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Mitch McConnell is continuing with his gig singing backup on the Paul Ryan Roadmap to Ruin tour, telling Fox news Sunday yesterday that Ryan’s scheme is “very sensible”  and will “save Medicare.” He then trotted out the discredited “death panels” BS, saying that the ACA will empower “a board that would ration health care,” before adding “Let’s just stipulate that nobody’s trying to throw grandma off the cliff,” alluding to an ad run by an “independent” interest group against Jane Corwin in the recent New York 26th Congressional Districe special election.

Let’s unpack what McConnell is asserting, shall we?

McConnell seems to be implying  that rationing is not occuring now, when it most certainly is, in every healthcare delivery system, everywhere. For starters, the uninsured are subject to the harshest rationing of all. If they can’t pay cash, they don’t get healthcare.

People who are insured have been self-rationing as a result of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. So of course the insurance companies are whining that they need rate increases because the day is coming when their policy holders will actually use their insurance is surely looming, and then they won’t have record profits any longer.

And of course, everyone who is fortunate enough to have insurance knows that rationing occurs every time you go to the doctor. If you buy insurance and have a pre-existing condition, there is no coverage for that condition for a specified waiting period, if ever. You also know that you can’t just walk in and demand procedures. You have to get preauthorization letters to see specialists, who then have to get the authorization from your insurance company before they can perform any procedure deemed necessary and appropriate.

And pity the poor soul who turns up with a serious condition that requires long term or intesive treatment. They will spend all their time and energy fighting for the care they need to survive. What is this if not rationing?

Or consider lifetime caps. A million dollar lifetime cap is pretty standard. Now consider the family whose seven year old child  gets cancer. It can easily happen that such a child will reach that cap in two or three years. Then the family that is probably on the hook for 20% of every charge the child has incurred face paying cash for all future care for that child, unless they are so financially wiped out by the disease that the child can get Medicaid. You know Medicaid — that is the other program they are out to kill.

Do they really want to talk about “death panels” considering the way the system they not only defend, but want to return the worst parts of, works?

Now I realize that McConnell was on Fox, and I don’t expect any challenge from the propagandists there. But I do expect the person who is sent out to be the “token leftie” on a round table to be not Ruth Marcus who, on Meet the Press had the following exchange with David Gregory:

GREGORY: So, Ruth Marcus, what wins here: bold leadership on Medicare and the argument that the Democrats won’t do something courageous, or the Democrats who say, “Hey, those guys want to take away my Medicare”?

MARCUS: I regret to inform you that I think it’s the latter. And I think when you were asking Senator McConnell if Medicare was the new third rail of American politics, I think the question was wrong in a sense because it’s the old third rail of American politics.

GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

MARCUS: This play has been run time after time. If you go back and look at the quotes from President Clinton back when he needed to win re-election, they sound a lot like the quotes from Democrats today about don’t let those Republicans take away your Medicare. The difference is that the debt is bigger, the deficit is bigger, the gap is bigger, and the situation is more dire. But I think that, sadly, the lesson of New York 26 is “mediscare” works.

“Mediscare” Ruth? Seriously? And why is it a sad state of affairs when the truth wins out? And why is is scandalous to show an ad that shows the republicans throwing Grandma off a cliff, but “Death Panels” got parrotted by the mainstream media as if they were real; the M$M dutifully “reported” the lies of republicans as “republicans say,” and no investigation or actual journalism takes place.

Sadly, the transcript fails to note how very close David Brooks came to wetting himself, he was so eagerly in agreement.

Steve Benen shares my exasperation and summed it up perfectly.


It’s exasperating, but it’s worth reemphasizing what too many establishment types simply refuse to understand: Democrats are telling the truth. Indeed, Dems are doing what the media is reluctant to do: offering an accurate assessment of the Republican plan for Medicare. If voters find the GOP proposal frightening, the problem is with the plan, not with Democrats’ rhetoric.

I’m at a loss to understand what, exactly, Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, and their cohorts would have Dems do. Congressional Republicans have a plan to end Medicare and replace it with a privatized voucher scheme. The proposal would not only help rewrite the social contract, it would also shift crushing costs onto the backs of seniors, freeing up money for tax breaks for the wealthy. The plan is needlessly cruel, and any serious evaluation of the GOP’s arithmetic shows that the policy is a fraud.

Which part of this description is false? None of it, but apparently, Democrats just aren’t supposed to mention any of this. One party is allowed to present this agenda, but the other party is expected to sit quietly on their hands.

Once again, it’s important that the establishment recognize the difference between demagoguery and ringing an alarm. Demagoguery relies on falsehoods to scare people – it’s about playing on folks’ worst instincts, being divisive in a deceptive sort of way, effectively fooling people into believing something they shouldn’t.

But political rhetoric isn’t “demagoguery” when it’s true. If a political message leads the mainstream to feel scared, it’s not necessarily “scare tactics” if people have good reason to worry.

What the Democrats are doing is not demagoguery, it is sounding an alarm. The republicans are up to no good. They are out to do real damage and destroy Medicare as we know it. What is offensive isn’t that the Democrats are calling the republicans out. What is offensive is that the cocktail-weenie-waggers in the Washington press corps steno-pool find the truth offensive.


This post is part of a series I am writing as a blogging fellow for the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, a coalition of more than 270 national and state organizations dedicated to preserving and strengthening Social Security.