Elders on Television
Impact of Recession on Elders

Political Schadenfreude

category_bug_politics.gif New York's 26th Congressional District has been in the hands of Republicans for 40 years so when a special election was held to fill the seat of the member who resigned after posting a half-naked photograph of himself on Craigslist, the result seemed a foregone conclusion.

That is, until April when Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul began broadcasting a series of television ads pointing out her opponent's support for Paul Ryan's Medicare-killing budget proposal. On Tuesday, Hochul won the election 47 to 43 percent with 9 percent going to the independent candidate who had aligned himself with the tea party.

It was a load of fun Wednesday morning listening to Republican politicians and pundits tying themselves in knots to dismiss the election results. Some blamed Hochul's win on the third-party candidate. Others saw it as an anomaly. Ryan himself continued to defend his budget saying,

“...that the GOP proposal doesn’t subsidize the wealthy as much and keeps benefits steady for people over 55.”

Apparently, Ryan still believes that people older than 55 are willing to sell out younger Americans' future access to Medicare. That, I'm guessing, is as bad a bet as assuming a win for Hochul's opponent was. Here are a couple of District 26 voter responses:

“'I have almost always voted the party line, said Gloria Bolender, a Republican from Clarence who is caring for her 80-year-old mother. 'This is the second time in my life I’ve voted against my party.

“Pat Gillick, a Republican from East Amherst, who also cast a ballot for Ms. Hochul, said, 'The privatization of Medicare scares me.'”

Republican House members who are more pragmatic than Ryan – particularly the 234 others who voted for his deeply unpopular budget - are undoubtedly in the midst of panicked phone calls to their campaign advisers trying to figure out how to undo that vote in the eyes of the public.

Too late. It's done. And there is not a Democratic candidate in the land who will let anyone forget it. As of Tuesday, advantage Democrats.

Not that they won't do everything in their power to botch it. God knows the Democrats have never met a winning position they couldn't turn into a loss.

Plus, it is a long, long time until the November 2012 election. Over the next 17 months anything unexpected can – and will – happen to throw obstacles in the way of both Democrats and Republicans. (I wonder if we should start a pool on how many political sex scandals there will be before the election.)

Nevertheless, Hochul's win on Tuesday was another strong signal that voters have little stomach for the Republican slash-and-burn budget game. But that doesn't mean something doesn't need to be done to fix Medicare.

As discussed here many times, some form of Medicare for All is the only sane solution that should include negotiation with pharmaceutical companies on drug prices. It would expand the revenue and risk pools and cut administrative costs dramatically – a difference of 2 percent with Medicare versus more than 20 percent with private insurers.

And I am certain every large and small employer in the U.S. would be ecstatic to get out of the insurance providing business. At the same time, there is no reason not to retain private coverage for those willing to foot an overpriced bill along with the haggling over payment of claims.

Of course, any possibility of Medicare for All depends on political candidates' willingness to forgo health industry campaign contributions – probably the biggest obstacle. But “socialized” medicine works well in other western democracies which have a lot of experience on which the the U.S. could draw.

No one has yet come up with a better solution unless you believe the Republicans who, against all the evidence of history, insist that the "free market" can provide better health coverage than the government.

Meanwhile – schadenfreude or not - I'm enjoying the Republicans' predicament, particularly after all their crowing over their supposed 2010 election “mandate.”


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcia Mayo: Clapping - Old People's Answer to Gettin' Down


Comments

Once again the GOP aim was off & their foot suffered:) Oh happy day. Dee

hot diggity dog!

As long as the Dems don't blow it but agreeing to some kind of "entitlement" cuts, it's a golden moment.

One thing that's going overlooked in the national media is that Kathy Hochul has a good record of public service here in WNY. Not any Dem could have won that race. And, if I were GOP, I'd be looking at some major bloopers the Corwin folks made. And...the local tea partiers publicly disowned the 3rd-party candidate. The local right-wing radio station drive-time talk-show guy came out in favor of the Dem.
So it was a lot of factors.

As critical of Harry Reid as I've been in the past for his lack of aggressiveness, I have to say his move calling a Senate vote on the GOP budget for yesterday was brilliant. The Republicans were still scrambling for some kind of spin after the Tuesday special election upset, and 40 of them are now on record as voting to destroy Medicare. I think those running for re-election next year will come to regret their vote, especially those who will face Tea Party primary opposition. Their challenge will be to proudly flaunt their vote in the primary, then turn around and defend it before a clearly pro-Medicare general electorate. Schadenfreude can be fun.

I gloated yesterday but I fear it will will be short-lived.

I'm just getting to damned tired to fight.

Perhaps Democrats finally have an issue that allows for a simple message: Republicans want to kill Medicare while giving billions in tax breaks to oil companies.

I think the combination of these two timely issues caused Republicans and Independents to vote for a Democrat. Plus, Kathy Hochul was a great candidate from what I saw on the interviews yesterday.

But will Democrats be able to use these issues 18 months from now? I'm really looking forward to 2012!

First good news in a long time. I'm writing another letter to our local paper in this heavily Republican and older town about Medicare and quoting you.

The answer is a single payer plan for all. Our leaders, both Democrats and Republicans are dug in and being stubborn. It's the way to fix Medicare, and that horrible, unfunded Part D.

Didn't anyone hear what Bill Clinton said yesterday? Now is not the time to get giddy over this win. Much work and a huge debt problem remain. Also, Obama's budget was also shot down yesterday along with the Ryan plan. furthermore, Rand Paul tea party person extraordinaire voted against the Ryan plan because he said it was not stringent enough. As the late great Yogi Berra said, it aint over til its over.

I agree with Pres. Clinton. Although I'm very happy that Kathy Hochul won and think she deserved to, it's a long road to November 2012. We can be sure that the Repubs will drag out every obstacle in their playbook. So far they don't have what they need, which is a viable candidate. Still, Election Day 2012 is many months away.

So, rejoice in the victory but let's not get giddy. Although privatizing Medicare is tremendously unpopular and deservedly so, the economic recovery (jobs!) must become a reality for more people in order to assure a win for the Dems in 2012.

So much for a GOP mandate they thought they had after the elections last fall.

What I tell all my friends who are my, (Medicare Part B) age or younger is that the fight is for our and their kids and grand kids. Like the saying goes, "We are here to raise our children above us". This will never happen with cuts in education, Pell Grants, demonizing unions and public employees. Fight on friends. Onward with vigor!

Like you say Ronni: "Not that they won't do everything in their power to botch it. God knows the Democrats have never met a winning position they couldn't turn into a loss."

And what's with Slick Willy (ex-pres Clinton) telling Ryan that they need to talk. Is Willy going to jump ship and join the teabaggers?
Tune in tomorrow...

For a rational look at healthcare, go to the library and check out "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care" by T. R. Reid. It makes a difficult subject understandable, even for me. It should be required reading for everyone in Congress.

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