Republicans Back Down Over Medicare Overhaul

Last night, congressional Republicans conceded that privatizing Medicare won't be part of a deal reached to raise the debt ceiling:

Senior Republicans conceded Wednesday that a deal is unlikely on a contentious plan to overhaul Medicare and offered to open budget talks with the White House by focusing on areas where both parties can agree, such as cutting farm subsidies… 

At a breakfast for reporters hosted by Bloomberg News, Ryan echoed that view, saying, “We’re not going to get a grand-slam agreement . . . because of just the political parameters” set by Obama. But Ryan said his budget offers a “menu of options . . . that I think we could get that are not necessarily the global agreement on, say, Medicare or Social Security.”

It's nice of them to give Obama so much credit, but in this case, Republicans are just being modest. Despite the president's April 13 speech excoriating the Ryan budget plan and its plan to voucherize Medicare, Obama has been playing his typical rope-a-dope the past few weeks, hanging back and waiting for Republicans to stumble. Meanwhile, House members went home to their districts where voters expressed their extreme displeasure toward their plan.

Republicans have a problem in that they desperately want to dismantle a program that is really popular, even among their own constituents. Republicans have worked hard to show Americans that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable, but they have yet to convince them to give up their own medical insurance, or future insurance, to reduce the deficit. God knows, they'll keep trying, though.

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