I won't be affected by Paul Ryan's budget directly, even if it passes, which God forbid. I'm in the group that is grandfathered into the single-payer Medicare system as it stands today. But that doesn't make me any less queasy when I consider it. Besides, I figure this is just the first salvo in a serious attempt to totally eliminate the "safety net" this country has built over the last hundred years.
Believing that we can't afford Medicare as it now stands, Mr. Ryan wants to eliminate single-payer health care for seniors and give them vouchers to buy health insurance on the open market. Since he also wants to eliminate Obama's health care reforms, this will result, and about twenty years, in a group of people trying to buy health insurance with an inadequate amount of money, on a market that can and will refuse to insure them because of the "preexisting conditions" accumulated by anybody who reaches the age of 65 alive.
And he won't even have to worry about this, although he's 41 now, right in the age range that will be hit by his changes (if they pass). He'll be covered under the best health plan in the country, the one Congress gets, even after he retires. (Note: I couldn't establish that for sure. Does anybody know if retired Congress members continue to get the Congressional health coverage? I think they do.) So he's screwing his constituents, with no effect on his own health care coverage. Isn't that nice? If Congress is to be honorable about this, they have to start using the same health care systems the rest of us use. They won't; but they should.
The deficit isn't only the cost of Medicare and Medicaid. Those are just the entitlement programs Mr. Ryan thinks he can get away with gutting on this round. I don't see him talking about cutting defense spending; and of course, perish the thought that we should raise any taxes on the wealthy, in spite of a recent poll from McClatchy-Marist which shows 64% of registered voters support raising taxes on people with incomes over $250,000. And 80% of registered voters oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid. Sixty-eight percent of conservatives oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid. If you agree with the majorities in the poll, let your congressperson know today.