Posted by Arthur Bruce Robertson on May 31, 2011
I first became aware of the cunning manner in which facts are distorted for political purposes back in the 1994 election cycle. Then Missouri Democratic Congressman Dick Gephart demonstrated a mastery for twisting the truth by mis-characterizing it altogether. When Newt Gingrich introduced his "Contract with America" concept for the GOP platform that year, Gephart craftily destroyed what could have been one of the best programs to improve America ever conceived. I found myself frustrated and enraged at the lies and mis-characterizations Gephart kept pounding to defeat Newt's excellent ideas.
I was further dismayed at the seeming lack of active 'defense' offfered by other Republicans, who should have stepped forward to defend against Gephart's oft-repeated lies. I was also amazed at the lack of accountability required by the 'media'. It seemed that regardless of the outrageous claims made by Gephart, no one in the media challenged him to back them up with fact or example. Watching all this political gamesmanship play out is what actually caused me to start paying attention to politics and government generally. The effectiveness of lying, fear mongering, and demogogery proved too much for Newt's Contract With America, especially given that virtually no one was making any effort to defend it or clearify its intentions and benefits.
Today, I am watching history repeat itself, as the Republican plan for an intelligent and necessary re-structuring of Medicare is being assaulted with lies, fear mongering, and demogogery just like the Contract With America was seventeen years ago. Congressman Paul Ryan has stepped forward to boldly address the crisis which looming bankruptcy of Medicare poses. He has offered a simple and effective solution to assure future generations of retiring Americans that healthcare will be available to them when those who are now 55 reach 65 in 2022.
The plan involves ending the fee for service arrangement of today, which has been proven to be horrendously inefficient and fraught with waste and fraud. In its place, the government would simply provide the money for seniors to purchase health insurance in the open market. This plan would utilize the competitive forces at work between the various insurance companies to create a better product at a lower cost. By moving seniors into the private market for their healthcare, the climate for waste, fraud and abuse would be eliminated, while giving Seniors more choices. A much better way of handling the healthcare needs of retiring Americans, while saving taxpayers billions. With the budget deficit and National debt under discussion, Ryan's plan, endorsed by most Republican members of Congress, offers one giant step toward fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget. A good thing for America, right? Of course it is, but the wicked Democrats can't stand it.
No, they must seize the opportunity to politicize Ryan's plan, painting it as 'doomsday' for Seniors and for one purpose: If they can scare Seniors and others approaching retirement into believing the Ryan plan is not in their best interest they hope to turn them against not only the plan, but against Republicans generally, and secure them as Democratic voters in 2012. By lies and mis-characterizations Democrats hope to frighten voters into believing Republicans are scoundrels and Democrats deserve their support. Even though Democrats have not offered any solutions of their own, other than "Obamacare", they want to destroy the Ryan plan before it gets traction in the Congress or with the public at large. Regardless of its merits, they would use lies and scare tactics to defeat it, simply to convince more voters to vote Democratic in 2012. That is not only dirty, it is patently unpatriotic!
Terms like, "kill Medicare", "destroy Medicare as we know it", "hand Seniors over to the evil Insurance industry", "deny Seniors that which they've spent their whole lives building" and other such gross misrepresentations are already having their effect on uninformed and gullible Seniors. Witness a recent State election in which the Democrat won in a formerly very Republican stronghold. If Republicans nationwide don't take action to properly define and frame the Ryan plan for Seniors, I fear for its success. If Democrats succeed with their scare tactics, based on lies and mis-representations, we may once again witness the counter-productive results of the Gephart stategy. Dems will do their best to make the 2012 election a referendum on Ryan's plan to reduce Federal spending, balance the budget and save Medicare from bankruptcy. And they will be using the Gephart playbook all the way to election day.
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