Ryan backs off Medicare proposal
March 6th, 2013
05:35 PM ET
2 years ago

Ryan backs off Medicare proposal

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is backing off his proposal to change Medicare for people who are now 57 and younger, after personally lobbying fellow Republicans to support that change.

Ryan, the Budget Committee Chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate, had urged his GOP colleagues to support the entitlement reform as part of next year's GOP budget. But many House Republicans resisted, worried that the plan would be politically perilous because it would break the party's pledge not to include Americans who are now older than 55.

Ryan argued for the change because Americans are retiring later and he thought it was more "intellectually honest" to reflect that development in his plan, according to a GOP source. But House Republicans across the political spectrum worried – some openly – that moving the age from 55 to 57 would open them up to criticism that they were backtracking on a promise they had made to voters.

In a briefing for reporters Wednesday in a Budget Committee conference room on Capitol Hill, Ryan declined to answer questions about specific proposals in his budget that will be released next Tuesday. He also declined to address the concerns his colleagues have raised about his Medicare proposal.

"I'll get into that next week. When I have that finished product we'll show you the finished product. We're still writing our copy now." Ryan said.

But multiple Republican aides told CNN that he changed his mind after those internal discussions and would move forward with a Medicare proposal similar the one in his budget last year. An analysis of the approximate savings from making that Medicare change on age eligibility also showed it wouldn't save significant money.

Ryan did signal that much of what he will roll out next week reflects proposals for spending and entitlement reforms he's pressed in the past, saying, "I wouldn't expect big surprises from us next week."

It's expected that the GOP resolution will again propose overhauling Medicare in ten years by shifting it from a government-run program to one that would give seniors support to help pay for private health care coverage. It will also include more spending cuts to domestic programs and some general instructions for tax writing committees to overhaul the tax code this year.

Ryan told reporters he spoke to President Obama this week. He declined to share any details of their conversation, but railed against the president for failing to lay out his own budget by the deadline in February.

"With respect to the president I find it interesting that he's chosen to blow the deadline again – not only by a week or two, which is what we've seen in the past, but an indefinite period of time and waiting for others to lead first," Ryan said.

Showing a flash of the tough rhetoric Ryan used on the campaign trail last fall when he served as Mitt Romney's running mate, Ryan added, "The person in the White House ought to lead – that's what presidents are supposed to do and by delaying your budget for an indefinite period of time, it shows that there's just not a seriousness of purpose to actually fixing our budget problems."

As GOP leaders pledged earlier this year, the House Republican plan will balance the budget in ten years – a more aggressive goal than they included in last year's budget, which took more than 25 years to balance.

Ryan stressed that balancing the budget in ten years is not only a "necessary goal but an achievable goal" and challenged Senate Democrats to follow suit.

But the recent congressional battles over taxes and spending have actually helped make it easier for Ryan to reach that goal. After the fiscal cliff deal at the end of the year, which raised taxes on wealthier Americans, new revenue is coming into the Treasury, helping Republicans in their effort to balance the budget by 2023.

Ryan, who along with most congressional Republicans blasted the President for insisting on what they argued were tax increases as part of that deal, conceded that he's now using that revenue – hundreds of billions of dollars - to put together his budget.

"We're not going to refight that fight," he said.

In a prebuttal to the budget that Senate Democrats are preparing to put out next week Ryan told reporters to "watch the games."

He pointed to a "war gimmick" and a "Sandy gimmick" he believed Senate Democrats would use to argue they were rolling out a plan that would significantly reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office assumes the costs for the war in Afghanistan, which is winding down, and the Hurricane Sandy cleanup continue for 10 years, and Ryan predicted Democrats would use those budgetary assumptions to inflate how much they're really saving.

"Claiming spending cuts from war fighters who are never asking for spending, claiming spending cuts from hurricanes that haven't occurred or claiming spending cuts that were passed in the past are not new spending cuts," Ryan argued.

Ryan pledged his budget would not assume any of those savings – what he referred to as "fake money." He maintained his budget would be "honest" and "more importantly the bond markets can't be fooled."

The Wisconsin Republican also noted that he was also not counting savings from the forced spending cuts that were part of the 2011 debt deal as new savings because they are also part of current law.

But even before Ryan or his Senate Budget Committee counterpart, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, formally unveil their budget blueprints next week most members on both sides of the aisle concede the two chambers will be highly unlikely to reconcile their fiscal plans this spring. Effectively budgets are political messaging documents, and much of the work will fall to tax and spending committees.

But Ryan said the fact that both chambers were giving dueling plans was a good sign.

"I do have hope and it is my hope that we can get back to regular order. The Senate is finally doing a budget the President hasn't, but the Senate is and it is my hope that we can start talking to each other and start solving some problems," Ryan said.


Filed under: Medicare • Paul Ryan
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. rs

    If these guys had a clue.....

    March 6, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. RINO Bill

    Perilous? Should that idiotic idea have taken effect it would have been an ELE (extinction level event).

    I thought that Ryan was smarter than this.

    March 6, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. ThisGuy

    Ryan would be a cool guy...you know, if he didn't want to screw over the middle class

    March 6, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. gop usa

    Before messing with seniors benefits lets take away Ryans first and see how he likes it............Ryan is no friend to senior citizens and veterans. I hope the gop gets rid of Ryan an replaces him with someone who is more realistic, and cares more for the elderly.

    March 6, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. Lisa P.

    Paul Ryan never learns, and then he blames someone else, loudly, to distract you from his own failures. That's something you can always count on - I've watched him do it again and again, year after year. With any luck and a small shift in voting patterns he will be out of office after 2014.

