Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Danger of Sanity

Here’s why the Republicans want NPR defunded, out of business, gone. They show someone interviewing Paul Ryan, and they don’t edit out the parts which reveal that the interviewer is smarter than he is. I wish I had recorded it, because I can’t name names and give precise quotes, but I’ll give you the gist of it.

The topic is his plan “not to end Medicare but to save it,” by providing tomorrow’s seniors with subsidies, pieces of paper which are emphatically not “vouchers,” whereby they can go out on the wonderful insurance market and select from the infinite variety of offerings to purchase the dream policy that beautifully fits their own circumstances and desires rather than being constrained by the limited horror that is Medicare. I told you I’m going to be paraphrasing, here.

He throws in a reference to Medicare Advantage plans of today, but doesn’t mention that rates for those plans had to be raised in 2003 because they were failing, or that they were discontinued in most states under “health care reform” because they cost more than Medicare does. Anyway…

The interviewer then asks if the government is going to, in effect, be paying for private insurance, doesn’t that amount to “privatization”?

Ryan lights up. He is delighted, I think, not that she asked the question, but that he has such a wonderfully prepared answer for it. He goes into a smooth dissertation about how Medicare services are already provided by private firms and doctors and that the government pays them for those services, so if you want to look at it the way the interviewer has asked it then Medicare is already privatized.

He sits back and smiles, looking somewhat like a six-year-old who has just gotten away with licking the icing off of the cake.

The interviewer than asks if we are interjecting a third party, an insurance company, between the government and the service provider, how can that not add to the cost?

Ryan’s smile does not disappear, but it begins to look a bit pallid as he launches into a discussion of Congressional health care plans, "just like I have," and makes further reference to Medicare Advantage plans and utterly fails to answer her question.

The problem with Paul Ryan is that he does not scream and wave his arms and claim that Concord and Lexington are in New Hampshire. He doesn’t call Obama a Socialist, and chant slogans about wanting to “take back our country.” He doesn’t demand to see Obama’s birth certificate. In short, he doesn’t appear to be certifiably nuts.

And that is precisely what makes him very dangerous.

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