I don’t know. Maybe it is just another case of the Republicans accusing the Democrats of something they themselves are guilty of.
FiveThirtyEight has an interesting article about identity politics. For example, The GOP has long accused Democrats of supporting affirmative action mainly to attract minority votes, even if it didn’t actually help that minority. Dubya even called it, the “soft bigotry of low expectations”. And by being the party of the “big tent”, Democrats are effectively held hostage by trying to buy the votes of all the many groups under their tent.
But now we have a curious case where the GOP is playing identity politics in the worst way possible. Republicans claim to be against government health care, and have long been opposed to Medicare. In fact, Medicare goes against just about every principle that conservatives claim to believe in. And yet, the Republicans have suddenly become the champions of Medicare, attacking the Democrats for trying to cut Medicare funding. Why are they doing this? Because Medicare is extremely popular with those “angry, mostly-white seniors” that the Republicans are increasingly dependent on.
So they scream about “death panels”, when it is clear that much of the $50 billion that is spent by Medicare each year on patients at the end of their lives is wasted: spent on procedures with no health benefit or increase in quality of life; ordered by doctors and hospitals who are more worried about being sued; and paid for by Medicare, so there is no financial disincentive for relatives to demand that “everything medically possible” be done.
In short, the GOP has now become so wedded to its dying, white majority that it is willing to sacrifice not only good public policy and smart long-term budgeting, but its very own core principles. Their politically-motivated, 180-degree defense of Medicare and their inflammatory rhetoric about death panels proves that the GOP is now the party paralyzed by identity politics.
I think that it’s pretty safe to say that regardless of the letter behind the name – (R) or (D) – the goal of most of these legislators/politicians is to keep/maintain/procure/buy the votes of whoever is in their “tent”. It really has become a sickening, hypocritical clusterf**k.
Most of the complaints from the GOP have to do with reducing the funding, or removing altogether, the private benefit plans that were put in place under Bush and Clinton. There is lots of money being made by overpaying these Medicare Advantage programs and the drug benefit plans. They aren’t really championing the Medicare beneficiary as much as the companies that benefit from an inefficient and ineffective privatized system that is really outside of the control of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
The only the exception to this were the death panel claims. But this is clearly within the M.O. of the Republican Party to misrepresent and lie about a policy proposal.