Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Medicare Problem for Democrats

Now that Newt Gingrich has fallen on the hand grenade as it were in articulating what every pollster has discovered and what every Republican privately knows is factual – that the Paul Ryan plan to privatize Medicare is about as popular as a Byzantine monk at a nudist colony – the only unanswered question that remains is how will Democrats deal with this most toxic of issues. For now, the bulk of the Party seems content to let the GOP continue hemorrhaging over their ineptitude and “courageousness.” And, for now, the polls seem to be backing them up.

But as any pundit will gladly tell you, polls, like the weather in Florida, can change on a dime. Lost in all the rhetoric on both sides is the unspeakable but unavoidable truth that if nothing is done to deal with the long-term problems besetting Medicare, it will simply not survive. Period. As things stand, the fund is scheduled to go belly up in 2024. Translation? If you’re in that age bracket that Paul Ryan wants to hand out vouchers to, by the time you’re eligible to receive Medicare there might not be any benefits left for you to draw from. Don’t think the 40 and 50 somethings aren’t aware of this.

Like it or not, Democrats are going to have to come to the table with proactive solutions that will fix the systemic problems that beset Medicare. Counting on your opponents to obligingly step on the third rail of politics isn’t a long-term strategy for success; it is a stopgap measure only that could potentially blow up in your face. Especially if Republicans can some how find a way to dress up this turkey of a plan and convince enough voters that they at least were willing to tackle the problem while their opponents sat on the sidelines and did nothing.

When it comes to shoveling horseshit, nobody is better at it than the Republican Party. That Democrats aren’t aware of this and busily attending to a preemptive strike of their own is political suicide, pure and simple. How many more times must progressives learn the painful lesson that those who lay in wait for their enemies to capitulate are more often than not the benefactors of a bitter defeat at their own hands.

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