Will Medicare be the defining issue of 2012?

I was born in 1958. That makes me 52 years old. So when the budget passed by the House Republicans preserved Medicare for everyone 55 or older but turned it into a privatized voucher system for me and everyone younger than me, I was concerned. Fortunately the Senate defeated that proposal and the plan died – for now at least. But the outcome of yesterday’s special Congressional election in upstate New York in a district that’s been reliably Republican forever in which the Democratic candidate came from behind and won by a considerable margin might be a preview of coming attractions. Voters in that district apparently feel as I do about this plan. The New York election was a Scott-Brown-in-reverse result and it bodes well for Democratic candidates for the House and the Senate in next year’s election.

But the challenge faced by the Republicans nationally is greater than dealing with their Medicare fiasco. They also have dozens of freshmen Representatives whose extremist positions and political tone deafness were largely overlooked by a 2010 electorate intent on casting “anti” votes motivated by the economic calamity that had befallen the country. These first term Congressmen now have track records that document for that same electorate where they truly do stand on issues. Exhibit A is the following YouTube video of Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) who, after lecturing a constituent who had lost her company-provided health care that she had to learn to be self-reliant and not depend on the government to bail her out, was asked by another constituent why the Congressman did not voluntarily forgo his own government-provided health care in lieu of private insurance he purchased on the open market so he could “lead by example.” The Congressman’s response, such as it was, will undoubtedly appear in quite a few Democratic campaign ads in 2012.


2 Responses to Will Medicare be the defining issue of 2012?

  1. Michael Luciano says:

    This congressman, like most others in the GOP these days, (and I emphasize these days because this is a very radical bunch) wants to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act that in part prohibits HMOs from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions. Then he wants to implement Paul Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system that subsidizes seniors on a sliding scale that will be tweaked annually based on inflation.

    This would be catastrophic because (1) Health insurance premiums rise at rates faster than inflation, and (2) if HMOs can deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions, then surely most seniors could be denied coverage on this basis. And if they are not outright denied, they will undoubtedly face premiums much higher than the going rate.

    With the real wages of a majority of Americans stagnant, the prospect of saving enough money to pay annnual premiums in full from age 65 to death is completely asinine. That arrangement is undoable for most people now. Forget about ten, twenty, fifty years down the road, when the middle class’ conversion to neo-serfdom will come full circle.