GOP Leadership Sawing Off Medicare Privatization Branch Behind Vulnerable Caucus Members

The big news of the day is Rep Eric Cantor (R-VA) conceding the obvious point that Medicare won’t be privatized as part of a bipartisan budget deal. But apparently this violates some rule of conservative political correctness and he’s now walking it back to some extent. Still, Rep Dave Camp (R-MI) says the plan won’t so much as be brought up in the Ways and Means Committee he chairs, so it’s dead for now.

This all kind of raises the question, however, of why the Republican leadership pushed Paul Ryan’s Medicare privatization plan in the first place. Obviously the fact that they favor privatizing Medicare played some role in that. But conventional wisdom is that the smart time to push a major piece of politically controversial legislation is when you can pass it into law. That’s why Scott Walker and other conservative governors are being so aggressive this year, and it’s why Nancy Pelosi pushed tons of progressive bills through the 111th Congress. But right now anything the House passes still needs to go through a Democratic-controlled Senate and then Barack Obama’s desk. So what’s the point in asking vulnerable members of congress to vote for taking away seniors’ health care benefits?