Ryan backs off Medicare proposal
March 6th, 2013
05:35 PM ET
10 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.

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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. Ancient Texan

    At least Ryan has a plan....

    March 6, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  2. cbr

    Rep. Ryan needs to step back and view the government in a new light. His campaign issues were rejected and so it is time to refine them and to listen to the people.

    March 6, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  3. R.Merrell

    Ryan is the poster boy for everything that's wrong with the Republican Party. He's been on the government dole masquerading as a responsible representative for years. He demonstrated his total lack of ethics and commitment to the country during his poorly executed run with Mitt Romney. He's the ultimate talking head – says a lot but nothing of substance and subject to change based on his donors. If ever there was a person completely ill-suited for government service, it's Paul Ryan. A completely empty suit.

    March 6, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  4. WM

    Funny how the Republicans believe the cost stops when combat stops. What does he intend to do with the injured soldiers, and the dependents of the dead. These wars will cost for 50 + years.

    March 6, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. Blinded by the republican lies

    Well you have to back off if you are touting the same failed crap you tried to put out before...just with another name...No matter what this guy comes up with...people are gonna lose.

    March 6, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  6. bks

    The new budget plan by Paul Ryan clearly demostrate that he is not hopeful for his bid for 2016 . He is just not in touch with the common man. I really feel sorry for him. That is what you become once you are in company with Romney , who jsut does not like 47%.

    March 6, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  7. Pinchshot

    Rino, why would you have ever thought that?
    Why doesn't he stump for all our elected officials to live with the same benefits that the "commoners" are "entitled" to.
    No, they just make the rules for everyone but themselves. Strange equality.

    March 6, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  8. BrightStar

    His Republican buddies stiffed him. Too funny!

    March 6, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. Hillcrester

    Ryan rebuffed by teammates again. Political reality can be so hard! The GOP seems to be starting to want to win a national election.,

    March 6, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. allenwoll

    Health insurance should be a cooperative venture, a pool, publicly owned, to which everyone pays in and which pays out according to CLEAR set rules established by an honors Medical Academy with some lay advisors, all answerable to Congress. The highest paid employee would be an office manager. . The needy would be subsidized by the taxpayer and seniors by Social Security. . Payments out would be tapered off according to a set portion of the means of the recipient. Does this sort of scheme not adequately solve the problem ?

    March 6, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  11. annieL

    Still no details on his Medicare plan, huh. Same old voucher plan, I guess. Here's a check. Go see how much insurance Cigna and UnitedHealth will sell you for that after their CEOs, VPs and sales reps get their six-figure salaries and bonuses and make their stockholders richer. Oh, not much left for benefits? Too bad.

    March 6, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  12. tcaros

    Ryan is a comtemptuous child

    March 6, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
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