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Saturday: Republicans have ALWAYS Hated Medicare

So, the Republicans have voted to end Medicare as we know it and throw our parents and ourselves to the mercy of the insurance market with vouchers.  The new budget bill the House Republicans passed yesterday cuts trillions of dollars of support for poor and working families while enriching the already rich even more.  It’s hard to look at recent decades elections maps and not notice that the bulk of the Republican strong hold is still located in the poorest, most rural and, by far, the most southern states.  It’s almost as if the south never gave up its taste for cheap, exploitable labor.  It’s still fighting the Civil War using modern tactics.

Of course, it wasn’t always like that.  Lyndon Johnson was from Texas and he made it his goal to introduce the Great Society in order to eliminate poverty in our lifetime.  Lyndon Johnson was a schoolteacher before he became a politician.  He taught children of Mexican workers and this experience seems to have shaped his worldview and taught him compassion:

I shall never forget the faces of the boys and the girls in that little Welhausen Mexican School, and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor. And I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.”

When he became president, he took up JFK’s New Frontier programs that had previously languished in Congress.  Some of the initiatives of the New Frontier were Medicare and Medicaid.  They couldn’t get through the impasse of Republicans in Congress who were supported by money from the American Medical Association.  Let’s think about that for a minute.  It was doctors who didn’t want Medicare.  Why does this sound so familiar?  In the recent healthcare reform debates, we’ve heard a lot about controlling costs and determining which health care procedures have the best outcomes but the vast majority of the efforts seem to be directed at getting consumers to pay more in insurance costs, to accept fewer services for their insurance dollar for guaranteed coverage and to pay for treatment out of pocket.  But who benefits from more dollars for fewer services?

Medicare had a much easier road to passage after the 1964 Democratic landslide in Congress.  Many more liberal Democrats were elected to office and the number of Republicans was reduced to under 1/3 of the total number of representatives.  Medicare, Medicaid, housing and educational funding were passed without Republican help, or, more importantly, interference.  For a historical perspective, listen to this podcast from Witness (BBC) on the Birth of the Great Society and Medicare.  It’s only 10 minutes long and you will get a clearer sense of what we’re up against.

Now, a lot of people will get their backs up about labeling Republicans.  Democrats can be just as bad.  Yep.  There is no doubt in my mind that there are a lot of Democrats in Congress elected from very conservative districts who don’t really embrace Democratic values much less liberal ones.  But if the country wants to keep their social safety net programs intact, their civil rights protected and give their children a fighting chance in terms of education and a more equal society, it has to get rid of as many Republicans as possible and replace them with politicians who are more liberal.  They don’t have to be Democrats.  They just have to be proponents of a Greater Society.  We should have learned lessons from our past.  We know that endless wars can drain our economy. We know that welfare can destroy initiative, demoralize and cement generations of families in poverty.  But having no social safety net can do the same thing and the effects will become much more noticeable as time goes on.  Crime will increase, our society will be less well-educated, education and opportunity will become more dependent on who you know, not what you know.  We will all get a little bit closer to the poor migrant worker, never able to count on a stable paycheck or help during economic or health care emergencies.

Republicans seem to want a feudal kind of society back.  Landowner and serf.  Sixteen tons.  This is nothing new.  They’ve been at this for 50 years.  The question is, what have we learned from this?  More importantly, how do we get the country to turn away from the noise machine that keeps pushing its buttons on gay marriage and abortion and get it to concentrate its efforts on saving itself?  Democrats missed opportunities since 2006 to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine and strengthen Net Neutrality.  Failure to do this will result in fewer outlets for alternative viewpoints.  I have to wonder why Democrats have deliberately hobbled themselves like this.  Is it malice or stupidity?  Are they so afraid of hostile public comment, ginned up by Republican astroturf campaigns, that they are paralyzed into inaction?  Is Al Franken political poison?  Isn’t this a vicious cycle?  If so, we need to replace these Democrats with some loose cannons of our own.  Where are the Rand Pauls and Paul Ryans of the left?

