A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: paul ryan medicare

Krugman FTW

by evanmcmurry

Krugman is even sharper than usual today:

How many deaths are we talking about? That’s not an easy question to answer, and conservatives love to cite the handful of studies that fail to find clear evidence that insurance saves lives. The overwhelming evidence, however, is that insurance is indeed a lifesaver, and lack of insurance a killer. For example, states that expand their Medicaid coverage, and hence provide health insurance to more people, consistently show a significant drop in mortality compared with neighboring states that don’t expand coverage.

[…] So there’s no real question that lack of insurance is responsible for thousands, and probably tens of thousands, of excess deaths of Americans each year. But that’s not a fact Mr. Romney wants to admit, because he and his running mate want to repeal Obamacare and slash funding for Medicaid — actions that would take insurance away from some 45 million nonelderly Americans, causing thousands of people to suffer premature death. And their longer-term plans to convert Medicare into Vouchercare would deprive many seniors of adequate coverage, too, leading to still more unnecessary mortality.

[…] So let’s be brutally honest here. The Romney-Ryan position on health care is that many millions of Americans must be denied health insurance, and millions more deprived of the security Medicare now provides, in order to save money. At the same time, of course, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. So a literal description of their plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.

Whole post is worth reading.

Joe Biden Would Like To Interrupt This Post To Talk About Medicare

by evanmcmurry

This morning’s polling generally finds the “bleeding stemmed”—to use the agreed-upon MSM phrase—from Obama’s poor debate performance two weeks ago. In sum, Romney saw an overall lift in his positives, and he’s polling closer to Obama, but Obama has regained a couple point lead in the national polls.

As always, national polls are—not meaningless, exactly, but not revelatory either. Breakdowns in the polling, though, can tell us more: Greg Sargeant has a whole slew of areas in which Romney showed no gain since the debate, especially on the question of which candidate voters think better represents the middle class, providing an opening for Obama in tomorrow’s debate to do nothing but bring up Romney’s 47% remarks.

But in one area, Obama has actually increased his lead since the polls two weeks ago:

Obama’s advantage on who is more trusted to handle Medicare has actually gone up, from 47-43 to 53-38. This was a major topic at both debates, and recall that Joe Biden made a strong appeal to voters to trust their “instincts” on who is better for the program. [Emphasis Sargeant’s]

Recall that before the first presidential debate, Romney was losing serious ground in states like Ohio and Florida, somewhat due to Paul Ryan’s Medicare-killing inclusion on the ticket; since the debate, however, Romney’s rebounded in both states, especially in Florida. If there’s an issue that will remind Floridians why they were leaning against the Romney/Ryan ticket, it’s Medicare, and it looks like Joe Biden got that across loud and clear; in fact, it’s entirely possible that that was Biden’s primary job going into the debate last Thursday, and he smiled so much because he nailed it. It would be nice and poetic if Joe Biden interrupted Romney’s rise as figuratively as he literally interrupted Paul Ryan, and on the same issue, no less.

So Apparently William Saletan WAS High When He Endorsed Paul Ryan

by evanmcmurry

Coupla weeks ago, I posited that William Saletan may have taken a wrong turn down Lude Lane when penning his Poe’s-Law endorsement of Paul Ryan. Saletan is rightly renowned as a counterintuitive thinker, but this piece was so far around the bend it read as if it were tapping its own shoulder out of concern.

I still can’t speculate on Saletan’s sobriety, but yesterday, in a rare case of journalistic honesty and awareness, Saletan published a full retraction, recanting almost every single point he made two weeks ago. The last time a public thinker ate this much crow, it was 2006 and everybody and their mom was apologizing for their support of the Iraq War.

