Wanted: Left-Wing Demagogues
That after months of tea parties and protests against Big Gubmint takeovers and socialism, the Republican Party would come out as the defenders of Medicare has got to be one of the most hilarious things I've ever witnessed. If the rank and file agitators had half a brain they'd recognize how they've been played for suckers.
Nothing like limited-government conservatism.
This is of course a big sham.
Michael Steele tells me the Democrats want to dismantle Medicare. So my first question is simple: Why do Democrats hate Medicare?
The hypocrisy is shameless. I won't go through the history of Medicare, but for Republicans to say that you should trust us on Medicare is like Colonel Sanders guarding the chicken coop. I think most seniors know that, and these scare tactics will boomerang. I don't think people will buy it, since the guys peddling this stuff are the very people who have been trying to undermine and weaken Medicare for years and years. There was a budget alternative put forward by Paul Ryan this year that would have ended Medicare as we know it and given all seniors a voucher to get their health care on the private market. And they voted for it. So we know what they wanted to do with Medicare.
Actually, people don't know this story. Because Democrats haven't bothered to tell it.
Here's that alternative budget. The Ryan proposal would have converted the entire Medicare program into a voucher system, throwing seniors onto the individual market with a fixed amount of money to purchase their own plan. It didn't have insurance regulatory reform, to my knowledge, so all the voucher money in the world wouldn't have helped one senior get coverage from companies who would deny all of them based on a pre-existing condition.
Now, establishment Democrats may find this funny, but they haven't informed the public that, five months ago, 80% of the GOP caucus voted to eliminate Medicare and turn it into a private, voucher-based individual market without guaranteed coverage. They just expect seniors to know about some alternative budget vote.
How the hell would they know?
Was one ad created telling America what Republicans were willing to do to their health care? Was one flyer sent from the vaunted DNC voter file into targeted senior-heavy districts explaining this tale? Was any talking head discussing on television the goal of the GOP to eliminate Medicare, and their votes for it?
I mean, this was the kind of stuff Democratic strategists at least used to be good at. If you can't scare seniors to death over a vote to ELIMINATE MEDICARE, you cannot hope to win a health care fight. It's at least worth a try now, but it may be too late at this point; seniors are already nervous about cuts that would come in a new bill, and they no longer trust Democrats to do right by them. A well-timed push back in April could have shut down the resonance of the entire tea party movement. "Republicans want to eliminate your Medicare... Democrats want to strengthen it, for you and for future generations." Is that so hard?
Sometimes I think this isn't a political party but an elaborate episode of Candid Camera.