House Republicans signaled on Thursday that they were backing away for now from the centerpiece of their budget plan — a proposal to overhaul Medicare — underscoring the political risks of addressing the nation’s long-term fiscal problem.
The debt-ceiling talks were never likely to settle long-term issues like the soaring costs of Medicare. But the decision by Republicans to put the Medicare plan on the back burner was a tacit acknowledgment that the politics of entitlement reform remain volatile, so much so that pressing ahead in the face of intense Democratic opposition made little sense.
Their decision was signaled by Representative Dave Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which would have to draft the Medicare legislation. In an appearance at the National Press Club on Thursday, he said he did not intend to try to turn the proposal into law any time soon.
The fact is, turning Medicaid/Medicare into voucher-style programs is a HUGE political loser, and I’m shocked Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner would allow any proposal that would turn those programs into voucher programs to reach the floor of the House, much less come to a vote. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d bet that Paul Ryan’s proposal to turn Medicaid and Medicare into voucher programs will be an anchor on the GOP in 2012, just like they turned “ObamaCare” into an anchor for Democrats in 2010.