Corporate Propaganda Response To Town Hall Medicare Anger

The Republican plan for Medicare “cuts government spending” by shifting the cost of old-age health care directly to the middle class and poor. (I’ll explain below.) Here’s the thing: someone is going to get that $34 trillion. (I’ll explain below.) And that someone (the Supreme Court thinks corporations are “someone”) is fighting hard for it. They’ll say whatever it takes. It is up to you and me to get the word out about this. (I’ll explain below.)
Say Whatever It Takes
Here is an example of what I mean by “say whatever it takes.” Click through and listen to this commercial. Cheerful, uplifting music. Positive voice tones. Flat-out lies.

- TRANSCRIPT -
ANNOUNCER:
Something unusual happened last week…in Washington, DC of all places.
Elected officials actually did what they said they would.
The House passed a budget that protects and preserves Medicare for years to come.
And our Congressman, Allen West, voted to protect Medicare and keep it secure for future retirees.
Our national debt is $14 trillion…America is literally spending money we don’t have and future generations won’t be able to afford.
With 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age every day, important programs like Medicare are being crushed – and could collapse if we don’t act to strengthen and improve them.
No changes for seniors on Medicare now or those who will soon go on it.
Control costs by targeting waste, fraud and abuse – so current and future seniors receive the quality care they have earned.
Call Allen West at (954) 202-6211. Thank him for voting to protect Medicare and tell him to continue keeping his promise to seniors.
Paid for by the 60 Plus Association.

What’s This About?
Last week all of the Republicans in the House except a few voted to approve a plan to phase out Medicare and replace it with “premium support” – vouchers – for private insurance, that only cover part of the cost of the private insurance. (As if any company would insure a 75-year-old with health problems. And as if an 80-year-old with cognitive disabilities can pick and choose which insurance scam policy is best.)
Yes, that’s right, it phases out Medicare and replaces it with private insurance, as in, “What do you mean you won’t cover that procedure, test, drug, operation? My doctor says I need it!” Right, that private insurance.
Medicare Costs Shifted To Middle Class
This plan shifts costs away from the government and on to We, the People. But it ends up adding trillions in total costs because private insurance costs so much more, and because of co-pays, and because of so many other reasons that are the cause of our country paying so much more per capita than other for health care. It actually makes the cost problem much worse. But it cuts “government spending” by shifting those costs to us individually.
Economist Dean Baker writes that the Republican Medicare phase-out costs us more than $30 trillion (over 75 years) above what we would pay without this phase-out,

[The Republican plan] to replace the current Medicare system with a system of vouchers or premium supports has been widely described as shifting costs from the government to beneficiaries. However, the size of this shift is actually small relative to the projected increase in costs that would result from having Medicare provided by private insurers instead of the government-run Medicare system.
The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) projections imply that the Ryan plan would add more than $30 trillion to the cost of providing Medicare equivalent policies over the program’s 75-year planning period. This increase in costs – from waste associated with using a less efficient health care delivery system – has not received the attention that it deserves in the public debate.

And economist Mark Thoma writes that the phase-out leaves many seniors without the means to get health care at all,

The [Republican] plan would reduce Medicare payments far below what is currently available, and this would leave many without the means to obtain the care they need. But even if the vouchers were adequate, I would still not be in favor of a voucher system for health insurance.

The public will have to shell out trillions of dollars more because of the phase-out shifts seniors to private insurance. It saves the government money by shifting the cost to you and me, but adds $34 trillion more in total costs this way. So high-end taxpayers and corporations will pay lower taxes, the rest of us make it up.
Town Hall Anger
People are starting to hear about what the Republicans did and have been turning out at local “town hall” meetings where members of Congress talk to constituents. And, not surprisingly, they are angry.
Here is Republican Congressman Ryan being boo’ed by constituents:

Who Gets That Money?
They always say, when you are trying to figure out who is behind some scheme or scam, to “follow the money.” Sure, in this case wealthy and corporate interests are pushing for even more huge tax cuts by “cutting government spending” with this scheme to phase out Medicare. But wait, there’s more. The scheme goes beyond that because when you privatize government functions someone gets the money. That is the point of privatization — to shift public wealth to private profit. They always claim privatization cuts costs, but in reality it actually costs more with what was formerly something We, the People held in common now going to a few for their own gain. So this costs us more because government doesn’t pay CEOs huge salaries, and doesn’t give million-dollar bonuses to the rest of the executives. Government doesn’t pay out a profit. And government’s job is to work in the interest of the public. Not so with private companies. Not so at all.
Privatizing means taking something away from us, so a few can benefit from it instead. And that is what is happening to Medicare under the Republican plan.
Enter The Corporate Front Group
In response to the town hall anger, a corporate front-group named 60 Plus is blanketing the radiowaves in Republican districts with these soothing ads thanking them for “preserving and protecting” Medicare. This is part of a campaign they named Seniors Thank Congress for Protecting Medicare.
60 Plus is one of the groups that spent millions and millions of dollars running campaign ads for Republicans last year, telling people Democrats “cut $500 billion from Medicare.”
Thanks to the wisdom of our elected officials and Supreme Court, we don’t get to find out just who is behind 60 Plus. Is it corporations? Billionaires? Foreign Governments? SourceWatch has some clues.
Muddy The Waters
This ad is part of a strategy to “muddy the waters,”

The GOP official added that the party “can fight the Medicare issue to a tie” by “muddying the waters” and painting Democrats as choosing status-quo options that would have Medicare “die a slow death.”

Go back and read the transcript of the 60 Plus ad again, see how closely it follows this strategy.
Regular people have jobs, drive to work (and listen to the radio where these ads are playing), work hard, come home, maybe take care of kids… They are busy. They are not experts on the issues. If they tune into the news they are told that “both sides” are “squabbling” and maybe that there is a plan to “reform” Medicare. So as much as Republicans can “muddy the waters” and keep the reporting on a “both sides” and horse race focus, this plan can succeed.
This organization is not put together by people who care if you and me get Medicare. This is put together as a front for the corporations that will get the money from privatizing Medicare, and the wealthy few who get the money from tax cuts. They count on regular people being busy and not well-informed.

The GOP official added that the party “can fight the Medicare issue to a tie” by “muddying the waters” and painting Democrats as choosing status-quo options that would have Medicare “die a slow death.”

It’s up to you and me to get the word out about this.
We Can Fight This
So, will we be able to get the word out, or will the corporate money allow this and other front groups to saturate the airwaves?
I think we can fight this. We have the facts on our side, and the numbers, but not the money. They always have the advantage when it comes to money. So it is up to us to turn out the facts and the numbers.
Will YOU help? Will YOU get involved?
Will YOU tell people, talk to friends, neighbors and relatives? Will YOU show up at town hall meetings and demand answers? Will you call your member of Congress and your Senators? Will YOU join with “Don’t Make Us Work Till We Die?” for their actions tomorrow, and join up with US Uncut or On May 12?
If you do, we can win.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

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