The Republican National Committee has a new ad up today, featuring chairman Michael Steele waxing sentimentally about seniors and Medicare and how it makes him so sad that the health care debate has come to this: "When you disagree with Washington, how come they act like it's your problem? That's what the Democrats have done with health care. They say you're the problem." So, now it's time for one of those patented "Bills Of Rights" for seniors. It's on parchment and written in cursive and everything! Guess what the lead item is? "No cuts to Medicare to pay for a new program."
Which is, as they say, adorable! Seems like only yesterday that the GOP was cheering on the prospect of substantial Medicare cuts. From the Washington Independent:
Last year, when the Bush administration rolled out its annual budget proposing more than $500 billion in Medicare cuts, many Republican leaders cheered the legislation as a necessary move in the direction of fiscal responsibility.
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), then-minority whip, called the cuts "the needed first-step" to lend Medicare "a solid economic footing." House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the proposal marked "an important starting point" for reining in Medicare spending. And Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, cheered the plan for taking "a significant, critical step toward addressing the greatest threat to our nation's future strength and prosperity -- the unsustainable growth of our largest entitlement programs."
But while those memories seem like only yesterday, it was, in fact, LITERALLY yesterday that Michael Steele was on ABC's "Top Line," saying this:
STEELE: You've got to look at the Medicare system as a whole and see that it's in financial trouble. So how do you correct that? What steps? And Republicans have been arguing this for 10 years now -- and they've gotten vilified by the Democrats in the past for even mentioning entitlement reform -- so that it is more efficient, so that there are services that are promised to you, you get. And so the cost is driven down, etc. So apart from taking $500 billion out of that, how do you do that?
When asked, "Part of correcting it is to keep the idea of cuts on the table, correct?" Steele's reply was, "Oh yeah. You've got to deal with those inefficiencies, absolutely."
According to Steele, the GOP would make it illegal to "ration health care based on age," which is bad news for everyone below the age of 90 who was maybe hoping for some sort of organ transplant! Other key components include a promise to not let government interfere with end-of-life care, with a possible exception of demagoguing relentlessly about "death panels" on the taxpayer dime, and a promise to "stop bureaucrats from getting between seniors and their doctors," which I take to mean that Michael Steele will put thousands of redundant hospital administrators on an ice floe and push it out into the Bering Strait.