Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is clearly a pretty smart guy, but one of his greatest assets is his perceived earnestness, sincerity, and honesty. During his 19 Easter town halls in Wisconsin, Ryan charmed the crowds into agreeing that our entitlement spending was out of control and that his plan — while maybe not the perfect solution — represented a brave step forward towards balancing the federal budget. In doing so, he convinced almost everyone to at least consider his proposal as a starting point for negotiations.
ThinkProgress — which attended many of these meetings — reported that in making his case, Ryan routinely side-stepped the real concerns of his constituents by relying on platitudes and outright misrepresentations of his plan and now FactCheck.org has found that he used on the same sleight of hand in a series of “Setting The Record Straight” web posts on his website:
- Ryan says Obama’s proposed budget “commits seniors to bureaucratically rationed health care.” In fact, the new health care law states that the advisory board to which Ryan refers “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care.” Furthermore, the board members are to be primarily doctors, economists and other outside experts, not Washington bureaucrats.
- He says that closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap would “increase prescription-drug prices for everyone.” But the Congressional Budget Office says out-of-pocket costs would be unaffected or lower for many.
- He claims the health care law doesn’t improve Medicare’s finances. Not true. It does, but experts worry some cost controls won’t be fully implemented. Furthermore, Ryan’s budget keeps in place some of those same cost controls.
- A GOP document defending Ryan’s plan wrongly claims that the budget “does not cut Medicaid” and that it “spends more on Medicaid each year than it does the previous year.” That’s false. Ryan’s own projections call for slashing Medicaid below this year’s spending level for years to come.
During his town hall meetings, the Ryan was routinely challenged by his constituents on his plan to lower tax cuts for the rich and transform Medicare into a “premium support” system in which seniors received a pre-determined sum of dollars to purchase health coverage from private insurers. Wisconsinites pressed Ryan on why the money used to extend the Bush tax cuts wasn’t being applied to the deficit, why their children would not receive the same guaranteed Medicare benefits that they’ve enjoyed, and why the government’s “premium support” did not keep up with medical inflation.
Ryan usually dismissed these concerns by saying that repealing the Bush tax cuts would only negligibly affect the national debt and by insisting that the biggest threat to Medicare was doing nothing at all. He also disingenuously claimed that the GOP’s “premium support” proposal was almost identical to the coverage he receives as a member of Congress, repeated the debunked notion that Medicare would not change for Americans over 55 years of age, and incorrectly said that he would not cut the current Medicare program.