And this was for any number of reasons: it doesn’t really balance the budget, not for decades; it envisions massive tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations, but doesn’t explain how this lost revenue will be made up (other than by some vague mouthing that unidentified “loopholes” will be closed); its numbers only come close to adding up if the U.S. achieves some never-before-seen unemployment rate of about 2.8%; it anticipates shrinking the federal budget to a portion of GDP not seen since before we had a standing military. (And do you really think America is going to go back to not having a military? Having a military is the one thing at which we are indisputably the world’s best).
But above all, the idea that Medicare should be eliminated entirely, and then replaced with $15,000 a year vouchers with which seniors (you know, the poor, the tired, the really sick)
can fail to buy can attempt to buy private insurance (although we are still gonna call this bastard spawn of a GOP wet dream “medicare”) . . . well that is truly revolting. Not merely because the plan calls for nothing less than throwing our most vulnerable members to the howling wolf of inevitable human decay, which is bad enough, but because its proponents argue that doing so is nothing less than virtuous pragmatism.
The thinking appears to go something like this:
(1) providing a minimum social safety net for the most disadvantaged among us is something that the vast, vast majority of people in this country like (“keep the government out of my Medicare!”); but
(2) increasingly expensive medical costs means that we are either going to have to roll back some of those tax cuts for the wealthy or else get very serious about limiting medical expenses (for example, by using the collective bargaining power of a single-payer system to demand cuts in the prices health care providers charge); but
(3) both of these ideas are opposed by a small but very wealthy (and thus, very powerful) part of our population, and therefore all Serious People know that these solutions are “off the table”; which means that
(4) since we aren’t allowed do anything to lower rising medical expenses, and since we aren’t allowed to collect enough money to pay for rising medical expenses, we can no longer afford to maintain that minimum social safety net that is so very popular with the American people; so therefore
(5) we must get rid of Medicare because (under these self-imposed rules) we can’t pay for it; but since
(6) Medicare is a very, very popular system – see No. 1, above – any proposal to eliminate it can be counted on to be very, very unpopular; now, therefore,
CONCLUSION: Since Paul Ryan has proposed eliminating Medicare in favor of even more tax cuts for the wealthy, he must be considered “politically courageous” and “very serious.”
Only in the bizarro realm that is American politics can an idea that is both inherently revolting and wildly unpopular be considered courageous and serious. And yet, there it is. But, to be sure, common sense and rationality must ultimately prevail, right? Something this evil and ludicrous can’t continue to be taken seriously forever, can it? I’ve gotta believe that.