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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘Republicans against Medicare’

Republicans Against Medicare: A Long, Mean History

Monday, October 15th, 2012

“. . . let’s be brutally honest here. The Romney-Ryan position on health care is that many millions of Americans must be denied health insurance, and millions more deprived of the security Medicare now provides, in order to save money. At the same time, of course, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. So a literal description of their plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.” —Paul Krugman, “Death By Ideology” [our emphasis]

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Maybe You Know Someone Whose Life Depends on Medicare

In a column showing that Paul Ryan himself once used the term “voucher” to describe his plan to replace Medicare with something considerably less beneficial, Paul Krugman refutes Romney and Ryan’s claims that no one lacking money for health care will have to go without care. As the compassionate conservative George W. Bush similarly assured us, “[P]eople have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” Before the Republicans decided that euphemisms like “guaranteed benefit” sound better, before the Democrats turned “voucher” into a pejorative, Paul Ryan used the term himself. Last week Romney said:

[Y]ou go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. . . We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.

(By the way, can we just point out that the proper pronoun when referring to human beings is who, not that? It’s called a personal pronoun. Almost every time we hear that instead of who, it is in a context of less-than-kind-regard for the people being referred to. It’s a distancing term. Watch for it.)

In the vice presidential debate on Thursday night, Joe Biden looked into the camera and appealed to the American voter:

. . . these guys haven’t been big on Medicare from the beginning. Their party’s not been big on Medicare from the beginning. And they’ve always been about Social Security as little as you can do. Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this? A man who introduced a bill that would raise [seniors’ required contributions to Medicare] $6,400 a year, knowing it and passing it, and Romney saying he’d sign it? Or me and the president? . . . Folks, follow your instincts on this one. [full transcript here]

The vice president has a good point here: Shouldn’t we trust the party that designed and pushed for Medicare—and Social Security, not to mention the WPA, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and many other social safety net programs—to protect this life-saving program, rather than the party that has long fought against it? Look at how the Republicans in Congress voted for or against Medicare in 1965, compared with the Democrats—and consider that only 3 Republicans voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) in 2009, and have voted 33 times to repeal it:

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Among the congressional Republicans who voted against the Medicare bill in 1965 were George H. W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Bob Dole, Barry Goldwater, and Strom Thurmond. And as early as 1961, then private citizen Ronald Reagan was speaking out against “socialized medicine.” His LP (shown above) was part of “Operation Coffee Cup,” a stealth campaign in the late 1950s and early ’60s sponsored by the American Medical Association to oppose the expansion of Social Security. Click here and here for a brief history of Republican efforts to cut or kill Medicare.

Republicans can call it “socialized medicine”—and they probably always will—but consider this:

Prior to Medicare, “about one-half of America’s seniors did not have hospital insurance,” “more than one in four elderly were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns,” and one in three seniors were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line.

Don’t Cut Medicare—Expand It!

Further, a 2009 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 53% of Americans “strongly” favor expanding Medicare coverage to those aged 55 to 64, and an additional 26% support it “somewhat.” (see page 4). This is an idea pitched by John Kerry when he was running for president in 2004. Kerry suggested enrolling children in Medicare and lowering the age for adults by 10 years, and incrementally moving the eligibility up for the young and downward in age for older Americans, and eventually meeting in the middle so that all Americans would be covered. We love this idea and have often written to members of Congress to support it. We urge you to join us. We should not only protect Medicare as it is, but go stronger and push for wider coverage and fuller funding.

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In closing, we would like to quote a governor of the great state of Massachusetts:

There ought to be enough money to help people get insurance because an insured individual has a better chance of having an excellent medical experience than the one who has not. An insured individual is more likely to go to a primary care physician or a clinic to get evaluated for their conditions and to get early treatment, to get pharmaceutical treatment, as opposed to showing up in the emergency room where the treatment is more expensive and less effective than if they got preventive and primary care.

—Gov. Mitt Romney, address to Chamber of Commerce, April 2006

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President Lyndon B. Johnson, with First Lady Lady Bird Johnson behind him (in blue), and former President Harry S Truman at his right, signs the Medicare bill into law, July 30, 1965.

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