Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slim Shady and Medicare Reform

Couldn't sleep last night, and watched the entire extended interview with Grover Norquist on the Daily Show. It was mostly about tax policy, but towards the end they briefly touched on Medicare reform, since the Norquist tax pledge really has nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with policy reform. The claim from Norquist was that the Republicans' plan is a reasonable reform proposal because Alice Rivlin, former director of the CBO and the OMB, helped co-write it. Jon Stewart replied that he doesn't think Alice Rivlin is a reasonable person.

To the internets! I actually found the proposal from the Brookings Institution and read it. To their credit, there's a whole section devoted to why the proposal is a bad idea. It's illuminating. It all comes down to marketing. What used to be called "vouchers" is now called "premium support". To make a long story short (and a complicated issue way over-simplified), voucher programs would replace Medicare benefits with "vouchers" which would be used to buy private health insurance, pushing the costs from the government onto the recipients over time. The proposal raises the eligibility for Medicare, indexes the vouchers to the CPI rather than the cost of healthcare, with the supposed goal of stimulating market forces to bring down the price of healthcare.

Anyway, my favorite part of the rebuttal are the two quotes that Henry Aaron uses to preface his argument. The first, from Lewis Carroll, and the second from Eminem:


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, 
“it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.”
“The question is," said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different 
things."
“The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master - that's all."

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

---

“May I have your attention please?
May I have your attention please?
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
I repeat, will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
We're gonna have a problem here...”

Eminem, "The Real Slim Shady"


Anyone who quotes Eminem in a white paper on Medicare reform is cool enough to be my favorite person of the week. Mad props.

Also, when Politifact rates "Republicans voted to end Medicare" as the Lie of the Year 2011, they're beyond dishonest. The Republican plan would end Medicare as we know it. I'm all for Medicare reform (and more generally, health care reform), because I sure as hell don't want to see this country go bankrupt, but how about we focus on lowering health care prices and improving outcomes rather than waging a social values battle?

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