Nancy Pelosi Rallies Seniors Against a Medicare Overhaul That Won’t Change Benefits for Seniors

What’s Democratic House Minority Nancy Pelosi doing talking to seniors in Florida? I’ll give you one guess. 

At a speech in Orlando yesterday, Pelosi warned a group of 60 seniors that Medicare was under attack by Republicans. “When Medicare was passed it was a pillar of stability for our seniors. Now, she says, it’s being “undermined by Republicans” who want to “save money on the backs of seniors.”

During the ObamaCare debates and the 2010 election, Republicans recently discovered that running against Medicare cuts was highly effective (at least in the short term). But that strategy was wrong on the merits and almost certainly bound to backfire, in part because Democrats were sure to use it against them. Lo and behold, Democrats are now running hard against a high-profile Republican proposal to overhaul Medicare. 

Of course, the problem for Democrats is that they will have to have to hope seniors don't notice one minor, inconvenient fact: The Ryan plan doesn’t overhaul Medicare for current beneficiaries. Nor does it alter Medicare for anyone who is within a decade of entering the program at the time of passage. Indeed, the only cuts to Medicare included in the Ryan plan that might affect current seniors are the same cuts already passed by Democrats in last year’s health care overhaul. There’s a good chance that those cuts won’t even pay off.  Regardless, you have to wonder: Is Pelosi now against those cuts too?

Perhaps you think that Ryan’s plan is politically cynical, or that, because it exempts current beneficiaries, it doesn’t go far enough to curb entitlement spending. But postponing changes in the program was built to do two things: First, it doesn’t force changes on anyone at the last minute; future beneficiaries get time to plan and prepare. Second, it’s designed to fend off exactly the charges that Pelosi and her fellow Democrats are now lobbing at the proposal. The inevitability of these charges, and the fact that they're still being made despite the fact that Ryan specifically exempted seniors, is part of why leaving current beneficiaries alone was politically necessary in order to give a voucher-style plan even the smallest chance of success. 

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  • ||

    alt-text is wrong. Hopefully she's practicing "assume the position" for when she's jailed for fucking the American people over and over and for getting the government to protect and subsidize her husband's business to the detriment of California's farming industry.

  • ||

    My god that awful suit.

  • ||

    I had no idea that a red pantsuit is proper attire for a pattycake tournament.

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    Not only am I an insufferable cunt, but I also dress like a clown. Are you serious!

  • ||

    You have to buy the suit to see what's in it!!!

  • ||

    Who would want to?

  • Arcaster||

    I'm just glad she hasn't faded too much from the spotlight after the R's took over the house. The epitome of cognitive dissonance is always entertaining.

  • Rob||

    She hasn't faded too much? She just hosted a shuffleboard tournament in Florida for 60 people, for Christ sakes!

  • Mad Scientist||

    Fashion! Move to the left
    Fashion! Move to the right...

  • Almanian||

    Personally, I won't be satisfied till old people who aren't quite dead yet are being collected in the streets on carts and hauled away to be buried alive in landfills, the methane gas of their eventually-dead and rotting corpses providing energy to a powerplant to generate electricity to the lamp by which I will read the hardcopy "Reason" magazine in my comfy chair in front of the fire on a cold winter's night before disposing of it in the garbage to take its place in the same landfill as the "seniors", thereby contributing to pollution and global warming climate change.

    What? Can't a guy dream?

  • Draco||

    You forgot to specify that the lamp will be powered by a banned incandescent bulb, which you have of course hoarded before they were taken off the market.

  • ||

    It's easy to feel that way if you are under 55 or so, esp. those of us in our 40s or younger. There is no getting around the facts that 1) it is a ponzi scheme, 2) it cannot last, and 3) there is no painless way to unravel a Ponzi scheme. Someone is left holding the bag--either current beneficiaries, or those who have to pay for current beneficiaries but themselves will never get anything in return.

    FWIW I think the politicians will do nothing to solve the problem until it is in crisis mode. Then it will be an ugly generational war and I predict the youngsters will win.

  • ||

    You mean the worst recession/depression since the 30's isn't crisis mode. I'm beginning to think nothing short of SOMALIA!?*(TM) will get us there.

    And FWIW, I think the working generation is already holding the bag (medicare tagged receipts don't come close to covering expenses). I'd just like a timeline of when I get to put it down.

