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Ryan Likens Medicare To Welfare In Speech, But Tells Town Hall Seniors Are ‘Entitled To The Benefit’

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"Ryan Likens Medicare To Welfare In Speech, But Tells Town Hall Seniors Are ‘Entitled To The Benefit’"

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During a speech at the Economic Club of Chicago yesterday, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) defended his proposal to privatize Medicare for future retirees, arguing that the plan would empower seniors to “deny business to inefficient providers” while President Obama’s proposals to reduce the growth of the program would “give government the power to deny care to seniors.”

As TPMDC’s Brian Beutler notes, Ryan went even further. He likened Medicare to welfare, as if to imply that the program was some sort of government hand out to seniors:

RYAN: As we strengthen welfare for those who need it, we propose to end it for those who don’t. We end wasteful corporate welfare for those such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, big agribusinesses, and others that have gotten a free ride from the taxpayer for too long.

Ironically, Ryan rejected this very same premise during a town hall in Waterford, Wisconsin on April 28th. Pressed by a constituent about why he was referring to Medicare in a derogatory manner — by calling the program an “entitlement” — Ryan assured the man that he

Q: I don’t necessarily like these programs being called entitlement programs. As far as I’m concerned, I paid in for 50 years….more or less a retirement program that I thought I was putting in with the government.

RYAN: I get this fairly often about why we call this an entitlement program. It almost seems to some people like a demeaning thing. It’s the law — it’s the term of art that’s used in law. It’s not meant to be demeaning. If you pay into the program, you’re entitled to the benefit…so don’t think of it as a slight.

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