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All Da King's Men

Medicare Wars And Ideological Blinders

By David King Published: August 19, 2012

One of the many strange things about this presidential campaign season is the way both campaigns are blasting their opponents over Medicare cuts. The Obama campaign accuses Romney/Ryan of wanting to push grandma over the cliff and destroy Medicare, and the Romney campaign blasts Obama for cutting $716 billion from Medicare. In essence, both sides are condemning the other side for the same things they are advocating themselves. Quite odd and hypocritical, but that's politics, I guess. If anything, you'd think the GOP ticket would be CONGRATULATING Obama for his Medicare cuts rather than opposing them and using them in an attempt to scare seniors. Scaring seniors is supposed to be the Democrat game. The GOP side is supposed to be the adult in the room that admits we have a big problem with entitlement promises and goes about proposing solutions. The Democrat position on the coming entitlement crisis thus far has largely been to deny the existence of mathematics and hope nobody notices the absurdity of that position.

Back in 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) pointed out the following:

Without policy changes, interest payments on the country's growing debt coupled with entitlement program costs could absorb 92 cents of every dollar of federal revenue by 2019. "Clearly, this is not sustainable," GAO reported.

Future entitlement costs, along with interest on our massive debt, are going to crowd out spending on almost everything else in a very short time. That's why Paul Ryan came up with a plan to address debt and entitlement costs without implementing a slew of prohibitive economy-and-job-killing tax increases. We are faced with two big problems in America today. We not only have to get our fiscal house in order, but we also have to remain competitive and dynamic in the modern global economy in order to create jobs here. Ryan attempted to address both problems. It has nothing to do with killing grandma. It has everything to do with the future viability of America as a global economic power.

President "Hope And Change" Obama arrived on the scene in 2009, armed with a bunch of lofty-sounding rhetoric (and not much else), and he  responded to the dire warnings about exploding debt and unsustainable entitlements by adding $5.4 trillion and counting in new debt, along with creating the largest new entitlement program since the implementation of Medicare itself in 1965. These were exactly the wrong things to do. Obama took an unsustainable fiscal situation and made it immeasurably worse. I don't call him the worst President in history for nothing, folks. Though we have a Government Accountability Office, Obama and his cronies are the ones who must be held most accountable. They arrived in office complaining about Bush's failed policies of the past, and then doubled down on those same policies of debt and entitlement explosion. Obama has accomplished NOTHING on the economic front, other than to lead this country much closer to the edge of the fiscal cliff. Calling Obamanomics a mirage is my most optimistic take on his performance. I prefer to call him the Great Destroyer.

Obama's ideological blindness on economic issues reminds me of another left-wing Democrat who ran for President back in 1972. His name was George McGovern. Conservative columnist Larry Elder wrote an article about McGovern the other day. It seems that once McGovern put politics behind him, he entered the business world, opening a hotel and restaurant called the Stratford Inn. That experience removed the ideological planks from McGovern's lefty eyes. Here's what he learned:

A contributing factor to the failure [the Stratford Inn went bankrupt], according to McGovern, was the regulations that make it tough to make a profit. In a mea culpa that should chill every lefty on the Hill, McGovern said: "I wish I had known more firsthand about the concerns and problems of American businesspeople while I was a U.S. senator and later a presidential nominee. That knowledge would have made me a better legislator and a more worthy aspirant to the White House. ... I learned first of all that over the past 20 years America has become the most litigious society in the world. ... The second lesson I learned by owning the Stratford Inn is that legislators and government regulators must more carefully consider the economic and management burdens we have been imposing on U.S. businesses. ... Many businesses, especially small independents such as the Stratford Inn, simply can't pass such costs on to their customers and remain competitive or profitable."

"Many people can't afford the gold-plated health plans that are the only options available in their states," wrote McGovern. "Buying health insurance on the Internet and across state lines, where less expensive plans may be available, is prohibited by many state insurance commissions. Despite being able to buy car or home insurance with a mouse click, some state governments require their approved plans for purchase or none at all. It's as if states dictated that you had to buy a Mercedes or no car at all."

"Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don't take away cars because we don't like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don't operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life.

"The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else."

I can hardly believe this is the same McGovern I used to hear advancing left-wing drivel back in the old days. He sounds like a Republican now. It's amazing how some real world experience can enlighten even the most ideologically blind lefty. McGovern is exactly right. When politicians like Obama weigh down our business sector with burdens like excessive regulations, health care costs, high taxes, frivolous lawsuits, government mandates, and less liberty, it's not only the business owners who pay. Everybody pays, and the resultant loss of jobs and wages harms everyone. It especially harms the little guys who can least afford it. The middle class weakens and eventually disappears, leaving us a nation of government-dependent weaklings with limited options and no way out. Contrary to what our clueless current Vice Presdient would say, THAT is what puts us back in chains, not anything Paul Ryan is proposing.

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