Since House Republicans passed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) radical 2012 budget, several potential Republican presidential contenders for 2012 have been asked whether they are on board with Ryan’s plan to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid while cutting taxes for the richest Americans (and likely increasing them on the middle class).
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich distanced himself from Ryan’s plans for Medicare, while former governor Mitt Romney said he and Ryan “are on the same page.” Former governor Tim Pawlenty refused to get into the details, but congratulated Ryan for “offering real leadership.”
In the Washington Post today, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) — another potential 2012 candidate — offered unabashed praise for the Ryan budget, calling its destruction of Medicare “exactly the right direction to head”:
In the debate between Ryan and Obama, Daniels knows where he stands. He called Ryan’s proposal for ending Medicare’s defined-benefit structure “exactly the right direction to head,” though he says he is open to other serious alternatives. Asked about Ryan’s proposal to convert Medicaid into a block grant with full flexibility for states, he replied, “Bring it on.” He says that means testing should be part of any solution to restructuring Social Security and Medicare.
The Ryan budget would turn Medicare into a privatized voucher system, and according to the Congressional Budget Office would effectively double the amount that seniors pay for health care. Ryan’s plan for Medicaid, meanwhile, would force states to limit benefits and cut many people off from the program entirely. It’s worth remembering that two-thirds of Medicaid beneficiaries are seniors or people with disabilities.
Aside from his affinity for the Ryan budget, Daniels also supports changes to Social Security (which the Ryan budget does not include), and has called for raising the retirement age, which is a highly regressive change. Daniels’ justification for wanting to raise the retirement age is that younger people may someday live to more than 100 years of age.