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What Grade Does Glenn Hubbard Get for This Budget Column?

Department of "Huh?!": Can We Agree to Let Henry Aaron, Who Coined "Premium Support," Decide What Is and Is Not "Premium Support"?

Greg Ip got badly spun by Paul Ryan yesterday:

The politics of Medicare: I don’t fully agree with Mr DeLong. There is nothing profoundly stupid, in principle, with either vouchers (or premium support, as Mr Ryan calls it) for Medicare or block grants for Medicaid; as Alice Rivlin notes, the term premium support was coined by two Democratic economists, Henry Aaron and Robert Reischauer, and Mr Clinton converted welfare to block grants with good results...

True, he then went on to say that:

Whether either is in fact a viable alternative to the present structure depends crucially on how much money the block grants and vouchers are worth. Mr Ryan is too flinty on both. Republicans could have deflected some of this criticism by presenting the plan as the starting point for debate. Instead, by marrying it to unbending opposition to higher taxes, they turned the budget into a contest of wills rather than a negotiation...

But the overall impression Greg Ip conveys is the (false) one that Paul Ryan wants conveyed: that at the core of RyanCare is a substantive technocratic solution to Medicare that has substantial Democratic support--or would have, if not for partisanship.

Ezra Klein did not get spun:

Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan is not Bill Clinton’s fault: Paul Ryan has adopted the curious tactic of blaming his Medicare plan on Bill Clinton. Back in April, he said a version of his plan was “endorsed by everyone from President Clinton’s 1999 Medicare commission, chaired by Democrat John Breaux, to Bob Dole and Tom Daschle in 2009.” This week, he said his plan is “in keeping with the Bill Clinton bipartisan commission.” It’s a good argument. The only problem? It’s not true.... First, as FactCheck.org says, “any attempt to cast the 1999 report as bipartisan or suggest it was Clinton’s commission is misleading.” The commission was created in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which was written by and passed through a Republican Congress. Clinton appointed just four of the commission’s 17 members — all of whom voted against the final plan. So it wasn’t “the Bill Clinton bipartisan commission.”

Second, the commission failed: It needed 11 votes and only got 10.... “The commission ended its work without endorsing any recommendations.” The Democrats by and large opposed the plan. And that includes President Clinton....

Finally, it was a very different plan. The idea of giving Medicare beneficiaries a choice of private plans in addition to traditional Medicare fee-for-service — in wonk parlance, “premium support” — does have Democratic backers. Some months ago, in fact, I interviewed Henry Aaron, a center-left health-care expert who is one of the idea’s creators. And he said the problem with Ryan’s plan is that it’s not premium support. Premium support, Aaron explained, was designed to create competition without allowing cost-shifting. The key feature was that payments kept pace with the cost of health care.... That’s not how Ryan’s plan works.... [I]t eliminates traditional fee-for-service Medicare. For another, Its savings come from capping the growth of federal spending at inflation — which is much, much, much slower than the rate of health-care cost growth.... That’s very different than a plan that holds the average contribution to 12 percent of the plan’s cost. But it’s absolutely central to how the Ryan budget saves money. It’s the core of his proposal....

President Clinton did not convene a bipartisan commission on Medicare, the bipartisan commission on Medicare that was convened didn’t endorse the plan, and the plan under consideration was very, very different from the plan Ryan has proposed. This talking point Ryan is trotting out just isn’t true.

Very different take, no?