Or you can read Ezra Klein's post on Congressman Paul Ryan's GOP budget proposal to cut the deficit.
As you all know by now, the long-term budget deficit is largely driven by health-care costs. To move us to surpluses, Ryan's budget proposes reforms that are nothing short of violent. Medicare is privatized. Seniors get a voucher to buy private insurance, and the voucher's growth is far slower than the expected growth of health-care costs. Medicaid is also privatized. The employer tax exclusion is fully eliminated, replaced by a tax credit that grows more slowly than medical costs. And beyond health care, Social Security moves to a system of private accounts that CBO says will actually cost more than the present arrangement, further underscoring how ancillary the program is to our budget problem.
The proposal would shift risk from the federal government to seniors themselves. The money seniors would get to buy their own policies would grow more slowly than their health-care costs, and more slowly than their expected Medicare benefits, which means that they'd need to either cut back on how comprehensive their insurance is or how much health-care they purchase. Exacerbating the situation -- and this is important -- Medicare currently pays providers less and works more efficiently than private insurers, so seniors trying to purchase a plan equivalent to Medicare would pay more for it on the private market.
It's hard, given the constraints of our current debate, to call something "rationing" without being accused of slurring it. But this is rationing, and that's not a slur. This is the government capping its payments and moderating their growth in such a way that many seniors will not get the care they need. This is, in its simplest form, a way to limit the use of a finite resource: Money.
But here is the thing, none of this matters one whit if Democrats don't seize the day. Tomorrow every Democrat in the House should be lined up for their chance to address the body at the podium on CSPAN and point out what the Republicans are up to. And immediately following each Democrat in the House should put up a youtube online of their speech and send it out to every single email list they have. If Ryan's proposals and Hensarling's appearance are pushed into the national dialogue, the media will HAVE to cover it. And every single GOP House member that appears on CNN or MSNBC or one of the morning shows will HAVE to answer the question of if they agree with these "visionaries" in their own party.
But if not. If this is allowed to slide under the radar, well then shame on every person in any leadership position in the Democratic Party. You will have shown without a doubt that you do not deserve to lead this country.