by Jane M. Orient, M.D.,
The latest Mediscare ad shows Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. The Republicans are allegedly killing “Medicare as we know it.” But this is a diversion from the real question: What will “healthcare reform” or ObamaCare do to Granny? Democrats may hope to keep Americans from figuring that out until after the 2012 election.
The Medicare issue is demagogued to gain votes in every electoral cycle. And hardly any politicians are telling the whole story.
The ad has one element of truth. There is indeed a financial cliff, and Granny is heading over it—along with the rest of us. Actually, the cliff is more like the edge of a deep canyon of reckless deficit spending and a crippled economy. The canyon has been growing deeper and deeper, at an accelerating rate. The edge is coming closer and closer. Soon Granny won’t even need a push.
Paul Ryan is not responsible for it. The excavation was mandated some 75 years ago, when Social Security was originally set up, and the problem was greatly magnified in 1965, with the passage of the amendments that created Medicare and Medicaid. The fact is that Social Security and Medicare were never adequately funded. They were structured as Ponzi schemes from the beginning.
Those who call for “saving Medicare as we know it” are asking to save a deceitful, doomed scheme like the one that landed Bernie Madoff in prison.