Quite a thing to hear Republicans complaining about Democratic demagoguery on Medicare. It is even more astounding to hear them step up and demand that Democrats actually participate in the debate, and act all grown up and responsible. Yes the Republicans seem shocked that political points are being scored at their expense over this issue. How the world turns. Lets look at the objective facts (as I seem them)
1) The Republicans are right when they say that Medicare is in trouble. The numbers are clear, and they are likely to get worse with additional cost inflation and an aging population.
2) Republicans point to the fact that even if you applied a 100% tax on top earners that you could not solve the deficit problem. They are right.
3) Republicans use point #2 to put forward the theory that as we develop solutions to the Medicare problem that all of the pain should be inflicted on those least able to take more pain. Top earners should be given additional tax cuts as we demand that elderly and poor shoulder increased health care cost burdens. Republican shared sacrifice means that pain will be shared in the middle and at the bottom of the wage structure. We are on the Titanic, and the lifeboats are in the water. Republicans urge that millionaires and corporations board the lifeboats first.
4) Without health care cost containment and reform then the entire system is likely in for real trouble, with draconian solutions being forced after a financial crisis. Whether you agree with President Obama on health care or not it is safe to say that Republicans were absent in that debate, and chose to sit on the sidelines and demagogue. They were successful politically, but I do not recall ONE Republican proposal that would have answered the question of how you provide universal coverage, and how you contain costs that are crushing us financially. Spare me the buying insurance across state lines canard.
Yes it is time for an adult conversation about health care, and yes entitlement reform needs to be a part of the solution. But, as Dana Milbank points out in his great column on this subject, Ryan needs to grow up too.
Speaking on the House floor in 2009, he said the Democrats’ health-care legislation would “take coverage away from seniors,” “raise premiums for families” and “cost us nearly 5.5 million jobs.” Later, he said the health plan would bring about government “rationing” of health care. He also labeled the plan “a government takeover of our healthcare system,” claimed America was at a “tipping point” toward a “European social welfare state,” and gave a wink to the “death panel” allegations. His suggestion that the legislation would result in the IRS getting “16,000 agents” to police the health-care law was knocked down as “wildly inaccurate” by Factcheck.org.
Much has been made of the Bill Clinton-Paul Ryan “chat” where Clinton says he hopes the Democrats do not take the New York 26th win as a signal to do nothing. I do agree, but simply allowing Republicans to score points on health care and refuse to come up with solutions while we force major structural changes on future Medicare recipients does not strike me as bargaining in good faith. Lets work together for solutions on health care, for a failure to do so means financial calamity.