Thursday, June 16, 2011

Budget Posturing Continues, Saving Medicare By Destroying It, Same Old Political Obstructions

Budget posturing continues as the Democrats continue to prepare for Medicare fights with Conservative Republicans.  On Medicare, Senate Democrats Say They Won’t Accept a “Mini” Ryan Plan  "The Senate Democratic leadership came out today and reaffirmed that Medicare cuts should not be on the table during the debt ceiling discussions.  'Seniors can't afford it,' Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said following today’s policy luncheons, 'The vast majority of the American people, including most Republicans, do not support changing Medicare as we know it, that piece of legislation that came from the House.'"  In addition, Democrats are saying they won't accept other possible variations on the Ryan plan.

Keeping Medicare benefits while controlling costs is a sensible approach to dealing with some current problems.  "People like me who came of political age in the 1960's will never forget the absurd statement from an American General, that we had to destroy a Vietnamese village in order to save it.  That Orwellian proposition came to symbolize the essence of the progressive case against the Vietnam War.  In 2011 the Republican proposal to end Medicare in order to 'save it' may have the same iconic power to lay bare the true goals of the GOP's political and economic philosophy."

Since non-working people (mainly the retired and the disabled) would not benefit from this proposal to repeal Medicare, who would?  "The fact is that the Republicans aren't even trying to control skyrocketing health care costs.  Instead they intend to create a new -- non-Medicare -- program that will allow their large benefactors like the insurance and pharmaceutical companies -- to make huge sums of money from the taxpayers."

It's important to understand that cutting Medicare benefits -- which Democrats are refusing to do -- is different than cutting costs.  As we have said here, almost daily, cost must be dealt with.  "Democrats and Progressives strongly favor reining in the growth of health care costs -- including the underlying costs of Medicare.  We completely reject cuts in Medicare benefits.  Reining in costs does not involve cutting benefits -- it actually helps make sure that we don't cut benefits.  And, in fact, while cutting benefits may reduce government spending, it would actually increase America's overall spending on health care."

It's not unusual for the party in power -- Republicans in the House at this time -- to exercise some political interference with the minority's mailings to constituents.  CENSORSHIP! Dems Cry Foul Over GOP Interference With Medicare Mailers  "A bitter, behind-the-scenes fight over the GOP's Medicare phase-out plan has bubbled out into the open, and now Democrats are openly charging Republicans with censoring their communications with constituents."  Republicans are "now demanding changes, and suggesting revisions, such as that their plan 'could change' Medicare, by partially privatizing portions of it.  They're even objecting to the term 'voucher,' which they say should be replaced by the term 'premium support.'"  (You may recall that we previously mentioned this new, focus group tested, term which is less inflammatory ... and less honest.)  Even previously approved phrases now are off limits.  Clearly, this shows growing desperation about controlling the message.  Still, in the end, Conservative Republicans will try to take credit for any changes to control costs.


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