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January 03, 2003

Assault on Medicare Begins

As this NY Times article outlines, the assault by Bush and the new Senate Majority Leader from HCA on Medicare has begun.

The goal is simple-- kill an egalitarian program that provides the same benefits for all retirees. Replace it with a program that pays "enhanced" benefits for richer retirees able to pay for them. Turn the program over to private insurance companies. Then, year by year, defund the guaranteed benefits for the poor retired.

What conservatives hate about Medicare is that it creates political solidarity among all retirees. For any of them to get improved health care from the program, they all have to get it. What the Bush administration wants is to end that political reality, divide the elderly into different groups with different interests, then cater their political agenda to the well-off elderly, just as they cater their tax policy to the well-off worker and shareholder.

This is class warfare, GOP-style. Divide and conquer.

The Bush administration is trying to sell their plan by linking it to a prescription drug benefit -- notably a promise to seniors unfulfilled to this point by the administration. But this kind of political blackmail of demanding the destruction of the Medicare system to get the drug program is being rejected by many Congressman. "If the price of a prescription drug benefit is the end of Medicare as we know it, that's not a price worth paying," said Debbie Curtis, chief of staff to Representative Pete Stark (D-California and a major defender of the Medicare program).

Posted by Nathan at January 3, 2003 06:44 AM

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Well when I get around to retiring in a few years if I still have my social security benefit and it hasn't been used to provide the money to build the new missile defense system perhaps I can fund improved healthcare with the money I won't have to pay in taxes on the fruits of my endeavors 'playing the market.' Or perhaps I shall become a charge on the common weal. Or maybe America will wake up and toss the bums out before we are reduced to living in caves.

Posted by: radphag at January 4, 2003 11:27 AM

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