Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The GOP Loves Medicare

I started saying over a decade ago that as the population’s average age increases, we’d see both major political parties “coincidentally” reformulate their philosophies around whatever elderly citizens wanted, even if it meant the Democrats abandoning their ostensible New Left ties to youth and progress and innovation and the Republicans abandoning their opposition to big-government programs, since Medicare and Social Security are the biggest of the big.  Not surprisingly, but nonetheless shamefully, the Republicans are apparently issuing a “manifesto” (as if such things ever actually articulate principles these days) denouncing any cuts to Medicare, capitalizing on seniors’ fear that Obama’s (in fact big-spending) healthcare reforms might limit their goodies.  Bush’s prescription drug plan was bad enough, but at least the argument could be made that prescription drugs, properly used, would be a net cost-reduction (rendering unnecessary more expensive interventions).  Now we see the Republicans, long ago the party of markets and limited government, simply cheerleading for sustained spending.  Two socialist parties, one angry at slightly different things than the other.  No clear way out.

A sad sidenote is that when I imagined the parties turning grey-minded all those years ago, I at least figured they’d come up with some ostensible philosophical rationale — the left perhaps arguing that seniors have “served the community most” and so deserve the massive redistributions from young newcomers they receive, the right perhaps making some sort of traditionalist argument about honoring revered elders.  Instead, of course, both sides just watch the polls and jockey for constituent-serving electoral advantage.  If the intellectuals at least get out of the habit of providing the two parties with post-hoc philosophical rationales, that would be a tiny step forward.

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