Medicare is a hugely important and hugely successful social insurance program for tens of millions of Americans and Republicans aim to repeal it in about six to eight months using a mix of bamboozlement, word play and lies. When I say tens of millions I am speaking of current beneficiaries. But assuming the program is not abolished the overwhelming majority of us will be beneficiaries in the future. Less appreciated is the way Medicare protects money that goes to buying homes and raising children from being spent on the health care of indigent, bankrupted parents. These intergenerstional benefits are under-appreciated but profound. If Medicare is abolished in 2017 it will be a calamity.Fortunately, there are signs that the Democrats are planning to step up.
But the politics of Medicare are also highly relevant to this political moment.
It's not an either/or. The policy and politics are entirely harnessed together. And preserving Medicare will yield political benefits which will allow Democrats to defeat other Trump/GOP initiatives that will do the country grievous harm.
Trump's election has sprung into overdrive a debate we've been having in the world of politics for more than a year: Is Trumpism largely about economic distress tied to globalization and neo-liberal economics or is it mainly driven by a white racial backlash against minorities Trump supporters believe are cutting to the front of the line in the race for economic preferment and cultural centrality? I largely put myself in the second camp. But as I think most people realize, these are not mutually exclusive explanations. And whichever side of the equation you come down on, what the Democrats need are issues that cut across the regional/racial/class divide we saw in the 2016 election.
Medicare does that....
Donald Trump won the presidency promising to defend the economic interests of ordinary people from the 'crooked' elite on Wall Street and in Washington....If you look at the faces in the crowds at Trump's most poisonous speeches I guarantee that you that very few of those people thought they were voting to lose their Medicare.
Getting rid of or gutting Medicare is incredibly unpopular. It can only be accomplished by a mixture of bamboozlement, scare tactics and unified party government which will allow the GOP to push the change through regardless of public opinion. Saving Medicare or giving everything in the effort to do so is a tailor-made way for Democrats to cut across the Trump-Clinton divide and undermine the idea that Trump or the GOP have the interests of the middle class or really anyone but libertarians and the extremely wealthy at heart.
I would just add that the time to start this campaign is immediately. Sometime "in the next couple of weeks" Trump is going to do his victory tour. So let's say we buy a whole bunch of ad time in the areas he plans to visit. It's a simple pitch. Medicare. You earned it. You paid into it all your life. And now Paul Ryan wants to take it away from you. Tell your congressman to keep Paul Ryan's hands off our Medicare. Keep Trump's name out of it (for now, though that calculation changes later in the campaign) and put it all on Ryan, whom Trump's people already hate.
And if it works, in state after state Trump rolls into a shitstorm of riled-up seniors calling for Ryan's head.
That's how I'd do it. In any case, we have an opportunity here. It would be criminal to waste it.