Paul Ryan's Horrible Medicare Op-Ed

Rep. Paul Ryan has an op-ed in today's Washington Post that makes an important point for the future of this country: elected representatives should never write op-eds in the Washington Post. We are on an unsustainable track of government officials publishing public relations drivel that wastes valuable national resources of paper and readers' time. Extrapolating from recent trends, the projected number of uninformative columns written by elected officials in WaPo would consume 800% of the anticipated column space of the newspaper by 2080.

Sorry, I'm antsy, but this is just not good stuff. Presumably, this column is Ryan's attempt to launch a counter-strike against the liberals who are mean to him on the Internet, and the Republicans who won't endorse his radical budget plan in an election year.

But it's not a defense of anything. It's a long, windy explanation about Medicare's long-term insolvency -- a point for which no counterpoint exists -- followed by a three-sentence explanation of his plan to solve the crisis. This plan is basically two-fold. First, he would protect payments for the lower-class and cut payments for the upper class which would see a 50 percent reduction in its tax bill anyway. Second, he would turn Medicare into a voucher program that would grow slower than medical costs. The government would set a dollar limit on the amount of care seniors would receive. The wonky name for step one is means-testing. The name for the second is rationing.

Since op-eds written by elected representatives are congenitally incapable of committing honesty or insight, Ryan's way of admitting to rationing is to say he's against "arbitrarily rationing seniors' care." Well done.

I also think that we'll probably use means-testing and smart rationing to curb Medicare expenses, no matter what. That's not really my issue with the article. My issue with the article is that it's a misleading piece of jargony claptrap that answers the totally uncontroversial premise that Medicare has a long-run crisis with the logically contorted position that we should embrace a plan of rationing for the purpose of avoiding rationing!

The column concludes, dutifully enough, with an attack on Democrats followed by the questionable assertion that Ryan's dream budget "was never intended to be" the Republicans' platform. What was it intended to be? Wall paper? A dystopian novella? An April Fool's joke on John Boehner? I like Paul Ryan, and I've loved debating the implications of his Roadmap, but the nicest thing to say about this column is that it doesn't exactly move the conversation forward.