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The Counterpunch

8:01 AM, Aug 13, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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In the single most important test of his leadership prior to November 6, Mitt Romney chose the ideal running mate in Paul Ryan, who will now help Romney in a myriad of ways. Some on the left, however, appear giddy at the thought of running against Ryan’s proposed Medicare reforms, which would keep Medicare — and the nation — solvent by giving future (not current) seniors more freedom, more choice, and more opportunity to pursue value. Such liberals seem unaware that, in demagoguing Ryan’s exceptionally well-conceived plan, Obama will open himself up to two powerful counterpunches — both involving Obamacare.

EDIT.v16-22.Feb21.Continetti.AP Photo.Ryan J Foley

AP / Ryan J. Foley

The first is this: While Obama has shown appallingly little seriousness in dealing with our runaway deficit spending or the runaway entitlement spending that drives it, he does have his own plan to reduce Medicare costs. It relies upon the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a creation of Obamacare. 

The IPAB is a board of 15 unelected and largely unaccountable bureaucrats who would be empowered to cut payments to Medicare providers. In Ryan’s own words, “Obamacare … puts a new rationing board in charge of Medicare next year to start price-controlling Medicare to deny access to current seniors.” (Amazingly, Obamacare says that Congress wouldn’t even be allowed to overrule the IPAB’s decisions with a majority vote, thereby also making the IPAB quite constitutionally dubious.)

Under Obamacare and the IPAB — according to the Medicare chief actuary — Medicare providers would be paid less than Medicaid providers by the end of this decade.  Good luck getting in to see medical professionals when they wouldn’t even get paid as much to see you as they’d get paid for seeing Medicaid patients.

Moreover, Obama has doubled-down on the IPAB. Not content with the largely unchecked powers that Obamacare grants it, he has subsequently called for strengthening it

The second counterpunch, to follow immediately upon the first, is this: Any money that the IPAB or other parts of Obamacare would wring out of Medicare wouldn’t go to making Medicare, or the country, more solvent — or to extending the life of Medicare. It would go to Obamacare. That’s right: Obama’s centerpiece legislation would use Medicare as a piggybank — which (given Medicare’s dire financial straits) makes about as much sense as using Greece as a piggybank.

Indeed, the most politically brazen feature of Obamacare has always been its looting of Medicare. About half of Obamacare’s funding would come from siphoning money out of Medicare, while the other half would come from raising taxes on Americans and on American businesses. In fact, Obama is aware enough of this vulnerability that he recently initiated the $8.35 billion Senior Swindle — an unscrupulous and probably illegal ploy to attempt to hide the effects of Medicare Advantage cuts from seniors until after his “last election.”

In short, the more Obama seeks to demagogue Ryan’s proposed Medicare reforms, the more Romney and Ryan will respond by hitting Obama hard on Obamacare. And the more this election centers on Obamacare, the less likely Obama is to win.

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