I hope everyone gets some sunshine, beer and cookout sometime this weekend.
On to business — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says that cuts to Medicare are requisite to Republican approval of a debt ceiling raise. So that’s it — they’re holding Medicare hostage.
Talk about low expectations — this guy named Joe Nocera (Frank Rich’s replacement at the NY Times? Yikes!) says that even though the Paul Ryan Medicare plan is really, really bad, we should not be heaping such scorn on it. Why? “Because even if Ryanâ€™s solution is wrongheaded, heâ€™s right that Medicare is headed for trouble.”
Oh, give me a break. Everyone in America above the age of 6 knows Medicare is headed for trouble. I suspect there are border collies and even part of the raccoon population that knows Medicare is headed for trouble.
Then Nocera says, “The debate we need is not about whether Medicare should be reformed, but how.” Yes, and we’ve been trying to have that debate. The Affordable Care Act passed last year made quite a few changes to Medicare and laid some groundwork for bringing down costs, although most of the changes haven’t gone into effect. But most of the public has no idea how the ACA affects Medicare, because all they’ve heard about is have been screaming Republican demagoguery — Death panels! Rationing!
Which takes us to the larger point — Yes, Mr. Nocera, we need to be having a serious national talk about Medicare. We need to have serious national talks about a lot of things. We’ve needed to have such talks for a long time. Are you really so clueless to not understand why we never have such talks? Have you been living on another planet for the past 20 — nay, 30 — years?
As Steve M says, “But these are modern Republicans we’re talking about.” You want to have a serious debate to find workable solutions? With them? Are you nuts?
How long is it going to take these “pundits” to notice that modern Republicanism isn’t so much a political party as a mass hallucination?
Last week the House Republicans, apparently running out of new ways to restrict abortion, put out a “jobs” plan. The plan reveals the House Republicans have absolutely no idea how create jobs. Here it is (Acrobat v. X probably required), and it’s a joke. There’s not a serious “solution” in it.
As we discussed yesterday, the jobs agenda, such as it is, is practically a conservative cliche: the GOP wants massive tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, more coastal oil drilling, and huge cuts to public investment. Republicans are confident this will work wonders, just as they were equally confident about the identical agenda in the last decade, and the decade before that, and the decade before that.
I liked this bit:
The agenda is the agenda: tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, cut public investments. Good times and bad, deficit or surplus, war or peace, it just doesnâ€™t matter.
Itâ€™s as if someone bought an iPod, uploaded one song, and hit â€œshuffle.â€
Heh. He continues,
… the Republican Party is intellectually bankrupt. It has no new ideas, no constructive solutions, no creativity, no depth of thought, no recollection of how and why this same foolish agenda didnâ€™t work before. The GOP just has warmed-over nonsense, to be brought out year after year, with the hopes that the public has short enough memories that we wonâ€™t notice or mind.
Oh, and while some people are still trying to praise Ryan for starting a useful conversation, the reality is that heâ€™s totally unwilling to let facts enter the debate. Look at his exchange with Ezra Klein over health care costs: this is not the sound of a sincere, open-minded guy,. Notice how he evades Kleinâ€™s attempt to get him to accept the overwhelming fact that other countries pay much less for health care than we do.
Yeah, notice that.