This week, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled a budget plan that would include “more than $4 trillion in federal spending reductions over the next decade,” largely by altering and cutting a number of entitlement and social safety net programs.
One of the most significant cuts in the budget involves Medicare. Ryan’s plan would essentially end the program’s existence as a single-payer public insurance program, forcing seniors to instead choose among private insurance plans with inadequate government subsidies provided to pay for care. This would effectively privatize the program and involve a massive cut to the program that will significantly endanger the health and well-being of the nation’s seniors.
Yet Ryan wasn’t always so upfront about his desire to cut Medicare, one of this nation’s most successful and treasured programs. During the debate over the Affordable Care Act, Ryan latched onto the bill’s cuts — which targeted the inefficient and unnecessary private insurance-administered Medicare Advantage program — and repeatedly attacked reformers for supposedly cutting or raiding Medicare:
– In an op-ed written in a local paper in October 2009, Ryan said that President Obama broke his “promises” to seniors by cutting Medicare. He complained that, “in order to pay for the trillion dollar health care overhaul making its way through Congress…hundreds of billions of dollars will be cut from Medicare.” [10/1/09]
– In a Newsmax interview, Ryan complained that the health bill would involve “10 years of tax increases and Medicare cuts to pay for six years of spending.” [2/25/10]
– On his congressional website, Ryan complained that the health care bill “raises taxes by more than a half-trillion dollars over the next 10 years—the largest tax increase in American history—and cuts more than a half-trillion dollars from Medicare to finance this new entitlement.” 
Ryan gave one of his strongest denunciations of the health care bill’s supposed Medicare cuts at a meeting between President Obama and congressional Republicans at the Blair House in 2010. Ryan said that the health bill “treats Medicare like a piggy bank” because it “raids” half a trillion dollars out of it:
RYAN: Now, when you take a look at the Medicare cuts, what this bill essentially does is treats Medicare like a piggy bank. It raids a half a trillion dollars out of Medicare not to shore up Medicare’s solvency but to spend on this new government program.
By essentially privatizing Medicare and delivering huge cuts to one our nation’s most treasured programs, and harming the health of seniors in the process, Ryan shows that he has no interest in protecting it. His criticism of cuts to Medicare Advantage over the past few years has exposed itself as nothing more than political opportunism and cynicism.