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Paul Ryan’s blatant hypocrisy – and the abject failure of mainstream media

Wisconsin Rep Paul Ryan gave the ‘official‘ [pre-speech prepared remarks] GOP post-State of the Union rebuttal. I thought he was a fiscally conservative Republican – just the kind of person we desperately need on Capitol Hill.
After all, Ryan’s getting a good deal of press because he’s perceived to be a budget expert/wonk. Here’s a bit of what he had to say.
– Health care spending is driving the explosive growth of our debt.
– the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement. [referring to the health reform bill]
What Mr Ryan conveniently forgets, or more likely avoids, is this:
Seven short years ago he – and his GOP buddies – passed the single largest entitlement program since Medicare – the Medicare Part D drug benefit with no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-generators – the entire cost – which is now around sixteen trillion dollars – simply added to the federal budget deficit.
The health reform bill has many warts – as I’ve noted time and time again – yet one it does NOT have is adding sixteen trillion dollars to the deficit. According to Bruce Bartlett writing in the Fiscal Times, “By 2030, Part D alone will cost taxpayers 1 percent of GDP.”
The complete failure of the mainstream media to note this blindingly obvious hypocrisy is stunning.
I couldn’t find a single instance where the MSM commenters noted this hypocrisy; there were a few in the blogosphere, but none from mainstream pundits and talking heads.
Let’s suspend reality and accept the GOP’s claim that health reform will add $700 billion to the deficit. That’s one-twentieth of the deficit from Part D.
That’s right – Paul Ryan’s Part D added twenty times more to the Federal deficit than even he claims reform will. Yet in his comments he didn’t once offer to end, or fix, or reduce Part D. Ryan was long on problem, and non-existent on solutions – perhaps because he’s a big part of the problem himself.
Where’s the accountability? How can he get away with this? Why isn’t the main stream media at least reporting on this? Commenting? Perhaps just noting in passing?
Folks, we have a BIG deficit problem. If we aren’t deadly serious about what we need to do, we’re screwed. Whether you’re a conservative or liberal, Glenn Beck-er or Rachel Maddow fan, red stater or blue stater, there are basic, immutable facts.
Part D’s $16,000,000,000,000.00 ultimate cost is one of the more obvious.
I’d hoped for a much better, more mature, more fiscally responsible – hell, more old-style fiscally conservative Republican Paul Ryan – one who would candidly discuss Part D, give specific suggestions about how its cost could be reduced, and take some responsibility for our current fiscal situation.
When the Ryan I – and undoubtedly many others – wanted to hear didn’t appear, it would have been nice if the talking heads noted his absence. I don’t know who is more disappointing – Ryan or the media.

10 thoughts on “Paul Ryan’s blatant hypocrisy – and the abject failure of mainstream media”

  1. Amen! I watched Mr. Ryan’s “rebuttal” in horror last night. Once I got my jaw off the carpet though, I realized that he did exactly what I’ve come to expect from Republican politicians … operated from a cloud of blissed amnesia.

  2. I agree , its the take the log out of your own eye before you do micro surgery on mine. However lets be fair for the past two years the Opposing party have had all the cards and they could have easily “fixed” the part D problem. Obama care has led to higher costs for less coverage for me and my employees. I am not as Wonky as my associate participants on your Blog. I think we can agree Obama care today, Part D tomorrow.

  3. Where the heck did your $16 trillion number come from? The entire Medicare program in 2010 cost roundly $500 billion of which Part D was 10%-12% of that at most. Over 10 years, Part D is likely to cost less than $1 trillion, which while a considerable sum, is a far cry from $16 trillion.

  4. Barry – thanks for the comment and welcome back to MCM. Allow me to respond to each of your points.
    The number came from the Medicare Actuary’s report – the link was embedded in the post – it was highlighted in blue (the link on the post was to an excellent piece in the Fiscal Times). Here’s the direct link – see page 148.
    The 2010 Actuary report predicts an ultimate unfunded liability of $21.2 trillion, up significantly from the 2009 report.
    Part D’s costs to the taxpayer are projected to be about $62 billion for 2011, roughly in line with your estimate.
    Hope this helps clear up any confusion.

  5. Joe – Thanks for the clarification. As I understand it, however, Medicare and Social Security actuaries try to calculate liability over a 75 year timeframe. Paul Ryan’s figures, however he arrived at them, cover only 10 years which is the period that CBO generally works with. I’m just suggesting that it’s not an apples to apples comparison even though I agree that there should have been a funding mechanism when Part D was originally passed.
    I think a key part of bending the medical cost growth curve over the long term will be to change patient expectations and our culture of entitlement, especially as it relates to futile end of life care at someone else’s expense.

  6. Barry – thanks for the note.
    I’m not trying for an apples to apples comparison. If I was I’d note that CBO’s estimate of the impact of reform on the deficit is positive – they score it at a $230 billion REDUCTION in the deficit. The GOP’s $700 billion figure has been widely discredited – as has Pelosi’s claim that reform will save over a trillion dollars over ten years.
    Ryan et al are trying – and mostly succeeding – in scoring political points with their concern about passing our debt onto our kids – who will be paying for Part D long after the 10 year CBO horizon.
    The point that needs to be made is this – Ryan is the problem. He voted FOR Part D, and now he’s the GOP’s point man on the deficit. And no one is taking him to task for his hypocrisy.

  7. If Rep. Ryan’s solution for Medicare is a “voucher” program to permit us to buy coverage in the private market, then how many insurance companies are there now, or will there be, that will underwrite health insurance for those over age 65 with a comparable plan of benefits and monthly premiums? I truly hope someone asks Rep. Ryan about those mythical private health insurance risk-takers!

  8. Joe, you should send you comments to Anderson Cooper, Peirce Morgan or Eliott Spitzer at CNN they claim to ‘keep’ people honest. Your point about the media clarifying points and the White House’s failure to educate the public and the press on HCR is one of the major reason’s why there is so much confusion.
    I listened to the rebuttle also by both Ryan and Michelle Bauckman…….all I can say is that we are in deep trouble as a country.

  9. i think people need to realize that mainstream media is not one channel, but you have to watch all channels at once.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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