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Talking Points Memo - I Like The Sound Of Ryan's Entitlement Reforms

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By Evan McMorris-Santoro

One would-be Republican presidential contender isn't afraid to sign up with Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) plans to end Medicare and Medicaid as we now know them.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a longshot for his party's nomination next year, isn't afraid to jump on the political third rail that is care for the elderly. In a statement Tuesday, he singled out Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare and Medicaid as among the best parts of Ryan's massive budget proposal.

"I commend Chairman Ryan's long-term budget proposal that tackles entitlement programs, particularly his proposed reforms of the Medicaid program," Santorum said.

The social conservative also praised Ryan's plan to change Medicare from a single-payer system to a program of government-subsidized vouchers to help seniors attain private health insurance. It's long been campaign canon that actively discussing big changes to programs aimed squarely at the all-important senior vote is not the best way to win, but Santorum said today he's more than willing to stand behind Ryan's plan.

"I also believe the Republicans' approach to reforming Medicare is right on target to streamline the program, reduce waste and allow future Medicare beneficiaries to have more of a say in the needs of their benefits with a market driven approach," he said.

Contrast Santorum's statement with the more mainstream former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's vague praise for, but no direct discussion of, Ryan's plan and you can see the difference between a candidate trying to grab the front of the pack and one vying for attention near the back.

Read the whole statement here:

"I commend Chairman Ryan's long-term budget proposal that tackles entitlement programs, particularly his proposed reforms of the Medicaid program. As one of the principal authors of the 1996 Welfare Reform bill that greatly utilized the block grant system to reform that entitlement, I have seen firsthand the success that can occur by using conservative policy foundations to empower individuals and save a failing program. I also believe the Republicans' approach to reforming Medicare is right on target to streamline the program, reduce waste and allow future Medicare beneficiaries to have more of a say in the needs of their benefits with a market driven approach. And with over $6 trillion in spending cuts, Congressional Republicans are making the tough choices in the short and long-term to bring the Federal budget under control, and I urge the American people to stand with them in the face of Democratic party obstructionism."


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