Protestors hate Medicare? — Part II

Lies and loopy conspiracy theories don’t need a thread of logic, of course. They are fueled by emotion — anger, paranoia, anxiety. Still, certain arguments against health care reform — especially those coming from senior citizens — have taken on a cognitive dissonance that ought to cause older protestors’ heads to bust open. Is there a doctor in the house?

My favorite example is the ranting about “socialism” coming from the mouths of town hall protestors who look old enough to be Medicare recipients. I’m sure that not all of the gray-haired screamers are 65 yet, but plenty of them are. That means they are enjoying the very “socialism” which outrages them.

Medicare is a government-run, taxpayer-funded, single-payer health insurance program. (Please don’t respond that recipients paid into the program with their taxes; all government programs — from the U.S. Army to agricultural subsidies — are paid for with taxes.) It is generous to its recipients, probably more generous than it should be. And its recipients report high levels of satisfaction with the program, so they clearly believe that the government is running the program well.

Yet, they don’t want government intervention in health care. Huh?

None of the health care bills with a chance of passage would give government as great a role as Medicare does. (There is a single-payer proposal, but it’s not going anywhere.) So why are senior citizens outraged that the rest of us may receive at least a few of the health-care advantages they currently enjoy?

Perhaps some of them don’t even realize that Medicare is a government program. Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.) told The Washington Post that, at a recent town-hall meeting, a man stood up and told him to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

“I had to politely explain that, ‘Actually, sir, your health care is being provided by the government,’ ” Inglis told the Post. “But he wasn’t having any of it.”

At least Inglis was candid about the program. Some Republicans have helped to confuse their constituents with dissembling about Medicare. A more prominent South Carolina Republican, Sen. Lindsay Graham, told the Post that Medicare was intended as “a safety net for those seniors who couldn’t afford coverage.”

Not so. Medicare has never been a means-tested program. All you have to do to be eligible is to live long enough.

That brings me to my second favorite bit of cognitive dissonance — the idea that Democrats would approve “death panels,” as Sarah Palin put it, to decide whether the frail and the elderly should be euthanized. Hogwash. Conservatives who say so are simply lying outright.

It was liberals and moderates who cared enough about the elderly getting the medical care they needed to pass Medicare in 1965, when Lyndon Johnson was president. Conservatives, from Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush, opposed the program vigorously.

Here’s another bit of dissonance: A Georgia Republican, Sen. Johnny Isakson, is among the leading advocates of the end-of-life planning that opponents have cast as “death panels.” He and others actually propose voluntarily counseling that would help the terminally ill elderly prepare for their last days.

“How someone could take an end-of- life directive or a living will as (euthanasia) is nuts. You’re putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don’t know how that got so mixed up,” Isakson told the Post.

In an environment full of rage and anxiety, the facts probably don’t matter much. But, at the very least, someone should tell Grandma to stop yelling, “Socialist!” It makes her appear, well, confused. If she’s a Medicare beneficiary, she’s a “socialist” herself.

131 comments Add your comment

[...] Protestors and Medicare: bite the hand that feeds you? [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] [...]

[...] Cynthia Tucker on protestors who hate Medicare: Part II [...]

Bulling Protester

August 12th, 2009
12:52 pm

So this is your take on the issue and the people’s reaction to something they don’t fully understand or never been explained by the bumbling administration. Your stupid ridicule is just one more example of failure to explain what this flawed bill is about and how it affects everyone. You want to enlighten us “bright star,” explain how we’re going to pay for it without cutting medicare, medicad, or payment for services and remain revenue neutral. You can’t even begin, but you are one fine example of cognitive dissonance masquerading as journalist. The Daily Kos would love to have you explain the fine points of how this bill will benefit us all.

jt

August 12th, 2009
12:53 pm

Mrs. Tucker-

Whatever you do up there in Washington, please help to keep the federal goverment out of the VARSITY.

Get Real

August 12th, 2009
1:01 pm

Bullwinkle Protester, your protester friends DON’T want to understand this bill. Yelling socialism at town halls while taking the interstate there and collecting Medicare is asinine. If there was a legitimate issue with reforming Healthcare, where were these people when Bush was signing Medicare Part D? The costs of the Iraq war are a lot more than instituting health care reform, yet people such as yourself still oppose it. At Claire McCaskill’s town hall meeting yesterday, she asked those who receive Medicare benefits to raise their hands. 2/3rds of those in the frame raised their hands, yet still got up and said they didn’t want socialized medicine. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

SaveOurRepublic

August 12th, 2009
1:04 pm

As an independent Constitutionalist, I take issue with the further (big) government empowerment that the proposed socialized medicine plan enables.

