Thursday, August 16, 2012

Who Is Offing Granny?

We've all been treated multiple times to the ad showing a Paul Ryan lookalike pushing granny's wheelchair off a cliff. It's a riff on a half-truth deriving from Rep. Ryan's contention that the program is bankrupt, will soon serve nobody, and that we must therefore “end Medicare as we know it.” An extremely sensible statement, backed by cold, hard facts. But that doesn't stop the truth-tellers of the liberal establishment from distorting and outright lying about what Ryan says and believes.

Delete that part about “as we know it.” Have your ad say “Paul Ryan wants to end Medicare.” Ignore the fact that the only thing throwing Granny off the cliff is Obamacare. Republicans want to cut Medicare, say the liberals. Not for anybody already receiving the benefits, nor for anyone age 55 or older. And even at that, the Ryan plan doesn't bump the younger people out of Medicare. He simply makes it an option—stay in, or choose a private plan (or possibly even some combination of each).

Ryan's plan is just that—a plan. He hasn't cut anybody or anything yet. The House passed his measure, only to see it die without debate in the Democrat/Reid Senate. Pandering to people's worst instincts and greatest fears, the Democrats repeat the lie with ever-increasing bullheadedness, making sure that the issue never gets a debate based on the facts rather than the hysteria.

I believe that the Romney/Ryan ticket should quickly go on the attack on the lies and distortions, both explaining their plan and showing unequivocally that Republicans haven't cut a single dime from the current Medicare program. But someone has. And the someone is Barack Obama. Figures vary, but common agreement places the money stolen by the Democratic administration from the Medicare program at somewhere between $700 billion and $750 billion. (Obamacare ambulance pictured)

That's right now, not in some distant and theoretical future. There's a double lie involved. The first lie is that it is the Republicans who are gutting Medicare. The second companion lie is the cost of Obamacare, which has been cleverly reduced by the money stolen from the Medicare funding. Nevertheless, even with the stolen money, Obamacare is already estimated to cost three times as much as originally projected.

The Democrats continue to double-down on the lie. The loathsome Debbie Wasserman-Schultz just parrots the lies of the ad. Then, in an unintentional admission, says the $700 billion + cuts were to providers, not to Medicare recipients. It's a distinction completely lacking in a difference. At best, she is admitting that fewer and fewer doctors and hospitals will accept Medicare as [under]payment. But if the net result is fewer current Medicare patients receiving care, a cut is a cut is a cut. They count on Granny not caring who is throwing her off the cliff, only that somebody is, and that somebody must be the Republicans, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan.

The Republican refutation of the lies must contain two elements. Obviously, they need to debunk the lie about the Ryan proposal ending Medicare. But at the same time, they must make it abundantly clear that Obamacare is the main culprit and that it is only the Democrats who have stolen $700 billion from Medicare to help fund Obamacare. The Republican plan, in its final form, will preserve the current plan and benefits essentially unchanged for those over the age of 55. Nothing will be taken away from them. And if Ryan can somehow get it into those necessarily short sound bites, he can explain that the elimination of Obamacare would free Republicans up to put Medicare on a sound financial footing while at least keeping current benefits even with cost-of-living increases.

It is important to remember that Paul Ryan's plan is a policy wonk's dream and the average person's nightmare. Not because it's wrong, but because it is necessarily complicated. So far, anything said by Ryan has been aimed at his fellow legislators. That's very good, but it won't work when trying to explain it to the general public. Youthful, affable, knowledgeable and articulate Ryan is a very savvy young man. I have no doubt that he recognizes the problem, and will address it properly and forcefully in the near future. He has already proven that a conservative who knows how to talk to his constituencies can win as a conservative Republican in a liberal Democratic district. He'll bring that ability to the national stage shortly.

Why hasn't this been done yet? It's a simple matter of coordination. The “Ryan Plan,” however much it may need tweaking (or not) is the Ryan plan. But he is only the brand-new vice presidential candidate. Before the plan can be rolled out, it must (in some form) become the Romney Plan. As important as he is (and will be) to America's economic recovery, Ryan knows he is part of a team, a Republican ticket, and he is not the top of the ticket. Once Romney and Ryan have had time to get their heads together and agree on a common attack, I have no doubt that huge numbers of moderates and Independents will quickly be relieved of their fears.

Granny will survive if the Romney-Ryan ticket wins and Republicans re-take the Senate. If Obama is reelected, we'll see a different figure pushing the wheelchair over the cliff. Don't expect the public to change its mind overnight, but more importantly, be prepared for Ryan (and Romney) to formulate an attack that will entirely change the discussion. For the moment, the Republicans are on the defensive. Expect a strong offensive to begin right around the time of the convention.

