Thursday, August 17, 2017

John McCain's Anti- Skinny Repeal Vote Has The Right Squealing

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In most of the Right media the caterwauling and whining can still be heard concerning Sen. John McCain's dramatic late night vote against the Senate's "skinny repeal". Most people at the time failed to recognize the skinny repeal was actually a Trojan horse to turn the bill over to the GOP House where Medicaid could be eliminated by 2020,   see e.g.

Republicans admit it: 'Skinny repeal' is a Trojan horse to turn Trumpcare over to the House

This although the lingo in the bill voted on by the Senate affirmed Medicaid would not be touched.

The main charge against McCain's vote has been one of "betrayal" but linked to "voting against the bill to spite Trump".  The reason given that this was payback for Drumcpf's campaign slur that John McCain was not a genuine war hero.  Most recently Trump railed against McCain during his tirade to defend to Ku Kluxers and Nazis who terrified Charlottesville last weekend. See e.g. the excellent Vice documentary:

In response to a reporter's question Trump huffed; "Oh yeah, John McCain,  who killed the plan for Americans to get better health care."

In fact, John McCain saved their bacon by torpedoing the Trojan horse so it could never find its way to the House and see Medicaid eviscerated for over 75 million who depend on it.  This includes many lower middle class Americans suffering from pre--existing conditions, as well as oldsters who've exhausted their saving for nursing home care and need Medicaid monies to continue. (Unless the Repukes want relatives to shoot them and put them in backyard graves.)

Anyway, the latest bellyache has been in a WSJ editorial ('John McCain's Defense Cut', Aug. 11, p. 12) which equated McCain's vote to a "defense cut". As the editorial put it:

"his vote to kill health reform means that entitlements like Medicaid will continue to squeeze the Pentagon like an ever tightening vise long after he has retired......spending on Medicare and other entitlement programs - is up from 25 percent in the 1960s - and 42 percent in the mid- 1980s. That leaves much less for the military - which has dropped to about 15 percent of the federal fisc from more than 25 percent in the 1980s."

Several points in rebuttal:

- Medicare is NOT an "entitlement". Citizens had to pay in via their payroll (FICA) taxes to get it and also it does not cover everything (dental, eye glasses, only 80 % of costs of  procedures etc.)  In the past two weeks alone I've had to shell out more than $1700 for a new crown and filling. This is why seniors are advised to have at least $250,000 on hand in savings to cover what Medicare doesn't.

- Of course spending on Medicare is up from the 1960s, the population of the country has DOUBLED since then! WTF does the WSJ want anyway, spending to remain constant while the population (including elderly) grows?

- The military spending at 15 % of the federal budget in the 1980s was largely due to Reagan' overspending on defense - including the idiotic Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) which literally altered the nation's fiscal destiny to emerge as a debtor - after $2.1 trillion was spent.

Since 9/11 the anomalous defense spending has continued  the assault on domestic needs spending. Specifically, the Bushies ramped up defense spending to 2.4% of GDP as opposed to 1.2%, Former Defense analyst Chuck Spinney predicted it would incept a “war on Social Security and Medicare”. He predicted the total costs of military spending, including in Iraq, and Afghanistan and a de facto perpetual ‘war on terror’ (as well as a burgeoning national security state) would become so great that the major social programs would be slashed to pay for the deficits engendered. How large is the military money pit?  What sort of monster must it ‘feed’?

The United States currently maintains 702 military 'installations' in 63 foreign countries (it has 4,471 bases altogether), according to the Defense Department's annual budget statement. These figures don't include bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also spend more on military weaponry than the next 13  nations combined. No wonder seniors’ and disabled vets are now on the chopping block .  (See the proposed Trump budget for details).

The graphic provided by the WSJ (top) actually - in the light of the preceding - shows a rational slowing of defense spending when energy inflation and cost overruns (such as with the F35) are factored in.  The growth of Medicaid merely represents how it has increased as a result of being incorporated into Obamacare to serve the needs of more citizens who need it. Many of these people - such as disabled who live at home - would have to be warehoused in large, impersonal institutions if Medicaid cuts were allowed.

The WSJ ends with this piss and moan:

"When Senator McCain cast his vote on the Senate floor he was greeted by hugs and huzzahs from Democrats, and no wonder. They understood that the Senator had preserved their entitlement state priorities at the expense of military buildup:."

In fact, whether he intended it or not, John McCain preserved medical support for millions of citizens who need it, while not enabling further growth in the already out of control military industrial complex which only encourages adventurism  The WSJ would do well to consider the words of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

"The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school for more than 30 cities, …two finely equipped hospitals, or 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million barrels of wheat. We pay for a new destroyer with new homes that could have housed 8,000 people…Under a cloud of threatening war it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”-  President Dwight D. Eisenhower in an April, 1953 address

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