American Elephants

Truth or Politics? by The Elephant's Child

“What if your President, your Senator and your Congressman
knew a crisis was coming?  What if they knew why it was happening?
What if they knew what they needed to do to stop it from happening?
What if they had the time to stop it? And what if they chose to do nothing
about it…because they thought it wasn’t good politics? 

“What would you think of that person?”

Those were the words of Paul Ryan in introducing his “Path to Prosperity”  to deal with the problems of entitlements in our economy. President Obama claimed that Republicans “were trying to end Medicare as you know it.” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said “We don’t have a definitive solution—we just don’t like yours.”

Obama has been fairly transparent about his efforts to put off those things which might cause electoral difficulties for him — until after the election. He rudely overruled the EPA on its ozone rule until after the election (disastrously expensive for the economy). The Keystone XL decision, postponed (if approved would anger the Greens). The temporary tax cuts (go poof on December 31).

ObamaCare slashes about $145 billion from Medicare Advantage, a program that is particularly popular with seniors. It allows about one in four to escape the traditional entitlement and choose a commercial plan. They had to cut expenses somewhere to make up for all the new free goodies they offered in ObamaCare, and they hated such market flexibility because they regarded it as a threat to government control. Obama’s budget counters estimate that the ObamaCare cuts will result in enrollment falling by half.  The cuts were scheduled to begin this year. It is hard to imagine a bigger electoral disaster than taking away seniors’ popular Medicare Advantage right before the election.

Lo and behold, Health and Human Services has a fund under a 1967 law that allows the HHS Secretary to spend money without specific approval by Congress on “experiments” directly aimed at “increasing the efficiency and economy of health services.” Doesn’t that suggest the ‘experiment’ of postponing something seniors are going to hate — until after the election? So $8.6 billion should cover it. That’s what you get when you appropriate massive amounts of money and turn it over to an agency without accountability for the way it will be used.  It is, says the Secretary, “a demonstration project.”

Some cold hard facts: There are roughly 50 million people covered by Medicare — and baby boomers are reaching the eligible age of 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day.

The latest report from the Medicare trustees came out Monday. It is expected that the report will show the pace of cost increases has slowed to some extent. Contrary to the assertions of the Obama Administration in trying to gin up support for ObamaCare, the cost of health care had been declining for the past ten years. New medicines, new procedures were making medicine more efficient and more  affordable. Nevertheless, the medical insurance program for America’s seniors is on a fast path to insolvency. It is going broke. 

Medicare will run out of money to pay full benefits in 2024, five years earlier than previously predicted, according to the 2012 report.

That’s twelve years from now. Republicans have developed a plan that will preserve Medicare for those 55 and older, and will offer a new plan for those under 55 to provide the same kind of safety net. To repeat, Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury says “We don’t have a definitive solution — we just don’t like yours.” Barack Obama called the Ryan plan “Social Darwinism,” and then he attempted to hide from seniors what he was doing — until after the election.

What if they had the time to stop it? And what if they chose to do nothing
about it…because they thought it wasn’t good politics? 

“What would you think of that person?”

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