Medicare

The GOP's Medicare Problem

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Politico reports that the GOP's stance on Medicare is coming back to bite them:

The Republican Party and its allies funneled millions into TV ads last year accusing Democrats from Pennsylvania to Missouri of "gutting Medicare" and "hurting seniors" — charges that compelled older voters to swing en masse toward the GOP. 

But now, as Republicans move to tackle the country's gaping debt, they are weighing changes to Medicare — from higher premiums to spending caps — that open them to the same attacks they leveled only months ago against Democrats over the health care law. 

And Democrats haven't forgotten it. 

"I can imagine a lot of frustration from the president that when he chose to do Medicare savings that will be less impactful, these guys viciously attacked him for rationing health care and hurting seniors," said Neera Tanden, a former administration aide who worked on the health care law and chief operating officer of the Center for American Progress. "At the end of the day, there is a [campaign] battle plan for attacking Medicare savings, and it was written by Republicans." 

Who could have predicted that defending the country's most fiscally challenged entitlement would turn out to be problematic once the time came for reform

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  1. I hate to say Tricky Vick was right but he called this one

  2. The Stupid Party Strikes Again.

  3. There is a clear distinction here that should be mentioned though. Democrats were being seriously dishonest about their intents. Remember that their “Medicare savings” were draconian cuts to Medicare in order to get the CBO to score that takeover of healthcare by government we refer to as the Obamacare. One can debate whether they were intent on really gutting Medicare, so they could eventually shift everyone to that single payer system run by government they pine for, or were just snowing the tax payers as we now discover was the case anyway, so the could make that shit sandwich Obamacare is palatable to enough people, but the end result would have been horribly detrimental to everyone, and doubly so to Medicare recipients.

    If the republicans decide to do the actual PR battling, they need to point out the distinction between what they are doing and what the donkeys were doing. If you believe them, republicans are talking about cuts needed to keep the program working, since the rate of spending we have now makes the program, along with everything else government does, impossible to sustain. But that distinction might not matter or be well received when the DNC mouth pieces in the media just echo the donkey party line. Doubly so when the republicans are not seen to be putting more effort into killing Obamacare and getting rid of the horrible price tag it carries on everyone.

    Of course to people riding the gravy train and only caring about their own piece of the pie, these distinctions might fall on deaf ears anyway. If you follow the polls, it looks like all but the insane marxists wants cuts and fiscal sanity, so the country doesn’t turn into a banana republic, but then you can’t just limit the cuts to what doesn’t affect you personally. Hard PR battle to win,. But it can be done.

  4. Expecting honesty from a politician is akin to expecting rationality from the insane.
    Ain’t gonna happen and when you think it does, it’s a delusion…

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

    1. Expecting honesty from a politician is akin to expecting rationality from the voters. If the voters rewarded honesty, we’d get more of it.

      1. Fucking markets of ideas, how do they work?

      2. “”Expecting honesty from a politician is akin to expecting rationality from the voters.””

        Yeah.

        Voters are not interested in honesty at least as a solid moral value, because they are not that honest either. Little white lies for everyone. Voters are interested in getting a return on their tax dollars paid, and what government can do for them. That’s the problem in a nutshell, we give the government money with the expectation of getting something in return. In most situtations it isn’t a problem. But with government it starts a nasty cycle of tax and spend, or spend and tax.

        Very few of us want to pay little and get little in return. Too many want government to be an answer.

  5. And of course the alternative was simply remaining in the minority. The problem is with the American voter as much as anything.

    1. You’re right Thacker. But this is a meme I’ve noticed in Reason a lot lately. “The Republicans suck because they won’t stand – and lose – on principle.”

      I’m not sure what that strategy would achieve – you can’t do anything when you are out of power.

      1. I saw Boehner on the news the other day trying to explain why Repubs aren’t interested in making any meaningful cuts now. He said that voters have to first be educated about the extent of the deficit before Congress is in any position to cut entitlements or defense (which is where the money is of course). I can buy that idea, but I look around and wonder who is doing the “educating.”

  6. the GOP’s stance on Medicare is coming back to bite them:

    You’re kidding, right?

    Idiotic populist grandstanding won’t bring us a New Millennium of peace and prosperity?

  7. cutting != gutting

  8. The problem is with the American voter as much as anything.

    This is such facile bullshit.

    1. It’s true. Or did I miss the stunning presidential victories of Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul?

      It’s a democracy. We get the policies that we collectively deserve. Everybody claims to want spending cuts, but opposes every specific, especially things that that affect them but not limited to that. Hell, agricultural subsidies are popular with non-farmers.

      The only winning tactic for the GOP for the last thirty years has been to promise wars and tax cuts without proposing how to pay for it. The only winning tactic for the Democrats has been to propose new domestic spending without proposing how to pay for it.

      Medicare cuts are REALLY REALLY unpopular, no matter what reality and the numbers say. It’s unreasonable in a democracy to expect politicians to do things that cause them to lose elections. It happens occasionally, but it’s nothing I’d hold my breath over.

      1. Medicare cuts are REALLY REALLY unpopular, no matter what reality and the numbers say. It’s unreasonable in a democracy to expect politicians to do things that cause them to lose elections. It happens occasionally, but it’s nothing I’d hold my breath over.

