Archive for May, 2011

New York Says No

New York voted for Medicare yesterday. In a traditionally Republican district, Democrat Kathy Hochul won a special election for an open Congressional seat. The major issue in the campaign was the budget recently passed by Republicans in the House of Representatives that eliminates Medicare as a defined benefit program.  Candidate Hochul opposed this change, recognizing it for what it is –  an end to Medicare.  Voters agreed with her. 

The New York vote reminds us that Americans value Medicare.  They understand that the Republican Budget won’t save Medicare; it will replace it with individual vouchers toward the cost of purchasing private insurance. 

Under the Republican plan, beginning in 2022, people who become eligible for Medicare would instead receive a voucher, worth about $8,000.  No one knows what private plans would be available for purchase, what geographic regions would be included, or what health services and providers would be covered.  We do know that Medicare guarantees certain coverages, and it has worked to bring quality health care to older and disabled people for 46 years.  When Medicare was enacted in 1965, half of all Americans 65 or older had no insurance.  Private insurance did not want to cover them.  Now, because of Medicare, 95% of people 65+ are covered.

Yesterday, Joe Courtney, the Congressman who represents the district of the Center’s home office also said yes to Medicare and  no to vouchers. ( VIDEO: Courtney decries GOP plan to end Medicare as we know it.) 

Fortunately, when Kathy Hochul takes her seat in Congress to represent New York, Congressman Courtney will have another ally in efforts to preserve Medicare.

May 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm Leave a comment

Truth: Why I Love Paul Krugman

From Paul Krugman in today’s New York Time, May 13, 2011

This has to be one of the funniest political stories of recent weeks: On Tuesday, 42 freshmen Republican members of Congress sent a letter urging President Obama to stop Democrats from engaging in “Mediscare” tactics — that is, to stop saying that the Republican budget plan released early last month, which would end Medicare as we know it, is a plan to end Medicare as we know it.

Now, you may recall that the people who signed that letter got their current jobs largely by engaging in “Mediscare” tactics of their own. And bear in mind that what Democrats are saying now is entirely true, while what Republicans were saying last year was completely false. Death panels!

Well, it’s time, said the signatories, to “wipe the slate clean.” How very convenient — and how very pathetic.

Anyway, the truth is that older Americans really should fear Republican budget ideas — and not just because of that plan to dismantle Medicare. Given the realities of the federal budget, a party insisting that tax increases of any kind are off the table — as John Boehner, the speaker of the House, says they are — is, necessarily, a party demanding savage cuts in programs that serve older Americans. …

Between an aging population and rising health costs, then, preserving anything like the programs for seniors we now have will require a significant increase in spending on these programs as a percentage of G.D.P. And unless we offset that rise with drastic cuts in defense spending — which Republicans, needless to say, oppose — this means a substantial rise in overall spending, which we can afford only if taxes rise.

So when people like Mr. Boehner reject out of hand any increase in taxes, they are, in effect, declaring that they won’t preserve programs benefiting older Americans in anything like their current form. It’s just a matter of arithmetic.

Which brings me back to those Republican freshmen. Last year, older voters, who split their vote almost evenly between the parties in 2008, swung overwhelmingly to the G.O.P., as Republicans posed successfully as defenders of Medicare. Now Democrats are pointing out that the G.O.P., far from defending Medicare, is actually trying to dismantle the program. So you can see why those Republican freshmen are nervous.

But the Democrats aren’t engaging in scare tactics, they’re simply telling the truth. Policy details aside, the G.O.P.’s rigid anti-tax position also makes it, necessarily, the enemy of the senior-oriented programs that account for much of federal spending. And that’s something voters ought to know.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on May 13, 2011, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Seniors, Guns And Money.

May 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

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