Romneys Patient Zero

Rick Perry has famously said that if he is elected president all foreign aid will start at zero each year and be voted on individually on the merits, even including Israel (although he winked and nodded to his Armageddon warriors to make sure everyone knew he would make sure it always got what it needed.)It looks like Mitt Romney has gone him one better. He’s going to make Medicare start at zero each year and have the congress vote on it. No more mandatory spending on sick old people, no sir:

KLEIN: Exactly. You know now, obviously a key question that’s going to determine whether this plan puts Medicare in a sustainable fiscal trajectory is the rate of growth of those support payments. Would the value — under your plan would the value of those subsidies grow at the standard measure of consumer inflation, or the rate of medical inflation?

ROMNEY: [...] One is Congressional action — deciding as Hoover, Heritage and Brooking said a few years ago, we just have a budget. And every year don’t call this an entitlement. Every year pass a budget for how much the total subsidy is going to be. And that would then set the limit of how much each person is going to receive. Obviously, I’ve mentioned that people of lower income would get a higher subsidy than people of higher income. [...]

KLEIN: So you are saying, just to clarify, you would leave it up to Congress to determine it each year or that’s one idea that –

ROMNEY: That’s one, that’s one principle. I think the key principle is this: It’s not going to grow at an open-ended rate driven only by medical inflation.

Hey, some years we may decide it’s more important to buy a new fleet of planes or give Jaaahb Creators another tax cut. The sick old people are going to have to pony up just like everyone else. You might have to put off that heart operation or give up your medication for a year or two. It’s all about priorities.

And one thing we will not do is have the cost of these services determine how much we will spend. The government’s not made of money you know. (Well, it sort of is, but we won’t talk about that.)

If Mitt learned one thing when he was in the business of breaking up companies and putting massive numbers of people out of work, it was that when costs go up there will be fewer customers and the market will force some competition and those costs will come back down. Of course, he didn’t actually kill the customers before, but the principle remains the same.

Is it just me or is it increasingly obvious that part of Mitt’s problem that he says as many dumb things as Rick Perry but he just does it in a less George W. Bush-like way?

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