(photo: Steve Rhodes)

President Obama used very forceful language to strongly oppose Paul Ryan’s Republican plan to privatize Medicare. The President described Ryan’s proposal as leaving people to the mercy of the insurance industry:

I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs.

The thing is, by saying Ryan’s plan leaves people over 65 to the mercy of the insurance industry, the President is basically admitting that his new health care law was designed with the intention of leaving those under 65 to mercy of the private insurance industry.

Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into an income-based, sliding-scale voucher that seniors use to buy only private insurance on a loosely regulated exchange is nearly identical to the Obama Affordable Care Act’s basic design that gives the uninsured under 65 income-based, sliding-scale vouchers to buy only private insurance on loosely regulated exchanges. Under both plans, the size of these vouchers is designed to grow slower than the cost of insurance, resulting in shrinking benefits.

How Obama was able to sell this basic design–which he admits leaves people to the “mercy of the insurance industry”–as some great progressive victory is beyond me.