“While the Republican War on Women has gained national attention, there has been less outrage over the Republican War on Older Americans,” she wrote. “But the battles are everywhere. State after state is going after pension funds. Here in Michigan, for example, one of the first things Republican Gov. Rick Snyder did was to impose new and higher taxes on retirement income and public pensions.”
That charge is easy to refute. States aren’t “going after pension funds” at all. They’re starting to require public sector employees — virtually the only workers left with actual pensions — to pay more toward their retirement. Even with the reforms, public sector unions work to make sure their members pay far less than private sector workers do.
But some of Ms. Douglas’ further charges are more troubling.
“Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposed budget is a full-out, concerted assault on old folks.
According to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), he would cut Medicaid by $1 trillion over the next decade and convert it into a block grant to the states, which would result in deep cuts to vital services for seniors,” she wrote. “Medicaid, according to SEIU, ‘is the nation’s main source of payment for long-term care, covering a million nursing home residents and paying for 41 percent of all long-term care expenditures in the country.’ Clearly, those folks will be much more comfy living in a refrigerator box under an overpass.”
Let’s take this one bite at a time.
First, is the SEIU a trustworthy source? It’s clearly an advocacy group diametrically opposed to pretty much anything a conservative Republican would propose. But for the sake of this argument, let’s stipulate that it is.
There’s an obvious mischaracterization in the first sentence; is that $1 trillion a “cut” or is it a transfer? The fact is, Ryan’s budget doesn’t slash or even reduce Medicaid at all. It indexes it to both population growth and inflation. But Ms. Douglas (and the SEIU) are right, his budget does convert the funding to state block grants. That’s called “devolution,” and it’s a good thing. It gives the states more flexibility in how to deal with their own needs.
Clearly, nothing in Ryan’s budget plan would do anything to push seniors out of nursing homes and into refrigerator boxes.
On the other hand, the current system for funding Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security most surely will. That’s because Ryan’s budget — and most Republican plans — at least recognize the fiscal cliff those programs are hurtling toward.
If there’s a war on seniors, it’s a propaganda war being waged by the left. It assures them they can demand massive and ever-increasing wealth transfers from current workers, and the money will never run out.
The warning bells are deafening — if you’re listening.
“Lawmakers should not delay addressing the long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare,” Social Security trustees reported in April. “If they take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare.”
Like so much political rhetoric this year, the “war on the elderly” is misleading and disingenuous. It may be an attempt to help win elections, but Americans will be the ultimate losers.