JONATHAN CHAIT APRIL 1, 2011
You know how you have been reading for weeks and weeks about how the bold Republican budget, crafted by Prince of Boldness Paul Ryan, will boldly address the deficit problem that President Obama refuses to address? While we wait for that to happen, some leaks are emerging. First, reports the Hill, Ryan will not touch Social Security, which is immensely popular with the middle class. Second, reports Politico, he will take a huge whack out of Medicaid, which primarily benefits the poor:
House Republicans are planning to cut roughly $1 trillion over 10 years from Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled, as part of their fiscal 2012 budget, which they will unveil early next month, according to several GOP sources.
Though Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has yet to lock in his final numbers, he made clear to POLITICO in February that he intends to target Medicaid and Medicare for savings. While Medicaid is easiest to win consensus on, Medicare is the biggest debt driver. It’s not yet clear how much Ryan hopes to cut from Medicare, and he and GOP leaders have been reluctant to discuss their plans for the other entitlement behemoth: Social Security.
I love the part about how Medicaid the the "easiest to win consensus on." Why is that? Because it's wasteful? No, Medicaid is super-cheap -- so cheap the program routinely has trouble finding doctors willing to accept it. It's easiest to win consensus on because its beneficiaries have the least political power.