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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"Wrapping both hands around third rail"

Remember the battle cry of the town hall meetings that launched the Tea Party? "Keep your god damned government hands off my Medicare?" Well, that's exactly where House Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is headed.

And in the words of his House colleague, the Wisconsin Republican "wrapping both hands" around what has long been considered a "third rail" of American politics -- instant death to anyone who touches it.

But given the sorry state of congressional Democrats and the White House, Ryan may only suffer minor burns if he is allowed to re-open what has been a 40-plus year settled debate over the government-run health insurance system.

Ryan is expected to unveil a plan today that would eventually turn Medicare into a private insurance program -- with higher costs to beneficiaries. Medicaid would become a state block grant -- making the vulnerable who now rely on it for health care even more dependent on the political whims.

And if Ryan holds true to the outline he unveiled last year, he has already dealt with a major political roadblock, grandfathering anyone over the age of 55 from the changes.

Smart politics. But what about policy?

The plan as discussed sounds like massive cost-shifting: away from the government onto the backs of those in need of health care. Coupled with the avowed aim of repealing "ObamaCare" -- and with it once more allowing insurers to decide who gets care -- it would make good health available only to those who can afford it.

Hardly a compassionate conservative stance.

The time has come for Barack Obama and his Democratic colleagues to draw a line in the sand, Plaintive pleas for bipartisanship have not worked and conservatives have exploited what has been perceived as weakness to propose a radical and fundamental shift in who we are as a nation.

Coupled with the massive tax cuts for millionaires that have played a pivotal role in the yawning budget deficits they now decry, it is another effort by Republicans to take from the shrinking middle class and give to the rich.

Enough already. Ryan and the GOP need to suffer the consequences of grabbing that third rail.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

Max Baucus sent out an email saying, "Not on my watch!"

Ryan's plan is gonna get smacked down if a centrist like Baucus says that.

April 05, 2011 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

Digby's analysis is the Paul Ryan's crazy plan to dismember Medicare is designed to make Alan Simpson's plan look like a "compromise."

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/poster-boys-for-soylent-green.html

April 05, 2011 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Atlanta Roofing said...

The plan would replace the current open-ended system of Medicare payments with one in which the federal government would subsidize people to purchase insurance. In health insurance jargon, this is called “premium support.” Ryan would set up a system called “the Medicare exchange” in which beneficiaries would choose an insurance plan they preferred.

April 05, 2011 10:54 PM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

First, Paul Ryan operates on Ayn Rand's principles, and Ayn Rand thought it was morally wrong to help most people. She thought most people were leeches.

Medicare, as passed by LBJ, is a way for most working people to contribute a little bit like 2% so that the elderly can have care, and Medicare operates on a thin overhead, spending most of the taxpayers money on actual care, not yachts for CEOs.

Paul Ryan wants to let private insurance get in there and that means they divert money away from care to their own wealth. It's the Ayn Rand way. Ryan's plan will encourage more elites to be like Governor Rick Scott and defraud the system.

It's the Ayn Rand way: ordinary people aren't fully human, so it's okay for the elites to treat 'em like cattle.

April 06, 2011 6:06 AM  

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