The Cowardly Senator Wyden


Dean Baker comments on the Ryan-Widen Medicare plan in the article The Cowardly Senator Wyden.

Years ago members of the elite showed their courage by leading troops into battle. They risked their own lives for the greater good. (Never mind that the wars being fought often did not serve anything resembling the “greater good.”)

Things are different today. In the land of the 1 percent, the way you show your courage is by demonstrating your willingness to beat up on the elderly. That gets you bucket loads of campaign contributions, high praise from the Washington Post in both its news and opinion pages, and could even get you named Person of the Year by TIME.

Last week, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon stood up to do the big kick. He decided to join ranks with Representative Paul Ryan on a proposal to replace Medicare with a voucher-type system. The claim was that with increased competition, we will be able to lower costs.

Using competition to lower costs; that seems like such a great idea! If only someone had thought of this sooner.

Of course this has been thought of sooner and tried again and again. Remember Medicare Plus Choice in the 90s? How about Medicare Advantage, the more recent incarnation of the program which still exists? In both cases, analyses from the Congressional Budget Office and others have consistently found that they raise costs. And we have been experimenting with competition between insurers in the private sector for decades, and it has not succeeded in holding down costs.

But in Washington, just because something has failed repeatedly is no reason not to do it again; especially if it protects the interests of the 1 percent.

You cannot use enough sarcasm to describe Ron Wyden’s turn toward the dark side again.

Here are some previous posts on this plan – Ryan-Wyden Medicare Plan Like A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing and The Bipartisan Political Alliance That Will Turn The Fight Over Medicare On Its Head.

The link in Baker’s quote takes you to his post Time Magazine Decides to Throw Numbers to the Wind to Promote Representative Ryan.

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