Saturday, June 18, 2011

Medicare Ad Wars Intensify, Debt/Budget Talks Continue

"The 60 Plus Association -- a well-moneyed group that advocates for conservative safety net policies -- is running a new ad, starring House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), to defend the GOP plan to phase out Medicare and replace it with private insurance.  'The Democrats and Obama are destroying Medicare,' said Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association in a prepared statement, before pivoting unironically.  'It's time to put an end to their 'mediscare' tactics.'"  YIKES!  Can they be representing most older people?

"Who We Are" from the 60 Plus Association Web site:  "Founded in 1992, the 60 Plus Association is a non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues.  60 Plus has set ending the federal estate tax and saving Social Security for the young as its top priorities.  60 Plus is often viewed as the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)."  [their emphasis]

Here's the 60 Plus Association press release which, incredibly, says AARP Ad Masks Anti-Senior Agenda, Cuts to Social Security.  AARP -- an anti-senior organization?  We might not agree with everything AARP advocates for, but we certainly do not think they are anti-senior.  From the press release -- which you should review for spin education and to prepare for countering these arguments:  "60 Plus Chairman Jim Martin, leader of the nation’s most prominent conservative seniors advocacy group, lashed out today against a new TV advertising campaign from the AARP, which attacks the Republican plan to save Social Security and Medicare."  The anger is almost palpable, and I'd really like to understand what's behind it.

According to Vice President Joe Biden, the budget negotiations are "getting down to the real hard stuff."  "After six weeks of talks with congressional leaders aimed at restraining the spiraling national debt, Vice President Biden emerged Thursday with a blunt message:  Now, the hard part begins.  Next week, Biden said, negotiators from the White House and Capitol Hill will begin working 'around the clock' to bridge the yawning philosophical divide between the two parties, as Democrats press for fresh revenue and Republicans push for significant cuts to federal health programs as part of the debt-reduction package."  He also said that "everyone wants an agreement" on long-term debt.

My opinion:  Medicare shouldn't be on the table at all, since Medicare saves money.  (See my blog of June 14).  Really, when you get down to it, it's purely a matter of philosophy of government -- what's completely unacceptable to some (i.e., Conservative Republicans) and what's critically necessary to others (i.e., Democrats and Liberals).  What should be strictly the domain of the private sector and what does government need to do when the private sector fails?  Clearly, there are markets that the private sector poorly serves; health insurance for the elderly, the disabled, and the unemployed are obvious examples, particularly when they have fixed or limited incomes.

On the same topic:  Debt talks make progress but differences remain  "Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he and congressional negotiators have done a 'first serious scrub' of the entire federal budget but differences remain over big-ticket items that philosophically divide the two parties in their quest for an agreement that would raise the nation’s debt ceiling while putting in place long-term reductions to the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt.  Those big-ticket items include whether to increase tax revenues -- which many Democrats want -- and making changes to expensive entitlements like Medicare -- which many Republicans support."

And lastly, for your information:


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