- Page 838: ‘Home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children’.

terry greene

August 12th, 2009
1:06 pm

I think it’s awful about the outrage and hate expressed over something that we clearly don’t understand. I consider this time period as assessment/and planning prior to implementing. The lies I keep hearing people speak about being cut off machines and how they are going to be allowed to die. They are trying to narrow the bill down to what is good but can we give them a chance to do it. I don’t think congress representatives don’t help the issue also by making false accusations of what the plan is. in the long run they will be the ones who will be out of a seat. my advice. to both the people and congressman. stop listening to everything people say. Gets the facts… express your concerns but not in a hateful manner that makes you worse then them .We can only accomplish good with unity and cooperation not hate mail.outburts and death threats…

William

August 12th, 2009
1:09 pm

jt, believe me there are many more great eateries in D.C. than in this country town. The last thing any federal employee wants to do is visit some nasty roach/rat infested Varsity.

Bill

August 12th, 2009
1:14 pm

Once again white America is running scared. What will be, will be. There is not a thing we can do about it. We can rant and rave all day long, but it will get us no where.

Citizen of the World

August 12th, 2009
1:17 pm

Neither purely capitalist nor purely socialist systems work. That’s why we have a lot of the social programs we do already. We realized long ago that we could not leave the solution to certain challenges to the marketplace when there was no market in it.

The insurance companies have found a way to put the market in health care coverage — by cherry-picking customers, negotiating lower payments with providers, denying claims as often as possible, etc. — but how’s that working for us? It’s to the detriment of our society and, in the ultimate analysis, detrimental to the long-term capitalist interests of American businesses, which can’t compete with businesses in other countries that are not burdened with these costs.

Now, we have an opportunity to take a more socialist approach in this area, because this is the type of area where a socialist approach works best, but so many people are afraid of “socialism” it threatens the possibility.

What they can’t see is that much of the prosperity and quality of life we enjoy as middle-class citizens in the United States is a direct result of the socialist-type programs we already have.

We need to quit being so concerned with labels and more concerned with what will work best for us, and the status quo ain’t workin’.

Kyle

August 12th, 2009
1:18 pm

The issue is not that people don’t like the government provided medicare program…it’s that medicare is well on it’s way to going bankrupt. Most people that I know who are against Obama’s health care reform are worried that it will end up in a similar state. The best way to make health care more affordable for everyone is to give the power back to the people. Do away with HMOs. Health Care plans should more closely resemble PPOs or other High Deductible health plans. Give people the power to shop for their coverage, as well as, shop for their care. Competition is the only true way to slow down the rising costs.

Rickster

August 12th, 2009
1:19 pm

“Lies and loopy conspiracy theories don’t need a thread of logic, of course” – as Ms. Tucker has proven throughout her entire career as a opinion columnist.

Steve

August 12th, 2009
1:20 pm

Bill, why are you bringing Race into this?

Correction

August 12th, 2009
1:22 pm

This author of this article is ignorant of how our government is funded:

“(Please don’t respond that recipients paid into the program with their taxes; all government programs — from the U.S. Army to agricultural subsidies — are paid for with taxes.)”

Our government only derives a portion of its funding from taxes. Much of what the government requires to stay solvent (i.e., current on its obligations) comes from the sale of debt (treasuries). This means that in no small part, Medicare and other government programs are actually funded by bond holders, both domestic and foreign. That’s right – the Chinese are actually paying a good portion of Medicare, in addition to the taxes that only cover a part of the bill.

reservoirDAWG

August 12th, 2009
1:26 pm

Bill, what does this have to do with race. It doesn’t matter. This bill is dead in the water and Obozo will be a one term president. Good riddance.

Citizen of the World

August 12th, 2009
1:37 pm

One reason Medicare is about to go bankrupt is that it is designed only for old people who tend to be sicker than the general population. If we had Medicare for all, which the young, old, sick, well, rich and middle class, would all pay into, that would spread the costs, risks and benefits over most of the population, and it would not go broke. It would cover us all a lot more cheaply than our current system, and we would probably have better outcomes, like other countries.

