Where’s the Plan, Paul?


Jon Huntsman in the Wall Street Journal today:

I admire Congressman Paul Ryan’s honest attempt to save Medicare. Those who disagree with his approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare’s ability to meet its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans.

This is arguable, but I won’t argue it. Competing plans are good. But can I point out that Paul Ryan hasn’t proposed a plan to save Medicare either? He’s essentially provided us with a single sentence: “Give seniors a voucher for private health insurance that grows at a much smaller rate than actual healthcare costs.”

That’s not a plan, it’s a soundbite. Ryan has declined to provide any serious details about how his idea would work, and there’s a reason for this: he knows perfectly well that details would make his voucher scheme even more unpopular than it is now. With real policy and real numbers attached, people would realize just how little premium support there is, just how far down the income scale higher costs would go, and just how miserly the subsidies would be. A fleshed-out Ryan plan would inevitably be shockingly stingy thanks to his ideologically inspired notions of cost control, and if he were forced to admit just how stingy it was, the ballgame would be over.

So maybe critics of honest plans have an obligation to offer alternatives. But Ryan has produced a plan that’s neither honest nor serious. When he does, then maybe Huntsman will have a point.

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