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Ryan’s new sneak attack on Medicare

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand fanatic, never tires of trying to shred the government safety net. His latest scheme involves reaching across the aisle — all the way to the Senate, actually — to a so-called Democrat who shares Ryan’s passion for privatization:

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is teaming up with Paul Ryan, the House’s top budget guy and the author of the GOP’s controversial budget which proposes phasing out traditional Medicare and replacing it with a private plan… The move makes Wyden the first elected Democrat to endorse creating a premium-support system to compete with traditional fee-for-service Medicare…

The policy… allows insurers to compete with traditional Medicare turning Medicare essentially into a public option on a private insurance exchange. Wyden and Ryan would give patients subsidies that could be applied to either private insurance or fee for service Medicare…

Unlike previous plans, those subsidies would rise and fall with the cost of the plans themselves — not at a fixed rate below the explosive rate of health care inflation… This plan relies mostly on the theory that competition among insurers could hold down costs — a proposition with little evidence behind it — and would therefore save the government much less, if any, money at all.

The talking points for selling the Wyden-Ryan plan sound a lot like Mitt Romney’s plans for Medicare, so don’t be surprised if Ryan endorses Romney for president. Let’s hope voters can see past the smoke and mirrors of these cold-blooded frauds.

Virtually Speaking tonight

Thursday, Dec 15 | Double Header

8 pm eastern | 5 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking A-Z: This week in liberalism. | Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd| discuss the truth and lies, clarity and obfuscation, that characterizes our political and media environment. Follow @Stuart_Zechman @JayAckroyd Listen live on BTR. Beginning midnight Friday, listen here.

9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd |Jay talks with Doug J of Balloon Juice  Planned segments: GOP in disarray over the presidential nominating process; the inability of the  US political system to implement obviously good public policy, and stop obviously bad public policy; ‘What digby said’ (response to a very topical two-three minute clip; persistent tribalism among ostensible allies in the progressive blogosphere. Follow @JayAckroyd Listen live and later on BTR.

A Very Special Holiday Episode

Charlie Pierce:

It cannot be emphasized enough. Of the three issues under discussion, the polling data on two of them simply could not be clearer. The American people want taxes raised on the very wealthiest among us, and the American people do not want Paul Ryan’s clammy hands anywhere near the Medicare program. Public opinion is (distressingly) ambivalent on the detainee provisions, but it’s not overly popular with the people who have to implement it, and it has retired Marine generals throwing bricks at it, and, dammit, the president taught constitutional law, or so we are told repeatedly.

None of these “compromises” will solve a single one of the country’s critical problems. None of these “compromises” will create a single job. All they will do is toss away almost every one of the major political advantages the Democratic party has going into the 2012 elections. My god, six months ago, Paul Ryan was a squawking albatross around his party’s neck. (Remember how he said he’d “given up fear for Lent,” and then proceeded to start charging people a fee to come to his town meetings, and setting the cops on constituents who showed up at his office while he was on vacation? Ah, thim was the days.) The “Ryan Plan” was well on its way to being an anchor. Now, thanks to the Democrats, and to a preposterously compliant elite political press, Ryan’s rehabilitation is nearly complete. Nice work, fellas.

Here’s a tip, gang: The American people are not angry at government because people yell at each other and nothing ever gets done. The American people are angry because people yell at each other and nothing the American people really want ever gets done. They want higher taxes on billionaires. They want Medicare kept out of the hands of the vandals. If they think about it a little, they even like their jurisprudence with a little habeas corpus sprinkled on top. Instead, they get endless platitudes, and the steady, futile placating of an insatiable political opposition.

Jesus wept.

An evangelical speaks

“Fuck your prayer, show me solidarity.”

Bastards

The lot of them.

Fundraiser

Go fill Digby’s stocking.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

The education bubble

What happens when it bursts?

Time magazine’s Person of the Year was the Protester, but it should have been Pepper-Spray Cop. More here.

Crooks have no conscience

Gov. Corbett is perfectly okay with throwing sick people off Medicaid, but can’t bring himself to tax Marcellus Shale drillers. This is your sociopathic Republican party at work:

Since August, the Corbett administration has cut off more than 150,000 people – including 43,000 children – from medical assistance in a drive to save costs. That purge far exceeds what any other state has tried, health policy experts say, and officials may be walking a fine line between rooting out waste and erecting barriers to care for the poor and disabled.

When most states were experiencing flat or rising Medicaid enrollment from the economic downturn, stepped-up eligibility reviews in Pennsylvania began producing a decline over the summer. The pace of cuts picked up in November, with 90,000 cases, or 4 percent, dropped in a single month. In New Jersey, enrollment increased by 391 the same month.

The Department of Public Welfare in Harrisburg says most of the people cut were dead, had moved out of state, or were found to be ineligible, but it could provide no breakdown. Advocacy groups, clients, and representatives for caseworkers paint a different picture. Pressure to quickly review a backlog of files and close cases overwhelmed the system, they say, as reams of paperwork were lost and computer programs automatically ended benefits when patients’ responses had not been entered by preset deadlines.

The Pennsylvania experience, while extreme, illustrates the difficulty of reining in increases in health-care costs nationwide. For the short term, the cost of providing public insurance ballooned as people lost their jobs and employer-provided benefits, while states’ belt-tightening reduced the workforce that processes applications.

Marie Stopa of Holmesburg received a letter Sept. 15 saying her four children would be cut off Sept. 19 if renewal paperwork was not received. She says she sent it the next day, but benefits were cut off anyway. Her 10-year-old son, Marek, has landed in emergency rooms twice since then for asthma attacks Stopa believes would have been avoided had he remained on the preventive medication she can no longer afford.

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