If it’s possible, the stakes of the 2012 presidential election just got bigger. Mitt Romney today chose Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) as his vice-presidential running mate, the guy who embodies everything that this blog has been about from day one: entitlement and health care reform. Many Democrats are thrilled by Romney’s pick, because they think that Paul Ryan’s proposals are vulnerable to granny-off-a-cliff demagoguery. But their confidence is premature. Here’s why.
The Obama campaign, upon learning of the Paul Ryan pick, went straight for the jugular. Ryan’s plan “would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors,” said Obama spokesman Jim Messina this morning. But that’s not true.
As we’ve documented extensively at The Apothecary, the Wyden-Ryan Medicare plan—so named because it was coauthored by progressive Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.)—only applies to Americans younger than 55 years of age, and gives those younger individuals the option of remaining in the traditional Medicare program, or choosing a comparable private-sector insurance plan.
The policy-wonk term for this approach is “competitive bidding,” an idea that originated with Democrats. The Wyden-Ryan plan is nearly identical to one that was introduced a few weeks earlier by Mitt Romney.