It’s the ideological opposition to the social safety net, stupid.
posted by Donna Gratehouse
at 10 December, 2:25 PM 0
In the last few days liberal pundits and bloggers have been reacting to what’s called a “trial balloon”, believed to be sent out by the White House. The rumor is that Democrats will exchange a raise in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 (phased in at some indeterminate time) for an income tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. Naturally most liberal writers think this is a stupid idea because, well, it’s a stupid idea.
Raising the age of Medicare isn’t a damn bone, it’s a six inch dagger sticking into the hearts of millions of elderly Americans. It’s been analyzed by the best and consensus is that raising the age of eligibility is horrible for health care, people, future costs and savings.
The majority of 65- and 66-year-olds would end up with skimpier coverage than they’d have with Medicare—and some would end up with no coverage at all—leaving them exposed to higher expenses. Businesses would also face higher costs, because some of those 65- and 66-year-olds would stay on employer policies. Medicare premiums would also inch higher, since the pool of people in Medicare would be older overall. Overall, according to independent assessments, the government would spend less on medical care, but the country as a whole would spend more, which is precisely the opposite of what public policy is supposed to be achieving right now. (This report from the Kaiser Family Foundation has a full analysis and this item from Sarah Kliff puts it into context, if you want to know more.)
…So instead of good policy and compassion we’re supposed to surrender on something that does nothing to ease the so-called fiscal cliff just so teabirchers in Congress can feel better about themselves because they screwed over millions of working class elderly Americans. And of course we must appease the fiscal scolds which in reality have been turned into bipartisan GODS for the beltway villagers and they need their sacrifice. It’s not shared sacrifice that politicians proclaim is needed, but the Edward G. Robinson golden calf kind of sacrifice to the GODS in The Ten Commandments. The fiscal scolds must be obeyed or ye shall be punished!
Democrats better think very carefully before agreeing to this. Not only is it really, really bad policy that will endanger real human beings but it’s politically toxic. Most people don’t pay attention to the day-to-day goings on in DC and when the increase to the Medicare eligibility age kicks in they will not know or remember that it was part of fiscal cliff negotiations. They will attribute it to Obamacare (“recent changes to health care law…”). The GOP, despite being the very people who want this to happen because it (duh) weakens Medicare, will be only too glad to have Democrats take the blame for it. Don’t do their work for them, Democrats. Let the Republicans make their own case for demolishing the social safety net. It’s what they want to do and it isn’t about “the deficit”.
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