Thursday, June 2, 2011

Republicans Blunder By Linking Medicare and Deficit, Medicare and Budget; Suggestions for Bi-Partisanship

We all know that the Budget-Medicare fiasco is a big problem for the Republicans, even as they try to downplay it.  Well, here's a poll saying that it's even worse for Republicans and Conservatives:  GOP Medicare-Ending Budget Bigger Political Fumble Than First Thought.  "It doesn't take much political savvy to note that Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) Medicare-destroying budget plan hasn't panned out all that well for the GOP.  But a new poll out from advocates for the Democratic health care law shows that the Ryan budget fail goes even deeper than embarrassed presidential candidates and special election upsets.  Not only does the poll show huge opposition to Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system, the poll shows Democrats winning the credibility war when it comes to Medicare and 'protecting the middle class.'  And -- in a jolt of good news for the White House and Democrats -- the numbers show that when voters are given Ryan budget messaging from opponents, support for the Democratic health care law actually goes up slightly in response. "

But wait, there's more.  A new poll says Conservatives And Republicans Oppose the Ryan Budget.  "More evidence that Republicans are following Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) down a dark path when it comes to Medicare: a new CNN poll shows not even self-identified conservatives are in favor of Ryan's scheme.  Like most recent polls, the CNN survey shows a vast majority of respondents less than thrilled with Ryan's plan to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system.  Just 35% say they support it, while 58% say they oppose it.  The majority stands opposed to Ryan's plan across all demographic groups, including Republicans.  Among conservatives, 54% are opposed."  Here's more on the poll from CNN:  Majority givesthumbs down to Ryan plan. 

Clearly, the problems for Republicans and Conservatives are even deeper than first thought.  Here's more detail from that CNN poll.  "According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a majority also don't think the GOP has cooperated enough with President Barack Obama and, for the first time since they won back control of the House last November, the number of Americans who say that Republican control of the chamber is good for the country has dropped below the 50 percent mark.  'Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly,' says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.  'Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients.'"

And the story continues.  Donald Trump has made his comment on the Ryan budget plan and declared it a "Death Wish."  "Despite ranking as one of the biggest political fails among Americans, the GOP is committed to walking Ryan’s plank.  But one (current) Republican is not buying it.  This morning on Fox and Friends, perennial presidential candidate Donald Trump lambasted the GOP over the Ryan plan.  Calling it a 'death wish,' Trump noted that the plan’s 'horrendous' timing delivered the GOP 'an impossible loss' and will cause serious losses in future elections."

It appears that the public outcry and overwhelmingly strong disagreement with the Ryan budget proposal is taking its toll not only on Republicans in general but also on Paul Ryan in particular.  We already noted that Paul Ryan is UnpopularBack Home In Wisconsin

Now, in an unfriendly White house meeting Paul Ryanconfronts Obama on Medicare.  "Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee, pressed the president to stop describing his 2012 budget plan, which would replace the government-run system for senior health care with a privately administered program as a 'voucher,' according to several Republicans in attendance.   Obama immediately pushed back by accusing the GOP of mischaracterizing his own plans, suggesting they had intentionally distorted his health care reforms, including a gradual $500 billion reduction in Medicare advantage plans, extra insurance often purchased by middle-income seniors."

Of course, to call it an unfriendly meeting might be a bit of an understatement.  "In exchange for votes to raise the debt limit, leading Republicans want trillions of dollars in spending cuts, as House speaker John Boehner is pushing, along with cuts to Medicare and possibly other social welfare programs, as advocated by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.  And they don’t want to fix the federal debt with even one cent of additional tax revenue.  Boehner portrayed today's meeting as one where Republicans dictated their demands.   'This was an opportunity for our members to communicate directly to the president about our ideas about how to get the economy going again … and how to solve the debt problem facing our country.'"  Some people think President Obama should be speaking out more.  To some, it appears that this is A Rambunctious Right Wing, A Silent President and the Debt Ceiling Deal.

"During an interview with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Meet The Press host David Gregory bought into this canard [Republican claims that Democrats are doing nothing about Medicare] by asking, 'Is there a danger for Democrats in not seriously engaging on Medicare as being seen as abdicating responsibility on really fighting the deficit writ large?'  Schumer’s response -- which emphasized that Democrats already seriously engaged on Medicare by extending the solvency of the program in the Affordable Care Act and that Republicans would literally end traditional Medicare as an option to seniors -- should serve as a guide to any Democrats who are asked to respond to that kind premise."  Be sure to watch the excerpt for some reasonable if not visionary ideas to improve Medicare.

Many people would agree that Democrats and Republicans (and Liberals and Conservatives) need to work together to really solve Medicare's problems.  Of course, this is extremely difficult for those who believe strongly that the program should not even exist or in any way be the responsibility of the American (Federal) government (that is, Republicans and Conservatives).  It is equally difficult for those who see the value and rightness of Medicare to be so simply and obviously evident that entertaining even the slightest limitations seems un-American (that is, Democrats and Liberals).

Yet, as statesmen of the past have managed -- for the common good -- to overcome their considerable differences, Both parties mustconvince Americans that Medicare is unsustainable.  "Over the past decade, both Democrats and Republicans have pushed major initiatives to restructure our health and entitlement systems, arguing that significant changes were necessary in order to keep them afloat.  So far, their proposals have consistently lurched too far either to the left or to the right of the median voter, and they’ve paid for it dearly each time at the polls.  But both parties are right about one thing: The status quo is unsustainable.  And until they can persuade average voters of this basic fact, the chances that our country will rise to meet this latest challenge look grim."  This is a critical review of the sustainability of Medicare, and I highly recommend it.

The article concludes with this suggestion for a starting point:  "If Ryan’s proposal is unacceptable, but the status quo is unsustainable, what is to be done?  To begin answering that question, we can’t do much better than taking the bipartisan Domenici-Rivlin proposal as our point of departure and figure out ways of refining and improving it.  But there’s a huge stumbling-block at the threshold: the American people don’t believe that the status quo is unsustainable.  Until they do, they’ll reject not only the Ryan plan, but also alternatives that are far more balanced and less draconian.  So both political parties face, and cannot avoid, the bedrock challenge of every democracy: persuading the people, who are the ultimate arbiters of what’s possible, to accept a bitter truth and its necessary consequences."  See also:  The Domenici-Rivlin Medicare Plan Combines the Best of Obama’s and Ryan's Approaches


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