A voucher program by any other name

With the Republican House censoring the word “voucher” and the phrase “ends Medicare” and even the liberal Washington Post “fact checker” agreeing such words are inappropriate, it’s pretty clear that one of the big battles in 2012 will be whether or not the media will allow liberals to give an accurate description of Paul Ryan’s proposed voucher program.

Democrats need to push hard on this, obviously.

Also too, we should remember that most of the important people in our national media, like Glenn Kessler, are dishonest sociopaths.

Like moths to a flame

Krugman finds various commentators ably demolishing the arguments in Bobo’s pro-voucher piece this morning. That’s great. One should remember, however, that Bobo is not — not anywhere, but especially not here — interested in presenting real arguments, he’s interested in catapulting the propaganda. He uses the phrase “premium support” and pushes the bogus Medicare Part D comparison. He doesn’t delve too deeply into anything, sticking to quick, faux high-brow, totebagger-friendly anecdotes about the power of the free market. If Paul Krugman stops him and starts sticking his big snout in the column, the subterfuge won’t last, but at a glance the arguments will appear to be sound.

I think Bobo is making a mistake here. All discussion of vouchercare hurts Republicans. Producing conservative flim-flam about the awesomeness of vouchercare may get a few Charlie Rose viewers to nod along, but it also produces…more discussion of vouchercare. And that’s bad for the conservative movement.

Bobo should lay low, produce a few columns about what some Assistant Professor of Psychology thinks about dick tweets and so on. But he can’t — conservatives are drawn to vouchercare like moths to a flame.

Voucherscare goes local

I don’t like it when the Villagers say “Medicare” “Mediscare” but Ruth Marcus, David Von Drehle, and the rest are more than welcome to use the term “Voucherscare”. They’re going to have to get creative to keep whining about this for the next 17 months, because it’s going to be an issue in races at every level. Here’s Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Paul Tate on what it’s in store for the Wisconsin Republican reacallees:

“We’ve got them on camera with Paul Ryan. We’ve got them on the record saying they support the Ryan agenda. And I think it’s something that voters are going to weigh in on. I think the list of Republicans who are going to lose their seat because of Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan is not just going to be starting at the federal level.”

Isn’t it sad that Republicans can’t collude with Villagers to try to strip Americans of access to health care without paying a heavy political price? Isn’t it sad that they can’t use a short-term fiscal issue, brought own by their own policies, to eviscerate a wildly popular, wildly successful social program that has nothing to do with the current recession?


How is this not vouchers?

Is it a voucher? Technically, no. Ryan’s plan is something called “premium support.” Unlike a voucher, where the money goes to the person, premium support is a subsidy that goes directly to the health insurance company.

What’s the difference? In Ryan’s view, there’s a huge difference. Ever since the House Budget Committee chairman first started promoting the budget plan before its release in April, he has insisted that his Medicare plan is premium support, not a voucher. The difference, to Ryan, is that premium support is more like the health care plans for members of Congress, or the Medicare prescription drug program — where consumers can pick which plan they want and the federal government pays for it.

In practical terms, though, that distinction probably won’t make much of a difference to seniors’ pocketbooks.

Isn’t that what a voucher is, when you partially pay for something on someone’s behalf, and then that someone can go and collect that something if they pay the balance that the voucher doesn’t cover? Are we supposed to call these things “gift certificates” or what?

People don’t use weasel words like “premium support” when they think they’ve got the upper hand.

A voucher by any other name would still smell as foul. This is vouchers, v-o-u-c-h-e-r-s.

No exit

Back in 2008, right after McCain picked Palin as VP, I spent almost an entire day reading about her and came to the conclusion that she was an ignorant, vindictive, narcissistic nutcase. Over the next couple weeks I fell into despair over McCain’s increasingly good poll numbers, but within a month, much of the rest of the country had come to the same conclusion about Palin that I had. Most people didn’t drop everything they were doing to read about Palin, so it took them a little longer, that’s all.

I think the same thing be happening with Paul Ryan’s Vouchercare plan. As much as Vouchercare hurt Republicans in a single race in NY-26 , it will only become more broadly unpopular as the public becomes more familiar with it. Nate Silver:

If these poll results are right, they represent a lot of danger to Republicans because they suggest that voters’ assessments of the Medicare proposal are not yet fully “priced in” to their views of the parties more broadly. Right now, most people aren’t paying all that much attention to the budget debates or to domestic politics more generally. But they will tune in at some point between now and next November, and when they do they may find that the Republicans’ approach to the budget is not to their liking.

It is in this context that interpretations of last week’s special election in New York become more useful. It essentially represented an acceleration of political time, with voters in this one corner of the country hearing and acting upon arguments that they would not ordinarily begin to consider until late next year.

Silver suggests that Republicans devise an exit strategy from the unwinnable quagmire of Vouchercare. They won’t, not when Paul Ryan is getting blowjobs from the “Morning Joe” crew every day, not when even the liberal Washington Post is telling them that they will be greeted as liberators.

The economy is back in the tank and Obama would be in a lot of trouble under normal circumstances. Praise Bieber and pass the vouchers.