Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Paranoia in Politics

An acquaintance in Berkeley - who is a very left of center lawyer, and probably puts more posts on Facebook than any three human beings - put a post on his page this morning which said simply "Be afraid. Be very afraid." and then linked to one of the first several New York Times screeds on the selection of Paul Ryan.   The Times yammers 

"Most voters know little about Mr. Ryan. Those who have heard of him are probably most familiar with his Medicare plan, which would turn the program into a voucher system that would pay beneficiaries a fixed amount for their medical care, leaving them on their own if the voucher did not cover their costs."   Just to set the record straight - the Ryan Medicare Plan is actually the Ryan-Wyden (as in Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon) Plan
A more objective analysis of the plan suggests that "Seniors would be able to choose between traditional fee-for-service Medicare (FFS) and various private healthcare plans on a newly established, regulated Medicare Exchange, similar in structure to those created by the ACA. In each region, healthcare plans would be paid based on the cost of the second-least expensive approved private plan or FFS, whichever is less costly, risk-adjusted for the health status of their enrollees. The cost of this plan would establish the “benchmark” government payment in each locality. Therefore, the amount that the government contributes would be tied to the cost of health care in a given area.
Beneficiaries who choose to enroll in a plan that is more expensive than the benchmark – even if that plan is FFS – would be required to pay the incremental additional cost. A beneficiary who enrolls in the least-expensive approved plan would be rebated the full difference in cost from the benchmark."

In essence, what the plan does is a) protect Medicare as we know it and b) then introduce, for those who want it, an element of choice.

What bothers me about the state of the left at this point, is the extreme rhetoric about what might happen if we took a slightly different path.

Here is another whopper from the Times - "As House Budget Committee chairman, Mr. Ryan drew a blueprint for a government that would be absent when people needed it the most. Medicaid, food stamps, and other vital programs would be offloaded to the states, but the states would not be given the resources to run them. The federal government simply would not be there to help the unemployed who need job training, or struggling students who seek college educations. Washington would be unable to respond when a city cannot properly treat its sewage, or when the poor and uninsured overload emergency rooms as clinics close."

Here is what Erskine Bowles (Democrat of North Carolina and at one point Clinton's Chief of Staff said about Ryan's budget plan.  

The bottom line is that both sides (although in my opinion the Dems are more guilty that the GOP) have engaged in a bit of expansionist rhetoric.   We've got to separate partisan rants like the editorials of the New York Times - from reality.   But the real debate and discussion in this election should be on how to reduce the huge deficits and additions to the national debt that have been created over the last decade.

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