Last night I was inspired by President Obama's State of the Union speech.
He seemed like the adult in the room, rising above childish political pettiness with his call for Americans to come together and work to improve our country's position in an increasingly competitive world economy.
But it doesn't take a crystal ball for me to predict that almost all Republicans in Congress will ignore Obama's urging to put patriotism above politics, and idealism above ideology. So they'll keep on spouting platitudes about creeping socialism, reckless spending, liberty being threatened, blah, blah, blah.
Which drives me nuts.
As does fundamentalist religion, because the current incarnation of right-wing ideology bears a lot of resemblance to faith-based dogma. Both are almost entirely devoid of factual connections to demonstrable reality. So true believers preach ethereal abstractions rather than concrete prescriptions for effective living.
I've blogged before about how this plays out in the Republican screamfest to Repeal Omabacare! These two screechy words have no relation to the serious problems in our hugely over-expensive and under-effective health care non-system.
And there isn't any substance lurking elsewhere in Republican policy circles.
I keep looking for the replace side of John Boehner's repeal and replace mantra, but so far there's no sign of a Republican plan to insure 50 million or so Americans at a "price" that the Congressional Budget Office says will reduce the federal deficit by several hundred billion dollars over the next ten years, and more thereafter.
Paul Ryan is the new Republican poster boy for deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility. I didn't listen to his response to Obama's State of the Union address. However, I've checked out his plan to ditch Medicare as we know it for those currently under 55.
Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with vouchers that can be used to buy private insurance was slammed by Democrats at a hearing today.
Democrats on the House Budget Committee deflected hard questions Wednesday about their healthcare reform law's fiscal consequences by seeking to make panel Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his Roadmap for America's Future the stars of the show.
Ryan has proposed replacing Medicare with healthcare vouchers in the future for younger Americans.
Well, the future is now, according to panic-stricken Republicans like Ryan who want drastic cuts in federal spending immediately. If Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future is so wonderful that he was made chair of the House budget committee, I think we should let his Medicare proposal be tested out in some states right away.
Like Texas and Florida.
Both states have large retiree populations. If dumping Medicare and giving seniors vouchers to buy private health insurance is supposedly such a great idea, let's start experimenting and see how it works in Texas and Florida.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has fantasized about his state seceding from the union, so he should jump at the chance to secede from Medicare. Congress can give him and Florida Governor Rick Scott, a fellow Republican, a waiver that offers them the chance to provide seniors with health care coverage through private insurance for, say, 10% less than Medicare is paying out now.
It'll be interesting to see how the 65+ folks in Texas and Florida like being forced to give up their Medicare (and how many vote Republican in the next election).
I'm also looking forward to learning how private insurance companies will be able to provide comparable levels of health services for 10% less money, after factoring in their additional adminstrative expenses and profit margins.
But, hey, Republicans say they are opposed to a government takeover of health care, and Medicare is exactly that -- a government-run insurance program for the elderly.
Sure, it is a highly popular program. Yet if Republicans want Americans to take their airy-fairy policy prescriptions seriously, we need to start seeing some concrete proof that they will work in the real world.
Texas and Florida voted Republican, by and large, in the last election, so these states should be open to trying out a Dump Medicare experiment for a couple of years.
(I hope they'll start on this ASAP, because I suspect that it won't take long for seniors in these states to vote solidly Democratic once they get a taste of what Republicans want to serve up for health care policy.)