Throwing Grandma Off the Cliff

In an interesting piece in Politicotoday, Alex Isenstadt argues that GOP plans to reform Medicare could open the door to the Democrats retaking the House in 2012 (something no one would have predicted following the results of the 2010 midterms).

According to Isenstadt, the Democrats are in possession of a “silver bullet.”

the GOP’s Medicare proposal, an issue the New York race suggested rivals cap-and-trade or President Barack Obama’s health care plan for its ability to antagonize voters. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll in late May revealed that nearly 6 out of 10 voters opposed the plan. The same survey found that the number of those who believe GOP control of the House is good for the country is in decline, dropping from a 52 percent to 39 percent margin in November to 48 percent to 44 percent.

Other commentators, like Michael Tomasky, find all of this a bit premature. Perhaps. But given the lackluster economy and continued engagement in two unpopular wars, is there any question that Medicare will become central to the DNC’s 2012 strategy?

To be certain, one can lay out the long-term fragility of Medicare with relatively great precision. One can make a principled argument that without reform, Medicare—for all of its virtues—will cease to provide the benefits many currently expect. However, one can also provide a critique of reform in ways that will likely strike the elderly with terror. This piece by the Agenda Project is a good example:

If there is a chance that serious discussions about Medicare reform will place one’s reelection in jeopardy, there will be strong disincentives to engaging serious entitlement reform before the results of 2012 are tabulated. The incentive to kick the can down the road may be overwhelming, even if the road appears to be coming to an abrupt end.

8 thoughts on “Throwing Grandma Off the Cliff

  1. The older you are the more likely you are to vote. The older you are the more likely you are to benefit directly from Medicare. The older you are the less of a threat kicking the Medicare insolvency can down the road is to you personally.

    “Mediscare” sounds like a pretty good political tactic to me.

    1. Agreed. Until the system collapses violently people will live at the expense of others as long as possible.

  2. I find it insulting that those of us on Medicare are assumed to be so easily manipulated. There must be more of us (me – 67, my friend, 75, on opposite sides of the political spectrum) who see the problem clearly and are on the side of reform.

    We need a bit more of the attitude we see in Japan, where older men are volunteering to clean up the failed reactors in order to save younger men from the consequences.

    I’m also reminded of the older Russians who voted years ago for Yeltsin and in interviews talked about their reasons. They knew they would never benefit from any necessary economic changes he might make – they did it for their children, grandchildren, and the future of their country. Now we know that their hopes have been dashed, but their instincts were right. I’ve looked for quotes but haven’t found any.

  3. What we need, on the topic of Medicare, and what we have are different things. Polls clearly show a majority of older voters favoring their self-interest, which, in this case, is maintaining the status quo. That is not an insult.

    The question is not whether people, in larger numbers, will vote one way or another, the question is: will our elected officials do what is best for the system and the country? If all they are to do is that which polls the highest, then let’s replace them with a direct democracy. We can have a public vote on every issue, a la American Idol; for “yes” text 90879, for “no” text 90880.

    1. Why is it an expression of our self interest to bankrupt our children and grandchildren? Why is it not of greater interest to ensure that their future is at least as sound as ours and hopefully more so?

      1. What individuals judge to be in their interest varies and can certainly include what you mention, but there is not a majority that do so.

  4. It is obvious,to any thinking person,that the “New Deal” and the “Great Society” were both huge mistakes that have come back to haunt the American people. When a person makes a mistake,they should go back,find the mistake,correct that mistake and then continue forward. When a nation votes for a mistake and that mistake festers to the point that it cannot be corrected it is time to realize that the mistake will destroy(economically) that nation. There is no “correcting” or “reforming” Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid there is only the political will to completely dismantle these programs. The fact is that the “New Deal” and the “Great Society” programs have bankrupted themselves to the point ,where they cannot be continued at all without economically destroying this nation.Yes, the checks can go out forever,however they won’t buy much because of devalued dollars. Yes Medicare can continue,but the elderly will be sent home to die. Yes,Social Security and Medicare are Socialist successes,but if you throw enough of other peoples money at something its bound to work for a certain period of time. The end result is national bankruptcy and taxpayer enslavement. In the end,can the political will be found?

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