  • ||

    Of course, the problem for Democrats is that they will have to have to hope seniors don't notice one minor, inconvenient fact: The Ryan plan doesn’t overhaul Medicare for current beneficiaries.

    I think that's probably a pretty safe bet for the Dems to make. The oldsters fly into a frothing panic whenever a SocSec reform proposal that does the same thing is floated, why would Medicare be any different?

  • ||

    God I wish alzheimers hit those activists and fast*

    *I know alzheimers is a terrible thing to wish on someone, but my profile shows I'm an inhuman utilitarian, so fuck those oldsters.

  • Tony||

    What is the point of this? The Dems would be committing political malpractice not to point out that the Ryan plan guts Medicare.

    Of course postponing the changes is a political calculation. If the change were good for seniors, they wouldn't need to "plan for" them (i.e., scramble to find more income in an economy where even recent college grads can't get jobs).

    If we're keeping score on hypocrisy, I really don't think it's the Dems who are winning here. A huge portion of the opposition to Obamacare was based on Medicare changes, which the GOP was perfectly happy to exploit.

  • ||

    i.e., scramble to find more income in an economy where even recent college grads can't get jobs

    The first thing that strikes me about this statement is that you view people the same way you do government. The answer isn't always finding more income, whether for government or for people. Sometimes government or people can choose to spend less.

    In any case, it's not that the alternative of being forced to scramble to find more money to pay for higher middle class taxes works either.

    It's impossible to come close to balancing the budget-- even to get it to GWB levels-- without either cutting spending aimed at the middle class or raising the taxes of the middle class. (Defense spending counts as aimed at the middle class.) If it's impossible to cut spending aimed at the upper middle class because the upper middle class won't be able to change their behavior enough to save up more money in 20 years, then it's certainly equally crushing of a burden for them to have to pay additional taxes and reduce their after-tax income.

    And if it's so inexcusable that the currently working upper middle class would be crushed by slowing changing their savings over twenty years, surely it's at least as inexcusable to demand that people who have already retired suddenly change their behavior.

    No one's denying that the necessary changes suck. But the alternatives are higher taxes on the middle class or less spending on them; changes on retirees now or changes on people who will be retirees later and have time to plan. If the Republican plans are evil, then so are the Democrats, by your standards, Tony.

  • Tony||

    Fixing these problems doesn't have to be painful. It may not be possible, however, because one of the two major political parties is hellbent on enacting an ideological agenda designed to be painful (for 99% of us).

    Their plan raises individual healthcare costs any way you slice it. If we need to raise taxes on the middle class modestly (and we probably do), that is much preferable to the pain of the GOP's free market hellscape, and I think anyone would agree.

  • Anyone||

    Speak for yourself.

  • kilroy||

    I don't agree.

  • Arcaster||

    "Fixing these problems doesn't have to be painful. It may not be possible, however, because one of the two major political parties is hellbent on enacting an ideological agenda designed to be painful (for 99% of us)."

    Democrats? I mean, hey, they have made us all poorer by seizing wealth from the private sector to pay for entitlements. Republicans are shitty on a lot of issues, too. I just think their shitty policies screw fewer people.

  • Bikerider||

    "Republicans are shitty on a lot of issues, too. I just think their shitty policies screw fewer people."

    Wow. A little too long for a bumper sticker but I think this is a great summary of why I usually vote for Republicans (and hold my nose while doing so).

  • Tony||

    The Republicans have been making us all poorer by stealing from middle-class-sustaining programs and giving to the rich. Name a Republican policy in the last 50 years that has increased standard of living in this country.

  • ||

    The Republicans have been making us all poorer by stealing from middle-class-sustaining programs and giving to the rich.

    What a fucking pantload of fucking crap. These American middle-class is the most pandered to bunch of parasites in the motherfucking world. This shit isn't going to people that can't help themselves, it's going to the richest motherfuckers on earth. and it's being paid for with an absolutely unsustainable level of borrowing because the only alternative is an unsustainable and economy-destroying level of taxation.

    Name a Republican policy in the last 50 years that has increased standard of living in this country.

    God only knows what kind of disaster would have happened if Carter had been reelected in 1980 to continue his stagflation policies.

    Reagan wasn't that great but most of that was due to the Democrat cabal that had fucked Carter over as well.

    The Clinton years were good to the extent that he pretty much continued most of Reagan's economic policies with only a few concessions to the left in the Democratic party.

