This week, most people’s attention has been focused on the killing of Osama bin Laden (and the Obama administration’s botched handling of the afterparty), but the Leftosphere’s domestic policy wing — led in this instance by Slate’s Simon Lazarus, TNR’s Jonathan Chait and Igor Volsky of ThinkProgress — has been making the ridiculous claim that the House budget resolution’s Medicare reforms, developed by Rep. Raul Ryan, requires Americans to purchase private health insurance, just like ObamaCare. If true, it would have been a nice “gotcha,” suggesting not only that RyanCare is unconstitutional, but that the House GOP was filled with hypocrisy for supporting it.
Of course, the claim is not true. At NRO, Yuval Levin does a good job of explaining two major ways in which these claims misrepresent Ryan’s plans, while Ramesh Ponnuru explains why the left’s argument “assumes an amoral view of the law” in general. Yuval Levin also catches Chait selectively editing Ryan’s comments on the issue. (Where are the establishment’s selective editing police when you need them?)
That’s all good stuff, but what is most bizarre (and ironic) about this lefty talking point is that the lack of a individual mandate is one of the primary differences between the Medicare proposal in Ryan’s budget and ObamaCare. Ryan’s initial “Roadmap” proposal would have voucherized Medicare, but his budget plan does not. The House GOP budget resolution instead proposes a premium support model and significantly more regulated health insurance exchanges like those found in ObamaCare.
In short, the left is attacking Ryan’s latest plan for an imaginary similarity to ObamaCare, while ignoring the actual similarities. Conversely, I suspect the GOP’s pushback on the lastest round of Democratic Mediscare attacks has been limited by the degree to which Republicans don’t want to admit those similarities. Why wouldn’t the left want to pursue this even larger “gotcha”? Because the larger ‘gotcha” goes both ways. If the similarity of the Ryan Medicare reforms and ObamaCare became widely known, people might start asking how the left — from Pres. Obama on down — can be attacking the House budget for setting up a system for future generations of seniors that is similar to the system they demand be imposed on non-seniors now (i.e., largely the same group of people).
That debate would play out worse for the left. The biggest reason the left finds ObamaCare acceptable for younger Americans is because they view it as another step in their continuing takeover of the US healthcare system. In contrast, switching Medicare to an ObamaCare-style system would represent a step backward on that path. The House Medicare reforms and ObamaCare may have similar features as a matter of policy, yet represent different visions for the direction of the country. That’s why the left prefers to manufacture a phony “gotcha” over dealing with a real one.