As a favor to struggling Americans, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proposed a federal budget last week ravaging programs for the poor, elderly, disabled, young, veterans, jobless, students and other vulnerable people. Ryan did it, he said, because these programs, food stamps, health insurance, Pell grants, veterans' hospitals and the like are demeaning.
So Ryan plunders them and gives the savings to the rich in the form of additional tax breaks. Half of the savings in Ryan's budget come from destroying health insurance programs. That would cost tens of millions of Americans their coverage.
Uninsured and underinsured toddlers, injured veterans, and disabled workers may die from some curable disease as a result. But at least Ryan will save those people from being demeaned!
That Ryan, what a guy, huh? Arranging for the nation's well off to shirk responsibility to the vulnerable -- then calling it kindness.
Ryan offered up the sequel to last year's failed country club conservative budget and explained that he purged programs for the hapless because a social safety net:
". . . lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It's demeaning."
Oh. That's the demeaning thing! It isn't being so poor that health insurance is unaffordable, getting emergency treatment for a broken hip, then being hounded by hospital bill collectors while still in a body cast and unable to work. It wouldn't be watching your mother die in unbearable pain of a treatable cancer because she couldn't afford health insurance. It wouldn't be realizing your child may die because you lost your job and with it your health insurance during the Wall Street-caused recession, then discovered your baby suffers a rare heart disease that's treatable for those with insurance, but fatal for those without because they can't afford the medications.
No. The really demeaning thing according to the GOP is the social safety net that provides health insurance to the impoverished, to children, to veterans, to the disabled and to the elderly.
The Ryan health de-insurance plan would smack down Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), care for veterans and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Ryan announced his intent to repeal the Affordable Care Act just days before the second anniversary of the law that has provided coverage for 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 on their parents' plans; has forbidden insurers from denying coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, and has banned the insurance company practice of cancelling coverage when policy holders got sick.
Ryan wants to repeal the law rather than wait for a decision on its constitutionality from the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear arguments this week from country club conservative state attorneys general who want the justices to overturn the landmark measure before it can provide coverage to 33 million uninsured Americans. Because, of course, getting that insurance would be demeaning for those people.
Ryan proposes to repeal the law while providing absolutely no alternative -- no plan to cover the uninsured, no plan to close the Medicare donut hole, no plan to make sure insurers don't re-institute lifetime limits, no plan to stop insurers from once again cancelling coverage when policy holders get sick. Because, of course, providing those protections would be demeaning.
Ryan also would slash by 45 percent federal funding for Medicaid and other health plans for low-income people including the Children's Health Insurance Program. Last year, the Urban Institute estimated that a similar Ryan proposal to cut Medicaid and convert it to a block grant program administered by the states would strip coverage from as many as 27 million low-income Americans within a decade. Because, of course, denying coverage to impoverished children would ensure the federal government did not demean five-year-olds with life-threatening asthma and sickle cell anemia.
For senior citizens, Ryan would sabotage their beloved Medicare. He proposes a two-tiered system in which seniors can stay on Medicare or get vouchers to buy private insurance. The Congressional Budget Office determined that under the Ryan plan, the federal government would provide less and less money for new Medicare enrollees, forcing seniors to pay more and more for insurance. Because, of course, the important thing is that the government spare grandma from being demeaned by giving her the option of eating either cat food or dog food so she can afford health insurance.
For veterans, Ryan cuts programs by 13 percent. Because this nation certainly would not want veterans returning from Afghanistan with blown off limbs, grievous gunshot wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder to be demeaned by receiving adequate medical care to restore them to some semblance of their pre-combat selves.
Americans understand their obligations to each other. They fulfill a parent's duty to a newborn, a child's debt to elderly parents, a neighbor's obligation to a frail community member and a citizen's responsibility to hurricane and flood victims. Americans don't shirk; they always step up. They know all that stands between them giving and them receiving is one tornado, one job loss or another market crash.
The GOP demeans Americans by suggesting they aren't keenly aware that it's only by the grace of God that any individual is a giver instead of a receiver. The GOP demeans Americans by suggesting it would be more honorable for them to die without health insurance than receive it through their government.