  • ||

    Name a Republican policy in the last 50 years that has increased standard of living in this country.

    The Reagan tax cuts?

    Medicare Part D? G'ahead, Tony, argue that a massive new healthcare entitlement didn't raise the standard of living. I wanna see this.

  • ||

    "The Republicans have been making us all poorer by stealing from middle-class-sustaining programs and giving to the rich. "

    Only in Tony's world, can relying on the top 10% to pay 80% of the income tax, while half the population pays zero income tax, be considered stealing.

    Bravo Tony!

  • Tony||

    Actually I think most tax programs don't equate to stealing. But you're just deploying a talking point--do you have any idea how much of the country's net wealth is concentrated in that top 10%?

  • ||

    do you have any idea how much of the country's net wealth is concentrated in that top 10%?

  • ||

    do you have any idea how much of the country's net wealth is concentrated in that top 10%?

  • ||

    do you have any idea how much of the country's net wealth is concentrated in that top 10%?
    reply to this

  • ||

    It never occurs to the Tonys of the world that the top 10% earned that wealth and the bottom 10% are a bunch of slackers who don't care enough about their lives to even try to acquire any wealth.

    If they don't care enough to try to stay alive, why should I care enough to help them?

  • ||

    And that in the end is the question that neither the Democrats no the "compassionate conservative" Republicans are willing to answer.

  • Arcaster||

    I think people like Tony also think of people as being stuck in their quintile. The fact is that poor people (young people maybe) usually end up climbing to a higher quintile. Also, rich people don't always stay rich. Tony and others like him should work toward removing barriers from people trying to better themselves.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Wow. You really do think American healthcare sucks. When did we become some third world hellhole where 54-year-olds are seniors? And how fat are they that 10+ years still requires them to 'scramble' to make a minor adjustment?

  • Tony||

    I don't think it sucks at all. I think it is expensive, which I thought everyone was in agreement about.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    So then what seniors are you talking about? The 54 year olds that the Ryan plan would affect?

  • NL||

    This same argument, unfortunately, did very little to save Bush's 2005 proposals for personal retirement accounts.

    The irrational prompt for opposing a change for only those under 55 is that any change to Medicare of Social Security is a dangerous precedent.

    There are also rational (and morally hideous) prompts to oppose these changes. First, these programs need to constantly suck resources from the younger people in order to pay for the benefits of the old. Second, and related, if you make it a program that only applies to some people (those born before ~1956) then you divide the nation into people who benefit from the program and people who don't. Since the people who benefit are dying off at huge rates relatives to those who don't, you're basically halting the creation of future ardent opponents of reform (future AARP members).

    Maybe the average senior only grasps that any change is a threat. But Democrats and AARP grasp that denying the current program to those under 55 is a great way to reduce the political salience and support for these programs.

  • NL||

    I should clarify: the nation would be split into people who benefit from expensive Medicare and people who will never benefit from expensive Medicare (only cheaper Medicare). Since the program will never apply to them, they won't feel the same personal pang if it's imperiled or sees its budget reduced.

  • Draco||

    In today's WSJ, Alan Blinder lays into Paul Ryan and his plan, and calls it the worst plan in town.

    One criticism he levels is against the level of federal spending envisioned in the future:

    "For openers, the last time federal spending was that small a share of the economy was 1951—before Medicare and Medicaid, before the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Energy, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security. You get the idea.

    Yes. We get the idea. We occasionally even allow ourselves the fantasy that this happy state of affairs may once again be visited upon us.

  • Logjam||

    Medicare and Medicaid- Unsustainable, fraud ridden, and they distort medical costs in the entire health care system.

    Health and Human Services- Unnecessary, and suffering from the same problems above.

    Housing and Urban Development- Fucking worthless, unless you desire economic bubbles and bank bailouts.

    Department of Education- The most fraudulent and counterproductive one size fits all government monopoly in existence. FUCKING WORTHLESS.

    And yet these morons not only see these things as beneficial to society, they see them as NECESSARY. Without these institutions we will devolve straight into anarchy!!!1! Without a Department of Education there will be no schools!!!1! These people are seriously mentally ill. Or fucking retarded. Or both.

  • P B||

    And this is why meaningful reform of oldpeople welfare will never happen.

    We are sooooo screwed.

  • X||

    yes, it would be horrible if the woman in the background had to start eating less cat food.

