Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Republicans Stripped Down over Medicare

(Notice how nice the Stars and Stripes complement their outfits.)

Trying to find what Kelly Ayotte has to say about Paul Ryan's Couponcare plan to kill Medicare has been likely trying to grasp a cloud in your hand--it just keeps slipping out and disappearing. I may not be the most sophisticated search engine user, but I simply cannot pin the lady down. Titles say, "Kelly Ayotte supports Congressman Ryan's plan for Medicare," but no quote follows, then "Kelly Ayotte says Ryan's plan is not a voucher plan," but no quote, and oh what a lovely quote that would have been and "Kelly Ayotte does not support Ryan's plan."

So, as they say in politics, the righteous Ms. Ayotte may have "evolved," which is to say, her principles blew off like the fuzz off a dead dandilion, when she saw the poll results.

The problem for Ms. Ayotte, and for all true believer Republicans, is they have certain "core principles" or ideology which lead them inexorably to hate Medicare, and not less, Social Security.

The first is that taxes are BAD.   That means, of course, anything which requires taxes (except of course, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers, submarines, just-say-no, sexual abstinence programs) must be BAD. 

Medicare and Social Security require lots of tax, and so they are BAD.

The big problem, politically, i.e. getting elected, is that people love Medicare and Social Security, especially older people.

So when Paul Ryan says he wants to give you a coupon for $5000 or even $10,000 to spend on your medical care every year, it doesn't matter if he gives you a plastic card embossed in gold, even the slowest, thickest voter knows a heart surgery costs $80,000, easily, and that $10,000 will pay for maybe the first twenty mintues of that surgery. And after that, it's sell your home and move in with the kids.

So even in New Hampshire, where there are few taxes but people are irate about what taxes there are, the cry is, "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!"

This is, of course, on a more basic level, a philosophical question about how much you want to be responsible for your neighbor. If you pay for your neighbor's healthcare, that's a pretty big committment.  The Finns were famous for looking down their noses at the Americans because the Americans do not provide health care for their own, nor day care nor any of the social support systems Finns have done for generations. Americans were like those tribal peoples of the various Stan countries, unwilling to help anyone other than members of their own families, and even not that, on occasion.  But Finland is a country of what? Eight million. When you talk about including Finns in a bigger family, say all of Europe, then they are not so eager to pay for healthcare for undeserving, lazy Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese. 

So, the problem we've been having as Americans, as peole who live in New Hampshire, is we really don't like a lot of our fellow citizens. We don't think they deserve our help.

But Medicare, and Social Security have been the two big successes and these programs have been relentlessly attacked by Republicans. George W tried to kill both. His Republican heirs keep trying. The mistake Paul Ryan made was he was more open about his intentions, more honest.

And when Ryan unzipped his clothes, when he asked other Republicans to do the same, what the public saw was pretty disgusting. Now all the Republicans in Congress are rushing to zip back up.

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