Monday, March 21, 2005

Medicare Silence

Editorial after editorials, commentator after commentators mention that Social Security is a problem, but not a crisis and in the same breath add that it is the Medicare that is in crisis. What is strange is nobody elaborates further on this issue. Clearly facts are – Medicare is indeed going to be burst much earlier than Social Security and if Social Security is an atomic bomb to Federal Deficit in some decades to come, Medicare is the Hydrogen bomb in next five to six years. On this background it is indeed missing the point when USA Today in it’s editorial (March 20, 2005) chastises Democrats for being quiet on the Social Security issue even though it mentions in passing that Medicare is the real crisis.

Some time back Time ran an issue about detailing President Bush’s Social Security gamble. It also provided all the charts, graphics and usual impressive statistics to point out that it is really the Medicare that is a problem. What was missing was the analysis of why American politicians are behaving as if they are living on another planet when the issue of Medicare is concerned. I have not come across any media outlet that is really trying to dig out all the facets of the Medicare problem and what is the politics behind Medicare so as it is emerging as the real “third rail of America Politics” since no political party wants to talk about that. I mean one completely fails to understand the approach of Media – knowing that Medicare is in crisis it keeps on playing the piper for President Bush’s Social Security song. Why not for example Time or Newsweek run the entire issue with a cover story about Medicare? Why not USA Todays and New York Times of this world splash this issue day after day on their front page and editorialize relentlessly? Where are the reporters who ask the simple question of how to fix the Medicare to President Bush and Republicans? Where are the interviewers how ask President Bush and Republicans why should American people allow Congress and Administration to spend resources on the second distant problem than the first urgent issue of Medicare? Why not Congress undertakes hearings about this issue? Who needs the babble of Alan Greenspan about Social Security when we all know Medicare cost and Uncle Sam’s commitment about that are going to bankrupt us all? Where is the progressive media who understands that they are getting into the mousetrap while spinning the wheel about Social Security but not talking seriously about Medicare?

The real political failure on behalf of Democrats, which is what USA Today should have criticized, is that they are not using this natural opportunity of fighting Social Security juggernaut of President Bush by raising the fundamental crisis of Medicare. The failure is not coming forward with any positive plan for Medicare to blunt the advantage of President Bush on Social Security. One got to fight the fire by fire. The strategy of Democrats in opposing strongly and to remain united about Social Security is the right one. One of the most impressive and effective things Congressional Democrats have done is to remain steadfastly united in opposing President Bush’s privatization plan of Social Security. It does not matter if some criticizes this as an obstructionist stance, so be the case. My wish is this new found cohesiveness among Democrats is long lasting. I hope they look at the mature Parliamentarian Democracies and learn that the opposition in those democracies is like a monolithic block. Nothing is going to save Democrats from the Republican war machine and total Republican control of power, except being united. And then imagine with that same unity Democrats come forward and present a solution or strategy for the Medicare problem. It is bound take the shine from President Bush’s unceasing chanting of Privatization of Social Security and it is bound make American People aware of what is more important. It will give the initiative to Democrats. Democrats need to be fearless in sticking to the position that the Social Security is indeed an issue that can be addressed by some adjustment – as they have been saying so far. No one will say Democrats are irresponsible about these entitlement programs if they come forward with a Medicare plan. Today, it is post-Clinton politics; so there cannot be any phobia for proposing solutions about Medicare. Just because a decade back President Clinton and Hillary Clinton had to retreat back on this issue does mean that Democrats should not talk about it now. In fact now is the need to talk about solution for America’s medical problem. Senator Kerry is trying to surface this issue through a bill to provide medical insurance coverage for children. Why not even Senator Hillary Clinton? Why is she attempting to do the delicate posturing on abortion issue when the real leadership is being fearless while articulating a strategy to address the Medicare cost, medical coverage and overall ultra high inflation in medical services. It is no brainier to see that American people are going to be pushed towards poverty with these medical bills, increasing costs and lack of coverage. Almost the entire politics can be built around the Medical related issues. Shame is Democrats are not trying that and shame is Media is missing this point to highlight as well. If people are wrong about this issue, including this author, then again Media needs to clear these alarmist opinions. I do not find any illuminating coverage and analysis of this issue. Well, one more incidence where the master of lower expectations - President Bush - has successfully stirred away Media, American Politics and American People from what is really the critical issue for America.

Umesh Patil
March 21, 2005
San Jose, CA 95111.

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