The Republican House delegation, emboldened just a few weeks ago by an ambitious plan to remake Medicare into a voucher system, now appears to be backing away from such a proposal, report the Washington Post and New York Times.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who had proposed the makeover of Medicare, conceded that his party now is "under no illusion" they can agree with Democrats to make dramatic changes to the Medicare program. Instead, his delegation is more likely to exchange spending cuts elsewhere in order to agree to raising the debt ceiling, which is crucial in assuring the U.S. government won't default on its loan obligations. Ryan added that he had no plans for turning his proposals into legislation in the near-term.
Polling for the proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher system was deeply against such a change, particularly given that out-of-pocket costs for Medicare enrollees in that scenario likely would have risen dramatically. Democratic leadership, including President Obama, sharply criticized the plan.
"The reality is this president has excoriated our budget plan and the Medicare proposal in the plan," said House Majority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
House Speaker John Boehner contradicted Cantor to some extent, stating that there are no plans to back off the proposal, and suggesting that the Republicans were split on the issue. However, Boehner added that his party was well aware that sticking to their guns on the proposal could cost them in next year's mid-term elections.
"When it comes to increasing the debt limit and the need to have reductions in spending, nothing is off the table except for raising taxes," Boehner said.