Terrance Heath

The GOP's Own Private 'Mediscare'

Filed By Terrance Heath | May 19, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Democrats, elderly gays and lesbians, health care reform, Medicare, Newt Gingrich, Republicans

It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Republicans. Almost. The mess the GOP finds itself in, after appointing itself to Medicare’s “death panel,” would be laughable if it weren’t also so pathetic.


Especially since it’s a mess of GOP’s own making, and they know it. That’s why Republicans pitched a collective hissy fit when -- and this is the beauty part -- Newt Gingrich told them the truth.

What is it about Newt Gingrich that makes the GOP so mad?

Instead, it’s what Gingrich about the GOP budget and its plan to virtually destroy Medicare.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich distanced himself on Sunday from a House GOP plan to make cuts to Medicare, calling it "too big a jump” for the American people.

…The House GOP budget plan, proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would effectively turn Medicare into a voucher system in which seniors were given money by the federal government to purchase private insurance, creating a radically different system than the current guaranteed benefit plan for seniors.

Gingrich said he would prefer a system that preserved the current Medicare program and also created a private alternative.

"I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," he said. "I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare solution for seniors.”

That, and none of the rest above, is all it took for the GOP to go from calling Newt their “idea man” to screaming at him, “What’s the big idea, Newt?”

Now, what did Newt say that was wrong? What did Newt say that the GOP hasn’t already heard? Gingrich only told Republicans what their constituents have been telling them at their town hall meetings.

House Republicans returning to their districts on Monday faced harsh criticism for voting to turn Medicare, the federal health care program for retirees, into a voucher system. GOP lawmakers faced this same constituent ire mere weeks ago when they first voted to support House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan, which would lower tax rates for corporations and the wealthy while replacing Medicare with private-insurance subsidies for those under 55.

Speaking in his home state of Arizona Monday night, freshman Rep. Ben Quayle (R), son of former vice president Dan Quayle, took heat from constituents who demanded to know why he supported turning Medicare over to private insurers.

Quayle isn't the only lawmaker who, after voting in favor of Ryan’s plan, faced anger at home this week. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) faced a similarly boisterous crowd at her first Vancouver town hall, while Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) weathered disapproving audiences in Worcester County.

A town hall meeting held by freshman Allen West (R-Fla.) on Monday night degenerated into a shouting match, with one person having to be removed from the meeting by police.

A recent speech by Ryan, meanwhile, was met with dozens of protesters marching outside a hotel in downtown Chicago and carrying signs that read: “Hands off my Medicare” and “Paul Ryan plan: Let them eat cat food.”

Now, mind you, in the wake of all this the GOP has attempted to simultaneously circle the wagons and beat a hasty retreat.

On the one hand, conservatives have vilified Gingrich rallied around Paul Ryan and his budget, essentially making support for the GOP/Ryan budget the latest Republican litmus test. And it’s worked. Gingrich, the former bomb-thrower has been cowed, and has apologized to Paul Ryan for daring to criticize a budget he himself once supported (probably because of what it would do to a program that Gingrich once wanted to see “wither on the vine”). Most recently, Republicans have toyed with the idea of tying Medicare cuts to raising the debt ceiling.

On the other hand, the GOP is failing it’s own new litmus test, starting with the budget’s author. Having shelved any plans for a Senate run -- thus putting the kabosh on a 2012 presidential run, despite the idea’s popularity with the tea party -- Paul Ryan seems to be giving up on his own budget, failing to mention it a recent speech that was supposed to be a rebuttal to critics of his budget.

If Ryan’s in retreat, he’d better be careful he doesn’t get crushed in the stampede. Now that it looks like Ryan’s budget has already cost them one election, Republicans have grown cool to Ryan’s plan. Boehner is “not wedded to it”, and even Michelle Bachmann has concerns about “shifting the cost burden to seniors.”

For once, Michelle Bachmann’s concerns may be well founded.

Never mind that this is a plan that would leave as many as 44 million more low-income Americans uninsured, and doesn’t balance the budget without abolishing Medicare.

Many of us on the left thought the hilarity reached its peak when freshmen GOP House members cried “Mediscare!”, called for a “truce” and asked Democrats so stop criticizing them for the budget they voted for in the first place.

This has to be one of the funniest political stories of recent weeks: On Tuesday, 42 freshmen Republican members of Congress sent a letter urging President Obama to stop Democrats from engaging in "Mediscare" tactics -- that is, to stop saying that the Republican budget plan released early last month, which would end Medicare as we know it, is a plan to end Medicare as we know it.

