John McCain and the Republican senators want the proposed $400 billion in cuts, which would be mostly to Medicare, restored in the healthcare reform bill. In this respect, they are absolutely right - not that they really believe what they’re saying, of course.
The Republicans are interested in one thing, and one thing only, and that is scuttling any initiative brought forth by President Obama. Their eyes are not on solving the nation’s problems but rather on regaining the White House in 2012. But that has become patently obvious.
In the case of this crazy-quilt tableau called healthcare reform, many members of the GOP have previously voted for even steeper cuts to Medicare. Past leaders such as Gingrich and Bob Dole came out in absolute opposition to the program. And, McCain’s staff was talking of cutting Medicare during the campaign.
However, a recent comment by Senator McCain may be worth repeating. Even though, like most utterances in Washington, it was just part of the usual smoke and mirrors , it does just happen to hit the nail on the head.
What he said was this: “How many times have you heard from citizens in your state saying ‘I paid into this trust fund. I paid for Medicare all my life. Now it’s going to be cut. How is that fair? How is that fair to my generation, the greatest generation?'”
Aside from the questionable accuracy of that “greatest generation” comment, the truth that McCain was deceitfully uttering was that, if the proposed cuts survive, it will definitely hurt. And, it will particularly hurt the approximately 25% of all people on Medicare who belong to Medicare Advantage programs. Among other things, these particular senior citizens will lose essential services with respect to vision and dental, just when they may need them the most, and their drug costs will rise.
Statistics show that those on Medicare Advantage programs tend to be the seniors with lower incomes. Thus, in this jungle-gym piece of legislation, poor seniors would essentially be required to underwrite the premiums for younger people with greater earnings potential, but who don’t have insurance.
The insanity even gets a bit more intense. Every mention of this issue by our obedient and enslaved mainstream media repeats the mantra, over and over, that “the independent group, AARP, the nation’s leading advocate for seniors” praises the bill.
HELLO….AARP is not an advocate for seniors. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is a huge insurer and a huge pusher of prescription drugs. It is not seeking a solution to the problem. It is part of the problem!
Are we supposed to be so stupid that we can’t see that the AARP really loves the bill because it will eliminate its competition? In the long run, do we not know that this will surely add significantly to the healthcare costs to be borne by every senior citizen, not to mention the government itself? And, with the post-war baby boomers beginning to hit the age of 65 in about one year, this will impact on a rapidly growing segment of the population.
Perhaps the most ludicrous statement to come out of the GOP ranks was made by the turncoat who actually joined with the Democrats, Senator Olympia J. Snow (R-Maine). She said, and I quote: “There are going to be a lot of rewards for seniors in this and no reductions in their benefits.”
A $400 billion cut and no reduction in benefits? Houdini, himself, couldn’t accomplish that. Her inane comment will likely blow away in the Washington wind, just like Obama’s vacant promise, some six months ago. He said, then, that every senior citizen on Medicare would be given a check for $500 to make up for the reduction in benefits - a reduction that we are now told will not materialize.
Not surprisingly, as the past week came to a close, an amendment sponsored by McCain to restore the $400 billion in cuts was defeated by the Democrats.
The truth hasn’t escaped some groups, however. The second largest state medical association in the country, the California Medical Association, representing 35,000 physicians, is opposing the healthcare reform bill saying it will restrict access to care for elderly and low income patients. A spokesman for the group said that, under the Senate bill, Medicare reimbursements would decrease by 40% in coming years. Other similar associations in Florida, Georgia and Texas have also joined the opposition.
In the big picture, here, some might be confused that what we are seeing in Washington recently is a Democratic party that has not only failed to represent the interests of those it has historically gone to bat for, but one that has, also uncharacteristically, tripled our involvement in a foreign war.
The answer, of course, is that money - scads of money - has become the great equalizer. Our system of campaign finance, which actually boils down to money for votes, is rapidly turning our political machinery into a one-party system, with politicians on both sides of the aisle finding themselves on the same payrolls.
That is why healthcare in this country will inevitably continue to be the costliest in the world and why our average longevity, which currently compares unfavorably with other industrialized nations, may well be on the verge of getting even worse. And, more significantly, that is why this nation is broke, and yet continues to spend money like a drunken sailor.
And for all the John Q. Publics out there along Main Street, the Washington money machine is exactly why this Great Recession, with all its wrenching consequences, is about to enter its third year, with no light yet to be seen at the end of the tunnel.
Dave McGill, News Correspondent
Dave’s column, “The Contrarian,” generally published every Friday, to Gather Essential News and other groups will sometimes present a contrary view to various aspects of the news, or an alternate take on the conventional wisdom of the day. It will also often appear on other days of the week
Dave has been a senior officer of an eastern insurance company, involved in economic projections and investment strategy, president of a Midwestern mortgage banking company, and a financial consultant in Southern California, serving clients in the field of commercial real estate development.
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