On Morning Joe this a.m, Congressman Paul Ryan seemed manic, defensive, and vexed. His frustration, anger, and paranoia were palpable. Those hypnotic blue eyes are now puffy and red from exhaustion. Yet he continued to drone on about the GOP's "premium support" Medicare plan.
But Ryan has also taken a new tack. The new message he's aping ties the GOP Medicare plan to the Brookings Institution and Bill Clinton's health care task force. That's right, Ryan's saying it was the liberals idea all along.
This idea didn't actually come from the right. This is the idea that came from Bill Clinton's bipartisan commission to save Medicare. John Breaux was the author of that back in 1999. The Brookings Institution coined the phrase "premium support.'
But Ryan's plan doesn't come close to resembling the "Premium Support" espoused by Brookings, the public policy think tank often derided as too liberal by the right. And John Breaux was no liberal, and his plan for Medicare ran into some fierce opposition from fellow Democrats and was stillborn.
The Brookings Institution, whose "premium support" idea includes a public option, makes it clear they are not fans of the Ryan plan:
Ryan’s critics correctly argue that his version of premium support, passed by House Republicans, would ultimately end traditional Medicare and likely cause many seniors to pay considerably more for health care than the current system. But it would be a serious mistake for health care reformers to demonize the concept of premium support without recognizing that a better constructed version of the same idea could attract support from many Democrats, as well as Republicans, and become the basis for a sustainable bipartisan redesign of Medicare.
Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution categorically denies the similarities between Brookings findings and the Ryan's voucher plan. He even exposes the GOP Medicare plan as not being premium support at all, but smoke and mirrors.
And while the public may not be able to articulate it, they know that it's odd for the Republicans to want to disassemble the Affordable Health Care act, only to turn around and try to create market-based exchanges for the elderly and poor. The public also knows that they will rely on health care services extensively in the final few years of their life, and probably even more in those final days. So, if you're throwing your seniors out into the private-sector marketplace, you know that the health insurance companies will do whatever it takes not to enroll these people. It's not very profitable to be stuck with the sick and dying after all.
Brooking's Aaron pulls no punches when talking about the GOP's health-care initiative:
There’s one provision of the Ryan bill that stands out as being hands-down the worst, and that is giving the seniors who are poor enough to also be on Medicaid a medical savings account. Does he know who these people are? They’re very sick, they’re very poor and many of them have cognitive as well as physical problems. They would be asked to cope with the inevitable headaches of dealing with private insurance and managing a personal checking account to pay periodic bills. This is not a sensible proposal.
No, not sensible at all and not what the Brookings Institution originally prescribed, it seems.
Ryan's primary goal has not been for properly caring for the elderly, but to confuse the public mind and create yet another giveaway to the bloated health insurance behemoths. It has been to reduce the financial security of the middle class, while insuring the financial security of corporations.
However, yesterday's vote clearly shows that a majority of Americans have seen through his charade. And now you are seeing one of the greatest political meltdowns since Joe McCarthy was called out by Joseph Nye Welch during his communist witch hunt.
If the Democratic Party plays it smart, it will ride this message until November 2012.