As it stands now, we have abysmal records of longevity and infant mortality compared to countries with national programs, we spend more, and too many of are going bankrupt due to medical bills be can’t begin to pay.

EJ Moosa

August 12th, 2009
1:37 pm

So you are forced to contribute via taxes, and then because of this diversion of income, you must participate in Medicare.

Then, because you participate in Medicare, you must now support all other more complex and intrusive socialism with question.

Didn’t we hear that same logic with Affirmative Action? That if you benefited you could not be against it in the future?

Sorry, Cynthia, we are going to push back against any more socialism, despite it having been forced upon the public so far.

jt

August 12th, 2009
1:39 pm

William

Then carry your cullinary snob-arse back to the D.C. beltway.

I’m sure the “roach/rat infested” Varsity will not miss your pansy @ss.

the evil rich

August 12th, 2009
1:41 pm

Call it what you want, but when the government gets involved, it’ll SUCK!

Get Real

August 12th, 2009
1:44 pm

So will you be walking home from work EJ, or taking the socialist 285 home? Do you grow your own foods too? People like you should be the commie FDA out of business. Will you be walking on your next vacation since the fascist Air Traffic Controllers are bringing this nation down with their activities. Just pathetic.

Chris Salzmann

August 12th, 2009
1:52 pm

A group called 60 Plus has been attempting to convince senior citizens that national health care reform will require $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and result in denial of life-saving procedures. 60 Plus has even distributed a mailing which includes an out-of-context quote from President Obama saying, “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

A few years ago, AARP hired an investigator who looked into 60 Plus and found that it was being was used as a front by the pharmaceutical industry during the 2002-03 push for a Medicare drug benefit.

ANOTHER RIGHT-WING ASTRO-TURF GROUP WITH LINKS TO THE BIG PHARMA!

Healthcare Worker

August 12th, 2009
1:56 pm

I do work in heathcare. I have worked in Canada. Most of you, especially the protesters, rather than thinking about these issues on your own act as ditto heads of your favorite talk show host. Any reasonable individual knows that our current healthcare system is unsustainable. Have you priced premiums for private pay insurance lately? Maybe you are the working class family that saw their average premium jump 9% last year with an average annual cost of more than $4,000 out of pocket. Those who think this is acceptable are in denial. And guess what, I don’t get to chose my own doctor with my current insurance plan nor are decisions often made between me and my doctor. The insurance company decides. Why don’t you get off your duff and ask those of us who actually work in the system how we think it can be improved. Contrary to right-wing propaganda Canada does not have a socialist healthcare system, it’s a social insurance system. Citizens choose any doctor they like and decision making is local. If you want the source for this information I’ll be happy to provide it. Why don’t you also ask Canadians how they like their system. You’d be surprised to know that their satisfaction rates are much higher than here in the U.S. This debate has undertones of anger aimed at the Obama administration that have nothing to do with healthcare reform and that’s a sad state of affairs because we urgently need reform before you and I go bankrupt from a healthcare debt.

Jonathan Gray

August 12th, 2009
1:59 pm

I’ve admired your appearance on T.V. for quite a few years. I don’t think you are being fair when you, using a broad brush, say that Medicare is a “single payer” plan. You leave some confusion in the listeners mind. There is a difference between single payer plans in which the medical staff are hired and paid by the government and those, as in Medicare, that are funded by the government , but the staff is independent.

And there, I think, is the problem–and a source of confusion. If the government opted for an universal single payer plan run by he government, the savings could be enormous, but the critics of “single payer” being socialist would have a point. I’m restricting my definition of socialism to include organizations and states that are completely managed by the government as in several Scandinavian nations or Veterans Admin. If the government opted to design a plan similar to Social Security, the plan might be called single player, but the opportunity to control costs might be lost.

Peadawg

August 12th, 2009
2:09 pm

Personally, I think the Democrats are running scared b/c they are being hit w/ so much resistance. They don’t know how to get everyone to agree w/ them.

Peadawg

August 12th, 2009
2:11 pm

Oh yeah…about dang time you let people blog on your columns!

Larry

August 12th, 2009
2:13 pm

At best, most people ain’t too smart. The so-called conservatives (dumb-redneck republicans) are just plain liars. They hate everything about President Obama and Democrats in general, there goal is to destroy our democracy by any means necessary.

