All of the progressive freakouts about “Medicare being on the table” prior to the president’s speech today were, once again, a series of emo kneejerk overreactions.
On Medicare, the president’s vision is similarly broad. Obama rules out a voucher system as envisioned by Rep. Ryan. The senior administration official who previewed the speech said the president “does not support raising the Medicare retirement age.”
“I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society,” Obama said in his speech. “I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs.”
Instead, the administration is choosing to build off the legislation Obama passed during his second year in office. His proposal calls for setting “a more ambitious target” to hold down Medicare cost growth and reducing excessive spending on prescription drugs — one of the few specifics that got cheers from progressive advocates briefed on the plan. In order to get there, the president proposes strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is tasked with finding excessive and unnecessary spending within the system.
So instead of cutting Medicare, the president is going to address costs. Holy crap on a stick! Line up candidate Kucinich for a primary challenge! GAAAHHHH! Ridiculous. This is exactly what the president ought to be doing — including his proposal to raise taxes on the super-rich.
Meanwhile, I still don’t believe the time is right for spending cuts. But that concern is ongoing.