Medicare vouchers

Rhetoric Aside, Both Sides Favor Medicare Limit

Despite fierce campaign rhetoric, one business commentator says President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney largely agree Medicare needs to go on a spending diet.Medicare has emerged as a defining issue in this year's presidential campaign, but one iconoclastic commentator says President Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney actually agree more than they disagree on what to do.

Matthew Yglesias, who covers business and economics for Slate, says despite fiery campaign rhetoric, both sides have committed to putting Medicare "on a diet." How they would shrink Medicare spending differs, Yglesias says, but that difference pales in comparison to their agreement on imposing a finite spending limit on one of America's most popular entitlement programs, which expands as medical costs rise.

Romney and his new running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, have ignited a fierce political debate over Medicare because of Ryan's congressional budget proposal to privatize Medicare by giving senior citizens medical vouchers. The amount of those vouchers, Yglesias says, would be limited by a cap on Medicare spending growth equal to annual GDP growth rate plus 0.5 percent.

Obama has blasted the Ryan voucher plan, predicting it would "end Medicare as we know it." However, Yglesias says Obama in his 2013 budget proposal also seeks to limit growth in Medicare spending, using the same formula as Ryan.