The Cheese Stands Alone! Ryan Loses Support Of Dem Budget Guru Over Medicare

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April 6, 2011 9:45 a.m.
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One of the claims you’ll hear a lot about the new GOP budget is that its plan to privatize Medicare has been blessed by Alice Rivlin — a budget expert at Brookings who used to work for Bill Clinton. Except it’s not quite true.

Rivlin did indeed work with GOP Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) on a version of his plan. But in an interview with Politico Tuesday she said she can’t support the specifics of the Ryan plan.

“We talked fairly recently and I said, ‘You know, I can’t support the version that you have in the budget,” Rivlin said. “I don’t actually support the form in which he put it in the budget.”

Rivlin said it’s “not quite fair,” of Republicans, including Ryan to cite her as an advocate of his plan. “We had worked together but the version that’s in the budget resolution is not one that I would subscribe to.”

Her objections are pretty severe. She prefers a reform in which people 54 and younger would have a choice between traditional Medicare, and a menu of private, subsidized insurance options when they reach retirement age. Ryan’s budget doesn’t include this choice. Neither did a deficit-reduction proposal the two of them produced together outside of Congress.

Rivlin’s principal objection is that Ryan has also lowered the rate at which those insurance subsidies grow. In other words, beneficiaries would be getting less and less money over time relative to the growth of their premiums, and would have to make up the rest themselves without being allowed to hop back in to traditional Medicare.

“I don’t think that’s defensible,” Rivlin said. “It pushed too much of the cost onto the beneficiaries.”

Rivlin would be a useful ally for Ryan during this budget process. Only problem is, she’s not one.

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