Archives for: June 2011, 06
The very Americans that our government now, and this president, does not trust a to make decision on your health care plan. Those Americans risked everything so they could make that decision on their health care plan.
- - Rick Santorum (R-PA), Presidential Candidate, June 6, 2011
They were defending America from universal health care
It reminds me of the 1965 film A Thousand Clowns with the late Jason Robards. The story revolves around an unemployed television writer about to lose custody of the nephew who lives with him. The issue is the non-conformity of the writer. Will he knuckle under?
At one point a social worker educates the Robards character in the art of polite indirection. "I was not aware that Nick was an O.W. child," he says delicately. This puzzles the uncle. "O.W.?" The social worker patiently explains. "Out of wedlock." The film has several lessons of how to phrase unpleasant things with verbal niceties. "Politically correct" - at least the phrase itself - hadn't been invented back then.
Today, the phrasing fight continues about the "end of Medicare" at the hands of Republicans. "End of Medicare" is making Republicans terribly angry. They call it a "Mediscare" tactic to frighten folks like me. It's a debate about how to debate. Don't call it this. Call it that.
It isn't actually ending Medicare. The GOP plan would merely end the practice of a government program making direct payments for medical procedures. Instead, that program would be replaced with a new program made up of insurance vouchers.
Well, sort of. Republicans are now also objecting to the term "vouchers" and suggest "premium support" instead. Another debate about how to debate.
The recent controversy centers around an ad recently run by Democrats in New Hampshire. A very nice lady talks about her representative. Her father worked with him. She voted for him 5 times. Now he is supporting an end to Medicare. She ends the ad with sad and simple words. "Charlie Bass has changed."
Republicans are furious. My friend, frequent commenter and occasional contributor T. Paine (or as we refer to him around here - "The Talented Mr. Paine"), calls what the very nice lady says "a damnable lie." His reasoning is simple. "Republicans are not trying to kill Medicare; they are trying to come up with a plan to make sure that it remains solvent..."
He is wrong on the facts, of course. The Republican premium support not-really-voucher-plan-that-only-SEEMS-to-end-Medicare new improved program will bring down costs to government but not to seniors, who would take on additional costs themselves. The savings would all, which is to say every last penny, go to an additional round of tax cuts for the extremely wealthy. Nothing in it would go to solvency.
Still, that is the debate we are used to. The Republican debate about how to debate usually maintains, as does Mr. Paine, that the end of Medicare doesn't really end Medicare.
But the parsing of words takes another turn in New Hampshire. Republicans have tried to get the ad suppressed. They demanded the television station running the ad stop. You see, the ad is misleading. But it is misleading for a very novel reason. Here is what Republicans said in their demand letter to the television station (pdf).
The Budget Resolution as approved by the U.S. House of Representatives does NOT end Medicare. In fact, the Budget Resolution makes no changes at all to Medicare for current or near retirees, as none of the Medicare-related provisions in the Budget Resolution would even take effect until 2022.
Uh huh, uh huh. The ad is misleading. Opponents mustn't say Medicare would be ended because it wouldn't be ended RIGHT AWAY.
In all fairness, the letter also makes the more traditional argument. Medicare would not really be ended, just replaced. The television station is owned by the conservative Comcast Group and a lot of folks expected them to end the ad. Instead, the station considered dictionary definitions and decided to keep the ad running.
It is striking that the lead argument Republicans now make in favor of this wonderful new replacement program, the best feature of all, the main reason folks like me should support it enthusiastically, is that it won't affect us. I'm lucky, say Republicans. I'm too old to be targeted.
This fact makes the Advertisement especially misleading, as the woman featured in the Advertisement is a current Medicare beneficiary, and would not have her Medicare benefits ended, or even changed in any way, under the Budget Resolution...
Nice argument. Better than the shifty definitions. Frankly, I'm a little impatient at the lawyerly parsing. Vouchers are Premium Support. Ending is Solvency Enhancement. Houseflies are flying houses. It is what it is, regardless of what focus groups tell Republicans to call it.
I suppose I'm not as polite as the kind and gentle lady in the New Hampshire ad. Folks my age have a phrase for representatives who vote to end Medicare with a privatized voucher plan in order to make wealthy folks more wealthy.
We call them O.W.s.