Former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman on Monday spun Paul Ryan's blueprint for reforming Medicare as saying to younger Americans "screw you." Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, the senior politics editor for the Huffington Post eagerly went along with host Chris Matthews' hyperbolic description of the Republican plan.
Responding to the idea that Ryan would exempt Americans 55 and older from changes, Fineman blurted out Democratic talking points: "And by the way, by trying to exempt the younger people also, it doesn't necessarily help the Republicans make their case 'cause what they're saying to the younger voters is, 'we're going to screw you. We're going to screw you.'"
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Part of the Ryan plan would turn Medicare into a voucher-like program that would have them chose from competing private insurance plans. Matthews derided this as "Here's your Starbucks gift card. Go buy some insurance."
Fineman, supposedly an objective mainstream journalist, was indistinguishable from Hardball's left-wing host.
A transcript of the exchange, which aired at 5:05pm EDT, follows:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Howard, you and I have been in this business a long time.
HOWARD FINEMAN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: What moonshine Barletta he drink that got him to vote with the Republican vote to kill Medicare? They're not going to kill Social Security. Nobody's that nuts, but you're pretty close to being nuts when you're messing with Medicare, the one program I have discovered everybody's like once they turn 65.
FINEMAN: Yeah. I can't answer it other than to say that ideology trumps political common sense in this case because they're fixated on the idea that the route to salvation for the country and them politically is to cut government spending but that's not the popular or even the-
MATTHEWS: The average person doesn't think it's government spending. Let me ask you this. They all have dodge now. We'll get to Pat Meehan- the former U.S. attorney, who wishes he was still a U.S. attorney, by the way- defending him saying this is just a blueprint. Well, now the big dodge the Republicans have is "yeah, I voted for it but affects people 55, 54 and younger" and that woman, apparently, in that same exchange, turned around and said, yeah, when he tried to defend himself, said, "Yeah, but I care about my nieces and nephews. I don't want them screwed out of Medicare."
DAVID CORN: But, more important than that, I mean, in that demographic, I worry. But, also, people have parents and people who are 30 and 40 looking at the parents who may be 55 or 60.
CORN: And heading in that direction, they don't want to worry about for-profit insurance taking care of their parents in the next five, ten years. So, it's not just 64 or 65-
MATTHEWS: Yeah. Here's your Starbucks gift card. Go buy some insurance. Take a look at the map. Here's what's going on: The Democrats aren't so stupid. Look, they've got a map now, looking at around the country where they lost the seats, just last November. This isn't a 100-years war. This is a few months ago. They got blown away. They're already targeting those to get back, Howard.
FINEMAN: Well, one of the keys is five on those on the map, I don't know if it shows that, but five of them are in Florida. Five of the districts in Florida. Duh. Not surprisingly.
FINEMAN: Well, because of this senior demographic.
MATTHEWS: Because they're the people with money.
FINEMAN: They're the people with money. But, they care about this. They believe in it philosophically. You got Arizona. You got Iowa. You got Pennsylvania. That's what they're going after. And by the way, by trying to exempt the younger people also, it doesn't necessarily help the Republicans make their case 'cause what they're saying to the younger voters is, "we're going to screw you. We're going to screw you." So, if you look at who supports what across the board-
CORN: There are 13 congressional districts where people- where they elected Republicans in the last November and in 2008 and 2004 they voted for Barack Obama and John Kerry. That's half of the 25 they're going after.