So, lots of state and local Republican officials have been perseverating over voter fraud by unknown perpetrators, and passing laws and ordinances aimed at making it harder to commit illegal voting. One problem, these same officials have been unable to identify any instances of actual fraud. Meanwhile, their restrictions impede voting and voter registration efforts by population groups more likely to vote in the Democratic direction, leading to charges that their real agenda involves not voter fraud, but voter suppression of those likely to vote in favor of their opponents.
Beats me, I'm just your humble reporter here.
But, there is a real and gigantic case of voter fraud committed just this past week, and for the second known time! And it seems that these perpetrators will get away with it again. And it's not chump change -- it involves more than $500 billion.
Bear with me.
Back in 2009 and 2010, as the Democrats in the U.S. Congress concocted the laws that became the Affordable Care Act, Republicans correctly noted that the financing of the law called for nearly $500 billion ($449B to be precise) in cuts, reductions, and savings to the Medicare program.
It was and is true. Democrats agreed to reduce the program's rate of growth by $449B over 2010-2019 (as calculated by the Congressional Budget Office) with reductions affecting insurance companies, hospitals, home health companies, hospices, and others. Except for insurers, all the reductions were negotiated with the affected industries and accepted by them. Insurers were willing to give up about $80B in reductions, though fought the $140B pushed by Congressional Democrats. Since the law's signing, insurers are doing fine and enrollment in their plans is up while the premiums, believe it or not, are down. No cuts were made in benefits to enrollees, nor were there any increases in premiums or cost sharing, except for high-income enrollees.
After President Obama signed the ACA in March 2010, Republicans used the $500B as one of their leading charges against Democrats in the November 2010 mid-term elections. Some argue it was the single most important factor that enabled Republicans to take control of the House in January 2011. (In November 2010, voters age 60+ voted 58% Republican, the highest proportion since 1980; in 2008, 48% voted Republican).
All well and good. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
In spring 2011, new House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a far reaching budget plan with huge changes to the structure of Medicare, lots of spending and tax cuts, and repeal of most of the provisions of the ACA, especially sections expanding health insurance for the uninsured. There was one huge exception to his ACA rescissions.
You guessed it -- $500B in the ACA's Medicare reductions. Nearly all House and Senate Republicans voted for the Ryan budget, including the endorsement of the ACA's $500B in Medicare reductions. And, largely, no one seemed to notice.
So, over the past two weeks, Chairman Ryan put out his new budget plan for FY2013, and guess what?
He did it again!
And it came out last Thursday on the floor of the House, and guess what nearly all the House Republican members did?
They did it again!
Yes, it's true. The Medicare reductions Republicans used to take control of the House away from Democrats are now the Republicans' Medicare reductions too.
And how many senior citizens who voted for Republicans in November 2010 are aware of this?
My careful estimate is in the neighborhood of three -- and that does not include my dear 93-year old mother because, even though I have explained this to her, she only votes for Democrats.
But there's more! This tale ain't over yet, not by a country mile.
There's that rascal Mitt Romney. Now Mitt, soon-to-be Republican nominee for President, has been going all over the country this spring criticizing Democrats for cutting Medicare by $500 billion to pay for ObamaCare, and he says he will repeal ObamaCare -- without ever mentioning specifics, though the $500B is as close as he ever comes.
But then, rascal Mitt is also publicly and effusively complimentary to Chairman Ryan's budget plan, which includes the same Medicare cuts that Mitt complains about on the campaign trail in front of senior citizens.
So here's the question:
It's clear that House and Senate Republicans have been able to get away with $500 billion in Medicare fraud.
Will the rascal Mitt be as lucky?
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