If today, Republicans voted to completely abolish Medicare, they wouldn’t be taking it away. You can’t take a broken promise away, after all. Once it is clear it cannot be kept, then the promise does not exist. Anyone who believes someone will make good on a promise they cannot keep is deluding themselves and is only prolonging the eventual heart break.
I want to put this in real terms for you. Let’s say you buy a car from a dealer, and the dealer offers you a lifetime oil change service as part of the deal. Just bring the car in, and he’ll change the oil for you every 3,000 miles. For the first few months and years, this works out pretty good. However, at some point, the dealer realizes that he simply can’t make enough money to keep changing your oil.
If you are ignorant about the whole matter, you’ll happily change your oil until one day when the dealer goes out of business. You can bring your car to the empty lot, but there will be no one there to change your oil. You can try suing the dealership, but the company is bankrupt, and has already liquidated its assets and paid off the creditors first, leaving nothing behind for you.
If you are diligent about it, you can ask the dealer whether the free oil change service will be there next month and the months that follow. The dealership, upon discovering that the will not have enough money to provide the service indefinitely, has two options: he can lie to you, or he can tell you the truth.
The dealer can be proactive about it, and let you know months in advance that he can’t make good on his promise anymore. Although this is difficult news to hear, it’s the best way to handle the situation. When the eventual collapse comes, it isn’t a shock, because you knew it was coming. You may even be able to work something out with the dealer. Maybe he’ll give you twenty oil change coupons to his store in exchange for you giving up your lifetime oil change benefits. That way, you’ll get more oil changes than you would have if you both did nothing.
Government made a promise it cannot keep, like the dealership in my example. Raising the tax rates on the rich will never supply enough revenue to keep Medicare going. The principle expense—Medicare and Social Security—is already dwarfing the rest of the budget, so even cutting government back to only providing Medicare and Social Security will not help either. The world will eventually stop loaning the US money, or the debt will grow until we can no longer afford even to pay the interest, at which point, we go completely bankrupt and have to tell entire countries that they are not going to get their money back.
The Government can pretend like everything is fine, like the dishonest dealer. That is what it has largely done, policy wise, since we’ve realized Medicare and Social Security are unsustainable 50 plus years ago. That seems to be Obama’s strategy.
Or, like Reagan and Bush II did, we can explain to the American people how we can’t keep our promises, and try to work out a compromise. This would require, of course, the overwhelming approval of the American people, since both houses are now elected by the people. (If the senate were appointed by the state legislatures, we probably wouldn’t have this problem to begin with.)
Today, the Republican Party, under the leadership of Rep. Paul Ryan, is making bold steps to rework the contract for the promise that cannot be kept. The alternative is to let it all fail, and try to maintain our national credit rating in the process. Or, we could follow Obama’s budget ideas and try to borrow as much money as we can and bankrupt the world in the process.
I believe renegotiations of the Medicare and Social Security programs should begin with the idea that the two programs are bankrupt and unconstitutional, and that they need to be completely canceled sooner rather than later in order to save our nation. From this point, which is the point we are at today, whatever compromise is proposed would be politically viable.
Democrats think they can hold on to their seats if they continue lying to the American people. They’ve done it for practically every issue they’ve been involved with for the past 30 years. They’ll continue doing it until the Democratic Party is wiped out, or completely replaced from the inside. While many democratic leaders are in safe districts or states that happily eat up their lies, it is becoming clear that there is not enough districts and states in that category to sustain a majority.
My advice to the Democratic Party would be to embrace the ideas I’ve proposed above, and become an active participant in actually putting together a long-term budge that pays off the debt. Of course, I know they won’t listen to me, so I’m wasting the few minutes it takes to write this out.
My advice to republican candidates and leaders is to pull out the hard data that says Social Security and Medicare already don’t exist, and cannot exist. Either we fix them now, or we watch our country go under. After the country goes under, no one gets any Social Security benefits or Medicare, so the choice is only in what damage we are going to allow as these programs fail.