June 08, 2011 3:08 pm ET - by Julia Krieger
As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) tries to refute Democratic criticisms that his politically volatile budget plan ends Medicare by replacing it with a voucher system, his fellow statesman, Tea Party freshman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), is embracing the terminology by praising the plan for its voucher system. Last week, Johnson said, "What I like about the Paul Ryan plan is it's trying bring a little bit of free-market principles back into Medicare. If you need subsidized care, we'll give you vouchers." Indeed, Greg Sargent points out, "even adamant Tea Party types see this as a voucher plan in spirit — and they mean that as a positive, as an affirmation of Ryancare's reliance on free market principles, rather than on the government."
Last weekend at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., Political Correction caught up with Norquist, who tacitly endorsed characterizing the GOP plan as a voucher system, saying, "call it what you want." Norquist went on to expressly support the premise of a voucher system, pitting it directly against the current system — which he likened to "rationing" in East Germany.
PC: You were talking about the Senate before. What do you think about Sen. Johnson's recent characterization of Ryancare as a voucher plan — as a voucher system?
NORQUIST: Well, you can call it what you want, but it puts the resources in the hands of individuals, for them to make choices.
PC: So you think it's OK to call it a voucher system?
NORQUIST: I don't — what you call it is not important to me as long as people have the control. Either the government sits there and controls everything or the government says here's the resources, and you make the decisions. There are two ways to keep costs down: competition and rationing. Obama, all of his plans have been rationing, and the Republicans are looking for competition. I think that East Germany was a less successful program than West Germany, and the East Germans rationed everything and the West Germans had competition.
Norquist's take on the "voucher" debate is no trifling matter. As president of Americans for Tax Reform, his word presents a certain finality on conservative policy positions. Furthermore, his apoplectic comparison of current American policy on Medicare to East Germany is ridiculous. As Republicans, including Ryan, continue to accuse Democrats of Medicare 'demagoguery,' Norquist's scare tactic certainly takes the cake.
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