Earlier this afternoon, House Republicans approved Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget framework that would reduce federal spending by $5.8 trillion over the next decade and dramatically alter the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Ryan’s Medicare proposal would eliminate $30 billion from the program by forcing seniors to purchase private coverage beginning in 2022 and by retaining many of the Medicare savings that are part of the Affordable Care Act.
During a Tea Party rally in New Hampshire, likely presidential candidate and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (R) endorsed the Ryan proposal, saying, “as a general matter and directionally, I think Paul Ryan’s plan moves in the right direction.” But when I pressed him over whether he supports maintaining some of the Medicare cuts that are part of health care reform, Pawlenty demurred, and took another question:
PAWLENTY: I like Paul Ryan’s plan directionally. I don’t think it’s fully filled out in terms of the fact that we still have to address Social Security and when we issue our plan later in this process, it will have some differences[...]
VOLSKY: Do you support the Medicare cuts in his plan that he keeps from Obamacare?
PAWLENTY: Anybody else have a question besides this guy?
Ironically, Republicans attacked the Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act throughout the last two years, arguing that such reductions would ration care for seniors and would drive providers out of the program. In an executive order prohibiting Minnesota from implementing the ACA, Pawlenty referred to the cuts as “unrealistic assumptions regarding purported future cost-savings.”