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Rep. Paul Ryan
Rep. Paul Ryan, Politico's health care policy-maker of the year. Seriously. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Politico proves that in D.C., awards are not given on actual merit, but on what The Village cares about. To wit, they've made Rep. Paul Ryan, the man who wants to bankrupt Medicaid and end Medicare health care policy maker of the year. No, it's not a joke.
When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released his budget plan in April, the Wisconsin Republican instantly changed the conversation about health care in America. It wasn’t always a polite conversation. And it gave way to new Democratic charges that Republicans want to “end Medicare.”

But Ryan got everyone talking about ways to get health care entitlements under control—and he gave Republicans the most detailed illustration to date of how market forces could be used to do that. He has influenced how Republican presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney talk about health care, as they use variations of his Medicare plan in their campaigns. And if Republicans gain power after the 2012 elections, his blueprint is sure to be the starting point for their future health care policies.

Paul Krugman skewers Politico for this choice.

Even if you like the thrust of Ryan’s ideas, even if you think privatizing Medicare and turning it into a voucher scheme is fine, what became painfully, embarrassingly clear during the debate over the Ryan plan was that Ryan is, well, incompetent; the plan was a mess, from its invocation of ludicrous Heritage Foundation projections to its crazy assertions about what would happen to discretionary spending. It's true that the plan "got everyone talking," as Politico says—but mostly it got people talking about what a mess Ryan's effort was.

Oh, and it was pretty clear that Ryan wasn't being honest about his own numbers.

As he says, Politico is "mistaking theater for policy." The Ryan plan was pure politics, not actual, implementable, policy. It was conservative gimmickry with numbers that just didn't add up. And that's what passes for policy among the D.C. punditry these days. That's what gets awards, which is really depressing, if not downright dangerous for the nation's future.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 11:31 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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