On Medicare, Democrats Sound Like 1990s Republicans

The return of "slow the growth."

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My word, how things have changed. Ryan McNeely, co-blogging with Matthew Yglesias, proudly brandishes a Center for American Progress memo detailing how the new healthcare law will save substantial taxpayer dollars by slowing the growth of Medicare.

“Slow the growth”: Savor that phrase as we take a ride in the wayback machine, when a newly-elected Republican Congress had proposed the Medicare Preservation Act as part of its plan to balance the federal budget in seven years.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on healthcare.]

Responding to Clinton White House charges of “ draconian consequences,” then-Speaker Newt Gingrich explained, with characteristic exasperation, that “slowing the growth” was not the same thing as cutting:

After seven years under the Republican plan ... the government would wind up spending an average of $6,700 a year for every senior, compared to the $4,800-a-year average now spent. Republicans, Gingrich said, were not cutting anything for the elderly.

“Is that a plus or a minus?” he asked. “I’ll go anywhere in the country, in front of any audience, and debate that.”

Is this to say I wasn’t enormously disappointed by 2009-vintage Republicans’ attacks on the Affordable Care Act’s reductions in Medicare growth? Of course not. But I can’t help but find it comical to watch today’s self-described progressives railing at Medicare demagoguery and boasting about long-term deficit reduction.

I suppose this is progress, of a sort.