And so it begins:
Obama will not blaze a fresh path when he delivers a much-anticipated speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University. Instead, he is expected to offer support for the commission’s work and a related effort underway in the Senate to develop a strategy for curbing borrowing. Obama will frame the approach as a responsible alternative to the 2012 plan unveiled last week by House Republicans, according to people briefed by the White House.
Just as we predicted a few days ago, your choices, the entire extent of the debate will be between a center-right proposal (Simpson-Bowles) and a far-right proposal (Ryan plan). Where do you think the Serious Person “sensible middle ground” will be in that fight? Left unsaid will be any discussion of the true driver of deficits: individual healthcare costs. Left unsaid will be: if we had individual health costs of any other Western democracy we’d be facing surpluses and not deficits. Limit rate of growth in healthcare and you fix everything we’re currently fighting over, and without doing it on the backs of the poorest.
It’s now down to just how much of Medicare we will eliminate (er: “privatize”) and what percent of older Americans still get access to it. Then, a couple of years down the road: fewer. In a few more years: gone, because it only serves the poor and they don’t vote. Legislative inertia is literally the only chance that program has for survival.
The old will kindly go die in the streets.