If you’re still on the fence about Ryan—hey, a full third of poll respondents are, though they’re not likely readers of this blog—then Saletan’s change of heart is a must read:

I knew you weren’t perfect. I didn’t like your vote against the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction plan. I worried that your weakness for tax cuts would squander the savings from your budget cuts. But I should have studied your record more carefully. I didn’t understand how pivotal you were in sinking the budget deal between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. I paid too much attention to what you said about cutting the defense budget and not enough attention to what you did. You accused the military of requesting too little money—a concern that makes no sense to anyone familiar with the acquisitive habits of government agencies. You also objected to setting financial savings targets and forcing the Pentagon to meet them, even though that’s how you proposed to control domestic spending.

As is clear from that paragraph, Saletan should have done some more (any) homework before proclaiming Galt-For-Halloween some sort of  fiscal savior. But in Saletan’s defense, Ryan’s arguments since becoming the Vice Presidential pick have been sloppy and at times arbitrary, like he’s gotten ahold of a gun he control:

Since Mitt Romney tapped you as his running mate, you haven’t stood for fiscal restraint. You’ve attacked it. You warned voters in North Carolina and Virginia that cuts in the defense budget would take away their tax-supported jobs. And I cringe when I recall what I said about you and Medicare. “Ryan destroys Romney’s ability to continue making the dishonest, anti-conservative argument that Obamacare is evil because it cuts Medicare,” I wrote. “Now Romney will have to defend the honest conservative argument, which is that Medicare spending should be controlled.”

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Four days after Romney put you on the ticket, you began parroting his Medicare shtick. You protested that Obama’s $700 billion savings in the future growth of Medicare payments to providers—a spending reduction that any sensible conservative president would have sought, and that you had previously included in your budget plan—would “lead to fewer services for seniors.” You depicted a horror scenario: “a $3,600 cut in benefits for current seniors. Nearly one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business.” You assured seniors that the Romney-Ryan agenda for Medicare “does not affect your benefits.” And you promised future retirees “guaranteed affordability” of health care.

[…] You even embraced the delusion that government is a threat to Medicare, when in fact government is the funder of Medicare. This misconception used to be a joke, an illustration of popular ignorance. But now you’re peddling it. “Mitt Romney and I are going to stop that raid on Medicare,” you told voters in New Hampshire a week ago. “We’re going to restore this program, and we’ll get these bureaucrats out of the way of standing between our senior citizens and their Medicare.”

Saletan was, by my count, the only respectable voice out there on Ryan’s side, certainly the sole public intellectual not on the payroll of NRO or the Weekly Standard; it took Ryan two weeks to burn him good. Remember, this is the Republican’s “serious” candidate.

Politics And Bedfellows, Paul Ryan / Rick Scott Edition

by evanmcmurry

Watch how far Governor Rick Scott (R-American’s Wang) gets from Paul Ryan’s voucherization of Medicare by the end of this statement:

I’m going to support a plan that makes sure our Medicare recipients – we have 3.3 million of them in Florida. I’m going to make sure they continue to get care. They paid into the system. We’ve got to make sure we keep that system going.

So Scott endorses the part of Ryan’s plan that keeps benefits for current Medicare recipients—i.e., the status quo—and has literally nothing to say about the rest.

Yes, this is the same Rick Scott who made his fortune in what became the largest Medicaid fraud case in history. Yes, he’s the same Rick Scott who voluntarily removed his state from the Medicaid provisions of Obamacare. Yes, the same Rick Scott who tried to make drug testing mandatory for welfare recipients to benefit his own drug testing company. Yes, the same Rick Scott who actually went back in time and rescinded Charlie Crist’s applications for federal health benefits, including all of this:

$2 million for Medicare outreach, $500,000 for an elder affairs counseling and assistance program, $1 million to help consumers monitor health care premiums in the state and $1 million to plan a health care exchange, according to the Governor’s Office. Then [Scott’s administration] turned away larger sums, such as the first installment of more than $30 million to help keep disabled seniors out of nursing homes. Just how much has it turned away? The Governor’s Office doesn’t keep a tally, spokesman Lane Wright said.

I don’t care if he is, as Pierce put it, “look[ing] at the general privatization of the program as cutting into the profits, the way that marijuana kingpins are opposed to legalization.” If what you’re planning to do to sick and old people goes too far for Rick Scott, you’re waaay out there.