Tuesday’s New York Times featured a rare excursion into print by Timothy Egan, liberal Times reporter turned leftist nytimes.com blogger, excoriating Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan and the "Tea Party political illiterates" as greed-heads for wanting to reform the bankrupt Medicare system: "The Need for Greed."
The bet was audacious from the beginning, and given the miserable, low-down tenor of contemporary politics, not unfathomable: Could you divide the country between greedy geezers and everyone else as a way to radically alter the social contract?
But in order for the Republican plan to turn Medicare, one of most popular government programs in history, into a much-diminished voucher system, the greed card had to work.
The plan’s architect, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, drew a line in the actuarial sand: Anyone born before 1957 would not be affected. They could enjoy the single-payer, socialized medical care program that has allowed millions of people to live extended lives of dignity and decent health care.
And their kids and grandkids? Sorry, they would have to take their little voucher and pay some private insurer nearly twice as much as a senior pays for basic government coverage today. In essence, Republicans would break up the population between an I’ve Got Mine segment and The Left Behinds.
Egan claims but doesn't offer evidence (beyond polling in a strange special election in New York State and a handy Newt Gingrich quote) that "This plan is toast." Egan’s government-centric view of a quality life permeates his op-ed.
Beyond the political calculations, all of this is encouraging news because it shows that people are starting to think much harder about what kind of country they want to live in. Give the Republicans credit for honesty and showing their true colors. And their plan is at least a starting point compared with those Tea Party political illiterates who waved signs urging government to keep its hands off their government health care.
Egan has a simple fix:
There is a very simple way to make Medicare whole through the end of this century, far less complicated, and more of a bargain in the long run than the bizarre Ryan plan. Raise taxes....
Why didn’t we think of that before?