I know, I know. Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to lower the national debt has about as much appeal as algebra homework, but
I assure you you’ll start paying attention, particularly if you’re under 55 years old, when Congress begins haggling over the Medicare portion of his proposal.
The old Republican principle about turning everything over to the private sector doesn’t work so well when you’re talking about an elderly cohort that’s guaranteed to be sick, often catastrophically so. This is why spreading the cost out to all the taxpayers makes so much sense: the government can’t turn anyone down. Sure, the program is full of flaws, but consider the alternative.
Republicans will quickly cave over this, because the backlash from pushing it would make them an extinct species in Congress. If you’re going to wake the American body politic out of its stupor over an issue that directly affects its self-interest, make sure it’s the other guy’s fault. This will be the Democratic strategy (“What? You want to cut Grandma’s lifeline so Wall Street fat cats can take another round-the-world cruise?!!?”).
Which leaves us wondering why Ryan is even presenting the so-called privatization of Medicare as an option. Maybe he’s such a free-market purist that he truly believes that if he sensibly, logically lays it all out as a money saver, we’ll buy it.
Here’s the flaw in his thinking: All persons, even rabid deficit hawks, get old. And the two things that are most important to old people are their financial security and their health. After that, it’s getting a ride to the polls.