by Paul Krugman
"As Jonathan Chait and Jamelle Bouie note, today was another VSP day at the Washington Post, with both the editorial page and the fact-checker tut-tutting at Democrats who insist on describing the Republican plan to dismantle Medicare as a plan to dismantle Medicare. Because it is, you know, a plan to dismantle Medicare. When you transform a program that pays seniors’ medical bills into a program that gives them a voucher that almost certainly isn’t enough to buy adequate insurance, you can call the new scheme Medicare, but it isn’t the same program.
What the Post fact-checker seems to want, nonetheless, is for Democrats to talk about what Republicans are proposing only in big words and complicated sentences, so that the public doesn’t understand what they’re saying. And the editorial page is still trying to claim that there’s something honest and important about the Ryan plan — even though it is completely clear to anyone paying attention that this plan offers nothing constructive in the way of solutions to the problem of rising health costs.
Here’s an analogy: think of Medicare as a footbridge that is deteriorating and will eventually become unsafe. You could propose structural repairs to fix its faults; Ryan doesn’t do that. Instead, he proposes knocking the bridge down and replacing it with trampolines, in the hope that pedestrians can bounce across the stream. And the Post declares that he deserves credit for pointing out that the bridge is falling down, and proposing a solution. Um, we knew that the bridge was in bad shape — and his solution is a fraud.
What’s going on here? Chait points out that denunciations of “scare tactics” only seem to happen when someone is trying to protect the social safety net, suggesting that what’s happening here is a reflection of the Beltway’s fundamental hostility to social insurance. I’d also add that VSPs invested heavily in the Ryan bubble, and are still not willing to face up to the extent to which they were flim-flammed.
Anyway, Republicans are proposing to destroy Medicare; saying that clearly isn’t scare tactics, it’s simply pointing out the truth."