A stethoscope sits on an examination table in an exam room at a Community Clinic Inc. health center in Takoma Park, Maryland, April 8, 2015. 
Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty

Remember those Medicare ‘cuts’ Republicans deemed outrageous?

Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention in 2012, when the Wisconsin congressman was his party’s vice presidential nominee, was one of the most dishonest displays of political rhetoric I’ve ever seen. Nearly five years later, however, one portion of that speech seems newly relevant:
“You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare: $716 billion, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.

“An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed…. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.”
Even at the time, Ryan’s rhetoric was ridiculous. Not only did the Affordable Care Act strengthen Medicare without undermining benefits, but listening to far-right Republicans who were desperate to privatize Medicare pretend that they were somehow the system’s champions was a bit much.

But Ryan wasn’t alone. Republicans, well aware of Medicare’s broad national popularity, invested heavily in attack ads, accusing Democrats of “slashing” Medicare when the Affordable Care Act became law. “Let’s save Medicare,” the NRCC said in an attack ad during the 2012 cycle. Similar GOP ads ran in 2010 and 2014.

Whatever happened to those Medicare “cuts”? Well, it’s a funny story.

After Paul Ryan vowed to reverse the policy, he ended up including the same Medicare savings in his budget plan. As Josh Barro explained the other day, the House Speaker has now also included the same policy in his health care reform plan.

Yesterday, the story got just a little worse: according to the Congressional Budget Office’s report, the Republicans American Health Care Act cuts the deficit, but only because it keeps those Medicare “cuts” Paul Ryan and others pretended to find outrageous.

I’m sure Ryan’s apology for having lied to the nation will be sent out any minute now.

Medicare and Paul Ryan

Remember those Medicare 'cuts' Republicans deemed outrageous?