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Ending Medicare and Other Nightmares

Trump Texas Republican GOP Monster
Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and their Texas GOP followers are about to lose a political safety net of their own.

Ed. Note: This column orginally appeared in the Quorum Report and is posted here with permission.

So, this guy had a friend named Milton Friedman. Not Milton Friedman the crazy right-wing economist, just a nice fellow who happened to have the same name. Call him Nice Milton Friedman.

Nice Milton gets a call one day from a lay leader of a very wealthy church. “Thanks for taking my call,” Church Leader says to Nice Milton. “My church just ended its fiscal year with a huge surplus. Do you have any recommendations for what we should do with the surplus?”

“Have you thought about giving it to the poor?” Nice Milton asks.

There’s a long pause. Finally, Church Leader, a suspicious tone creeping into his voice, asks, “Are you the Real Milton Friedman?”

“Are you the Real Church,” Nice Milton asks nicely.

True story. It comes to mind as the dark spectacle of a Donald Trump administration looms.

Right off the bat, Trump, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and their cronies are threatening theAffordable Care Act (a law, not a program), Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Here in Texas, GOP officials have already denied Medicaid to millions.

 Are these gruesome, deadly prospects the result of a simple lack of caring, an out-of-site-out-of-mind attitude toward the less well off? That seems to be the case with the Church Leader in the above tale. Help those who are struggling? Who? What? Huh?

Or is the assault on people’s lives – abolishing the safety net, using new secret and not-so-secret police to round up and deport millions – the result of a twisted desire to hurt others so the precious few can gain.

Beyond the empty slogan, “Make America Great Again,” there’s no portrait presented of just what the future will hold for those who suddenly find themselves without health insurance or without Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

Such a picture, of course, would kill the ideological dreams of Ryan and his friends. Who would want to live in such a world? Even Republican-leaning physicians and hospital executives are trembling at the prospect.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, one of Trump’s most steadfast followers, will one day have to answer for what amounts to a wholesale assault on, well, almost all of us. Other Trumpians—here’s looking at you, Gov. Greg Abbott—may also wish they weren’t hiding behind Trump’s oversized suit coat.

It’s hard to imagine Republican congressmen—or Republicans at the state level, for that matter—wanting in the end to explain to voters at the next election that they took away health care for tens of millions of Americans just because they could.

It’s often said that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would cost about 20 millions Americans their health insurance. But the impact of ACA repeal would be far greater than that. Add to the 20 million all those Americans with pre-existing conditions, all those young people still looking for work while they remain on the parents’ health plans thanks to the ACA.

Today there are 55 million beneficiaries of Medicare. Tens of millions more are headed toward age 65, the age current law makes them eligible. Americans 60 years and older vote. Their turnout rate (about 70 percent of those eligible) is consistently higher than other age groups.

So, the number of Americans who will be devastated by various GOP plans is getting close to 100 million. But we have to add to that figure all those whose lives will be dramatically altered by the radical reduction in available, affordable health care.

Who are they? The children of older Americans. Making America “Great Again,” as currently envisioned, calls for a return to a time when multiple generations lived under one roof. Parents and grandparents lived with their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. That was long time ago.

Also, it harkens to time—prior to the 1930s—when there was no such thing as health insurance, private or otherwise. It was fee for service. Doctors and hospitals were paid only what patients could afford. Now, of course, treatments are vastly more expensive. Without health insurance they are so expensive they are out of reach for nearly everyone. Everyone.

So, let’s add to the number of affected parties the post-Baby Boomer generations. According to the Pew Research Center, there are about 76 million Americans aged 18-34, commonly known as Millennials. Tens of millions more fall into the Generation X category. So let’s round down and say it comes to about 140 million. Open the door, kids. Here comes granddad.

Like Church Leader in the story above, Paul Ryan is on the phone to us, telling us what to do with all this federal money. “Have you thought of using it to help people?” we ask.

 “Are you a real voter?” he asks.

“Are you a Real American?” we answer.