PoliticMo reports on Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-2) defensive remarks at Saturday’s Tea Party rally in Joplin about his support for the Republican plan to dismantle Medicare. Akin’s misdirected melodrama and grandiose rhetoric seems to have offered, as usual, fine examples of the comic theater we have come to expect from him:
This thing is really two visions of what America should be. Do we really want to become a sniveling entitlement state, or do we want freedom? That’s the choice that’s before the voters.
Whooee! Who doesn’t want freedom – especially when the alternative is sniveling. Of course, since freedom in this case just means that I’m free to live out my old age without adequate medical care, maybe I’ll be willing to put in an little time sniveling. Especially when I consider the rest of Akin’s whining about the Democratic response to the GOP’s war on Medicare:
“[I]t’s a tactical decision on their part [i.e. Democrats], to ignore the economic problems that we have and then as soon as Republicans try to solve the problem, then they beat us up saying, ‘Oh, you’re going to take old people’s social security,’ ‘Oh, you’re going to take their medicare away,'” Akin said. “What we specifically said in the Ryan budget was that anybody that is 55 or older, we’re not changing it. We’re trying to leave that the way it is, but then as you go down, we have to deal with the runaway entitlements.
“We’re trying to bottom-line them to make them more free enterprise so that it will control the cost growth on them,” he said.
Talk about Chutzpah! Republicans are trying to solve our economic problems? By proposing spending cuts that threaten massive numbers of jobs during a fragile, jobs-challenged economic recovery? By lowering taxes for the obscenely wealthy and paying for these tax cuts by cutting programs that benefit the elderly middle and working class? Explain to me, please, how any of this will help the economy – without making me laugh.
And while you’re explaining that, tell me why GOPers like Akin assume that all they have to do to make the case for a proposed policy is point out that it won’t affect anyone right away (i.e., in the case of Medicare, anyone over 55). If it’s a good thing to do, shouldn’t it be a good thing now? Conversely, if we are asking folks in the future to endure something bad, shouldn’t those older than 55 right now have to make the same sacrifice? If it’s not good enough for me, why would it be good enough for my children and grandchildren? Don’t try telling me that by phasing it in, we will change expectations and, consequently behavior – particularly, if you plan on cutting benefits without actually doing anything to address the underlying issue of spiraling health care costs.
Of course, Akin isn’t too clear on the problems with that free-enterprise thing when it comes to issues of the public good – like health care for the aged, who, if left to free-market mercies, would likely, as a high-risk population, be priced out of the market. Nor has he been paying attention to the drivers of rising health care costs over the past couple of decades – can anyone say private insurance – you know, that free enterprise thing – run amok?
As DKos‘ David Nir observes, “when you have to start explaining yourself in full-length paragraphs (as Akin tries to do), you’re on the defensive and flailing.” Nevertheless, it’s fun to see the awkward maneuvers Akin and his GOP cohorts try to execute when called upon explain why they voted to destroy Medicare – especially after campaigning on a promise to fight off some imaginary Democratic assault on the program.