Republicans have always hated Medicare, but most Americans have always loved it. Now, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republicans are trying to kill it once and for all.
When JFK and LBJ proposed and passed it, Ronald Reagan called Medicare socialism and warned that it would lead to the end of freedom. If Medicare passed, the Gipper said, “… one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”
A half-century after Reagan’s dire warning, I suspect most Americans see Medicare — the single-payer health system that covers seniors — as an essential element of our freedom. But not Congressman Ryan, nor many other Republicans. Ryan would end Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a voucher that seniors would take to insurance companies, upon whose tender mercies their lives and health would then depend…
There is no doubt that Mr. Ryan is bright. He is also engaging and charming. But forgive me if I fail to see the courage in a young and privileged man harming the most vulnerable while rewarding the most wealthy. Born to a family whose 125-year-old corporation boasts that it is “one of the nation’s largest site-work contractors,” Mr. Ryan won the genetic lottery. There is no doubt that his great-grandfather worked hard to build that company. But a century and a quarter later, young Mr. Ryan — who estimates his net worth at up to $2.4 million — has no calluses on his hands. Just on his heart.
The question for Republicans is, will they follow Ryan’s plan? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that under Ryan’s plan, “most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would under the current Medicare system.”
A lot more. In fact, under Medicare, a 65-year-old would pay just 25% of the total cost of her or his health care coverage.
Under the Ryan Republican plan, that jumps to 68%. (Individuals currently 55 or older would not be affected by the changes.)
If Republicans follow Ryan like lemmings, they should not be surprised when they find they’ve taken a firm step into thin air. Back in 1995, Newt Gingrich virtually assured President Bill Clinton’s re-election by proposing $270 billion in cuts to Medicare…
Clinton’s defense of Medicare was so central to his re-election that the word “Medicare” appears 49 times in his two debates with Sen. Bob Dole…
Medicare – like Social Security – is a single payer system that is run by our federal government at an efficiency rate about 4 times better than the average corporation. The cost of management for either socially-beneficial plan is less than 4% of the operating budget. American corporations think they’re mean and lean if they get down to 16%. Insurance companies? Well, they don’t even pretend to be mean and lean.
Funding either mandate is already covered a decade or so out into the future – if we can keep Republicans from screwing it up. And all any revision need do to guarantee more solvency – is require every American to pay their fair share. No loopholes. No break for the wealthy. A fair share for all and no subsidy for insurance companies.
They don’t need it anymore than do the oil companies.