Friday, March 22, 2013

Because of Obamacare, Republicans are doomed on entitlements

Steven Benen noted this morning that Republicans seem geared up to try their hostage-taking strategy one more time in demanding serious cuts to entitlement programs in exchange for raising the debt limit sometime this spring/summer. He rightly notes that that train left the station a while ago and its unlikely anyone is going to take their threats seriously if they try it again.

I'm still not sure WTH is up with the Republican leadership. What I do know is that their lunatic base is still all fired up about things that are sure to doom them as a party.

But here's one thing that I DO know. If the Randians in their ranks really are serious about privatizing the big three - Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security - their window of opportunity is getting smaller by the day.

That's because the one thing they've used to convince the lunatic base to screw themselves over with these programs is to scare the shit out of them by saying they are going broke and need "reform." Since doing that with Social Security went nowhere for Bush (and was further doomed with the economic collapse of 2008), they've focused mostly on Medicare and Medicaid. But as I've been saying here...that is looking like a bridge too far as well.
Along with greater coverage of low-income folks through the Medicaid expansion, these initiatives [cost controls] are what “Obamacare” is about. They’re wonky, technical fixes and incentives designed to squeeze the fat out of a system that is uniquely wasteful compared to those in other advanced economies. That’s a lot less sexy than death panels and socialist command-and-control fantasies, but there it is…

So my guess is there’s something lasting going on here, and that means the doctor has just prescribed a very large chill pill for those who want to whack away at Medicare and Medicaid and CHIP because “they’re going bankrupt…bankrupt I tell you!” They’re not, and our energies would be much better spent on careful research on the factors behind these recent cost trends and how we can build on them. The goal is not to diminish these extremely valuable programs. It’s to ehhance their efficiency so as to ensure that they remain a solid part of American social policy.
My guess would be that at least the Republican leadership (perhaps not the actual members of the lunatic caucus) is aware that this is happening. They've got one last shot at taking a whack at these programs before having to face the fact that they'll need come up with a whole other rationale for doing so.

That's why we need to get this story out there...NOW. Everyone needs to take that "chill pill" the doctor ordered.

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