Monday, June 06, 2011

Get up and shout "Hallelujah!"

Susan Crabtree, posting on Talking Poin Memo, and Joan McCarter, posting on DailyKos, are delighted that five Democratic Senators have sent to Vice-President Joe Biden, heading the bipartisan group in deficit reduction talks, a letter reading in part

As you know, the House-passed budget would end Medicare as we know it by destroying the guaranteed-benefit system and instead requiring seniors to enter the private insurance market. Despite the public’s overwhelming rejection of this proposal, and even after the Senate vote against it last week, many top congressional leaders are now saying they want the plan included as part of a package to reduce the deficit. Just last week, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan declared that the plan to dismantle Medicare is “part of the debt ceiling talks.” Then on Sunday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell echoed that it is “on the table.”

This proposal would never pass Congress on its own, and it does not belong in a larger deal either. It would be devastating for America’s seniors, who would see their out-of-pocket costs for health care double and the benefits they currently enjoy jeopardized. Under this risky proposal, insurance company bureaucrats would decide what care seniors get.

We are aware the administration has rejected this proposal since its passage by the House, and we applaud your efforts to educate the American people about its serious implications. We encourage you to remain unwavering in opposition to this scheme. For the good of the nation’s seniors, it must remain off the table.

Let's hold the hallelujahs, the amens, and uncorking that vintage bottle of champagne. What was the first clue? Perhaps the inclusion of Montana's Jon Tester- or more revealingly, that of Missouri's centrist Claire McCaskill, an Obama devotee.

Poll after poll reveals overwhelming opposition to the effort of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to his plan to eliminate Medicare- and to any effort to cut benefits. And the response of Senators Tester, McCaskill, Cardin (Maryland), Brown (Ohio), and Nelson (Florida): opposition to "dismantle" Medicare, to "this scheme" embodied in the GOP budget plan.

Even the language is tepid. The "House-passed budget would end Medicare as we know it?" No, it would end Medicare. E-N-D. Or, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on June 1 put it on the floor,

The Republicans saying: ‘We’re going to double down. Not only did we vote to abolish Medicare, increasing costs for seniors, lowering benefits and while giving tax breaks to oil companies and corporations for shipping jobs says to seniors: ‘No more Medicare for you. You’re going to pay more, get less and weaken the middle class at the same time—weakening the middle class because of abolishing Medicare and weakening the middle class.... They do not believe in Medicare and they are voting today to honor their beliefs to abolish Medicare.

Pelosi, and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), were specifically debating H. Con. Res. 34 as an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which "deemed" the Republican budget passed. But the five Democratic Senators who penned the letter to Biden were responding to the ongoing talks on the deficit. They have jumped up and collectively exclaimed "No!" to including an agreement to terminate Medicare. It's hard to imagine Sherrod Brown or a Democratic senator from Florida (Nelson) giving a nod and a wink to the Vice-President- don't end it, cut it- but for Tester, McCaskill and perhaps Cardin, it's highly believable. And when Democratic- Democratic!- Senators flex their muscles and assert merely that Medicare not be rubbed out, it doesn't end well.

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