We all laughed when the Tea Partiers claimed that Obamacare would take away their Medicare, hence the hand-painted signs referenced in the title that were mounted on numerous scooters paid for by Medicare. Little did they know that it was their imagined GOP saviors who would threaten it.
The balloons had barely been popped at the Trump victory party when the Republicans announced through Speaker Paul Ryan that the first thing they’d do after repealing Obamacare was to radically alter Medicare from its current state to a privatized system of credits and vouchers. They claim they will improve it and save the taxpayers billions of dollars.
Actually, their plan is to undo as much of the last eighty years of social welfare as they can in as short a time as possible because nothing works better than the free market, and if you really believe that, I can get you a scholarship to Trump University.
In reality, Medicare is working pretty damn well for a program that covers millions of people, and it is solvent for the foreseeable future. But those niggling little facts are not enough to stop the GOP from trying to take it away.
Josh Marshall at TPM has been following this story closely and he says that if the Democrats can stop the destruction of Medicare, they will have accomplished two things. First, preserving a program that works, and second, stopping the Trump/Ryan juggernaut of turning the country over to right-wing nostrums and bamboozlement.
There are numerous fronts where Democrats will need to resist Trump and the Republican Congress. But to be really effective anywhere they will need to chalk up wins somewhere because all political power is unitary. A president can’t suffer a deflating defeat in one area without it eroding his power in others. Victories operate in the same way. Power gained or lost in one sphere translates into every other.
Stopping Republicans on Medicare Phaseout will reduce their ability to push their damaging agenda on other fronts.
The final point should be the most obvious. Donald Trump won the presidency promising to defend the economic interests of ordinary people from the ‘crooked’ elite on Wall Street and in Washington. Whether or not he believes or believed that he has rapidly allied himself with the Paul Ryan privatizers who want to eviscerate the federal programs which are the bedrock of the American middle class. Social Security and Medicare are at the top of that list. If you look at the faces in the crowds at Trump’s most poisonous speeches I guarantee that you that very few of those people thought they were voting to lose their Medicare.
Getting rid of or gutting Medicare is incredibly unpopular. It can only be accomplished by a mixture of bamboozlement, scare tactics and unified party government which will allow the GOP to push the change through regardless of public opinion. Saving Medicare or giving everything in the effort to do so is a tailor-made way for Democrats to cut across the Trump-Clinton divide and undermine the idea that Trump or the GOP have the interests of the middle class or really anyone but libertarians and the extremely wealthy at heart.
Speaking as someone who will be signing up for Medicare within the next six to eight months, I have a vested interest in seeing that it doesn’t happen. If we can stop their looting there, we can stop them in other places as well. This is a fight worth having.