Well, as Newell at Slate points out, guess who's taking away your Medicare? Republicans.
One cannot think of a more tone-deaf political response to the 2016 election than an effort to privatize Medicare. There aren’t that many lessons Republicans need to draw from 2016—they control everything!—but one is that so long as you pledge not to touch Medicare, even a goon like Donald Trump can win the presidency. Yet since the election there has been much chatter that conservatives in Congress, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, might consider moving forward with his treasured voucherization of Medicare. I had thought that this might be a product of Democratic wish-casting, because there was no way that Ryan would be so stupid.
It's not that Ryan is stupid, it's that he's so beholden to the Republican Talking Point that ALL THINGS MUST BE PRIVATIZED and that ALL GOVERNMENT SPENDING SAVE DEFENSE MUST BE SLASHED that he'll push a program that would change the well-funded healthcare program for the elderly into a voucher-based system that will not be adequately funded nor capable of keeping costs under control.
As Chait notes over at New York:
Ryan tells Baier, “Because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke.” This is false. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of the truth. The Medicare trust fund has been extended 11 years as a result of the passage of Obamacare, whose cost reforms have helped bring health care inflation to historic lows. It is also untrue that repealing Obamacare requires changing traditional Medicare. But Ryan clearly believes he needs to make this claim in order to sell his plan, or probably even to convince fellow Republicans to support it.
This shouldn't surprise you, America. Democrats have been screaming for DECADES that the Republicans want to slash the social safety net for purely ideological reasons. The Republicans never did when they got the chance - early 1980s and early 2000s - because back then there were still a few party leaders left who weren't that suicidal.
But now we're in the Era of the Wingnut. The Tea Party hordes have voted into office Republicans at all levels who will want to watch the world burn. There's almost no safety checks left other than a minority Democratic presence in the Senate, and that might not be enough to stop any legal maneuvers that Congress can pull off.
And here's Newell at Slate again to ask: Guess who's taking away your Social Security? Republicans.
The plan offers a model for what the GOP would do in a Social Security reform effort. The bill includes 15 specific changes, some of them more complex than others, and this letter from the chief auditor of Social Security analyzes each of them. Broadly: It would cut benefits without raising taxes. Some of the more recognizable changes include a gradual increase in the normal retirement age from 67 to 69 for those born in 1968 or later (personal note: this affects me as I was born in 1970, meaning I have to work MORE years for FEWER returns), and it would peg cost-of-living adjustments to chained CPI, a slower-growing inflation index (this means less money to adjust to rising costs of living)... Since implementing these cuts alone would make the law politically unpalatable, it would increase benefits for some of the lowest-income, longest-working earners, while the highest future earners would see the largest benefit cuts. But let’s be clear: most people would see cuts. Look for yourself, on Table B2!
For all the talk about fixing Social Security, the thing that won't fix it is cutting benefits. What needs to happen is an increase in funding to get over the massive bump that is the incoming Baby Boomer wave. That may mean an increase in the SSI tax on payrolls or removing the earnings cap, but at least it won't slash benefits that our elderly and disabled need to, you know, SURVIVE.
I know I'm repeating myself here, but this is where the Republicans are more beholden to their ideology than to practicalities. The Republicans can NEVER raise taxes - at least not do it in public - they can only slash them, and for their obsessions over "balancing budgets" - which they themselves CAN NEVER ACCOMPLISH, wonder why - that means they have to slash benefits to justify those slashed taxes. And slashing benefits - especially to a demographic of older voters that they rely on to win their rigged/gerrymandered elections - would normally be political suicide.
But now we're in the Era of the Wingnut. The Tea Party hordes have voted into office Republicans at all levels who will want to watch the world burn. There's almost no safety checks left other than a minority Democratic presence in the Senate, and that might not be enough to stop any legal maneuvers that Congress can pull off. Oh, wow, now I AM repeating myself...
And guess who's going to get blamed when your Medicare and Social Security are either gone or so drastically reduced that you'll go bankrupt in your retirement years? Obama.
Because it's never the Republicans' fault when their Utopian dreams of tax cuts and deregulation turns around and crashes everything from our economy to our bridges to our entire way of life.
THIS IS WHAT 62 MILLION OF YOU VOTED FOR, AMERICA.
Merry Christmas you Rapture-wanting Apocalyptic A-holes.