Paul Ryan explains why cutting Medicare is only OK when Republicans do it

The GOP's budget guru says there's nothing hypocritical about decrying cuts one minute and endorsing them the next

By Elias Isquith
Published April 2, 2014 5:50PM (UTC)
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Speaking on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan defended his party and his budget against charges of hypocrisy and claimed there was nothing inconsistent about the GOP lambasting Democrats for Medicare cuts that are included in Ryan's budget, too.

For years, the Republican Party has attacked Democrats for enacting $700 billion in cuts to Medicare (trimming subsidies and payments to providers) to partially fund Obamacare. However, it's also been the case for years that the GOP, in its proposed budgets, has chosen to pocket rather than repeal those very same savings.


On the call, Ryan insisted that this is not an example of Republican hypocrisy, primarily because the GOP's ideas for what to do with those savings are so different from Democrats'. Instead of devoting the money saved to Obamacare, Republicans would repeal Obamacare and use the money to create a "reserve fund" for Medicare in the future.

"By repealing Obamacare, we stop [the] raid and that money stays within Medicare," Ryan said on the call. "So it actually helps make Medicare stronger and more solvent, more secure."

When asked whether this distinction was fuzzy enough that it might complicate GOP messaging for the 2014 midterm elections, Ryan answered, "No, not at all."


"We're spelling out a comprehensive plan to save and strengthen Medicare with premium support, with the traditional Medicare option alongside of it," he continued. "We want to make sure that all the savings that come from Medicare go back to Medicare to shore up its program. And if we have problems with Medicare, for instance say Medicare Advantage, we have created a system to address that as those problems arise."

Yet despite Ryan's claims, some experts — including Salon's Brian Beutler — have argued that how the cuts are intended to be used in the future doesn't much matter when it comes to evaluating the GOP's budget. "[T]hat’s not how Medicare finance works or how the federal budget works or how any particular budget proposal works," wrote Beutler, referring to Ryan's plan to put the savings in a "reserve fund" for future use.

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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