Thursday, August 27, 2009


Silly us. We thought RNC chairman Michael Steele was being a hypocrite when he wrote recently in The Washington Post that "we need to protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of 'health-insurance reform'" -- after saying in 2006 that Medicare cuts "absolutely" have to be on the table.

But apparently he wasn't being a hypocrite at all. Judging from an interview he gave to NPR's Steve Inskeep, which aired this morning, Steele's message is simple and consistent: Medicare cuts are perfectly OK -- but only when they're not done by (ick! pthui!) Democrats.

Think Progress has the audio and the transcript of the interview -- which, by the way, is entertaining from beginning to end, because Inskeep is one of the most tenacious interviewers out there, even though trying to pin Steele down is like trying to nail hot air to a wall. Here's the key passage on Medicare cuts:

STEELE: ... The problem, as we all know, is the system has been raided over the years from time to time, it's become bloated, and in some cases, efficiencies have not been maxed out. Therefore it's running into problems where, you know, every few years we're having stories about Medicare falling apart, and we've already projected it's going to --

INSKEEP: It's going to run out of money.

STEELE: Exactly.

INSKEEP: But you're coming here reducing the spending for Medicare, restraining Medicare.

STEELE: No, no, no. That's not coming out against reducing the spending for Medicare. That's a wonderful interpretation by the left, but what I was saying was, "Don't go raiding the program without some sense of what we're taking from the program, the impact it's going to have on the senior citizens out there." You know, raiding a program that's already bankrupt to pay for another program that we can’t afford is not good public policy.

INSKEEP: So you would be in favor of certain cuts?

STEELE: Absolutely. You want to maximize the efficiencies of the program. I mean, anyone who's in the program would want you to do that, and certainly those who manage it want you to do that.

So ... um ... he is coming there reducing the spending for Medicare -- just not for some disgusting, vile Barack Obama program. Reducing it for fine, upstanding Republican reasons is fine. Just not for Democratic ones.

And that's what the RNC meant, clearly, in point #1 of its recent "Seniors' Health Care Bill Of Rights":

PROTECT MEDICARE AND NOT CUT IT IN THE NAME OF HEALTH CARE REFORM: President Obama and Congressional Democrats are promoting a government-run health care experiment that will cut over $500 billion from Medicare to be used to pay for their plan. Medicare should not be raided to pay for another entitlement.

No -- it should not be raided to pay for another entitlement. It should be raided to "maximize the efficiencies." (I guess that sentence was inadvertently dropped.)

Now, really -- go read or listen to the whole interview. Enjoy Steele's attempt to explain why Medicare desperately needs to be protected and is a lousy government-run program. Savor his acknowledgment that the nasty fascist government practice of getting "between the doctor and the patient" is also, ulp, done by insurance companies all the time -- oh, and, yeah, that means the insurance companies might need to be subject to greater regulation. By the government. Oops.

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