Monday, May 23, 2011

Revoking Medicare


Eric Cantor says it. The House Majority Leader claims "The Democrats are doing "nothing to save Medicare from collapse" while "Republicans have offered a plan to guarantee benefits for seniors and those approaching retirement while ensuring that this important safety net exists for Americans under 54 years of age."

Mitch McConnell says it. The Senate Minority Leader contends "what Paul has done here is implement a premium support proposal at the end of the period, which is a very sensible way to go to try to save Medicare."

And of course, The Serious One, Paul Ryan himself, says it, hallucinating "We're saving Medicare for the elderly."

George Will disingenuously writes that Medicare "would be made permanently solvent." That might be technically true, given that Medicare would not be changed but instead eliminated, which would not leave the program insolvent. Or leave the program program at all.

The GOP has learned well one of the core axioms of politics: if you're explaining, your're losing. That is not far from "the best defense is a good offense," an invalid principle for a football or a basketball team, but a good one for a party caught red-handed trying to abolish Medicare.

We're not trying to eradicate Medicare, Republicans say, by radically restructuring it. We're trying only to save it from the other party, which wants to maintain the program. Or something like that.

But the Ryan budget, approved in the House with the support of all but four Republicans, does propose to end Medicare. When Politifact valiantly and dishonestly to claim that the voucher proposal is not intended to replace Medicare, Paul Krugman noted

I know that serious people are supposed to be shocked, shocked at the Democrats calling the Ryan plan a plan to dismantle Medicare — but that’s just what it is. If you replace a system that actually pays seniors’ medical bills with an entirely different system, one that gives seniors vouchers that won’t be enough to buy adequate insurance, you’ve ended Medicare. Calling the new program “Medicare” doesn’t change that fact.

Matt Yglesias explained

“Medicare” refers to a single-payer universal health insurance program instituted by the Social Security Act of 1965. If a political movement committed to having that program “wither on the vine” and die puts forward a bill to abolish that program and replace it with a system of private vouchers, then it doesn’t matter whether or not the voucher program is still called Medicare. That’s what House Republicans voted to do, and there’s nothing even slightly misleading about calling this an effort to end Medicare. What’s misleading is the effort to use nomenclature to obscure the nature of the change.

You may buy a Buick, a Ford, or a Honda and choose to call it a Mercedes. That would be your prerogative. Or a state government may give all its children a voucher they can spend on education at a private, sectarian or non-sectarian, school. That would not make it a public education, any more than your Ford Taurus is a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. And Paul Ryan's model for health care for the elderly is no Ford Taurus; more like a Yugo.




No comments:

Purity Test

Author and journalist Jonathan Alter, who tends to prefer Democratic candidates from the corporate-friendly wing of the Democratic Par...