Money Quote: "I will veto any attempts to undo my Medicare cuts." (Barack Obama, 2009)


40 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

Isn't the internet fun? You can easily refute the lies the Left comes up with faster than they can speak them. No more waiting weeks and months to get the truth. Sweet!

Anthony said...

Obama's Mediscare attacks should fail given that he is the one guilty of cutting into the program.

However, the fact that both sides agree that spending = love in the context of Medicare (on a related note, the USG's per person healthcare spending was higher than than of many socialist countries before Obama took office and even before Medicare Part D) is why I'm not optimistic about reform.

Reform will probably come about only after the decreasing ratio of workers to retirees and the increasing per person costs break the system.

Individualist said...

Real Obamacare Ambulance

Lawhawk

Didn't you mean this picture.....

See the pretty flowers Obamacare is so nice.....

Wait....

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: The internet has its flaws (some big ones), but overall we finally have a way of instantaneously refuting lies and distortions. "Received wisdom" (i.e. the opinion of the mainstream media) no longer becomes cast in concrete before the lies can be debunked.

LawHawkRFD said...

Anthony: The American per capita spending on health care prior to Obama was already a scandal. But the scandal was only part of it. We also spend more per capita because we provide the best medical care in the world. Overbilling, duplication of effort, malpractice suits and phony litigation, along with the lack of portability and inability of insurance contracts to cross state lines were all matters which needed to be addressed long before Obamacare reared its ugly head.

The major problem before Obama was government interference and regulation. The major problem with Obamacare is government interference and regulation. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Obamacare didn't solve the problem or create it, but it sure as hell made it worse.

The idea of Obamacare was that the nation needed comprehensive health care reform. That was (and is) true. But the Obama/Pelosi/Reid plan was exactly the wrong solution. A free market, broad choices, tort reform, and government there only to work at the very outside fringes is the solution. The terrible unemployment rate has also taught us that there needs to be an alternative (not a simple replacement) to health care linked entirely to employment.

The per capita spending for Americans could be greatly reduced by Medicare and health care reform, but if we can continue to have the best medical care in the world, I can live with it, particularly if we can finally develop a comprehensive insurance program that will help to defray personal costs. That is what Romney and Ryan are working on.

I will continue to believe that Medicare and Obamacare are a joint problem, not two separate problems.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: I can only partially agree. Under our current system, first you get the Obamacare ambulance I pictured, then you get the one you pictured. LOL

PS: Tip for those who can't clearly see the one I pictured, just click on the picture to enlarge it.

BevfromNYC said...

Fortunately I will not be a granny so I am safe. No cliff tossing for me, right?

Does anyone know if there exists a side by side comparison of Medicare, Obamacare cuts, and RyanMedicare?

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: How come nobody ever talks about Grandpa? Sexists! I think I'll sue for discrimination.

There have probably been side-by-side comparisons done, but I wouldn't put much stock in them until we see the final Romney-Ryan rollout.

tryanmax said...

I'm optimistic about reform, which is hard to believe. The Dems are on the ropes with this one. They can't attack Ryan's "proposed" cuts without being confronted by Obama's very real cuts. They've already resorted to tactics saying Ryan is straight-up lying, he just intends to hurt people, and that he simply hates Medicare.

CNN has taken a different approach. They're trying to frame this as the same-old Medicare debate we've had a hundred times before. ("New day, same battle over Medicare") Ho-hum. Hey, did you notice that Paul Ryan wasn't wearing a tie? Now, that's news! /cnn
_____

Bev, I think what you are looking for is so apples-to-oranges-to-kumkwats that you're not likely to see anything that makes much sense.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I am also optimistic about reform. This is a very different political atmosphere from 2008. The Tea Party is holding elected representatives' feet to the fire. The attitude in 2008 was "there should be reform" (even Obama benefited from that feeling). Today's attitude is "there must be reform. Empty promises and kicking the can down the road won't be nearly so easy this time around.

The Democrats are truly desperate. Some idiots will buy into the lies, but fewer than in the past. The people are truly angry and want to to see facts and truth. When Congress has a 10% approval rating, telling more easily-refuted lies is not a great strategy. The distrust of both parties means the public (at least the concerned voters) are taking anything either side says with a grain (or a bucket) of salt. Since the Republicans have facts on their side, that gives them a distinct advantage.

