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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Been there, done that

As House Democrats creep ever closer to cobbling together a majority to pass health care reform, the Party of No is gearing up to repeat one of the biggest blunders in the nation's long saga of trying to provide adequate access to health care: repealing a law not even on the books.

Step into the Wayback Machine. The time is 1988 and Congress has passed legislation -- proposed by President Ronald Reagan -- expanding Medicare to provide catastrophic health care benefits (PDF) for seniors. Among other benefits, the bill would help seniors meet their prescription drug expenses.

Armed with misinformation about the bill -- and unwilling to pay for the extra protection -- elders turn on Congress and force repeal a year later. It wasn't until George Bush's convoluted and expensive Medicate Part D expansion more than a decade later that older Americans got help with prescription costs.

Republicans seem to be setting up for the same scenario today. We've more than emulated the misinformation end of it -- death panels being the most blatant lie hurled out in the course of the debate.

And once again elders -- who already have federal health insurance coverage are among those most vocal critics as Republicans whip up controversy to ensure that ill-informed seniors blurt out inanities like "keep your goddamn government hands off my Medicare."

Starting with Teddy Roosevelt -- who felt the need to leave the Republican Party to try to bring about health care reform -- up through Social Security and Medicare -- the same forces at work today have tried to stymie the ability of people to live better lives with the help of a federal social safety net.

Today, we are looking at a starved Social Security and Medicare system, slowly being strangled by an inability to deal with the fact we need to all chip in pay taxes to cover costs. As before, the Party of No leads the charge in fostering fear and loathing among the folks who already take advantage of the benefits.

Sadly we've seen Republicans are far better at tearing down than building up. So even if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi corrals the majority she needs, no one should rest on their laurels.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as you leave a way out for those of us who prefer to work the high wire "without a net". I would gladly take back the money I've paid into Soc Sec and I promise not to bother you when I'm 65. Same with things like the motorcycle helmet law, if they sign a waiver people can ride without a helmet. Then if they get hurt we're allowed to pull the plug, do not recsucitate. I don't want or need the government to look out for me.

March 19, 2010 2:14 PM  

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