By Guillermo Vallejo
Democrats have been giddier than a kid in a candy store since their special election victory in New York’s 26th district last month. They believe that this is a sign of things to come in 2012. More than anything else, Democrats believe that Medicare is the issue that will lead to Republican defeat in next year’s general election. Unfortunately, some conservatives actually believe the hype. Some congressional Republicans are even getting anxious about the Ryan plan to save Medicare.
Republicans need to embrace the Ryan plan rather than run away from it. We need to explain it to the people and make them understand that Medicare has to be reformed. Are we as a society going to face some tough choices? Yes. Can we afford to play politics with Medicare and scare seniors? No. The bottom line is that Medicare and entitlement spending must be reigned in. The consequences of doing nothing will lead our nation towards financial and moral bankruptcy.
Medicare is broke. Anyone who says otherwise is either delusional or disingenuous. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Medicare will go bankrupt by 2021. Obamacare actually hurts Medicare despite liberal claims to the contrary. The President’s heath care law directs half a trillion dollars to be taken from Medicare to help fund this bloated, statist and ineffective piece of legislation. So much for the Democrats looking out for the elderly. Medicare currently has $24.6 trillion in unfunded disabilities and this is only projected to grow larger.
Facing this reality, one would expect Democrats to put aside partisanship and work with Republicans to protect Medicare. Sadly, Democrats never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Instead of presenting their own vision for saving Medicare and having and honest debate, liberals have resorted to misdirection, flat out lies and personal attacks.
The predictable liberal playbook of slander and demagoguery has been employed to discredit Republicans. We are heartless, greedy pessimists who do not care about seniors. Even though the Ryan plan does not affect those currently 55 and over, Democrats are scarring seniors into submission. A recent political attack ad features someone who is supposed to be Paul Ryan taking an elderly woman in a wheelchair up a cliff and then throwing her off it. The implication is clear: Republicans want to kill grandma.
These sorts of attacks should be taken as a badge of honor by conservatives. Ad hominem attacks are usually the last refuge of individuals who are incapable and/or unwilling to debate issues on the facts. Democrats’ complete lack of a plan for reforming Medicare is astounding. It has gotten so bad that even former President Clinton took Paul Ryan aside at a recent event and told him that he is afraid Democrats are going to sit on their hands and do nothing.
The inability for Democrats to face the fact that Medicare and other costly entitlements need to be reformed is a symptom of a larger program. The modern Democratic Party has built its voter base on ever-costlier social programs and entitlements. It is now realizing it has run out of taxpayer money to bribe voters. Instead of telling the truth to its constituencies, it has opted to bury its head in the sand while a tide of debt rolls in. Late comedian George Carlin once said that Americans have been bought off by toys, gadgets and gizmos. In many ways, he was right.
Americans have come to accept the idea that the government is required to provide for their every comfort. Belief in negative liberty, that is government staying out of an individual’s way, has been replaced by a parasitic belief in positive liberty, where the government must be active in ensuring equality of outcome. The battle over Medicare reform is the first salvo in a larger fight. The outcome of that fight will determine if individuality and limited government will beat back the tide of statism that has been accumulating for the past sixty years.
Guillermo Vallejo works on Capitol Hill for a Florida Member of Congress. He is originally from Miami, Florida and holds a Masters Degree in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown University. The views expressed herein are his own and provided in a personal capacity, not tied to his work in the U.S. Government.