Seniors love their Medicare but hate socialized medicine.

Union members love their union pay scale and benefits but hate air traffic controllers and baseball players when THEY have to go on strike.

Insurance companies say they can do a better job of supplying healthcare if we just give them a little more time. They’ve had over 50 years to improve, but still deny coverage, deny claims and add their profit to whatever the doctors decide to charge.

The bush-lovers didn’t mind spending a billion dollars a week on the phony war, but now spending money on our own people is socialism, a fate worse than death to them!

Kyle

August 12th, 2009
2:26 pm

Citizen of the World…What is your excuse for Social Security going bankrupt then? Until the Federal Government can run any large social program without busting the budget, I will be opposed to new social programs.

Adding a minimum of 46 million low income citizens to a government run “public option” of healthcare is a recipe for economic disaster. Especially when the government sets controls on how much doctors, hospitals, etc. can charge for services (maybe it’s not in this bill, but it is inevitable, see medicare). Many of our best and brightest will venture into different fields to support their familys instead of going to medical school because they will be able to make more money with less hassle in another line of business. The result will be declining levels of care and an eventual shortage of doctors resulting in longer wait times for procedures.

Don't tread on me

August 12th, 2009
2:28 pm

Ms. Tucker, could you do all of the south a favor and just stay in Washington for eternity? You don’t understand America or it’s founding principles. You tout welfare and should therefore move to Europe.

Oh, you and Jay Bookman have also caused readership to decline by 90%.

itstrue

August 12th, 2009
2:28 pm

They’re not a real movement, just a noise machine. Real movements have mass appeal, offer some kind of positive vision, and usually have support from big power players like business, trade associations, or national non-profits. They have none of these things, just some vague notion of socialism and a lot of fear. It’s not even a disagreement.

Only reasonable people can disagree with one another. If the pro-reform side wasn’t reasonable they would have already rammed single payer through without all this negotiation. For having a Democratic president, and sizable majorities in the senate and house, they’ve been pretty kind and welcoming to the opposition.

We’ve seen the high point of the anti-reform people. They jumped the shark when Palin started in about “death panels.” There’s no reasonable disagreement there. Just a bunch of craziness.

It’s time for the GOP to come to the table and answer the question, “What will it take to get you on board?”

With public opinion and political power the way it is, health reform will happen. Industry is on board, most of the public is on board, at least in a general sense.

As they say in DC, you’re either at the table or you’re on the menu. Despite how it may look in the Right Wing side of the media, blogosphere, or whatever, it’s political suicide to oppose this without at least looking like you want to work on it.

Once August dies down, and congress gets back to work, all this ’socialist’ rhetoric will sound pretty silly on the Senate floor, or in sitting down with the American Medical Association.

A bill will come together in September. Hopefully it’ll be a good one that covers everyone and brings costs down, while giving maximum consumer choice.

You can’t please everyone, but you can pass sensible legislation that helps to tackle some of the problems that America faces. And they will. I’ve never felt as sure as I do now.

Sunshine and Thunder

August 12th, 2009
2:29 pm

William:

So don’t eat at the Varsity. You’re going to get yourself sued posting such accusations about a business.

Chris Saltzman:

We don’t have a private health insurance market in the U.S. And you know it. We have a broken system so loaded down with governmental mandates and rules that it hardly works.

Don't tread on me

August 12th, 2009
2:30 pm

Ms. Tucker, by the way, did you know that your pal Chris Matthews gets less viewership than Larry King and PBS COMBINED? I saw Michelle Malkin school you a week ago on and could not help but wonder how anyone would ever listen to your opinion. Especially one of whom constantly brings race into issues where race is not a factor.

Don't tread on me

August 12th, 2009
2:31 pm

Quick question for the libs.

If these townhalls are are staged like you all say, please provide facts on WHO in the GOP has organized these protesters.

Also, if these “idiot racist townhallers” as you call them are so irrelevant then why are you talking about them?

Don't tread on me

August 12th, 2009
2:35 pm

Ms. Tucker, since you are an “objective” journalist, nudge nudge wink wink, why are you not concerned with democrats who have no idea what is in the bill?

oldmac

August 12th, 2009
2:37 pm

Funny how Obie said the (govt run) postal service was strugglin’ yet Fedex and UPS are doin’ just fine. Kinda makes a good point don’t he?