    March 6, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    Hey lying altar boy,the Zpresident is leading. YIU Nd your party of morons re the ones making sure that even your rethug ideas don't pass.
    YIU are still a jerk and you are still going directly to he11 for lying. No purgatory or heaven for you and your lies.

    March 6, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  7. tammyk tammy

    For Lyin' Ryan and the Repugnants there will never be enough spending cuts, just like there will never be enough dollars funneled into the pockets of the uber-rich insurance CEOs at the expense of the health of the American people. As a former worker for a "non-profit" insurance company, I along with hundreds of my co-workers were put out of work as jobs were shipped to India while the suits refused to even consider reducing their bonuses even when the workers offered to give up theirs. The "non-profit" almost doubled their profits as a result, but of course there was no trickle down of savings to the consumer as premiums continued to go up and up and up. Yet Lyin' Ryan and the rest of the Repugnants want to fool the people into believing that privitization of Medicare will be the answer to all of our budget woes. Yeah right, more like the answer to the prayers of the CEOs who will keep raking it in while Americans keep losing their basic rights for health and dignity. This ignoramus makes me SICK.

    March 6, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  8. Evergreen

    It all sounds like a case of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours." Congress get your act together. All this whining "the President's not leading" is unbecoming of people who were also elected to lead.

    March 6, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  9. ghostriter

    But the recent congressional battles over taxes and spending have actually helped make it easier for Ryan to reach that goal. After the fiscal cliff deal at the end of the year, which raised taxes on wealthier Americans, new revenue is coming into the Treasury, helping Republicans in their effort to balance the budget by 2023.

    Ryan, who along with most congressional Republicans blasted the President for insisting on what they argued were tax increases as part of that deal, conceded that he's now using that revenue – hundreds of billions of dollars – to put together his budget.

    "We're not going to refight that fight," he said.

    You gotta love republicans. Argue against something....then use it to your advantage. Same thing Ryan did with the stimulus money. Screamed against it....used it to buy off his campaign donors. To create the same energy company from the same program as Solyndra.

    It would be hilarious if it weren't for all the tea bags weren't so oblivioius.

    March 6, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  10. Bob

    Lying Ryan would be the EXPERT on "gimmicks" and that is exactly why alexithymic Mitt picked him for VP.

    March 6, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  11. Larry L

    "Lyin' Ryan" is in the same category as Rand Paul; Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Mitch McConnell – all political opportunists looking for votes from the crazies who now call themselves "conservatives" yet are nothing more than Fox news drones. They are a snap-shot of the reason the Republican Party is in a death spiral.

    March 6, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    He has no clue.

    March 6, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  13. beevee

    I never like this guy Pual Ryan as a budget or finance person. I did not think that an undergraduate degree would make a finacial or budget wizard especially from a thie=rd tier university. I cant understand why anyone thinks of him so highly. He is a stupid.

    March 6, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. Mm

    Paul Ryan is an idiotic and dangerous person to entrust anything of any importance to.

    March 6, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. CM46

    I would oppose any plan that provides vouchers (help with premiums). That plan will be great for insurance companies but will cause the overall cost of healthcare to skyrocket. We have a problem with the cost of our healthcare system – it is not just a medicare problem.

    March 6, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  16. Deb in MT

    "Perilous? Should that idiotic idea have taken effect it would have been an ELE (extinction level event)."
    ==================
    Which is why I'm kind of disappointed that Paul (Ayn Rand) Ryan didn't mount a full-throated defense of his own proposal to privatize Medicare for all the seniors who voted for him last November. It seems that every time today's GOP/TP goes public with their true intentions, they have to flipflop it back to prevent their party's demise.

    C'mon, you GOP/TPers: get out there and sell your real plans!

    March 6, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  17. pbernasc

    now .. why am I not surprised??

    March 6, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. clarke

    Oh my, this is getting so old.

    March 6, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  19. josenopy

    Well Well GOP. Wonder boy is the reason you lost the election last year. Now what GOP state you did not carry in the South with a ton of seniors.

    March 6, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  20. TNPatriot

    RINO Bill, Ryan is NOT smarter than that. What he is...IS the GOP posterboy for the Koch brothers.

    March 6, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  21. Woman In California

    The whole country saw how well Paul Ryan would lead last year and lead him right back to the House accordingly. It's actually funny to listen to clowns speaking on how the president is not leading when in fact, most of those attacking have never lead anything other than their dogs outside to take care of their business. Again, Ryan got caught trying to change the rules (LYING) and he had to backtrack. The government child has gotten his and now he wants to take yours. What a hypocritical liar he is and I'm glad he'll go down with the other losers who failed to reach the vp slot.

    March 6, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  22. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Flip-flopping the way to oblivion is the way to go.

    March 6, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  23. t

    ........Sequester is HERE,..........SOLEY DUE TO GOP REFUSAL TO CLOSE SPECIAL INTERESTS AND BILLIONAIRES TAX LOOP HOLES.......

    .

    .................It IS .......that simple................

    March 6, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  24. Uh-Clem

    What we have here is a failure. A failure to communicate. All I hear is the condescending noise arguing over who knows best. What I do know, and it is plainly documented, is the shift of wealth over the past three decades from the people to the privileged. Corporate welfare should be the first "entitlement" axed. Next should be the functional food stamps to the wealthy, who least of all need them. It is the masses, the former middle class who is footing the bill for these overblown egos playing with financial grenades. The Russians have a way to describe this incompetence. A monkey with a grenade. In this case we have a whole congress of baboons.

    March 6, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  25. Carol Johnson

    Ryan talks about fake money, he is a fake himself and is pulling Romney, changing his mind about the things he has pushed before more than he is changing his shorts!!!!

    March 6, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
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