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March 1st, 2012 8:11 pm
Growing Support for Medicare Reform Shows that Elections Matter

Fred Barnes has a terrific column in today’s Wall Street Journal explaining the origin, structure and philosophy of Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal.  The most intriguing paragraph explains how Ryan’s reform ideas went from minority alternative to majority consensus in just two years.

But House passage alone was a milestone. When Mr. Ryan first proposed premium support in 2008, 14 House Republicans signed on as co-sponsors. But when his budget cleared the House in 2011—with Medicare reform its most controversial provision—only four of the 241 Republicans voted against it. Of the 87 GOP freshmen, only one voted no. In the Senate, all but five of the 47 Republicans declined to back Mr. Ryan’s plan.

After weathering some resistance in the beginning:

Premium support is now Republican orthodoxy. But absent a GOP landslide this fall, that’s not sufficient to win congressional approval. Besides, entitlements are best enacted on a bipartisan basis. Otherwise, they may wind up like ObamaCare—unpopular, under legal challenge, and the target of endless partisan attacks.

Barnes is right that entitlement reform is best enacted on a bipartisan basis, but there’s every indication that a conservative victory this year that keeps the House and wins the Senate, supplemented with smart liberal support from the likes of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and others, would certainly be considered bipartisan.

According to Barnes, a handful of Democrats in the Senate and House have told Ryan they are willing to go public with their support for Medicare reform after the 2012 elections.  Momentum is building for real reform of the largest deficit driver in the federal budget.  This should be a motivator for every fiscal conservative to make this election the year Ryan’s reforms become law so America can get its finances in order.

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