The message discipline of right-wing politicians never ceases to amaze me. Their endless repetition of talking points usually etches their ideas deep into the public consciousness. But somehow when it comes to Medicare, their attempts to undermine the program – which provides health care to over 60 million Americans – just haven’t worked.
It is worth noting their approach:
- First concoct a phony problem: “Medicare is going broke.”
- Then, heroically, offer a phony solution: “We need to fix Medicare by privatizing the program and/or cutting benefits.”
- Add in a dash of urgency: “We are facing mounting deficits, and we need to cut Medicare to help balance the budget before it’s too late.”
- Rinse and repeat. For years.
Pretty soon, you’d think people would buy it. But, despite making this case since Ronald Reagan was president, more people today embrace the Medicare program than ever before, and they want it improved.
Speaking at an audio news conference I helped organize for the Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA), Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, said, “Support for these policies has actually been increasing over time.” Preventing cuts to Social Security and Medicare, says Ms. Lake, “is more popular than almost every member of Congress.”
There is a national consensus on preserving and protecting Medicare. People want it to be made stronger, not cut. They want more services. And, many support the idea of Medicare for all, which would allow Americans to buy into this great system.
What to do? Congressional budget cutters have embarked on a stealth campaign to sabotage Medicare by making cuts, reducing services, and pushing privatization through Medicare Advantage plans. And, they are getting away with it. There is far too little coverage of Medicare by the media, which is endlessly distracted by the national political circus. So, people don’t know what is happening and they don’t know what their elected officials are doing to undermine the program in the dark.
As Celinda Lake said, “Protecting Medicare is a winning issue for politicians of either party.” And, people are worried — not just seniors, but all voters. SaveMedicareNow.org is a new website just launched by CMA that hopes to mobilize voters to ask their candidates in the midterm elections where they stand – to get them on the record on the specifics of issues like privatization and shoring up the finances of the Medicare trust fund.
Everyone needs to stand up and be counted on Medicare or, to paraphrase a promise made by Newt Gingrich a generation ago, we will see it “wither on the vine.”