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Posts tagged with "Medicare"

Nov 9

Takers

My neighbors David and Barbara are intelligent, witty and charming people of the extreme right-wing persuasion. They’re wonderful neighbors, pleasant, kind and generous. He’s 89 and she’s perhaps a year or two older. He just had a hip replacement, and she was hospitalized recently, as well. They shared a hospital room for several weeks while rehabilitating, which is kind of romantic, in its own weird way.

I spoke to David the day after the election, and he was mildly distraught over the outcome. He thinks Obama is a crook and assumes the president will raise his taxes. He hates paying taxes so that other people will get benefits they didn’t earn and don’t deserve. This is a staple, of course, of Tea Party thinking, that there are earners and there are takers, and the earners shouldn’t be forced to give up what they’ve earned so that the takers can live off it.

In the same conversation, he marveled at how much he and his wife had received from Medicare. He was certain that the medical services they had just received exceeded the amount he had put into the system. I couldn’t help needling him. “So, you like socialized medicine, then?” 

What amazes me most about this whole strain of political thinking is the disconnect. Somehow, it doesn’t bother my neighbor that his neighbors are paying taxes for his health care, but it annoys him mightily that he might have to pay for his neighbors’ unemployment benefits. If he were alone in thinking that way, we might conclude that my wonderful neighbor is a sociopath, but he represents an alarmingly large and vocal percentage of the population. Fortunately, not quite large enough to have won the election. 

Liar, Liar

For a devout Catholic, Paul Ryan sure violates the eighth commandment a lot. His rousing speech last night at the RNC was so full of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies he’ll need to spend a week in the confessional after the convention is over.

It’s really too bad, because I was hoping that the guy who’s become the face of the Tea Party economic agenda would show himself to be the deep thinker and fresh presence that he’s been advertised as. Turns out, he’s just another hyper-partisan politician who’s learned not to blush when he’s telling the latest, biggest whopper. He can look you straight in the face with those big, sad baby blues and lie like the basset hound he somehow resembles.

Where to start? How about the big one he absolutely knows to be false, that Obama wants to cut Medicare benefits by $761 billion. Ryan knows that those are not cuts, but savings from payments to providers as a result of changes in Obamacare. Ryan included those very savings in his own budget, the one that the House passed earlier this year. Repealing Obamacare, as the Republicans have promised, will result in those savings being lost, making Ryan’s own budget more budget-busting than it already is, and Ryan knows it.

Then there’s the one about the plant closing in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, which Ryan blamed on Obama’s broken promise to save it. Ryan knows full well that Obama was powerless to prevent its closing in December, 2008, while George W. bush was still in office. 

And those are just two of the more egregious lies in a speech chock full of them, a speech delivered on the heels of an entire day at the convention devoted to blasting Obama for things he never said in a video deliberately edited to misrepresent his remarks.

If the Republican candidates for the highest offices in the land are willing to distort history so thoroughly to make their case, to build their entire campaign on a web of falsehoods, what can we make of their promises? The Republicans once called themselves the Party of Ideas. Do we really want to put the Party of Lies in power?