If congressional Republicans manage to pass their tax cut bill and send it to Trump's desk, what happens next?
I believe they're going to lose control of the House of Representatives if not the Senate, but before we get to the election Speaker Paul Ryan wants to make one last attempt to privatize Medicare.
Ryan doesn't use the word "privatize," but if you read closely it's clear that's what he's talking about.
From the Washington Post:
“We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky's talk radio show. "... Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.” [...]
“I think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare,” Ryan said. "...This has been my big thing for many, many years. I think it's the biggest entitlement we've got to reform.”
Paul Ryan will never stop trying to privatize Medicare. Not until he's out of office entirely.
I can't say he'll stop when he loses the speakership because that's not where it started. Longtime readers should recall that Ryan first unveiled his "Path to Prosperity" budget all the way back in 2011 when he was just the chairman of the House Budget Committee. Congressional Republicans have been wed to Ryan's Randian fantasy budget ever since then and they clearly aren't going to let go of it anytime soon.
If they had a lick of sense, average Republicans should want to see Ryan ride off into the sunset as much as anyone. Ryan has pushed them to vote for these policies every single year for the past 6 years and they still have nothing to show for it.
Hopefully I won't have to eat my words, but I don't see most Republicans (or at least not enough of them to pass it) embracing the privatization of Medicare just a few months away from the midterm election. If they were to try it, the earliest they could do so would be next fall. Obamacare is a much more vulnerable target than Medicare and Republicans spent most of the year trying, and failing, to repeal it.
No one will buy Ryan's argument that we must privatize Medicare to cut the deficit after passing a tax cut bill that will increase the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion, and it's already clear that Republicans can't find enough votes in the Senate to cut Medicaid by a trillion dollars. If they could, they would have already. They tried to cut Medicaid three separate times in the past six months.