Minimizing Medicare

Jeff vonKaenel

I was stunned by presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate. But not as stunned as when I first heard the 42-year-old Wisconsinite congressman’s plan for America. Citing increasing deficits as the reason, Ryan has proposed gutting Medicare and Social Security. He believes, and he has convinced nearly the whole Republican House delegation, that Americans can only afford limited care for our older and poorer citizens.

So, instead of making sure our senior citizens’ medical needs are taken care of, like they would be in every other First World country, Ryan believes the top 1 percent of Americans can no longer continue to waste their precious wealth on seniors. It’s true, many senior citizens do have expensive health needs.

Now, these health needs are significantly more expensive in America than in other countries because we have a for-profit private insurance health-care delivery system and an obscenely profitable pharmaceutical industry. You would think we would reform our health-care system before cutting off aid to our seniors. But, as you know, Ryan does not want that, and Romney has changed his mind.

I could give Ryan the benefit of the doubt, and believe that he sincerely wanted to reduce the deficit—if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s proposing additional tax breaks for wealthy Americans and corporations at the same time. And, not only does Ryan want to continue the budget-busting, deficit-increasing Bush tax cuts, which give 90 percent of the benefits to just 5 percent of the population, the bastard wants to give more. Lots more: $4 trillion of reduced taxes for the wealthy over the next 10 years.

But the importance of the issue was brought home to me when Democratic Congressional candidate Ami Bera had a town-hall meeting in Sacramento to discuss health care. There were around 80 people at the meeting, many of them seniors. I expect most were Democrats, but interest in health care tends to be nonpartisan.

The seniors in the audience wanted to know how Ryan’s plan would affect them and their spouses. They weren’t happy to learn that Ryan wanted to limit the amount of health care seniors receive. The people in that room were scared, and, frankly, they should be.

Over my six decades on the planet, I have seen many plans designed to hurt the average person for the benefit of the rich and powerful. But Ryan’s plan is clearly the most forthright.

Usually, the “screw the little guy” candidates run under false premises like President George W. Bush’s compassionate conservative ploy. If you remember, Bush was able to convince some people that there was little difference between him and Gore. That lie won Bush the election.

Ryan and Romney are taking a different approach. They are directly asking the American people, or rather, 99 percent of the American people, to prepare to be mugged come Election Day.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.