[T]he hallmark of much of the opposition to health care reform has been a lot of people who don’t appear to have any idea what they’re talking about.
So the new obesity numbers from the Centers for Disease Control are out and the results are pretty dramatic:
As all of the prior surveys have found, the country’s worst obesity problems are centered south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Well, this beggars the question: “Why not accede to the reactionary governors’ demands in those states and let them secede opt out of the Affordable Care Act?”
After all, if the unhealthiest people in the country live in the South, wouldn’t the risk pool for the remainder of the country be in a better position to deliver considerable health care cost savings over the long term?
I am of course being (mostly) tongue in cheek about this. But it really is interesting to ponder that the greatest benefits the ACA have to offer are to people of states who elect leaders who want to repeal it.
I used to read Clive Crook’s blog and recently came across a post of his on Paul Ryan’s Cat Food for Seniors Medicare repeal proposal that reminded me why: (h/t DougJ)
Ryan not only repeals Obama’s health-care reform (by refusing to fund subsidies and other outlays), he also proposes to convert Medicare into a defined-contribution program and Medicaid into a system of block grants to the states. From the point of view of guaranteeing universal access to health insurance, this goes beyond merely nullifying Obamacare, and further weakens the guarantees, such as they are, in the present system. In my book, that is two steps back.
I think it is fair to criticize Obamacare for failing to take cost control in health seriously. But Ryan’s plan has the same defect. It holds out no more hope of controlling costs than Obama’s. And under Ryan’s proposal, an ongoing failure to economize would simply be passed through to the retired as reduced coverage and/or higher premiums. This is not something that the retired–or people who one day expect to be retired–are likely to embrace. Politically, this plan to privatize Medicare, which is how it will be characterized, is surely suicidal.
The Ryan budget as a whole is a frontal assault on the administration’s priorities. You might say: Mission accomplished. A frontal assault is what the GOP promised. But what, exactly, does this achieve? What hope of compromise does a plan like this allow? The US system of government divides power between the parties, an obvious fact, but one that the contending forces on Capitol Hill lately find hard to take in. How do you get from unyielding, no-surrender proposals like this to workable commonsense reforms that actually confront the problem? In short, how do you get from a posture to a policy? The ongoing shambles over the continuing resolution and the immediate budget impasse suggests one rather disturbing answer. You don’t.
If there is anything that I hate about our current political climate, the persistent need to lie about policy outcomes probably tops the list. I am happy to have an honest discussion about any topic one can think of, just so long as both sides of the debate are honest about the probable outcomes of their respective policy positions .
In Paul Ryan’s case, we could have a somewhat serious debate about entitlements if he was willing to acknowledge that (as The Economist and the CBO have already pointed out) his plan would both (a) save the government money by paying only a fixed, slowly adjusted amount for senior health insurance vouchers, AND (b) cause millions of seniors to (i) go without health insurance (or scrimp by with the barest coverage possible) due to the enormous (and rapidly inflating) premiums that insurance companies will charge for lots of old, sick people to join the rolls, and (ii) go bankrupt (and likely bankrupt their children) when they do end up getting sick without sufficient insurance coverage to pay for it.
But no, the next few months will be dominated by Republicans desperately messaging on point (a) above, while constantly eliding any discussion of (and, when pressed, blatantly lying about) the real-world ramifications described in point (b).
I guess it will be up to the voters in 2012 to either reward this behavior or do something more noble. We’ll see.
- Before social security and medicare, millions of seniors were forced to live in abject poverty because (a) they were too poor or irresponsible to build their own retirement savings, (b) if people might have had a bit of money, it was quickly wiped away by ailments so common to seniors, and (c) there was no social safety net to to provide a modest income when they hit old age.
- Once social security and medicare came along, our country almost entirely eliminated the plague of seniors living in abject poverty.
- Republicans and even a few libertarians I know have proposed to dismantle medicare and social security by giving health care vouchers to the elderly to go buy insurance in the private market, and privatizing social security so people will invest the money themselves, respectively.
- I view both of these proposals as misguided because (a) senior health care is the most expensive insurance to buy on the free market and this option would only really help people who can afford it, and (b) privatizing social security won’t protect the tens of millions of people to manage their accounts irresponsibly.
- Because of 4, and the fact that I believe that nothing can really be done to eliminate the fact that tens of millions of people are too poor and/or too irresponsible to properly save for retirement, my assertion is that dismantling medicare and social security will lead to tens of millions of seniors (not to mention handicapped people) once again living in abject poverty.
I suppose we should chalk this one up to the highly successful, decades-long Republican campaign to demonize taxes and “Government Spending” (scare quotes):
The new Times/CBS News poll highlights the problem, by asking more specific questions about taxes and spending than many previous polls have. (See questions 33 through 45 here.) Not surprisingly, when given a straight-up choice between broad spending cuts and tax increases, Americans say they would prefer to reduce the deficit mostly through less spending. It’s not even close: 62 percent for spending cuts, 29 percent for tax increases.
A few questions later, though, our pollsters offered a different choice. Would people rather eliminate Medicare’s shortfall through reduced Medicare benefits or higher taxes?
The percentages then switch, becoming nearly a mirror image of what they had been. Some 64 percent of respondents preferred tax increases, while 24 percent chose Medicare cuts. The same is true of Social Security: 63 percent for higher taxes, 25 percent for reduced benefits.
Yeah, yeah, I get it. Nobody likes paying taxes… Blah blah blah.
But when you really get down to it, most folks really don’t seem to know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to expending even a teensy bit of mental energy on the question of whether we should cut spending or raise taxes in order to deal with our long-term deficit situation.
Have Republicans successfully brainwashed 65% of the country into believing that we can slash our $12+ trillion national debt by doing away with funny-sounding things like funds for volcano monitoring and tax breaks for bull semen?
If so, a big shout out to Fox News.
Update: In the same vein, a recent poll on Security Security found that even 65% of teabaggers would rather raise taxes than cut benefits and/or raise the retirement age:
Currently, workers pay social security payroll taxes on up to $106,800 of their salary. To ensure the long-term viability of Social Security, would you rather have people pay social security taxes on salaries above $106,800, or would you rather see benefits cut and the retirement age increased to age 69?
Raise payroll cap Cut benefits
All 77 10
Dem 84 4
GOP 69 17
Ind 77 11
Tea Party 67 20
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