  • ||

    From the looks of things she could benefit from eating a bit less.

  • ||

    you know, maybe if they got rid of the damn cat, they'd be able to afford people food.

  • Pet Hoarders™||

    It's never just one.

  • New Yorkers/Los Angelinos/etc||

    Before the 1940s, Americans were starving and dying of virulent diseases on the streets in their millions, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved them all from their patent incompetence, idiocy, and incapability.

    Without Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, our neighborhoods would surely resemble Stalingrad and the Gulag system in all their nightmarish details.

    Barack Obama has a great deal of credentials. He's a great speech-writer and poet, like Abraham Lincoln, he's as bold and cunning as Robert E. Lee, and he has dark skin, so we'll group him based on a superficial physical property, just like we do with everything else, and feel happy about ourselves.

    Also, guns kill people. People don't kill people, because people that carry the guns that kill people were just unprivileged and had a bad childhood, so it's not their fault.

    And the drug war kicks ass.

    Long live statism. :) Constitutionalists, true American republicans, and libertarians are fairy-tale idiot moron idiots. :)

  • ||

    Their plan raises individual healthcare costs any way you slice it.


    Oh the humanity!!! Expecting people to pay their own bills!!!! When will this heartlessness end????

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Why should Robert pay for his own shit when John and Jack can get butt-fucked by the government for the money that'll pay for his shit for him?

    IT'S ALL LOGICAL YOU KNOW IT'S ALL LOGICAL

  • ||

    I think the "it won't change anything for current recipients" overlooks the game theory behind it.

    Support for the current benefits is to some extent based on "you getting yours" later on. If you tell people, you have to keep paying for your neighbor's grandma now, but there won't be anything for you... well, that could change the political calculation.

    Thus, seniors -- or I should say rent-seeking-advisors speaking on the alleged behalf of seniors -- have an incentive to keep the lie alive, no matter the cost.

    And, for the record, if Medi-whatever could be ended tomorrow, I would be in favor of that. I'm not defending the system, just pointing out that there's a subtle naivete in Ryan's and other's proposals.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    It might not be naive. It could actually be counting on taking advantage of that fact for making changes later on easier.

  • ||

    The Republicans have been making us all poorer by stealing from middle-class-sustaining programs and giving to the rich.


    Name, one thing that has been stolen from the middle class and given to the rich.

    Show the math.

  • ||

    Ms Pelousi has bankrupted the US, along with the other two members of the "Axis of Tax US."

    No budget for FY 11 has resulted in a $5 TRILLION deficit, the $1/2 TRILLION taken from the Medicare Trust Fund for Obummercare has not been accounted for, and she expects medicare to run on gas fumes, as the system goes broke.

    The problem with Democrats is that this isn't FDR's Day, where most Americans had a sixth grade education. We, as a population have become smarter, but every now and then, some smooth talker, like Carter, Clinton or Obama comes along and screws thing up.

    Medicare, if it goes broke, is a result of Medicaid dollars being siphoned-off for people who have never contributed to the system. Paul Ryna's plan is to give block grants to the states and let them carry their own water. I think that's too generous, when you've seen how California has raked in the money, by ploughing extra dollars in matching money to skew their monetary match.

    We are now put on notice that our credit rating is headed to the toilet. Either Obama and his cronies go, or tie a noose around what is left of America, Land of the Freebie and Home of the Hand-out.

  • ||

    And yet another Reason article is saying that the Ryan plan would actually increase costs. Confusion ensues, money continues to be spent.

    http://www.intellectualtakeout.....10-dollars

  • ||

    Curious, I notice when Tony is called upon to provide an actual real world example of an actual transfer payment to "the rich" that Republicans have created he shuts right up.

    Which is hardly surprising. Locate a direct business subsidy or some kind of preferential tax treatment and you'll likely find Democratic parentage.

    Democrats just love them some corporate welfare. Of course, it's never to enrich their cronies, it's always about "jobs".

  • ||

    ?|4.20.11 @ 1:16AM|#

    "And that in the end is the question that neither the Democrats no the "compassionate conservative" Republicans are willing to answer."

    Uh-huh.

    So, Tony, why the fuck am I supposed to care that a bunch of losers can't pay their medical bills, or buy food, or whatever.

    If they're so lazy that they don't care enough to try to live, why should I help them live?

    Answer that.

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