Through the Back Door

It's no secret that the Republicans, including those appointed to the Super Committee, were never going to sign off raising taxes or even other measures that would lead to respectable increases in revenue. In fact one of the major sticking points during committee negotiations was the Republican request for a permanent extension of the Bush Tax Cuts.

What was unknown until now is that the Republicans on the committee were also trying to sneak the privatization and voucherization of Medicare and Medicaid through the back door.

Democrats on the committee made it clear that the new spending called for in the president’s health law was off the table. Still, committee Republicans offered to negotiate a plan on the other two health-care entitlements—Medicare and Medicaid—based upon the reforms included in the budget the House passed earlier this year. [...]

Republicans on the committee also offered to negotiate a plan based on the bipartisan “Protect Medicare Act” authored by Alice Rivlin, one of President Bill Clinton’s budget directors, and Pete Domenici, a former Republican senator from New Mexico. Rivlin-Domenici offered financial support to seniors to purchase quality, affordable health coverage in Medicare-approved plans. These seniors would be able to choose from a list of Medicare-guaranteed coverage options, similar to the House budget’s approach—except that Rivlin-Domenici would continue to include a traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan among the options.

If for some reason you require further confirmation that the Republicans aren't really serious at all about the federal deficit, here it is. They chose to use this opportunity to further their social agenda of privatizing government rather than address the fiscal problems the committee was intended to tackle.

The Republicans also must have known that the Democrats would never accept their terms for an agreement, which would seem to suggest that they were counting on the failure of the committee just as much as the Democrats were.

You may have noticed that the Republicans rarely even mention the federal deficit anymore, and that's primarily because President Obama has robbed them of the argument.