JB

Jimma Cata

August 12th, 2009
2:39 pm

Mr. Obama is making me look like Ronald Reagan.

itstrue

August 12th, 2009
2:40 pm

Don’t tread on me–

Why do you expect a newspaper columnist to be “objective?” Are Kyle Wingfield or Jim Wooten objective? It’s a point of view. Take it or leave it… or at least say what it is you disagree with.

Also, since when did a TV show’s ratings make them smarter or better? Sex and violence get ratings, not civil discussion.

Jimma Cata

August 12th, 2009
2:40 pm

oldmac, yeah, Mr. Obama just killed his own argument. I guess his teleprompter broke down. I’m sure Axelrod was steaming mad in the staged Obamacare audience.

I don't think so, honey

August 12th, 2009
2:41 pm

Has this woman looked up the definition of socialism ? Do you own a dictonary by chance ? Internet access for webster.com ? Nice try. You didn’t convince me of anything Cynthia Tucker… You’re just as snowed as the rest of them.

Don't tread on me

August 12th, 2009
2:43 pm

itstrue, I expect every newspaper columnist to be objective. If you want to know why the public has such disdain for journalism its because they have become the DNC talking points spokesmen.

And again, you fail to understand my point. Liberal shows tank. America is not liberal and the townhalls prove it. Thanks for playing.

Chess

August 12th, 2009
2:47 pm

GOP = Dance puppets…dance

Fitzgerald

August 12th, 2009
2:49 pm

I get more entertainment from the bloggers than from the original article and writer. Way to go folks. Making my day.

Don't tread on me

August 12th, 2009
2:49 pm

DNC=uneducated welfare babies who can’t make a living on their own so they have to take from hard working people…

I don't think so, honey !

August 12th, 2009
2:50 pm

Healthcare Worker,
If Canada has such a wonderful healthcare system, why are you here in the United States ? If you don’t like our healthcare system, why are you a “healthcare worker” ? If you are in so much debt because of healthcare here, go back to Canada !!!! By the way, since you obviously don’t have a dictionary either, Canada does indeed have socialized medicine. :)

Robert Byrd (democrat) KKK member since 1952

August 12th, 2009
2:50 pm

The GOP is racist! Ah mean, Ah’ve been a KKK member for decades but that is nothing compared to the evil GOP!

itstrue

August 12th, 2009
2:51 pm

Don’t tread, you’re just plain wrong.

From Wikipedia, “column (newspaper)”

* It is a regular feature in a publication
* It is personality-driven by the author
* It explicitly contains an opinion or point of view

from thefreedictionary dot com:

Noun 1. newspaper column – an article giving opinions or perspectives

Liberals just go online more, and they’ve been showing up in droves at these town halls. I guess you’ll just call me a liberal know-it-all now. Whatever.

Bull Conor (Democrat)

August 12th, 2009
2:51 pm

Robert Byrd (democrat) KKK member since 1952, I’m with you, sur! I hosed down those crazy colored people in the 60s but the GOP is evil!

dan

August 12th, 2009
2:53 pm

Once again Cynthia hits the nail on the head….I agree with you as usual! And love seeing you on sundays “This Week” …you represent Atlanta at its best! YOU should be on Part 3 of the Real Housewives of Atlanta !!!

ThaMan

August 12th, 2009
2:54 pm

What happened to all of the passenger railroad companies when the government took over and started AmTrak? How much money does AmTrak make? Once the government gets it’s fingers in the health insurance industry, we’ll call it MedTrak. A liberal never met somebody elses money he didn’t want.

itstrue

August 12th, 2009
2:54 pm

“DNC=uneducated welfare babies who can’t make a living on their own so they have to take from hard working people…”

… just proves Tucker’s point re:

“They are fueled by emotion — anger, paranoia, anxiety.”

Don't tread on me

August 12th, 2009
2:55 pm

itstrue, again, go back and try to comprehend my point. (sigh) Again, my point is, Ms. Tucker has always been quick to post her rhetoric only to have it rebuked by facts. She has NOT read the bill nor does she realize that the backlash against the DNC will be catastrophic next year. She also has been known to play the race card against GOP members all while ignoring democrat racism.

HELLO ROBERT BYRD!