        Why not propose cutting Medicare for future generations? It is not as if the current generation would care.

        1. Why not propose cutting Medicare for future generations? It is not as if the current generation would care.

          Au contraire, virtually any time someone does propose some sort of reform to either medicare or SS, it always leaves it be for anyone within 10 years of qualifying. But still the seniors throw a shit fit and kill it. GWB’s SS proposal was that way, but it still didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.

          1. They throw a shit fit because the Democrats demagogue it as “the evil Republicans are cutting Medicate and Social Security” and they apparently believe them.

          2. The seniors have little incentive to care if the Medicare goes broke in 20 years.

        2. Why not keep Medicare as it is and pass the bill onto future generations.

          Oh, wait..

    2. “”This is such facile bullshit.””

      Really? Why not?

  9. If the GOP doesn’t want to piss off seniors they could cut EVEN MORE spending by pissing off the warmongers. Bottom line, when you cut government spending you are bound to piss off SOMEONE.

  10. Of course, the Democratic alternative is death panels and government advice about how to die in Obamacare, yes, it’s in the bill.

    Although I am a supporter of voluntary euthanasia, government has no business telling people how to live or how to die.

    As for old people, well, here’s my message for them: “Hey oldies, do you have kids? Grand kids? Maybe it’s time for them to pay your pill bills instead of asking me to do that for you.”

    http://libertarians4freedom.blogspot.com/

  11. yeah, if only the GOP hadn’t demagogued this issue the Dems wouldn’t do the same now.

  12. There was a GOP Senate candidate who did exactly what Peter wanted and honestly disclaimed the attacks on Medicare cuts, saying that the attacks were unreasonable and we needed the cuts.

    That would be Ken Buck of Colorado. He lost.

    Advice for politicians telling them to emulate political losers instead of winners is almost always ignored.

  13. We get the policies that we collectively deserve.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I read Mencken, too.

    Unfortunately, at some point this turns into an exercise akin to blaming a business owner for hiring a guy who lies his way into a position of trust and then embezzles from him.

    Elected office attracts lying thieving shitbags; they aren’t “corrupted” by being in office, their corruption merely becomes more highly developed.

    1. Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect all who seek it. We should grant power over our affairs only to those who are reluctant to wield it, and only then under conditions that increase the reluctance.

      –Frank Herbert, author of the Dune saga

      1. All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

        1. So the solution, of course, is to weaken the power-delivery mechanism. If the power addict cannot get a fix from the more intense power drug’s like government, he will turn to other less dangerous power drugs. Or, perhaps, even overcome his addiction.

          I suggest a new war. A War on Power.

          1. Or we could work to get politicians addicted to actual drugs. Then we could dispense with the metaphors and speak literally about the issue at hand.

            1. These politicians are drunk on HEROIN!

            2. There’s always shock therapy. Each politician could be wired with an unremovable shock collar for the duration of his term. If a sufficient number of his constituents vote to shock within, say, a 24-hour period, he gets a massive and painful shock.

              For federal officials, even non-constituents can deliver a shock, provided that a majority of the nation’s voters are so inclined.

              1. Interesting. If you were to publish a poorly mimeographed newsletter I would subscribe to it.

                1. You have learned wisdom. I’m inhaling the addictive odor of mimeograph fluid as I type!

          2. There lies the conundrum.

            Power is rarely if ever given up willingly, so it must be wrested away by force.
            But to wrest it away by force one must first amass power to fight the existing power.
            Once that new power is amassed, and the old power is removed, unless that new power is given up willingly we’re back to square one.
            Only in this case we’re worse off because the new power is more powerful than the old power.

            1. Which means we need to limit this power to anti-power power.

            2. Which means we need to limit this power to anti-power power.

    2. “”Unfortunately, at some point this turns into an exercise akin to blaming a business owner for hiring a guy who lies his way into a position of trust and then embezzles from him.””

      Maybe the first time. But it’s more akin to hiring a known embezzler. Who’s fault would that be?

      1. Right, it’s not as though being an incumbent shown to be corrupt (in this libertarian sense) actually lowers the chance of reelection.

        The American people talk a generically libertarian game, but ferociously oppose all specific cuts of any consequence and even some silly ones.

        You can throw your hands up in disgust, or you can dirty yourself by working at the margins and accepting tiny crumbs. But pretending that a pure libertarian candidate would actually win doesn’t seem reasonable, based on history.

  14. If a sufficient number of his constituents vote to shock within, say, a 24-hour period, he gets a massive and painful shock.

    This could induce me to get on the Twitter.

    And to those who may express misgivings, I ask, “What’s wrong with having a political class paralyzed with fear?”

    1. That’s a good point–the on-line mechanism for taking shock votes is up and running. Just needs a few small enhancements.

      Assuming an office that includes the mandatory shock collar will be, of course, strictly voluntary, and any politician who wants to resign can remove the collar. Being a politician is a privilege, not a right.

  15. Who could have predicted that defending the country’s most fiscally problematic entitlement would turn out to be problematic once the time came for reform?

    Problematic how? Would it have been any different for them now if they hadn’t at that time defended Medicare? Attacking Medicare spending at any time is a liability, regardless what position you had on it previously. So for having been on the winning side previously, they’re ahead of where they would’ve been otherwise.

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