pay on 100% of their income? If everyone contributed just 1%, Social Security would be solvent.

    Medicare is paid on all earnings for everyone. Why not Social Security?

    June 1, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. Mike Dallas

    "He said that his proposal would mean seniors would deal directly with Medicare, not with private insurance companies"

    He apparently is not talking about his own plan, as his plan does have seniors working directly with private insurance companies to pay for their portion of the GOP "premium support system".

    By it own definition, the voucher, er, premium support system will only pay PART of the premium that will be used to buy Medicare coverage.

    Ryan, some of us have reading comprehension levels beyond that of the GOP tea baggers or the average fifth grader.

    And some of can read, or at least remember something we have read in our lifetime, unlike some of the GOP "luminaries".

    June 1, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  18. Thankfully Independent

    Hey Ryan, stop whining, this idiotic plan was your idea and YOU are the one playing politics with it. Hell, even half of you own party think it sucks. Guess you don't want to be the one remembered as being responsible for the Great GOP Debacle of 2012.

    June 1, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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