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Jon Chait: Greg Mankiw's Misleading Defense of Paul Ryan

Jon Chait writes:

Mankiw's Misleading Defense Of Paul Ryan: Former Bush economic advisor Greg Mankiw, writing in the New York Times, picks up the GOP talking point that Paul Ryan's plan to radically alter Medicare is really a pretty familiar bipartisan idea being blown out of propotion:

Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, has attracted much attention with his plan to reform Medicare. He proposes replacing the current fee-for-service program, in which the government picks up the bill for medical expenses, with a “premium-support” system in which seniors use federal dollars to choose among competing private insurance plans.... [T]he premium-support model is in some ways similar to the system set up under President Obama’s health care law. If choosing among competing private plans on a government-regulated exchange is a good idea for someone at age 50, why is it so horrific for someone who is 70?

This is deeply misleading. Ryan's plan... transforms [Medicare] from a single-payer system into subsidies for private insurance... interject[s] a costly insurance bureaucracy into the system, and decrease... Medicare's bargaining power.... [I]t's certainly true that liberals... prefer giving people medical coverage through regulated private insurance subsidies than letting them go without coverage.... But that is not the same thing as liberals agreeing that private insurance is better than single payer.... Mankiw's claim that the ACA demonstrates "agreement about the value of private competition" is clearly false....

[T]he subsidies in Ryan's plan, unlike the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, would fall far below the value of private insurance.... Mankiw treats [this] as though it doesn't exist.... [C]onservatives agree that the rich should pay some taxes, but they would object to making them pay a 98% tax rate. Mankiw's logic would present this objection as hysterical partisanship -- we all agree the rich should pay taxes, so what's the problem?... Mankiw may share Ryan's ideological values and thus have reasons to wish to discredit critics of his program, but he should refrain from misleading people about the criticism.

My view: don't get too attached to the prospect of high federal office. If you do, you won't like who you become: