Corroded Clockwork

Like corroded clockwork, the Republicans once again find themselves in the middle of a public relations disaster the size of Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede. Specifically, their plan to reform Medicare, which some folks say is akin to a tornado’s plan to reform trailer courts. Of course I’m talking about Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future, which utilizes a rusty chain saw to perform major surgery on Medicare without benefit of anesthetic. And don’t even think of staying overnight: this is an outpatient procedure.

The scheme involves replacing blanket care for elders with fixed-value vouchers. You know, like coupons. That’s right; he’s going to hand out health care coupons. Why? Because it would save lots of money, which could then be given to wealthy people through increased tax cuts and besides, everybody knows old people love coupons.

Perhaps his Schedule Two Roadmap Fix will enlist Groupon to move into the health care field. “Designer Colonoscopies. $2250. ($5,000 Value!) Save 55 percent. Today Only! Need to pre-sell 2500 by 4 p.m.” Then we phase in Early-Bird Organ Transplants. And make discounted cardio defibrillators available at your local neighborhood Everything for a Dollar Store.

Cognizant of seniors’ tendency to mislay important objects, Ryan thoughtfully unburdens them with having to handle the grubby little coupons physically; those will be given directly to the insurance providers for safekeeping. And when people run out of coupon value, banks could be enlisted to suck out account funds for a nominal transaction fee. You know, for our convenience.

Not everyone is toeing the bright, red line down the hall. Newt Gingrich, in an unguarded moment on Meet the Press, called the idea right-wing social engineering, no better than left-wing social engineering. And less aerodynamic than single-wing engineering. Although, gliding remains his preferred means of transportation.

However, after a spin transfusion in the bowels of a GOP re-education camp, the Newt recanted, going on to warn that any ad Democrats air using his TV quote is a lie. Which is redundant, because pretty much every ad using any of his quotes is a lie. After all, he is a known politician.

What has the GOP running scared is a recent special election where Democrats hammered the Medicare issue to win a New York congressional seat that had been in Republican hands since Ichabod Crane ran on the Whig ticket. Guaranteeing that in the next election, every Democrat in every district across the country will revive the New York script, right down to the placement of the colons.

In an attempt to pre-empt these anticipated attacks, Republicans are demagoguing Democrats for demagoguing them with “Mediscare” tactics. From the same people who accused Obama of creating death panels last year. If the hypocrisy coming out of Washington could be bottled and sold to Los Angeles as a studio lubricant we could pay off the national debt in a week with enough left over for a down payment on Beijing.

Obviously the American voters have the attention span of high-speed lint and it’s a long way to the 2012 elections. But you might want to install a protective filter on your TV for the impending tsunami of ads featuring parades of elders being attacked by Paul Ryan’s Tax-Cut Zombies from the Planet NO! Excuse me while I slip into the fetal position behind the couch under a blanket of coupons for the next 17 months.

Will Durst
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