On the final Sunday of the election season, the presidential race is up for grabs. The Senate is up for grabs. But one governing body is not up for grabs and that’s the House of Representatives.
While it’s possible the Democrats may gain seats, not even their own political spinmeisters are selling the idea that they’ll make up the 25 they’d need to re-take control. According to a report in The Hill, it’s because party leader Nancy Pelosi’s strategy of using Medicare scare tactics has been “a dud.”
The political Left has consistently used misrepresentation of Medicare and Social Security to gain ground and the tactic has been potent in congressional elections.
In 1986, the Democrats regained Senate control for the final two years of Ronald Reagan’s term because they exploited a Republican proposal that would have means-tested Social Security—required the wealthy elderly to give up some of their benefits to preserve the program’s viability for those who truly need it (I know, ironic isn’t it?).
In 2005, the Democrats regained political momentum by insisting that George W. Bush’s proposal to enable young people to start investing a portion of their Social Security taxes into stock market would destroy the system. The Bush presidency effectively ended with the death of his proposal.
When Paul Ryan—one of the few Republicans who didn’t cower and shake when the Left’s distortion machine cranked up, was chosen as the GOP vice-presidential nominee—Pelosi salivated. The radical left-wing House Minority Leader was sure she would use his proposal to give vouchers to the elderly as the means to regaining her own power as Speaker of the House.
It hasn’t worked out that way.
One reason is that with Ryan on the ticket, House Republicans couldn’t follow their usual path of cut-and-run the minute a political fight a broke out (as they did quite shamefully in 2005). They had to stand their ground and defend Ryan’s plan and point out that it hardly ends Medicare.
I feel as though I’ve written on this topic until I’m blue in the face, but since the distortions keep coming, the actual facts have to be repeated. And the fact is issuing a voucher to allow an elderly person to buy coverage in the private market is hardly ending Medicare. It is, in fact, enhancing the system. It gives someone more choices to find a plan suitable to them. It requires private companies to compete for business and make their policies customer-friendly…you know, the same logic we rely on in every other walk of economic life. And issuing a voucher for health care is no different than doing one for food, but I’ve yet to hear Pelosi call for ending Food Stamps as we know it and turning the program into government co-op.
In short, while reasonable people might differ on whether vouchers are as good an idea as I think they are, to say that it leaves the elderly in the cold is a lie. I understand why Pelosi is lying—she wants power. I don’t quite get what rank-and-file Kool-Aid drinkers think they have to gain by cooperating with the distortion.
Its working-class voters, disproportionately Democratic, that really have the most at stake in a true reform of Medicare, and Social Security along with it. The wealthy don’t have to worry about whether the system is inefficient, because their pockets are deep enough to cover it, through purchase of private long-term care insurance and well-funded retirement plans. Someone who works for less can’t afford to see that portion of their paycheck diverted into a system that can’t sustain itself.
The long-term answer is for responsible conservative Democrats to take back their party. The short-term answer on Tuesday is to repeal the imposters who stand in their place and create the opening.
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com