No matter what happens in the next year, the blame falls on both Republicans and Democrats.  Republicans for being the snakes we pick up at the side of the road, knowing what they are; Democrats for yielding to big money instead of working on great efforts.  We shouldn’t let ourselves be distracted from the fact that this issue is played out before a big election.  Medicare has become politicized by both parties for their own gains.  I don’t appreciate having Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security dangled in front of the American people with snapping crocodiles waiting to consume them and if that’s what the Obama campaign is planning, they’d better make damn sure they haven’t miscalculated. The “smart compromise” move would be to not negotiate with Republicans on Medicare.  Period.  Or Social Security or Medicaid or any other social safety net program.  Tell them you’ll smartly compromise when the rich starts paying its fair share, the bankers return all of our money and unemployment is down to 3%.  Then we’ll talk.  Frankly, I don’t trust Obama or his organization.  He’s no JFK, LBJ or FDR.  He’s an Obamaist.  That’s the sum total of his political philosophy.  You lefties know this going in.  Your eyes are open.  He’s going to try to please all of the data mined to death voter blocs on his electoral checklist.  There will be no vision, no program.  It will be all about HIM.  How many votes can he get here and there to put him ever so slightly over the top.  Expect a lot of compromising, very little of it smart.

I’ve worked since I was 17, faithfully putting away my (now substantial) FICA and Medicare taxes and now that I no longer have a job and may never get one that pays as well as the one I lost, I am going to expect that my decades of deferred wages get paid to me as promised.  To ask me to accept anything less is to ask me to accept fraud.  I won’t have it.  If the projected costs are too high based on the past several years GDP, it would have been better to do the hard work of passing a decent jobs program, ending the unnecessary war in Iraq and taxing the rich.  Don’t ask me to make long term sacrifices for some stupid short term gain that spares me a few measley cents on the dollar but rewards the rich lavishly.  I see clearly what is going on and I’m not buying it.

Democrats, take notice.

A little more:  I started free associating (without drugs) on the concept of the company store in 16 Tons and came across this wikipedia entry for the truck system:

truck system is an arrangement in which employees are paid in commodities or some currency substitute (referred to as scrip), rather than with standard money. This limits employees’ ability to choose how to spend their earnings—generally to the benefit of the employer. As an example, scrip might be usable only for the purchase of goods at a “company store” where prices are set artificially high.

Bear with me for a sec.  It seems to me that offering seniors vouchers that must be spent on private insurance policies and not providing access to something like a public option like the one Paul Krugman is suggesting is a lot like the truck system.  What makes it more outrageous is that it’s with our taxdollars that we have earned.  So, to recap, we labor all our lives, deferring our wages for Medicare and Social Security. Then, when we need to use it, to recoup our wages compounded by millions of other taxpayers, we are issued “scrip” instead that can only be used at a “company” insurance store where the company sets the rates and can set them artificially high to guarantee themselves a profit at taxpayer expense.

We outlawed the truck system in the 20th century but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of seniors have heard of it from their parents.  It was despised.  Republicans want to bring a form of it back.  Anybody who votes for a politician who wants to “smart compromise” on this plan should have their heads examined.

15 Responses

  1. Another dreary day in jersey. Very cold spring. Only two or three good days in the past couple of months. Otherwise, cold, overcast, raining or snowing.

  2. sing it Sister !!! 🙂

  3. Weird day here in Kansas City. Helped daughter with taxes and a sister with resume, took a freezing cold walk and am totally pooped out!

    So, happy to find a lovely new post, thanks RD!!

  4. Forecast is rain or cloudy skies from now until next Thursday. I can’t take it.

  5. Excellent post.

    Don’t forget that we pay for Medicare all along the way, with every paycheck. We paid extra already for Social Security (thanks to President Reagan) and our employers also kick in for it.

    We have paid already — don’t let the Republicans (or Democrats who love to compromise) steal from us. Medicare and Social Security are not “entitlements” — they are paid for.


