Mitch McConnell had another chance to wholeheartedly endorse Paul Ryan's plans to turn Medicare into a voucher system, but he declined to rubber stamp it on Fox News Sunday. He was careful not to enrage the head of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, by saying said he'd vote for it, but he also made clear that he won't be enforcing party discipline to line up behind it. He told Chris Wallace that there are plenty of other ideas coming from Senate Republicans like Pat Toomey to choose from. (rough transcript)
WALLACE: You say you're going to vote for it, but you also say you're not going to push any of your colleagues. Is that because it's bad policy?
MCCONNELL: No, let me tell you, in the Senate we have a bunch of other budgets that Republicans are pushing. Pat Toomey has a very thoughtful ten-year proposal that he likes. He, like I, also supports the Ryan budget. My Kentucky colleague Rand Paul has a budget. What I've said to our members are that we're not going to be able to coalesce behind just one and we may well vote on the Ryan budget. I'm going to make sure that we vote on the Obama budget....there will be votes on several budgets in the Senate.
WALLACE: What do you think of the Ryan plan on Medicare?
MCCONNELL: Well, what Paul has done here is implement a premium support proposal at the end of the period, which is a very sensible way to go to try and save Medicare.
McConnell tries to describe it as a "thoughtful" plan to help save Medicare and it's the starting point ot have an adult conversation about Medicare. Anytime you hear the phrase "adult conversation" from a Republican, you know it's almost always going to be about how the working class of America should have to sacrifice in order for the CEO's and very rich to continue on their own limited path to prosperity.
WALLACE: Do you support the idea -- you're exactly right, everybody would agree it's going to change and they're going to be cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars either way. Do you support the Ryan concept of turning Medicare from a fee for service plan to a voucher plan, which quite frankly under the CBO analysis means in the long run seniors will end up more out of pocket for health care?
MCCONNELL: Paul Ryan would say it's not a voucher plan, it's a premium support plan.
WALLACE: What's the difference?
MCCONNELL: He says it is different. The point is this Chris, it's going to change...
WALLACE: But you're not willing to say that you support the Ryan plan?
MCCONNELL: What I'm willing to say is that we're going to have to change Medicare and it's going to happen soon.
New talking point alert: Ryan's plan is a Premium Support Plan! McConnell would not personally admit what Ryan's plan actually does. That is, make Medicare a voucher program. That's what Ryan calls for Medicare to become with his budget, and everybody knows it -- including Mitch McConnell. Pushed by Wallace, he refused to embrace it, though, because he understands that politically it's a huge problem with seniors. So his response is to change the topic and say Medicare has to change.