Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Saving Medicare: it's not rocket science, nor a complex financial derivative

If the Democrats voluntarily toss away the political gift the Republicans have given them with the Ryan plan that abolishes Medicare ... I left that part blank because I know it will be bad. It's just hard to picture how bad.

In any kind of traditional political sense, it would be completely irrational. But we're dealing with the neoliberalized Democratic Party here, so rational thinking and good political sense may not be entirely relevant. Or maybe only marginally relevant. Joan McCarter explains how goofy it would be (McConnell: House GOP Medicare plan is 'on the table,' will Dems keep Medicare cuts off? Daily Kos 05/31/2011):

[T]his [Republican] Medicare plan should be a sinking ship for Republicans, and will be provided Dems stay away from any Medicare benefits cuts in their debt ceiling and budget negotiations. There's some indication that they might just be willing to trade it way. That's what Greg Sargent is hearing. ...

The Ryan plan as it exists now won't pass, that's a given. But not passing the Ryan plan won't count as "saving Medicare" if there are benefit cuts in the core program. It's not too late for Dems to draw a hard line, though it might be too late for too many of them to harden their spines. They've got huge majorities of public opinion behind them. Americans aren't clamoring for the Republican plan, they're clamoring for a hard line against it, for Medicare to be protected, for taxes on the wealthy to be raised. It's the perfect set up for 2012, if Dems just don't blow it. [emphasis in original]
"If Dems just don't blow it." That may be in the inscription on the tombstone of the New Deal and the Great Society.


It's worth keeping in mind that the Dems' current threatened surrender of Medicare and political sanity is over the debt ceiling negotiations. Digby has been reminding her readers for months that the Republicans are not going to refuse to raise the debt ceiling. It would cost too many of their main constituency (the super-rich) too much money. So if there are cuts made as part of the debt ceiling adjustments - any cuts to anything - it will be because the Democrats and the Obama Administration want to make those cuts. All the rest of the talk about Republican threats and so forth is just hot air. Seriously.

As Digby herself puts it today (Good Cop/Bad Cop` Hullabaloo 05/30/2011):

The Democrats can turn this clean vote against the Republicans if they want to. The polls may say that the people don't want the debt ceiling raised, but they also don't want the government shut down, Medicare to get privatized and the economy to get worse. If the Democrats have even a modicum of guts they'll relentlessly hammer this vote home for the next two months as a sign of the Republicans' willingness to do anything to destroy Medicare, even destroy the economy. There are several months of negotiations ahead and they could tie this albatross around their necks right along with the dead Ryan plan if they want to. The real question is whether they want to. [emphasis in original]
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