  6. Who could have predicted it.

    D.C. voting rights proponents’ faith in Obama sinks

    Yet what distinguished Obama from his predecessors was the anticipation his arrival generated. In the past week, the same people who saw hope in Obama’s jaunts across the city just before his inauguration — remember that half-smoke he ate at Ben’s Chili Bowl? — have excoriated him for relegating the District to the status of bargaining chip in a broader budget game with House leaders.
    “John, I’ll give you D.C. abortion,” Obama reportedly told House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) before reaching a deal, effectively trading away the city’s right to fund abortions for low­income women.
    The District’s political leadership was infuriated.
    In a city in which Obama won 93 percent of the vote, a D.C. Council member threatened to withhold her support in the next presidential election. The city’s congressional delegate shouted an invective on television. The mayor and six council members were handcuffed in a protest on Constitution Avenue.
    After his release, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) called Obama’s stance on the abortion issue disheartening. “The District should not be a bargaining chip in budget negotiations at the national level,” he said.
    A once iron-clad bond was now frayed.
    “This is personal,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist. “I believe the president is sincere when he says that he believes in D.C. voting rights and home rule. But, as you know, D.C. residents like proof.”
    Mark Plotkin, a WTOP political commentator who has made District statehood something of an obsession, said he sees little to distinguish Obama from his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. Bush angered voting rights advocates by refusing to place the D.C. “Taxation Without Representation” license plate on the presidential limousine. Obama also has not added the plate to his limousine.

    • Donna Brazile?

      She is the last person who could gain my sympathy – she was a leader in selling us all out to get this crappy president. I just wish these people (like Brazile) would *own* what they did and how wrong they were.

    • This is personal,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist. “I believe the president is sincere when he says that he believes in D.C. voting rights and home rule. But, as you know, D.C. residents like proof.”

      lol! This is too funny …Yeah Donna those DC people actually want something done before they “believe” squat …those silly billys….somehow your suposed belief about what Obama might feel ain’t cutting it

  7. The word “vouchers” is code meaning : carnival bullshit get out of dodge scam plugged nickels
    for the rubes.

    They will purpose these BS Monopoly vouchers to be paid though states they are currently bankrupting . These states will then use the money the wooden nickle vouchers supposedly represent for other things like more tax breaks for the java the hut wealthy ..( .the Ponzi scheme program they want to continue at all costs ) …. if they will shut down the system, they need to return every penny in premiums along with the sorry no health care letter …it would still be a good deal for them….but otherwise it’s theft, straight up …which of course is the point

  8. Where is the accounting for the money that employers and “illegals” pay into Social Security. Millions and millions paid into SS and will never be paid to them. This is a major scam.
    Here in Calif, there are millions of Hispanic laborers with fake ID who work and pay into the system.
    8.5% is matched by their employers.
    These workers know they will never see that money and their employers know it too. That is a huge amount of money.
    The lie that SS is underfunded is the biggest scam of the century.

    • Millions? You significantly underestimate the amount. We’re talking real money. Note that the amount contributed is per year.

      Wikipedia says:

      Undocumented Taxpayers
      The IRS estimates that about 6 million unauthorized immigrants file individual income tax returns each year.[10] Research reviewed by the nonpartisanCongressional Budget Office indicates that between 50 percent and 75 percent of unauthorized immigrants pay federal, state, and local taxes.[10] Illegal immigrants are estimated to pay in about $7 billion per year into Social Security.[11]

  9. Was listening to Yoko Ono’s 1985 song “Hell in Paradise” today and realized it’s even more applicable today, what with the Dem party not even bothering to pretend to do anything for the 99% and just be a slightly less extreme Repub party in what they want to take to give to the 1%, and the fauxgressives in the news media bleating the same lines. If you’ve seen the 1985 music video, it’s even more eerily prescient- it takes place in what looks like a pseudo Wall Street…

  10. I really enjoyed you post RD. We are living in Bizarro land where everything that is up is down and down is up. The tricksters in D.C. are doing everything they can to “confuse” the American people with all of this bullshit deficit talk. They weren’t too worried in December. The American people better wise up or they’ll be riding that sh*t train to no where.

  11. David Foster Wallace has a wonderful and insightful essay on LBJ which I recommend for reading by all.

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