Paul Ryan is, inevitably, in the news again. Every year around this time he releases his new budget roadmap, and every year it’s roughly the same as ever but with just a few changes for everyone to chew over endlessly. This year, the chattering classes are chattering over the startling news that his budget only gets to balance by repealing Obamacare, but Ezra Klein says that’s not news. In fact, it’s not even true. It’s worse than that:
Every Ryan budget since the passage of Obamacare has assumed the repeal of Obamacare. Kinda. Ryan’s version of repeal means getting rid of all the parts that spend money to give people health insurance but keeping the tax increases and the Medicare cuts that pays for that health insurance, as without those policies, it is very, very difficult for Ryan to hit his deficit-reduction targets.
Last year’s budget also kept Obamacare’s tax increases and Medicare cuts. Then Ryan became a VP candidate, and this was a big problem. So he switched to opposing Obamacare with no exceptions. Now he’s once again just a plain old congressman who needs to balance the budget, so we’re back to Ryan 1.0.
Will it last? Who knows. Ryan’s
voucher premium support plan has morphed a bit from year to year, so it will be interesting to see which way it morphs this year. Unlike some people, though, I don’t think Ryan will abandon his usual pledge not to change Medicare for anyone over age 55. That risks pissing off actual Republican voters who only want Medicare to get stingier for the young folks. Deficit apocalypse or not, they certainly don’t want it to change for them.
This pretty much explains all of politics, by the way.