Monday, October 28, 2013


Paul Krugman today makes an excellent point: the parts of Obamacare that are upsetting people right now are pretty much what would have to be imposed on Medicare if Obamacare's right-wing critics get their way.
... look at the constant demands that we make Medicare ... both more complicated and worse. There are demands for means-testing, which would involve collecting all the personal information Obamacare needs but Medicare doesn't. There is pressure to raise the Medicare age, forcing 65- and 66-year-old Americans to deal with private insurers instead.

And Republicans still dream of dismantling Medicare as we know it, instead giving seniors vouchers to buy private insurance. In effect, although they never say this, they want to convert Medicare into Obamacare.
Krugman explains what right-wingers are thinking -- but I don't think this is the full explanation:
... the assault on Medicare is really about an ideology that is fundamentally hostile to the notion of the government helping people, and tries to make whatever help is given as limited and indirect as possible, restricting its scope and running it through private corporations. And this ideology, at a fundamental level -- more fundamental, even, than vested interests -- is why Obamacare ended up being a big kludge.
That's true, but it's a partial explanation. Another reason right-wingers want to voucherize and means-test Medicare is that if we accept these changes, eventually it will be possible to categorize Medicare recipients as "takers," which is how the right gets its base to hate recipients of welfare, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance. (Right-wingers who are beneficiaries of these programs themselves are given the impression that some other group of people gets the really good benefits.) And if we have Medicare vouchers that are insufficient for keep many people, that coverage gap will be their fault too, because they didn't arrange their lives in such a way as to avoid being old and poor and sick.

This is how conservative propagandists keep the right-wing base angry and hateful: by preaching a secular version of the fundamentalist idea that the world is divided into the saved and the damned, the latter group being easily identified by their shameful way of life and sinful deeds. Refusing to means-test Medicare and Social Security thwarts the right's ability to attack the programs this way -- for now, at least. The changes right-wingers want would make the programs much easier pickings for right-wing pseudo-fundamentalist demagogues.


Victor said...

I think the root or the problem is that Conservatives want everyone to be as scared, angry, and full of hate and envy as they are.

Because if you're not scared, angry, and full of hate and envy, then there must be something wrong with you!

Everyone in their circle is scared, angry, and full of hate and envy.

Philo Vaihinger said...

I can't recall just when, but Michele Bachmann told the media a year or two ago that Obama in a meeting had said HE wanted to flip Medicare into Obamacare.

Examinator said...

I sort of agree with you.
I would, though suggest that the
"then there must be something wrong with you!" bit is more of an emotional rationalisation of theirs.
After all it is by these emotional means that those with the power, within and outside the party control them.
Like all those that are intellectually subservient generally, they tend to use the tool they see/know best against those who they regard as lessor. i.e. anyone who isn't like them.
(a primal drive to control their environment) e.g. "if god didn't exist man would have invented him" for that purpose. The unfamiliar/unknown scares them.