LawHawkRFD said...

"Do you think raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare is a good plan?" Paul Ryan has found a theme he will undoubtedly be repeating throughout the campaign. I used the word "stealing," but I think Ryan's use of "raiding" is even better.

LawHawkRFD said...

"Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate, mocked Vice President Joe Biden Thursday while campaigning in Ohio, by saying “as Joe Biden might say, it’s great to be here in Nevada.” Looks, youth, intelligence and a sense of humor. This is probably a foretaste of just how well Ryan will handle Biden in the debates.

T-Rav said...

"It's great to be here in Nevada." Ha!

T-Rav said...

Speaking of Medicare claims, CBS got around to fact-checking some of those arguments on its program last night. The "push grandma off a cliff" line? Nope: they "fact-checked" the argument from Republicans that Obama was the one to actually cut Medicare. Their verdict: Not true, because he cut from EVVVILLLL insurance companies and not the little people EEEVVVVIILLLL Republicans want to hurt. I wanted to reach through the TV and choke someone.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Nothing in politics is as effective as humor at the other guy's expense. Biden has been a joke for years, but at long last we have a candidate who will use Biden's idiocy against him.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: So CBS bought into the distinction without a difference. Thanks for the update.

Individualist said...

Lawhawk

Grandmas give points when run over in the car....

Grandmas get to be thrown off cliffs

Grandmas get to be run over by a reindeer

Boy they have all the fun don't they

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: Yeah. It ain't fair. Grandpas should have equal access to victimhood.

Tennessee Jed said...

nice article, Hawk. I do think the distinction is worth noting, however. Why (?) --because it is critical that people understand exactly is going on and how it will effect them.

Obamacare is counting the 545 billion or whatever the number is as government spending savings because they are reducing payments to providers (doctors, hospitals, inures, etc.) It is highly unlikely that many of these providers would be able to meet the requirements. Some will quit accepting medicare, some (in rural areas) will either lay-off employees or get out of the business.) Now it is true, if you are a medicare recipient, you can try and find another doctor. Regardless, you will start to see waiting in line due to the new people coming into the system coupled with fewer providers (say hi to England, and Canada). Also, the politically appointed IPAB will be empowered to deny coverage to the elderly where the cost outweighs the projected life expectancy. (say hello to the death panel old people.)

So, I'm not really disagreeing, but think it important we spell out both the distinction and the bottom line result.

Tennessee Jed said...

I think a more likely scenario if Obama Care holds is that congress will be pressured to withdraw (or at least reduce) the rate reductions for payments to providers. Of course if that happens, the increase in the national debt skyrockets by another half to three quarters of a trillion. IPAB's power over price setting gives it total control over what used to be doctor/patient decisions. Once Obama gets to single payer Govt. only, the "wealthy" will not even be able to pay out of pocket. It is truly disgusting.

T-Rav said...

Bev, that only means you'll have to throw yourself off a cliff, rather than letting your grandkids do it for you. Hope you don't consider suicide a mortal sin.

tryanmax said...

I second TJ, I think the R&R campaign needs to grab on to the distinction w/o a difference with both (all four?) hands to show how disingenuous Obama and the Dems are being about this.

If I may simplify what TJ said: What is MediCare for? To pay health providers for their services. If it's not doing that, it's not MediCare anymore. Period.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I think we're agreeing completely.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: And again, that's why I say that Obamacare and Medicare are actually the same problem. If Obamacare is repealed, and the $700 billion+ is restored to current Medicare, there is no net cost increase to beneficiaries or reduction to providers. Both problems must be dealt with at the same time, or nearly so. Then we can move on with reforming Medicare alone.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: That is a good, short, and clear way to explain it to the public when the Democrats try to flummox them with what was actually reduced.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I will not throw myself off a cliff, and that's my final word! LOL

StanH said...

If Barrycare is fully implemented, there will be busloads of grannies going over the cliff. In fact I could make a damn good argument that Barry has the entire country heading off a cliff.

That was a good one on Ryan and his geographical quip about B-B-B-Biden. I would expect in the debates, as we all know Slo Joe is also a plagiarist, he’ll us Reagan’s slap against Mondale in ’84, “I am going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponents youth and inexperience.”

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav - I'd rather drown myself in a martini...

LawHawk- It just shows how the Dems have a War On Not Throwing Grampas Over A Cliff!

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: And that's a reason it's so important for the Republican ticket to emphasize that Medicare can't be fixed without repealing Obamacare. We'll all be going over the cliff if that isn't done.

