Steele: Protect Medicare — And Medicare Doesn’t Work

August 25, 2009 5:46 am

RNC Chairman Michael Steele appeared on Fox News this morning, putting forward an interesting case on Medicare: That it must be preserved against the threats from the Democrats — and that it’s a bad system that shouldn’t be expanded like the Democrats want.

“They’re proposing up to $550 billion in cuts or shifting of funds out of Medicare, and I don’t know what that means, and our seniors don’t know what that means,” said Steele. “And as we get into the debate this fall, I’d like some clarity on it.”

Steele was shown video of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who challenged Steele and other critics with the question of if they oppose a single-payer system, then why don’t they oppose Medicare? At this point, Steele got into his critique of Medicare, calling it a bankrupt system.“The reality of it is, this single-payer program known as Medicare is a very good example of what we should not have happen with all of our health care,” said Steele. “The reality of it is, how many times have we been at the trough of bankruptcy and no money for the Medicare program, where Congress is running around like chickens with their head cut off, trying to figure out how to fix a program that they’ve already mismanaged? So now you want to do that, Congressman, on a larger scale? You want to include all of us. You’re talking about taking our senior population, and expanding it to all of the population? Government cannot run a health care system. they’ve already shown that. Trust the private markets to do it the right way.”

One important thing Steele didn’t mention: The main reason for Medicare’s current financial troubles is that the Republicans passed an enormous expansion of it in 2003, with the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, without making any tax increases or other spending cuts to pay for it. Steele and other Republicans are now citing this easily-predictable fiscal disaster as proof that government can’t run a health care system, and we shouldn’t trust the Democrats’ proposals.

Steele also discussed the “Death Book” story, saying that the government is trying to drive our veterans to suicide: “And if you want an example of bad public policy, just look at the situation with our veterans, when you have a manual out there telling our veterans stuff like, ‘are you really of value to your community,’ you know, encouraging them to commit suicide. I mean, this is crazy coming from the government, and this is exactly what concerns people and puts them in fear of what the government control of health care will look like.

Host Brian Kilmeade rephrased Weiner’s question, asking why it is that Steele says he is defending Medicare for our senior at the same time as he criticizes government health care. “Because this is the system that over 40 years we have bought into,” said Steele. “So let’s get it right, let’s fix it. But we do not have to replicate this system, which has been proven under absolute government control has inefficiencies and has costs that we — that the government doesn’t want to seem to deal with. To make that larger puts us in a bigger bind than we are right now.”

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