The Fundamental Divide Is Between Trimming Medicare And Ending Medicare

So Jonathan Chait thinks we should give the Lieberman-Coburn “Ryan Lite” plan to destroy Medicare a chance. I’ll let you read the article to decide if it makes any sense to you or if it sounds more like it should be a satire:

As Sargent notes, Republicans are already attacking Democrats for cutting Medicare. The waters have been muddied, and Democrats are winning anyway. They’re winning because there’s a fundamental divide between trimming Medicare and ending Medicare. That will continue to exist even if both parties agree to Coburn/Lieberman.


That’s the fundamental “divide?” Since when? Certainly, nobody told the people that. And I’m not sure they’re going to find that particularly compelling, especially once they read the laundry list of absurd rationales for slashing the most popular health care program in the country. (Apparently, what we need is for the elderly to have more of their paper thin, easily bruised skin in this game so they’ll stop “over-utilizing” the system. I have to wonder if people who say these things have ever been around an old, sick person in their life?)

And then there’s this:

Now, it’s true that a bipartisan deal on Medicare will help Republicans present the Ryan plan as just a conversation starter they don’t really want to, you know, happen. But everybody still knows this is what Republicans would like to pass if they actually had the power to do so, and Democrats should be able to make this case to the voters. Meanwhile, the deficit is an actual problem, and Democrats need to find politically feasible ways to help solve it. There are bright lines to draw: slashing the already-lean Medicaid program, starving the long-starved domestic discretionary budget, and failing to require any sacrifice from the affluent. “No cuts to Social Security and Medicare” is the wrong place to draw the line.

Right, those are the most politically feasible ways to close the deficit. People love that stuff. It’s catnip to voters.

As I said, just read it and decide for yourself if any of it makes sense for even one liberal in good concience to pay attention to it.

However, I would just remind everyone that all of us write things off the cuff that we later wish we hadn’t written. Such as this piece Jonathan Chait wrote back in November of 2006 in which he suggested that the US should put Saddam back in power to tamp down the insurgency.

Here’s the piece I wrote on that which featured an exchange from the old Tucker Carlson show:

We’ve learned that there are worse things than totalitarianism and one of them is unending chaos…My argument is not an entirely cynical argument… One of the things that foments chaos is the expectation of chaos, when people’s behavior changes, when they don’t see any established order, and one of the few things we’ll be able to do, I was sort of supposing, would be the return of Saddam Hussein — he has high name recognition, people know who he is, they know what he’s capable of doing and you have, it’s still a recent enough that he was in charge of the state, that you still have the Baath army units and the infrastructure to put in place. So I was hypothesizing that this may be the only force capable of actually ruling the country, not that we want that by any means, it was horrendous, but simply that you have order, I mean it might be the best of some very, very, bad alternatives.

TC: Best for us. It seems to me the one thing about Saddam, as deranged as he may have been, he did have something to lose, he didn’t want to die, and he wasn’t a religious nut, he was incredibly brutal. Does that tell us something about what we would need to do in order to secure Iraq. I mean, he killed people with poison gas, Was that something he had to do? Was that required?

Chait: No I don’t think so. But look, he’s psychotic so you can’t assume that anything a psychotic man does is something he rationally had to do. And he would still be psychotic if he was in power. There would be no doubt about it. I mean, it certainly would be better for us,

We wouldn’t have the Iranian influence and you wouldn’t have Iraq becoming a potential terrorist haven, both things that threaten us a great deal, if we had Saddam in power. You would have someone who would brutalize his own population but again you’re getting that right now anyway and you might be getting less of it if he returned.

TC: Obviously we’re not… because there is a civil war, and according to NBC it officially begins today, that kind of implies we ought to pick a side. And in fact pick a strongman to preside over the country in a less brutal way than Saddam did, but in a brutal way nonetheless and keep that place under control? Should we pick a side?

Chait: I don’t know. I think I’m probably like you. You read all these proposals about what to do with Iraq and there all people who specializing in the topic and know more about it than I do and probably more than you do and it just doesn’t sound that convincing and when they pick apart the other guy’s proposal, when they say “here’s why we need a strongman and here’s why partition won’t work” and you say “that makes a lot of sense” and the other person says “here’s why we need partition and why the strongman won’t work” and that seems right also, so that sort of the mode I’m in. I just don’t know what to do. The only time anyone seems convincing is when they say why everything else won’t work.

I know it’s unfair to look in the rear view mirror and play the blame game. I only do it to show that making a totally ridiculous argument can happen to anyone. Repeatedly.

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