Thursday, December 10, 2009

TPM: GOP Flip-Flopping on Medicare . . . Again

The blog TPM (Talking Points Memo) has an excellent post this morning about the latest Republican flip-flop on Medicare.

As you may know by now, the latest consensus plan on health care presented by the Senate Democratic leadership includes an innovative means of providing an alternative option to the uninsured, without the full-blown "public option" that has attracted so much GOP fire. As The Christian Science Monitor explains:

With a breakthrough in negotiations announced Tuesday night, Senate Democrats are closing in on a historic overhaul of US healthcare – even if no Republicans join them.

The agreement dropped plans for a big government role in the health insurance market (aka, the public option), which had been a deal-breaker for a handful of centrist Democrats, but in exchange for that compromise it expands access to healthcare through Medicare to workers as young as 55.

* * * *

The deal proposes, in place of a government-run insurance program, mandating private, nonprofit companies to administer low-cost national insurance policies, along the lines of the health plans offered to members of Congress and federal workers. The federal Office of Personnel Management would set up the new national plan but nonprofit private companies would run it.

You'd think the GOP would cheer this new approach. But of course, they don't. Which leads to TPM's report:

For decades, the Republican party has been the scourge of Medicare, hostile to it as a wasteful government program, and happy to see it, in the words of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, "wither and die on the vine." Over the past several months, as Democrats propose paying for health care reform with savings wrung from waste in Medicare, Republicans have tried to position themselves as Medicare saviors. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) took to the Senate floor recently to warn that health care reform will make seniors "die sooner."

Now, though, Democrats are pondering a Medicare expansion of sorts. They want to let people between the ages of 55 and 64 buy insurance through Medicare. And suddenly, Republicans are stuck in a booby-trapped rhetorical space, defending Medicare from all attackers--real and perceived--and also lashing out at the idea of letting more people benefit from it.
TPM revealed the Democrats' attack on the Republicans' inconsistency (top of page).

I guess the Republicans were against Medicare before they were for it; and oops, now they're against it again . . .

It'd be funny, except for the desperate need to provide health care to all Americans.

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