Senate Democratic leaders reiterated their support for the “Pelosi option” on Medicare. In other words, they have no plan, or as the House Minority Leader put it: “We have a plan. It’s called Medicare.” Unfortunately, as Medicare’s own trustees reported just last month, the Democratic “plan” would leave as is a program that will be bankrupt by 2024 (and almost certainly sooner than that.)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) told reporters Tuesday that Democrats would not accept a deal to raise the debt ceiling that includes any changes to Medicare benefits. “This is all about priorities,” said Reid. “We’re for protecting seniors’ Medicare. That’s our top priority.”
“We believe that we need to reduce our deficit, but we can’t do it by reducing benefits to seniors,” he added. As an alternative, Reid suggested that lawmakers work to pay down our $14.3 trillion debt by eliminating tax subsidies for oil and gas companies, worth a total of about $4 billion.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) insisted that Republicans take “the full Ryan plan” off the table, and warned that Democrats would not support even a “mini version” of the plan. “We want to make our position on Medicare perfectly clear,” Schumer said. “No matter what we do in these debt limit talks, we must preserve the program in its current form, and we will not allow cuts to seniors’ benefits.”
Because in case you hadn’t heard, the Democrats already fixed Medicare in last year’s health-care law. Everything will be fine, Schumer said, so long as congress aggressively weeds out “waste and fraud, duplication and inefficiency” within the current, soon-to-be-bankrupt system. “If we’re looking to make further reforms in Medicare we should build on what we did in the healthcare law, when we proved you can extend the program’s solvency without cutting benefits for seniors,” he said.
That might come as news to the seven House Democrats and scores of health-care advocacy group who are actively lobbying to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board — the 15-member panel of appointed “experts” created under Obamacare (beginning in 2014) with the aim of bringing Medicare costs under control — out of fear that the board will necessarily impose “dramatic cuts” to the program. The Democrats have a plan to cut Medicare, alright. It’s called IPAB.
Meanwhile, Republicans are demanding that President Obama take Medicare’s looming financial insolvency a little more seriously than Reid and Schumer.