Score one for Rand Paul, son o' Ron and GOP candidate for Senate in Kentucky: The eye doctor, unlike virtually every other politician in either major (read: worn-out) party, is at least willing to talk about changing the way Medicare works. Given that Medicare, a.k.a. socialized health care for seniors, is the entitlement most likely to destroy the U.S.'s future, this amounts to a rare display of courage.
Paul's Democratic challenger, Jack Conway, is showing clips of Paul in 2009 suggesting that Medicare come with a $2,000 deductible. Conway suggests that this is among the most heartless things he's ever seen. Paul insists that the comments have been taken out of context (boo) but continues:
"Now people say 'don't talk about this, don't talk about this,' Paul said. "People are crazy that I'm talking about the solution.
"If you don't, are we going to just devolve to the dumbest of the dumb or the blandest of the bland, and have no debate in our country until we have chaos? That's what happened in Greece — chaos. They couldn't pay their bills, they couldn't pay for their debt. We're having some of that coming in our country if we don't do something."
Paul said that Conway has ignored looming financial problems for Medicare.
"Will we just simply elect people who will pander and say 'here's some money, I'll give you some more money?'" Paul said. "I think people are waking up across the country. I think people realize we can't keep doing things the same way.
"I think people truly are concerned that the tea party is about how do we pay these bills, that we're concerned about passing the debt to our kids and our grandkids."
More from Cincinnati Enquirer here. Sadly, if Paul wins the election (and he's likely to), his interest in changing Medicare will likely fall on deaf ears. His fellow Republicans blasted ObamaCare mostly on the grounds that it would cut into Medicare's uninterrupted tradition of fiscal profligacy.
Medicare is on autopilot to consume more and more tax money. There are obvious fixes – raise the eligibility age, means test benefits, kill the prescription drug benefit (the worst sort of vote-buying exercise) – and better ones—scrap the program, which has consistently overspent generous estimates.
Paul is right to be talking about Medicare reform. If anything, he's too apologetic about it. In many ways, Medicare is the last gasp of the New Deal. Yes, it was passed in the 1960s, but it comes from the same mind-set as Social Security and addresses a problem—poor old people—that doesn't exist in the same way anymore. Overall, seniors do quite well for themselves, having amassed assets over their lifetimes. They should not be getting a free ride at the expense of younger and relatively poorer Americans. Toss poorer seniors into Medicaid (which needs its own overhaul) and have those who can afford it pay for their own health care. In the name of faux compassion for our elders, the U.S. is systematically robbing youth of an economic future.
What's next? Retirees taking twentysomethings' organs?