Politics

Peter Orszag versus Paul Ryan: Part Deux

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Jon Ward
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      Jon Ward

      Jon Ward covers the White House and national politics for The Daily Caller. He covered the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency and the first year of Barack Obama's presidency for The Washington Times. Prior to moving to national politics, Jon worked for the Times' city desk and bureaus in Virginia and Maryland, covering local news and politics, including the D.C. sniper shootings and subsequent trial, before moving to state politics in Maryland. He and his wife have two children and live on Capitol Hill. || <a href="mailto:jw@dailycaller.com">Email Jon</a>

White House budget director Peter Orszag has gone after Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Road Map” plan before, critiquing the Wisconsin Republican’s vision for solving America’s entitlement and debt crisis earlier this year, when releasing President Obama’s budget.

On Wednesday, Orszag used the enlarged platform bestowed upon him in his last speech as a White House adviser to go after Ryan again, this time in more detail than ever before. As before, it was civil, but Orszag went to considerable lengths to argue that Ryan’s plan would not work.

Orszag’s criticism comes just days after Ryan himself delivered back to back speeches in Washington touting his plan. Ryan’s remarks at the Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank, drew attention when he called out his own party along with Democrats for letting political concerns crimp serious discussion of how to fix the nation’s debt and deficits.

The decision to so publicly elevate and critique Ryan shows both the seriousness with which Obama and his top advisers take Ryan’s alternative vision for the country’s future, as well as the vehemence with which they disagree. Orszag’s push against the “Road Map” came on the same day that the Democratic National Committee attacked the plan in a preview of their midterm election strategy.

Ryan blasted Democrats for their response to his plan.

“It is unfortunate that the Democratic leadership’s only response to our nation’s fiscal cancer is to engage in tired political demagoguery against a sincere effort to tackle this challenge,” he said in a statement e-mailed late Wednesday to The Daily Caller.

Orszag spoke Wednesday from the same podium inside Brookings as Ryan did nearly a week ago, and made the case that the “Road Map” would not bring down health care costs, leaving seniors in Medicare with vouchers under Ryan’s plan that over time would cover less and less of their medical expenses.

Under Ryan’s plan, Orszag said, seniors would purchase “high deductible insurance plans, insurance plans in which they would pay out of pocket for regular medical expanses and insurance would only cover higher cost, catastrophic situations.”

“The logic goes that such plans would encourage seniors to shop among doctors and treatments and rationally economize on their health care spending. The core problem however, is that the bulk of health care spending is concentrated among those with serious illnesses and high health care costs,” he said. “For example, CBO found that in 2001, high cost Medicare beneficiaries – that is the top 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries ranked by their costs – accounted for 85 percent of total Medicare spending. For such high cost patients, high deductible plans would do little to change the delivery of health care.”

Orszag continued: “Patients would rapidly run through their deductibles, and most of their costs are above those levels. Indeed, in the context of traditional health plans, [the Congressional Budget Office] concluded that even universal high deductible plans would reduce costs by only about 5 percent relative to conventionally designed PPOs, and not reduce costs at all relative to HMOs.”

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  • krjohnson

    If the Dems want to have a public feud with Ryan, they are barking up the wrong tree. They will lose.

    Ryan is a perfect example of what kind of Republican it takes to win in a swing district: a strong fiscal conservative (which is very popular with independents) with other conservative leanings that take a back seat.

    If they think this is going to help their chances in November, they are dead wrong.

  • apberusdisvet

    Mark this well, folks. Paul Ryan will be a future US President and will be one of the very few who can understand complex issues and have an excellent comprehension of economic policies and solutions. The only problem that I see is that the Marxists may totally destroy this country before a Ryan can emerge.

    • BooneCountyGirl

      From your lips to God’s ears…or shall I say from your fingertips? Either way I am praying that the old farts in the Republican party are gracious and do what is right for this country by stepping aside…