Thursday, April 7, 2011

G.O.P proposes a death panel plan for health care

You've undoubtedly heard about Rep. Paul D. Ryan's (R-Wisc) plans for Medicaid and Medicare, which ultimately aim to leave each person and family to shift for themselves when it comes to health care. Under the plan Ryan put forward as the Republican party's point man on budget, if you've got enough income or assets you get modern medical care sufficient to address your medical needs. If you don't have enough money to pay your own way, the federal government won't help you enough to matter.

What will that mean in reality? It will mean that millions of people for whom our nation, the world's wealthiest, currently provides care will be left on their own to grow sicker and die sooner. So much for compassionate conservatism.

Remember Sarah Palin's "death panel" canard? C'mon, you couldn't have forgotten a propaganda blitz that was voted the biggest lie of 2009 by ", the nonpartisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning Truth-O-Meter run by the St. Petersburg Times." The G.O.P. broadly, deceptively, and despicably applied the "death panel" canard to national health care reform measures enacted in 2010.

Well, in the words of dead former-president Ronald Reagan, lying on the topic of health care in 1980, there [they] go again. This time, though, the death panel is the Republican majority of the House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Ryan.

The mild and reasoned summary from the NY Times:

But while saving large sums for the federal government, the proposals on Medicaid and Medicare could shift some costs to beneficiaries and to the states. [...] if, as many economists predict, health costs continue to rise at a rapid clip, beneficiaries of these programs would be at risk for more of the costs. [...] About half of Medicaid recipients are children. Nearly two-thirds of the money spent on Medicaid benefits is for low-income people who are 65 and older or disabled.

Compare that to a response that does not pull its punch, from Steven D on Daily Kos:

So you won't have insurance worth spit if you to make it to 67. You will die earlier than you should so rich people can receive more tax breaks. I think the Republicans had a word for that back in 2009 when they opposed health care reform: Death Panels. Well, that usage was a lie. The health care reform act contained no "death panels" who would decide who would live and who would die. But the Republicans in Congress and anyone else who supports the elimination of health care is acting in effect as a death panel. If their bill passes, and Medicare is eliminated, guess who would be selected for "early retirement." Well unless you are filthy rich and can afford a gold plated health care plan, the people selected to die early and suffer great misery while awaiting that early death from lack of sufficient health care would be you and me.

And, also excerpted from Daily Kos, another, from Joan McCarter:

Let's reiterate a point here -- a quarter of Medicaid spending goes for long-term care for the elderly. If Medicaid is not there to pick up those costs, it falls to families. There's already an explicit tax hike for the middle class in Ryan's plan. Taking Medicaid funding from families with disabled children and parents and grandparents in nursing homes compounds that. Plenty of middle-class families only remain middle class because they're spared crippling medical and long-term care costs. A decade or two of the Ryan plan, and there will be no more middle class in America.

Rep. Paul D. Ryan said on Tuesday morning: "This is not a budget, this is a cause."

Daily Kos diarist Giles Goat Bay wrote in response to Ryan's assertion:

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives are not there to govern. They are not there to make and defend tough choices. They are not there to hammer out a deal that would require genuine shared sacrifice. In short, they are not there to deal with reality. They are there as ideologues.

That's what it looks like to me too.

Here's an opinion piece featured yesterday on the front page of, in case the NYT and Daily Kos aren't sufficiently fair or balanced for this post's readers. From yesterday's The Federal Budget Crisis Hoax, by Sally Kohn:

[...] the extent of the federal budget crisis as a whole is being wildly overblown to scare us toward drastic measures rather than rational solutions. [...] big corporations and their lobbyists have literally been manipulating our government --- both Republicans and Democrats --- to grease the wheels for big business while putting up more and more obstacles for working families, small business owners, homeowners, etc. [...] And so, at their behest, politicians of both parties --- as well as the media owned by the very same big businesses --- tell us that the government is broke and our debt level is unsustainable and, therefore, we’re going to have to cut things like unemployment benefits and funding for public school teachers. Wall Street doesn’t care.

Ms. Kohn quotes economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), so I will too -- with a special shout-out to readers who imagine that my habit of quoting Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman implies he is alone in his expert judgement:

[...] deficit hawks have gone on the warpath insisting that we have to start worrying about bringing the deficit down. [...] This is, of course, complete nonsense. Larger deficits in the current economic environment will only increase output and employment. In other words, larger deficits will put many of our children's parents back to work. Larger deficits will increase the likelihood that parents can keep their homes and provide their children with the health care, clothing and other necessities for a decent upbringing. But, the deficit hawks would rather see our children suffer so that we can have smaller deficits.

Pander to the rich. Leave the poor to die in squalor. That's the cliff over which the G.O.P. wants to drive a nation they would rather damage than govern.

1 comment:

  1. Well, okay, here's Paul Krugman himself on Rep. Ryan's proposal:

    In short, this plan isn’t remotely serious; on the contrary, it’s ludicrous.

    And it’s also cruel.

    In the past, Mr. Ryan has talked a good game about taking care of those in need. But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, of the $4 trillion in spending cuts he proposes over the next decade, two-thirds involve cutting programs that mainly serve low-income Americans. And by repealing last year’s health reform, without any replacement, the plan would also deprive an estimated 34 million nonelderly Americans of health insurance.

    So the pundits who praised this proposal when it was released were punked. The G.O.P. budget plan isn’t a good-faith effort to put America’s fiscal house in order; it’s voodoo economics, with an extra dose of fantasy, and a large helping of mean-spiritedness.