Now, you may recall that the people who signed that letter got their current jobs largely by engaging in "Mediscare" tactics of their own. And bear in mind that what Democrats are saying now is entirely true, while what Republicans were saying last year was completely false. Death panels!

Well, it's time, said the signatories, to "wipe the slate clean." How very convenient -- and how very pathetic.

This from the party that brought us “death panels” in 2009? It had to be a joke. Right?

Wrong. The GOP has met its own private Mediscare, and can’t handle the truth. Just ask Newt Gingrich.

Crossposted at Republic of T, img src

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Completely off topic, but do you know how much I enjoyed seeing you last night at the I/O mixer? We're so close to each other now. When are we getting that drink/coffee/lunch? :)

I enjoyed seeing you too, hon. Drop me an email sometime, and we can arrange to have coffee during the day.

Rick Sutton | May 19, 2011 2:34 PM

Tyler Perry's "Madea" character has an apt characterization of her brother, n'er-do-well Joe, which applies to Newt:

"You're just a big 'ole lump of nuthin."

That said, it's a real giggle to watch Newt squirm now.

The Tiffany bill, which he won't discuss because it's "not one of the critical sisues facing America." (This on Fox Snooze, a friendly venue to say the least)

The past personal indiscretions, which include dating a former lobbyist and Hill committee staffer.

Yet he spoke the truth, regarding Rep. Ryan's neocon budget "solution."

THIS will not be forgotten.

I hope he stays in the race for a long time. I love a good Republican family fight.

Newt. Mitt. I love the monosyllabic GOP wannabes. May their tribes multiply. From "The Art of War": never interrupt your enemies when they're destroying themselves.

Carry on.

Going strongly against medicare is a nigh suicidal move for a Republican politician, mainly because "old people" is a huge part of the Republican Party's base and most old people do not want medicare cut and they want the co-pays gone. Look at Rick Santorum, it was not all of that racist, homophobic hate and warmongering that got him out of office-it was his support of privatizing social security (seriously, look at his opponent, do you know what that guy is? Half of the people who voted for him didn't. PS, his name is Bob Casey, aka anyone-but-Rick-Santorum). A clever GOP strategist should take note of the heavy conservative senior base that loves it some medicare and social security.

I disagree with Wolfe (spelling?) in the video, I do not think that progressives would try the same tactics as conservatives did on Obama's health care reform, in large part because I think too many progressives have some piece of self respect left that would not allow them to engage in such a massive level of deceit.

The problem is not that the Republican "plan," or the "Ryan" plan, and a few others floating around in that party, won't work or will work, depending on whom is talking. Nor is the problem with the Democratic "plan" to do this or that, mostly raising taxes endlessly and increasing the size of government. The problem is that we've been led to believe that there's an endless amount of money in Washington (which ultimately must come from us as individuals) and that we all must go there to get our medical care through supplication to the "plan."

The problem is really that there's just two parties. And both parties have been bought and paid for by lobbyists, and there's an "either/or" dichotomy when in fact there may well be better plans to deal with the obvious looming insolvency of Medicare/caid and Social Security. Tinkering with the three will not do much but forestall more tinkering, endlessly brewing political battles where personality and lobbyists, cronyism and the elite few are the only thing that matters, and naught the people -- though allegedly we have a "voice" in it all through elections and what lobbying we can effect by calling our Congressperson.

The solution lies in slowly weening Americans off their dependency on government in the manner of our "applying" for benefits. If the government wants to provide health care, then let it build a hospital, hire the doctors and nurses, fill it with equipment and figure out how much tax is necessary from all to pay for it -- and open the doors to anyone whom walks in and don't worry about some "income" eligibility, or private or public insurance, or anything else, to pay for it. It's not "free" but it's not dependent on some bureaucrat to decide if we're "eligible." Taxes will pay for it.

We provide parks like this, we provide roads like this, we provide many things like this -- and so if the government wanted to provide health care they'd get rid of all the bureaucracy and build clinics and hospitals. But all we get is more bureaucracy under the "plans" of both parties -- and no health care to speak of.

But no, we're to argue endlessly over the right "plan" to tell Americans what to do and when to do it at the behest of bureaucrats and not just access the hospital like we access the park -- without filling out a form.

I don't think that, as the GOP is attacking one of America's single-payer systems (medicare), they're going to easily accept an actual nationalization of the health care industry.

While I'm surprised that Newt was the one to step out of line with the GOP, it's not surprising that they jumped on him. Whenever anyone stops reading from the party script, it seems like - even Democrats - the rest of the party freaks out.

if you thought the flipping and the flopping of the newt could not be topped, he actually managed to top himself by telling the world that anyone who accurately quotes him on this is a liar...because newt has special "takey-backsies" powers that the rest of us don't?