Mitt Romney appeared on Morning Joe this morning to promote his new book “No Apology,” in which he argues that America must stop making excuses for its mistakes and begin solving its national problems. “We’ve got to stop apologizing to ourselves for lousy schools, for not having dealt with our entitlement problems, for spending too much money,” Romney said, suggesting that the government will have to cut Medicare spending.
But when asked about national health care reform, Romney criticized Democrats for tackling the entitlement problem. “There were big differences between what we did [in Massachusetts] and what’s going on in Washington,” Romney said. “We said we’re not going to raise taxes. We have to do this within our current budget and finally, we’re not going to cut Medicare as a means to do it.” Joe Scarborough pressed Romney on the contradiction:
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you, though. You say you’re not going to cut Medicare, and Republicans have been critical of the proposed cuts in Medicare. But you said off the top, we have to face our entitlement crisis. There is no greater crisis than the threat to Medicare. Will you admit right now to America that if Medicare is going to exist after 2019, we’re going to have to cut Medicare?
ROMNEY: Look, there is no question about that. The way the president’s health care plan works, he says we’ll take $500 billion out of Medicare Advantage. Wait a second. Let’s talk about a better approach than just slashing a portion of the program.
In truth, the Senate health care plan only cuts about $120 billion from Medicare Advantage over 10 years; the rest of the money is coming from payment updates and other efficiencies in the Medicare system. The bills reduce payments to Medicare Advantage (which receive payments that are on average 19% higher than traditional Medicare) because, on the whole, the overpayments are actually shortening the life of the Medicare trust fund without improving health outcomes. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill’s Medicare cuts would extend the life of the Medicare program and lower spending per Medicare beneficiary from 8% growth rate to 6% growth rate.
Romney, unfortunately, wants to have it both ways. He sternly warns Congress that “unless we deal with the entitlement burden which is $60 trillion, unfunded liability, America’s future could be very bleak for our grandkids,” but then criticizes Democrats for proposing policies that reduce the government’s entitlement spending.