Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

August 25, 2009

STEELE REDISCOVERS HIS OPPOSITION TO MEDICARE.... I really don't understand how Michael Steele is in a position to head a major political party.

Yesterday, the confused RNC chairman wrote an op-ed insisting that Democrats are trying to undermine Medicare. The piece was a disaster for Steele -- not only was every claim in the piece both false and craven, but it offered his detractors a chance to remind folks that Steele personally endorsed Medicare cuts as a statewide candidate in 2006.

It wasn't necessarily surprising -- Steele has already conceded he doesn't know anything about health care policy -- but it was humiliating.

Not quite sharp enough to know how to quit while he's behind, Steele went back to the well today. On Tuesday, the RNC chairman said policymakers must ensure that "we are not cutting the Medicare program." On Wednesday, the same RNC chairman said policymakers must realize that Medicare is "bankrupt" and an example of what not to do with health care.

"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."

The lights are on, but nobody's home. The same clown who attacked Democrats yesterday for trying to improve Medicare financing just told a national television audience that he disapproves of Medicare and would prefer to "trust the private markets" -- the same private markets that left seniors without coverage, and which made Medicare necessary in the first place.

The GOP's record on Medicare is clearly embarrassing to the party. In the 1960s, Republicans fought against Medicare's existence. In the 1990s, Republicans shut down the federal government because a Democratic president wouldn't tolerate proposed GOP cuts to Medicare. In 2008, the Republican presidential ticket ran on a platform of cutting Medicare.

And in 2009, the chairman of the Republican National Committee has decided, over the course of 24 hours, he's both for and against the Medicare program, for and against Medicare cuts, and for and against privatization.

From there, Steele talked up the ridiculous "death book" lie, either unaware of or unconcerned with reality.

The mind reels.

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

Bookmark and Share

Um, since when have truth, logic or common sense been requirements to be a spokesperson for the Republican Party?

Posted by: Kuyper on August 25, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, it's only Tuesday. You need to correct this paragraph as follows:

On Monday, the RNC chairman said policymakers must ensure that "we are not cutting the Medicare program." On Tuesday, the same RNC chairman said policymakers must realize that Medicare is "bankrupt" and an example of what not to do with health care.
Posted by: Michael W on August 25, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

The lights are on, but nobody's home.

I think that's the bottom line, Steele is simply not a very intelligent person. About on par with Sarah Palin from what I can tell. No ability to separate fact from fiction, just living in your own wacky universe where anything goes.
Members of the MSM aren't exactly geniuses themselves, so they aren't too good and dealing with every crazy thing these people say. Not that they really care anyway.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on August 25, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Just keep talking about how unintelligent the black man is.

The GOP will sweep the Afro American vote in 2010.

Posted by: Mlke K on August 25, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I have a question for you guys. I commonly hear the complaint about Medicare that it goes bankrupt every 7 years or it will be out of money by 2017 or whatever. Anyone got some good links to the facts on Medicare's money problems (or lack thereof) or whether or not the money problems are related to rising health care costs caused by the current system?


Posted by: Elbows on August 25, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, the problem is, it's working. It doesn't matter that it's all bunk. It's all hate-filled noise at this point, and people aren't really listening to the words themselves, they're just getting caught up in the hate. All they're hearing is the part where government is supposedly screwing everything up. That's going to be their takeaway. And because they think the GOP is on the side of protecting them from government, even if it's through destroying a government program they love, it doesn't matter. They're not seeing the massive contradictions through the onslaught of hate.

It's working. And the Media aren't doing anything to cut through that hate. They seem to be egging it on, even outside Fox and friends.

Hate and irrationality sell in America. It's like we've become one big Jerry Springer show.

Posted by: Cuchulain on August 25, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm becoming convinced that the Steele appointment was part of a southern white conservative program to reintroduce Jim Crow. Find an African-American who really is a total idiot, put him in the spotlight in a position of authority, and let him make a fool of himself. I wonder how many of them go back to the home folk, point at Steele, chuckle and whisper, "See?"

Because that's the insidious thing about stereotypes. You can always find a few examples that fit (or appear to fit) the mold. Throw in a little Reaganesque proof by anecdote, and there you are.

Posted by: Randy on August 25, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP will sweep the Afro American vote in 2010.
Posted by: Mlke K

Thanks for the laugh, Mike! I really needed it.

BTW, Steve answered his own question. Steele is not chairman of a major political party. He chairs the Republican Party.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on August 25, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Medicare is the same problem faced by Social Security. At some point all those Baby Boomers will be put on the rolls and there are simply not enough workers to foot the bill. The problems for Medicare are multiplied by the enormous and ever increasing costs of healthcare (especially end-of-life care).

At what this becomes unsustainable is up for debate. But pretty much everyone agrees that absent some type of structural change in how we deal with healthcare in the US the costs will eventually swamp the government or suck up so much in taxes on current workers that the system will collapse.

Posted by: thorin-1 on August 25, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Cuchulain just pretty much stole my thunder, so I'll try to say the same thing in a different way. . .

Steve writes:"The GOP's record on Medicare is clearly embarrassing to the party."

That's only true if anybody is keeping score- or even listening.

What we have here is a fist fight, and everyone wants to watch (ala the Jerry Springer Show). Nobody cares why the fight broke out, or who has the 'facts' on their side.

Posted by: DAY on August 25, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Cuchulain nails it. What matters here isn't consistency, principle and - least of all - policy coherence. What matters is just the attack itself and the noise that preempts any rational discussion.

