The First Test

« November 2016 »


Although at this point, as I'm pushing 50, what I should be saying is, they're coming for OUR Medicare. But they're definitely coming for it, and they'll probably get away with it, thanks to Donald Trump.

The first test of the Trump era will see if Democrats, the media, and Americans can stop the best-case scenario of a Trump presidency. Because the best-case scenario is basically SUPERDUBYA. A bunch of clueless assholes stumbling around while more cunning assholes use it as an opportunity to get what they want. In this case, the asshole is Paul Ryan and congressional Republicans, and what they want is Ronald Reagan's dream - to kill Medicare once and for all.

The gameplan is basically the same as the Social Security destruction planned and thwarted during the Dubya years. First, revive and expand on nearly two decades of centrist bullshit about "entitlement reform" to claim that Medicare is insolvent and needs to be saved. Second, insist that their plan to save it is by privatizing it, through a wholly inadequate voucher system that will strip the medical safety net tens of millions of seniors rely on. Third, make it a gradual phase-out, so that current old people don't panic and get pissed off. Standard playbook.

Why might it work this time when it failed before? Lots of reasons, but the most important is that Donald Trump is a constant series of distractions. As we saw during the campaign, media "coverage" of Trump consists of talking about the Current Thing but never assembling all the things into a coherent picture because that would lead to drawing conclusions and CONCLUSIONS ARE BIASED and we cannot have that.

Which means that it's going to be very difficult for Paul Ryan's little plan to kill Medicare to get the kind of attention that would create the kind of backlash that would make the plan ultimately fail. Because even in a divided country, Medicare is still wildly popular, and fucking with it is political suicide if anyone notices you doing it.

The other new thing is that they're going to include the Medicare stuff as part of the Obamacare "repeal and replace". Obamacare is less established, more susceptible to partisan tribalism, and shinier, so if everyone focuses on the Obamacare part and nobody focuses on the Medicare part, the Medicare stuff will sneak through and a whole bunch of people will wonder how it could have happened because they didn't vote for THIS, they voted to Make America Great Again. They voted for change, not changing Medicare! Whoops.

What can be done? Fuck if I know. I mean, there are the usual avenues. Contact your congresscritters. Spread the word. Make it a story. Make it a thing. Make it one of THE things. Second place to, if not ahead of, Trump's various appointments of various monsters. It should be unpopular enough to peel off a couple of the more precarious Republicans who feel the need to be seen as moderates. And Democrats need to understand that this is not the time for a good-will compromise with "moderate fiscal conservatives" like Ryan to try and get in Trump and the country's good graces. That never works, anyway. And it'll doom Medicare.

And finally, the grandfathering will probably mean that there'll be a window where, if it passes, it could be fixed by a new Congress in 2018 and/or a new President in 2020. But it won't need to be fixed if it can be stopped, and maybe it can be stopped if their bullshit stealth attempt to sneak it under the country's nose gets exposed for what it is. Don't hold your breath.