The Dumbest Thing I Heard This Week: Paul Ryan on Health Care

Many liberal outlets criticize Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan. Even his own constituents criticize him (wait until he tells the crowd that tax cuts for wealthy “trickle down”…priceless). But I’m not sure many people have taken the time and effort to systematically go through his worldview. This week, Paul Ryan wrote a piece for the May issue of American Spectator immortalizing his worldview in an ill-conceived, often plainly erroneous missive. Let’s look at this puppy.

In March, as the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of President Obama’s partisan health care law, the American people saw an event that could mark the end of bureaucrat-controlled health care.

Perhaps Ryan has never had to argue a coverage claim with a health insurance company, but let me assure him that before the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance system was run by bureaucrats and the health insurance system will be run by bureaucrats again if Ryan has his way. Just read this article that has some stories of insurance company bureaucrats telling patients that, in the opinion of the bureaucrat, the advice of the doctor is not medically necessary. If anything, the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea because it doesn’t take much power away from private health insurers, who continue to serve two masters by making decisions about your health while trying to skim enough off the top for shareholders.

In short, Paul Ryan is railing against the very system he supports while trying to confuse the audience into believing that the Affordable Care Act is the same as government-run health care. It’s not. By the way, as an aside this is the greatest advocacy statement for a universal health care system — easy to follow and straightforward.

See how that’s very different than “let’s just make people without employer-based health insurance buy health insurance themselves from private companies”?

At the same time, just across the street in the halls of Congress, they witnessed a powerful reaffirmation of the American Idea as the House of Representatives passed the Path to Prosperity—a budget for the federal government.

“Path to Prosperity,” eh? Snappy title. “Path to Poverty” is a little more like it, since it draws on the UK austerity programs of David Cameron which have created a double-dip recession over there. But note the other rhetorical flourish that Ryan, a former speechwriter, threw in there: “the American Idea.” I didn’t know that “the American Idea” was “robbing most of the country’s consumers, particularly the elderly, of spending power while still failing to have any effect on balancing the budget.” This is straight from the Kenneth Burke rhetorical playbook — Ryan is seeking identification with the audience by appealing to the shared experience of being “American” and trying to force that upon his budget, which is a document with no bearing either way upon the definition of “American.” Identification can be very effective when subtle and inviting. Or you can capitalize “American Idea.” Why didn’t this joker just put it in boldface type?

The bureaucrat-controlled approach to health care may have begun with the best of intentions, but it quickly ran into the same problem that it always does: bureaucrats are terrible at setting prices in a market economy. As the federal government’s control over health care grew, bureaucratic mistakes started to cause serious problems. Government subsidies drove up costs; and health care became unaffordable for those who didn’t qualify for them. As a result, rising costs now threaten to leave our children buried under a mountain of debt.

You know how the government sets health care prices now? Yeah, me neither. Government involvement in health care is limited to Medicare and Medicaid, two programs facing cost problems because the government has failed to set appropriate price controls. Certainly both have had some effect on rising health care costs, but Ryan’s statement requires the reader to take one step further. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would leave in place the programs that Ryan criticizes here. He didn’t want to come out and say it, but this means he would need to repeal Medicare and Medicaid to achieve the goals he outlined above. Are you ready to have everyone over the age of 70 working side jobs to get health insurance?

The future of business involves these 3 asking everyone how to move the "little arrow around the screen" (via

Oh god this argument…

The law raids Medicare by nearly $700 billion to fund a new, unsustainable, open-ended health care entitlement.

Yes, that’s it, the Affordable Care Act is the real threat to Medicare. Does this guy even believe his own bullshit? His budget cuts Medicare spending more, so even IF you care about maintaining current Medicare spending levels, the Affordable Care Act is STILL better than the Ryan budget. More accurately, the Affordable Care Act only cuts Medicare by $200 billion, and it does so by reducing costs rather than cutting coverage.

It creates a government panel of bureaucrats with the power to impose price controls on providers in ways that would result in rationed care and restricted access to treatments…There is no way for “experts” in Washington to know more about the health care needs of individual Americans than those individuals and their doctors know, nor should bureaucrats second-guess how each individual would prioritize services against costs.

Laugh with me people. Private insurers are rationing care now and there’s no way “experts” in…wherever they headquarter health insurance companies…know more than individuals and doctors. And yet that’s the world Paul Ryan advocates. A world where an oligopoly of insurers unresponsive to the market (which is small enough that they functionally control) is supposedly better than a democratically-elected government. It may not be perfect but I’ll take my chances with the latter.

The “fatal conceit” of the health care law stands in stark contrast to America’s historic commitment to individual liberty and personal responsibility.

“Fatal.” That’s a powerful, if cheap, image to employ in an article about health care. 10 points to Slytherin.

It’s time to put 50 million seniors, not 15 bureaucrats, in charge of their own health care decisions. Forcing insurance companies to compete is the only way to guarantee quality, affordable health care for seniors that will last for generations.


Has Ryan never had an elderly family member? While struggling with end-of-life issues like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and physical infirmity by all means let’s add market research and fighting with corporate-minded bureaucrats to their plate.

We lower tax rates by closing special interest loopholes, making clear Washington doesn’t need to micromanage people’s decisions through the tax code.

Except oil and gas industry tax giveaways. We keep those.

The Path to Prosperity represents a vote of confidence in the American experiment.

And with this Ryan uses accurate imagery. The Ryan budget is an experiment. An ill-conceived gamble with the economic future of the country and the health of our seniors.

I’m glad this guy doesn’t write articles every week because no one else could ever win our TDTIHTW feature. Well…except Charles Krauthammer.

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