As news spread of Paul Ryan being named Mitt Romney’s running mate, YouTube video of the House Budget Committee chairman’s tour de force during the Obama “health care summit” in February, 2010 began going viral.
But an even more substantive – indeed visionary – Ryan's performance regarding Obamacare isn’t getting the full attention it deserves.
During the summit, a gob-smacked President Obama sat frozen as the seven-term Wisconsin congressman in six minutes dazzled the room with his fluency not just of the gimmicks hidden within the Democrats’
health legislation, but of the complexities of federal entitlement programs and the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring techniques.
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The episode was so embarrassing for Obama that Ryan's dissection of the plan was excised from the hours of excerpts from the summit featured on the White House website. A search for Ryan’s videotaped remarks presents you with this message: “Sorry, no results found for ‘Paul Ryan health reform.’” (By comparison, a video search for Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander’s ponderous address to the summit comes right up on the White House site.)
The next month, however, during reconciliation markup on the bill in the House – which took place on the ides of March, no less – Democrats were resorting to legislative tricks as the only way to enact Obamacare into law in the wake of Scott Brown’s election to Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat. In that forum, Ryan prophetically warned of the consequences of socialized medicine in America.
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Obamacare, Ryan said, was an “abuse of the Constitution” that “moves away from the American Idea and toward a European-style welfare state that will lead millions of Americans into becoming dependent on the government rather than themselves.”
The man who in January may be sworn in as vice president emphasized that “even though it’s not single-payer, and even without the so-called ‘public option,’ this is still a government takeover of health care.”
At sharp variance with Obama’s oft-stated 2008 campaign claim that “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan,”
Ryan charged that “the entire architecture is designed to give the federal government control over what kind of insurance is available for patients, how much health care is enough, and which treatments are worth paying for.”
He cautioned that it would establish “a Washington-controlled price-setting board” that would “usurp state governments’ role in regulating insurance and premiums, and will further smother the normal market forces that would otherwise encourage innovation and cost-saving efficiencies.”
Ryan described the coming horrors of Obamacare’s “comparative effectiveness board,” which would “restrict providers’ decisions about what treatments are best for their patients.”
The president’s claim that Obamacare would “not add a dime to the deficit” was a false pledge, Ryan said, because Democrats “gamed the system” with “smoke and mirrors” within the legislation for purposes of getting a favorable CBO deficit scoring, including “gimmicks” and “double counting.”
Not content with skewering the health care transformation enacted when Democrats controlled the White House, Senate and House, Ryan has been offering his own health reform, including shifting Medicare into a program in which the federal government substantially helps seniors pay the premiums of their private insurance plans.
Ryan also proposed a refundable, portable health insurance tax credit of $5,700 for families, transparency in the pricing of health services, the establishment of state-based health exchanges to address the coverage of pre-existing conditions, plus allowing small businesses to pool together in offering coverage.
Last year, Ryan even shocked Washington by partnering with liberal Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on a plan to allow private insurers to compete with Medicare on a regional basis by, through competitive bidding on the price of services Shortly after Obamacare was passed, Ryan took to the pages of The New York Times to predict that “the true costs of this legislation — concealed by timing gimmicks, hidden spending and double-counting — will make the deficit explode, plunging us deeper into debt.”
With the national debt soon to exceed $16 trillion, going from under 75 percent of GDP during George W. Bush’s last year in office to over 104 percent of the nation’s output today, Ryan’s warning in retrospect sounds right on the money.
A Kaiser survey of nearly 2,100 private companies and state and local government agencies, finding that the cost of family coverage rose 9 percent last year to $15,073, also suggests that Ryan’s fears about ObamaCare’s costs were well-founded.
The Obama campaign is undoubtedly armed with plenty of ideas on how to attack Mitt Romney’s new partner, but removing the shine from a running mate who correctly predicted that ObamaCare would bend the cost curve up – not down – may take an awful lot of mud.
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