"I, who hath nothin'"

I suspect as I get older I’m developing a masochistic streak, because I watched Meet The Press the other day. Willingly.

Anyway, on that show there was an exchange between MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and National Review’s Rich Lowry. Romney having pushed the Shiny Distracting Trinket button on his campaign by adding Paul Ryan to the ticket, the topic of Ryan’s proposed budget came up. As is usual for budgets from any member of congress, it doesn’t make mathematical sense, but in particular these two zeroed in on the Medicare portion of his plan for their respective partisan signaling exercises. Here’s Rachel:

“Democrats think that this is the best thing that could possibly happen to their campaign. It’s no longer, ‘Do you like the way the country is going or no? … Now the choice is, ‘Well you may not like Afghanistan or renewable energy or Solyndra or health insurance coverage for contraception or something—fine. Do you like Medicare?’ Now it is a choice. It is no longer just a referendum on Obama and that’s everything they wanted.”

Basically the “look at those Extreme anti-government Extremists being Extreme over there!” tactic. Here’s Lowry, going with the old I’m-rubber-you’re-glue response:

“The Republicans should go on offense on Medicare, because the president, as part of Obamacare, has $700 billion in cuts in Medicare, and Romney wants to repeal Obamacare, including those cuts. So at the top of the ticket, Romney vs. Obama, there’s only one of those guys who want any cuts affecting current seniors.”

For the sake of accuracy, what Rich Lowry is referring to is cuts of subsidies to private insurers administering Medicare Advantage. Those make up part of the funding over several years for the health care “reform”, though obviously not all.

After this, Lowry asked Rachel constantly “are you for $700 billion in Medicare cuts??”, with no answer from her beyond “well, I’m not running for office”.  First impression is that’s a BS answer, since it is her job to provide opinions on things. The format of these kinds of shows, however, doesn’t allow for full context, so even if she had another answer she couldn’t have provided it without first explaining WTF Rich Lowry was referring to, which would take too long.

Now, let’s be charitable here. Assume that somehow she had time to explain. Given her portrayal of the discussion, assuming herself as Protector of Medicare, further assume her preference would be to answer “no” to cuts in benefits but “yes” to cuts in private insurer subsidies. This poses a problem: requiring individuals to purchase private insurance as the health “reform” law does is itself a subsidy to private insurers. It is not possible to check the pro-HCR box and the anti-business-subsidies box, the two are in conflict.

BTW: Though we are in this alternate world where you’re allowed to bring context into what otherwise would be a shouting match, Rich Lowry would not bring up the counterpoint I describe. Why? Because unlike what he actually did, it’d seriously draw from Rachel’s Left.

I see more substantive debate on Twitter, ffs…


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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