The Making of a Political Cynic
Meditation and Music on the Conditions of Age

Republican Beliefs About Elders

Every time Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wi) and just about any other Republican Congressperson and a large number of media pundits talk about Ryan's proposal to replace Medicare with a voucher program, they point out first and foremost that it will not affect people 55 and older.

The idea behind this statement is to reassure us old folks – you know, the ones who vote in much larger numbers than younger age groups – that we will be able to keep the current, traditional Medicare program.

Meanwhile, the estimated costs to younger individual retirees under the Ryan voucher plan keep coming in.

Last month, Representative George Miller (D-Ca) discussed one report [pdf] from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) which calculated how much those younger workers would need to save to be able to afford private health coverage in retirement under Ryan's voucher system. Here is the CEPR chart:

CEPR Cost Chart

As Representative Miller, who is chair of House Committee on Education and the Workforce, points out on his committee webpage, about half of all workers have no retirement savings and:

”Since the voucher’s value relative to health care costs would decrease over time and private insurance costs are higher than traditional Medicare, seniors retiring in 2022 under the Republican plan would pay much higher costs than under current law.”

No kidding. Take a look at those numbers again. What average worker can even hope to save that much. Some commentators take issue with the CEPR numbers, but few argue that the cost to retirees under the Ryan plan are unaffordable for most people and gets worse over time.

In polls since Representative Ryan released his voucher plan, a large majority of people 65 and older oppose it and no wonder. This is an indisputable case of “listen to your elders” because we've been there. We know what it cost and what it was like dealing with private insurers all our lives, and we know what it's like with Medicare. The program isn't perfect, but the improvement over private insurance is immeasurable.

Ryan's is a terrible, immoral plan that would either impoverish future elders or force them to go without adequate health care in their old age. But Ryan's and others' repeated appeal to current elders that we're “safe” from this travesty says volumes about what they think of old people, which is this:

The culture inside Washington is so debased now that they believe we, like they, will betray our children's and grandchildren's future as long as we've got ours.

I am sickened that this argument is conventional wisdom among Republicans on Capitol Hill and that much of the media goes along with it.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Time Confusion


George Miller is one of the few genuinely useful Congresscritters. At present, he's the ranking minority member on his committee. I am more and more convinced that restoring Democratic control of the the House -- electing about 35 new Dems in the right seats -- is the most important thing we can do in 2012.

I get the Borowitz Report, which is so funny. I remember the one where he said that the Republicans want to replace Medicare with Groupons for elders.

If that weren't bad enough, GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is pushing the envelope even further.

Pawlenty's plan "is more radical than Ryan, costs three times more than the Bush tax cuts, and still means a tax increase on the middle class. Here are the main points of the his plan, which he outlined in a speech in Chicago:

- A hidden tax increase on the middle class
- A massive personal income tax cut for millionaires and billionaires; Citizens for Tax Justice estimates the plan cuts millionaires’ taxes by at least 41%
- A massive tax cut for corporations — including Big Oil — that would cut the corporate rate by more than 50%
- A complete elimination of the estate tax, capital gains tax, and tax on dividend income
- A cap on total spending that would necessitate severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs (except for defense, which Pawlenty has taken off the table in favor of slashing Social Security instead)

The price tag for all of these tax cuts? More than triple the cost of extending just the Bush tax cuts: a whopping $7.8 TRILLION over 10 years, according to the Center for American Action Progress Fund’s director for tax and budget policy, Michael Linden. And that comes in addition to the $2.5 trillion that a full extension of the Bush tax cuts would also cost."

Restoring Democrats to control of the House has to be critical. A lot who are so worried about unemployment ought to look at how much the problem has worsened as Republicans gained more power in Congress. Two and two do equal four except for voters it appears. They are out to undermine Obama in every way they can and that means slash and burn for elders or anybody else who is vulnerable and not rich.

Healthcare isn't the only area where our legislators and the media think we are willing to sell out our children and grandchildren. How about air and water pollution. We can still breathe and drink the water, mostly, and it's just too costly to think about doing it for the next generation. I imagine gas masks will become a big seller, and, of course, more bottles of water.

Ryan's plan is a product of his Randian "philosophy," i.e. the celebration of selfishness, so it's no surprise that he continues to be so befuddled at elders' rejection of his "over 55, hey, you're okay" comforting. What is, yes, sickening, is the acceptance by the rest of his party, of this evil, sociopathic mentality. Betrayal has indeed become the moral core in Washington.

Kaiser Family Foundation has a lot of information on Medicare. Go to for a discussion of the "premium support" model. However you look at it, the future is frightening.

Nicholas Kristof (New York Times) last Sunday column talked about how this country is hollowing out the services that the middle class relies upon. While the the wealthy are hiding in their gated communities with private security guards to protect them. He goes on to compare this to how the ruling class in Pakistan live.

If this keeps up, we are going to have a 1917 style revolution in the US. At least we will know were to find the oligarchs.

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