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Chan Lowe: Gutting Medicare II


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There were elements of President Obama’s budget speech that left us wanting more, but in one area he delivered. He was right to cast the coming battle over the deficit as a moral issue, since the main battleground will be entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare, which exist because at the time of their inception, this nation felt an obligation to fulfill a moral imperative.

The Republican Party, particularly its Tea Party wing, is making an amoral, purely financial argument. The argument is simplistic and cunning, yet does not stand up to the test of the American character.

One thing everyone agrees on is that the deficit must be reduced. How it is done will depend on who is able to make the most compelling case to the American people. Republicans, in their zeal not to raise taxes on anyone⎯particularly the wealthy⎯will continue to push the discredited notion that by removing any financial fetters from the well-off, we will stimulate an economy that will float all boats.

The only way the President can counter the nuts-and-bolts argument is to raise it to an existential plane, and contend that our very nature as a people⎯our goodness, our generosity, our exceptionalism⎯compels us to provide for our poor and elderly. Only when he can get us to see the problem through this prism will we demand that higher taxes on the wealthy, cuts to the defense budget, and subsidies to agribusiness and the oil industry be put on the bargaining table where they belong.

If he succeeds in communicating this line of reasoning effectively (and communication is Obama’s strong suit), the essential nature of the argument will shift. Americans will begin to realize what the Republicans are asking them to do to their own people in the name of greater prosperity for the already prosperous.

The Republicans will be exposed for what they are, and they will either alter their modus operandi, or they will be shamed and cast into the wilderness.

Of course, that’s if we’re still capable of thinking of ourselves as a nation based on principles.

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I am a moderate liberal and a financial conservative, and I understand your side Chan, but you really are avoiding the fact that is not being covered. We are not just broke. We OWE 14 Trillion. Paying for Grandma's food is a moral imperative. Paying for her cable TV is not. Paying for her pain meidcation is a moral imperative. Paying for her husband's Viagra is not. paying her to keep the house is a moral imperative. Paying for her to add a hot tub is not.

"He was right to cast the coming battle over the deficit as a moral issue, since the main battleground will be entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare, which exist because at the time of their inception, this nation felt an obligation to fulfill a moral imperative."
At the time of their inception, they were sustainable, too. They now shell out more than they take in.

"The Republican Party, particularly its Tea Party wing, is making an amoral, purely financial argument."
They have a different moral stance, but that doesn't make it "amoral". They are NOT saying to kill Medicaid and Medicare. They ARE saying that in choosing where to allocate dollars, this portion is taking much more than it did in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s COMBINED, and must be reined in.

"The argument is simplistic and cunning, yet does not stand up to the test of the American character."
The same can be said for your argument. "American character" is not defined the same by all Americans. If the American character you are speaking of is rewarding hard work, personal freedom without government interference, personal responsibility, and that we will do right by our allies and stand up strong to our enemies, then the financial argument DOES stand up to the test of American character.

"One thing everyone agrees on is that the deficit must be reduced. How it is done will depend on who is able to make the most compelling case to the American people."
Why does it have to be an either-or choice? Raise taxes, cut costs. Just because each side hates one option doesn't mean that doing both is wrong.

"Republicans, in their zeal not to raise taxes on anyone⎯particularly the wealthy⎯will continue to push the discredited notion that by removing any financial fetters from the well-off, we will stimulate an economy that will float all boats."
Democrats also are afraid to raise taxes on the majority of Americans. Why? Voters vote from their wallet. So, raise taxes on the wealthy, the middle class, AND cut the tax breaks on the poor and corporations. Make EVERYONE pay back for the benefits they have gotten over the years, so that we no longer are a debtor.

From the Federalist Papers, Number 12 - "A nation cannot long exist without revenues. Destitute of this essential support, it must resign its independence, and sink into the degraded condition of a province." I do not wish to be a province of China, because that American character you speak of will be up for sale, too.

"The only way the President can counter the nuts-and-bolts argument is to raise it to an existential plane, and contend that our very nature as a people⎯our goodness, our generosity, our exceptionalism⎯compels us to provide for our poor and elderly."
Again, nobody is saying to not provide for them at all, but that we need to take in more, and provide for them less. Existential plane? When basic needs are not being met due to constantly increasing debt, we cannot worry about existential level concerns.

"Only when he can get us to see the problem through this prism will we demand that higher taxes on the wealthy, cuts to the defense budget, and subsidies to agribusiness and the oil industry be put on the bargaining table where they belong."
They are already on the bargaining table. The problem is that the two sides are sitting at different tables. Playing to their constituency when the issue effects all constituencies. When Clinton took on Welfare, it made him a statesman. Obama can take on Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, and then the Republicans will have NOTHING on their table to complain about. Then, the Red Team will HAVE to look at taxing the rich, reducing military costs, removing corporate welfare, and both will have to look at taxing the middle class and the poor.

"If he succeeds in communicating this line of reasoning effectively (and communication is Obama’s strong suit), the essential nature of the argument will shift."
As long as it is shown to be a winners versus losers issue, the people with the money will win. make all folks sacrifice, then it is no longer a winners versus losers issue, and we all win.

"The Republicans will be exposed for what they are, and they will either alter their modus operandi, or they will be shamed and cast into the wilderness."
What do you think they really are, green aliens or something? They just vote for Coke instead of Pepsi, McDonalds instead of Burger King. That American character you speak of also does not cast people into the wilderness, but adjusts. And finally, when was the last time a POLITICAL PARTY was shamed? If Watergate, Contragate, Whitewater, Blackwater, or even the Teapot Dome scandal did not shame a party, how is doing some math and showing we need to stop throwing good money after bad on the entitlements a source of shame?

"Of course, that’s if we’re still capable of thinking of ourselves as a nation based on principles."
We get any more into debt, we will not be ALLOWED to think for ourselves. Better to choose our path now, than to have it chosen for us later.


It's wishful thinking, but I really do hope that those in authority would forget the promulgation of their political agendas for once and work hand in hand in addressing the issues of health care.


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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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