The Democrats’ Medi-scare

I just got off the phone with an 82-year-old man who was rattled about his health care future.

“This Ryan guy wants to kill Medicare,” he told me. “If I lose my Medicare, my children will have to pay my medical bills. And that’s not fair.”

No it’s not. And it’s also not fair to scare seniors with lies about proposed policies.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican tapped Saturday to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, has never proposed, and is not now proposing, ending Medicare “as we know it” for those like my caller who are currently receiving the benefit.

Nor is he proposing ending it for future retirees over the age of 55. Under his plan, they’ll go into the current Medicare system.

What he is proposing is to allow those now under age 55 the choice when they retire of going into the Medicare program, or getting a government voucher to buy their own insurance. It’s a choice, not a mandate. Factcheck.org blasts Democratic ads claiming otherwise as “whoppers.”

The reason we can’t have vital policy discussions in this country is that our politicians think we’re too stupid to understand what’s being proposed, and what is at stake, so they fill us with distortions.

Instead of honestly portraying the Ryan plan and having a debate over its merits, Democrats are using scare tactics to frighten voters away from the GOP ticket. That’s easier than offering an alternative plan for keeping Medicare from going broke in 2034, as projected.

But it doesn’t solve the problem.

As long as politicians exploit the Medicare reform debate for political gain, the changes that could save it will never be put in place.

Young voters, the ones who will have to foot the bill for today’s neglect, should be paying close attention to the efforts to scare their grandparents into once again voting for politicians who promise that Medicare is untouchable.

(Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The Michigan View. Originally posted on The Michigan View.)