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The End of Medicare As We Know It Do the Math, Mr President

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Who Will Mediscare the Dems?

by Christopher Chantrill
April 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm


SOME CONSERVATIVES are getting squiffy about the polls on Medicare. Apparently about 80 percent of Americans are opposed to cuts in Medicare. Mona Charen, for one, is steeling herself for the inevitable Mediscare campaign from the Democrats.

The Democrats have always how to scare the pants off grannie at any suggestion of cuts to Medicare and Social Security. For years and years, Republicans didn’t know how to respond to their Mediscare. But now things are different. These days the American people are good and scared about debts and deficits. So it’s now possible to scare the pants off grannie if we don’t fix Medicare.

And this time, we have the president on our side. President Obama obligingly brought up the Independent Payment Advisory Board—the “death panel” that exercised Sarah Palin a couple of years ago—for praise in his George Washington University speech April 13. Said the president.

And we will slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services that seniors need.

The IPAB is not in the business of lowering health costs, The Wall Street Journal writes. Its mandate has nothing to do with “bending the cost curve.” Its job is to lower Medicare reimbursements.

Since the board is not allowed by law to restrict treatments, ask seniors to pay more, or raise taxes or the retirement age, it can mean only one thing: arbitrarily paying less for the services seniors receive, via fiat pricing.

The IPAB’s job is to lower prices paid to providers by Medicare. Its job is price control. And this is not a proposal in a budget put together by a congressman that nobody knows. This is the law as passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President Obama.

“It’s the law” that to keep Medicare costs down we are going to throw grannie into the snow. The proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (D-WI) is just that: a proposal.

Now I’m not an expert in campaign speechifying, but if I were putting together a compelling sound bite on the IPAB suitable for delivery on the campaign trail, I’d say this. Mr. President, I’d say. The science is in on this. There’s a consensus among economists about bureaucratic price controls. They cause shortages, inflation, and they institutionalize crony capitalism as businesses hurt by price controls learn to game the political system in order to escape the government’s mandate and stay in business. You can’t bend the cost curve with price controls. All you can do is wreck the health care system. Your Obamacare is going to throw grannie out into the snow.

Actually, I’d continue, there’s a real question about whether the president’s death panel would ever summon up the courage to pull the trigger on its price controls. After all, the administration has been promising to lower Medicare reimbursements every year, and every year Congress rescinds the cuts and kicks the can down the road one more time. But one day soon when the government defaults on its debt it won’t be the can you kick; it will be grannie.

So who is going to bell the cat? Who is going to do the Mediscare on the Democrats? And who will have the cojones to get out and rally the American people when the community organizers get busy and start putting their government employees and program beneficiaries into the street, and the MSM reports that minorities and women are hardest hit?

Isn’t it glaringly obvious? I’ve nothing against Mitt Romney (MA), Mitch Daniels (IN), and Tim Pawlenty (MN). They have shown gobs of leadership as governors, but they don’t exactly stir the passions of the faithful. I’m all in favor of Newt Gingrich, except he does come over as a know-it-all. Donald Trump must be the best publicity hound ever whelped. So he should stick to dog shows.

Sarah Palin is the politician that first put her finger on the “death panels.” Sarah Palin is the politician with a solid Drill, Drill, Drill record on energy. Sarah Palin was the politician talking about a “bullet train to bankruptcy” before it turned out that the Chinese bullet trains were going bankrupt. Sarah Palin is the politician that came out and told the union members in Wisconsin that their pensions were sacred and that Gov. Scott Walker was the guy making sure that his state would have the money to pay them.

Of any politician in the United States today, it may be said that Sarah Palin comes closest to perfect pitch. Why then are the big Poo-bahs counting her out? Do they know something we don’t know? Or is it just that she doesn’t owe them anything, and they don’t like that?

I say Give ’em hell, Harry Sarah.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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