It was not much over a month ago that I was on the ground in the middle of 12 Congressional elections (along with 4 Senate races and the Presidential). And in every single one of those House races (and the others to a lesser degree) the main Republican message was that "Democrats and President Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare."
Now that was inaccurate to begin with, as the so-called "cuts" were mostly to unwarranted Bush-era subsidies of Medicare Advantage companies that were gouging seniors and Medicare itself. As a volunteer spokesperson for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I was privy to a massive amount of accurate detail about this that I tried to hone into a simple message--that these provider-side changes, which did not cut one penny of benefits, were a necessary elimination of a basically fraudulent giveaway and were long overdue. It's just pitiful how everyone argues that there's too much fraud and waste in government, but when someone actually tries to do something about it, like the Obama administration and Democratic Congress did in the Affordable Care Act, they end up getting reamed for it politically. We lost half of the House races I worked on, including heartbreakers involving redistricted incumbents like Mark Critz in Pennsylvania, Betty Sutton in Ohio, Kathy Hochul in western New York and Leonard Boswell in Iowa. The Republican claim that these Congress members "voted with or supported Obama in cutting Medicare" played a huge role in all these races, a role second only to the redistricting itself that resulted from the 2010 loss of state houses to Republicans (in all but the Hochul race).
So it's particularly wrenching for me to now watch the Republican party fall all over itself trying to cut Medicare and Social Security in the Fiscal Cliff debate. Their position now is what it truly was all along, except during the election: "We won't give you a penny in tax hikes on the top 2% unless you give us massive cuts to Medicare and Social Security." Are any of the voters that got taken in by Republicans blaming Democrats for cutting Medicare A LITTLE OVER A MONTH AGO watching now? Are they noticing just who it is who's going after their earned benefits (we don't call them "entitlements)? Sadly, the answer is probably "No." The Republican party knows exactly how to message to confuse its base and to get them to vote against their own self-interest, with the help of course of their media arm, Fox "News."
The fact is that the modern Republican party is all about two of the most wildly unpopular ideas in America today--preventing tax hikes of any kind on their wealthy donors, the top 1 or 2% of the population, and slashing Medicare and Social Security. Both of these notions poll horribly with Republicans as well as Democrats and Independents, but the Republican leadership ain't gonna let either one of them go. Which proves what we knew all along--that these guys are about nothing but making sure the bucks keep rolling in from the fat cats who are the only actual constituency they care about. I've said this before, and I'll say it again (and again and again): The idea behind voucherizing Medicare and now trying to cut it to ribbons is to try to ultimately destroy the program so seniors will have to be turned back over to private insurance, whose lobby will then reward the Republican party for this gigantic favor with an unfathomable level of campaign contributions. Similarly, the idea behind privatizing Social Security and/or cutting its benefits is to hurt the program enough to get support for turning it over to Wall Street, which would again respond in kind with massive campaign bucks flowing to the Republican party. Don't kid yourselves, folks. That's exactly how things work.
That's all you need to know-- just Follow The Money. You can ignore the 24-hour-a-day blather on every cable channel. This is as simple as it can be. It has nothing to do with "freedoms," or the "Constitution," or flag-waving-pseudo-patriotism or anything else they try to cloak it in to fool their "base." Nada. And it has nothing to do with the well-being of any American other than the fat cat puppeteers and the marionettes who do their bidding in exchange for the financial support they need to keep the cushy legislative jobs that make them feel important, and that they use as stepping stones to even cushier CEO gigs. Follow the Money-- you can do the same with regard to the other huge issue looming today, guns post-Newtown. As if the NRA actually represented anyone but gun manufacturers and distributors, and as if the NRA platform were ever about anything whatsoever but selling the maximum number of guns.
So just watch the very Congress members who a little over a month ago claimed fraudulently ad nauseum that the other side had "cut $716 billion out of Medicare." Just watch how they refuse to give an inch on fat cat tax rates unless Medicare and Social Security benefits are brutally and pointlessly assaulted. Just watch and, if you care about the average American and the strength of our country's economy, take note for 2014 and help vote them all out!