Good Reagan quote, and Joe will try to use it, and botch it.

Tehachapi Tom said...

HAWK
Why is it when government sets out to fix something they don't fix they build a whole new program. I believe that improvements can be made to all of the government programs without building whole new and different programs with each having it's whole new set of problems and omissions. What are R&R waiting for they should be outlining the errors and educating the electorate.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I like your suggestion better.

So that means I'm safe (for awhile)?

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: We have our first opportunity in decades to completely repeal a government program before it becomes so deeply-imbedded that we can only tinker with it (Obamacare). Medicare is another story entirely. It's way too late to repeal it, so it has to be fixed, and that won't be easy.

As I mentioned in the article, I think the Romney ticket will be unveiling its comprehensive plans around the time of the convention.

Tennessee Jed said...

Couple of thoughts for Tryanmax and Tom -

Medicare was a popular program designed to pay for senior's medical expenses. It is going broke for three major reasons: 1) As a government program, it is bloated with hidden costs, and since tax payers pick up the tab, there was no incentive to make it efficient. 2) Because of Hawk and my generation (the baby boomers) seniors are a larger % of today's population and seniors, naturally, use the most health care. 3) Medicare was set up on an indemnification fee for service basis. Basically, the health care provider could submit their bill, and no matter how outrageous the bill might be, the government would be obligated to pay. Private insurance used to operate that way, but to control the spiraling costs, went to preferred provider networks or H.M.O.'s. Preferred provider networks are basically a roster of providers who have agreed to accept an agreed to amount for various services. H.M.O.'s are closer to socialized medicine. Doctors literally became employees who worked for a salary. The beauty of the private system is you could choose. High premium for indemnity, low premium for HMO with lots of restrictions. Medicare was tax payer funded indemnity at low premium. I don't say that some of the initiatives in the Patient Affordability Act won't uncover some good ideas. Heck check out Commentarama Care series.

Tom - the intent of Obamacare was never to reform medicare. It has always been to 1) drive private insurers out of business and by default leave us with Government owned and operated Single Payer Universal. The program was long on getting coverage for the uninsured and extremely short on reducing cost through efficiency. Heck, why worry about high costs if you don't give a crap about 15 trillion deficits and you have a few wealthy fat cats to cannibalize?

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Excellent analysis. We old insurance types have to stick together. LOL

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

Wow, Dana Milbank thinks this silly season is really ugly because the Democrats have finally learned to go ugly. I am not kidding. He accuses Republicans of being ugly for so long, and what is really rewriting of history is he thinks that Democrats have always turned into a fetal position and allowed the Republicans free reign.

What's next? Democrats always take the high road? Liberals never ever twist things around? That they never said, "Ryan will push granny off the cliff?"

Dana is smoking crack. That or got too close to Biden and got "Biden's Disease." The first symptom is mixing what Democrats have done with what Republicans have done.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: I don't trust anyone with a unisex first name. LOL For the longest time, the habit of Republicans of pointing out the truth was called being "mean-spirited" by the Democrats. But it was their own hero, Harry Truman, who said "I didn't give 'em hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell."

tryanmax said...

TJ, I can't rebuff any of that because it is all correct. I would however say that you'll only get so much traction with the argument "the intent of Obamacare was never to reform medicare. It has always been to drive private insurers out of business and by default leave us with Government owned and operated Single Payer Universal."

That only works with those who believe it. With the rest who think (inexplicably) that Obama really means well, you just have to hit them with the idea that ObamaCare just shuffles the deck without fixing the problem and also that it raids Medicare, i.e. Democrats have actually done what they've accused Republicans of wanting to do even though they never have.

Tennessee Jed said...

Max - l.o.l., I wasn't so much offering it as a talking point to convince anyone; probably just more of a insider's explanation to a fellow conservative. Single Payer has always been kind of the holy grail wet dream of the high priests of the United Socialist States of Amerika. A very wise man once said "once you've got them by their health care, their hearts and minds will follow."

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I'm only jumping in here to repeat what I'll probably repeat a hundred more times before the election. The Obamacare and Medicare problems are inextricably intertwined. This will be an important issue that must be addressed in clear and concise terms by the Romney/Ryan ticket.

People understand "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and "moving your money from your left pocket to your right," and that's how the twin problems have to be addressed.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: ". . . got 'em by their health care" LOL And let's not forget that Obama was for single payer before he was against it before he was for it, sort of. How the hell can anyone pretend to know what Obama believes if the only thing to rely on is what he says?

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