Probably a third of the nation gets its "information" from right-wing media (Fox, talk radio, chain e-mails), another third gets theirs from snippets heard on the radio and TV (does Obama want to kill your grandma? You decide.), and maybe a third gets actual information from newspapers and mainstream electronic media. The reason we're losing the health-care debate isn't that hard to understand. Two thirds of the nation is profoundly ignorant of the basic issues. We lost the debate before it even started.

Posted by: walt on August 25, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, does Michael Steele post here under the name "Mike K"? Maybe the K stands for K street?

Posted by: DR on August 25, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I swear, if you use the word "confused" to decribe these fuckin liars one more time, I'm gonna personally rip every letter in that word off your keyboard. Then maybe you'll stop using it.

Posted by: bikelib on August 25, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Consistency (or coherence) is unimportant when all you are trying to do is create noise, confuse people and raise doubts.

In fact, the entire point of the GOP's messaging is to push enough emotional buttons (and raise enough fear and outrage) that this will NOT be a rational discussion about policy, in which people will connect the dots and think through the details.

And the media will continue allow people like Steele to do this, since they just love to put on a good freak show for the masses ... and eyeballs mean advertising dollars.


Posted by: Bokonon on August 25, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Al Gore on August 25, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Well, he's covered all the bases, hasn't he -- hate Medicare and wish it was gone? Michael Steele agrees with you! Love Medicare and are afraid the Democrats' plans will ruin it? Michael Steele agrees with you!

People have an unfortunate knack for sifting out the bits that don't support their pre-existing opinions and keeping only that which validates what they already believe.

Maybe I'm giving Steele too much credit here, but he's probably counting on that and saying these contradictory things on purpose.

Posted by: SNS on August 25, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

We forget that most Republicans out there beyond the beltway are decent people. Decent people generally like to try and find common ground with those who disagree with them. But people like Michael Steele manipulate the hell out of these folks by making it seem like the totally confusing position he has created on the far right of the health policy debate is what decent Republicans have to square with the position of the health reform advocates.

With every utterance he makes Michael Steele confirms his frontrunner status for Liar of the Year. Decent people don't like to lie or to be associated with people who do.

It looks like the GOP will be going through a spasmodic purging process over the next several years as one by one the current crop of Republican incompetents, charlatans and bloviators are forced aside.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on August 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

You still don't get it. They don't have to make any sense. They don't have to tell the truth. They don't have to be consistent. They can just throw up whatever false, nonsensical, self-contradictory blather they want to and their tribal followers will organize whatever bits and pieces in their dysfunctional minds into a blob that feels like it means something to them and causes them to worship their leaders and hate THE OTHER. The corporate media will never confront them with the fact that all they are producing is a word salad composed of falsehood, name calling and innuendo. Because, after all, they are the serious ones.

And nobody cares if you, Steve Benen, point it out.

Posted by: cervantes on August 25, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Steele -- the GOP's house negro.

Posted by: Swoosh on August 25, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Consistency is the hobgoblen of small minds.

Obviously, Micheal Steele is demonstrating that he does not have a small mind. The brilliancy of getting major airtime yesterday attacking the dumbocrats for their attacks on Medicare and Medicaid is awesome.

Beyond that, he has demonstrated that he has an open mind and has today restated the proud Republican position that Medicare and Medicaid are worthless and should be privatized.

To reemphasize the points, let me restate our official Republican position:

We lie.
We know we lie.
Our corporately owned media provides us platforms to tell our lies.
There are no penalties for our lies.
We will continue to lie.

We win - you lose!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on August 25, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Steele is a fucking idiot.

the end.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on August 25, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

>The lights are on, but nobody's home.

The lights are on-and-off-and-on-and-off, and they are giving everyone seizures.

Posted by: bartkid on August 25, 2009 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Um, you left out the part about how Steele doesn't even know who his own private insurer is, nor what his deductible is. Talk about living a life, which is not in-touch with reality!

Posted by: shane on August 25, 2009 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

In other news, the chocolate ration will be raised to 20 grams next week...

Posted by: Epicurus on August 25, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

There are too many who do not remember, or never heard, how the private sector dealt with the old, the infirm, the unemployed, before the days of Social Security and Medicare, and unemployment insurance.
Those who will not learn from history...

Posted by: thebewilderness on August 25, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody cares. The Trad Media will never seriously cover that the Republicans have as their titular head a complete moron. We've had eight years to prove that.

Posted by: Punditus Maximus on August 25, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Steele is a genius. By never adhering to a position for more than a day, he's like a hated despot who never sleeps in the same place two nights running - he's ducking and dodging, and you can never say, "Michael Steele said this" because by then he will have said something completely opposite.

Of course, it makes his policy statements totally valueless, but you can't have everything, can you? It'd make for great split-screen TV, though.

Posted by: Mark on August 25, 2009 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Just keep talking about how unintelligent the black man is.

The GOP will sweep the Afro American vote in 2010.
Posted by: Mlke K on August 25, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK


People weren't talking about how unitelligent black men are _in general_. They were talking about how Michael Steele _in particular_ is moronic.

He's also a bad liar, in both senses of the phrase.

As for "unintelligent", anybody who thinks that the black population of the US will jump ship on Obama in 2010 has pretty much said the least intelligent thing I've heard in months.

I suggest you give up on politics and start handicapping ponies instead.

Posted by: Whispers on August 26, 2009 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

In 2008, the Republican presidential ticket ran on a platform of cutting Medicare.

And, if you believe the Wall Street Journal, it wanted to cut Medicare spending by $130 billion a year -- out of a $465 billion-a-year program.

That would have required reducing the Medicare spending growth rate over the next 10 years from the projected 6.5% to below 3% -- less than a percentage point above the expected inflation rate.

And McCain proposed to do all of that by "eliminating fraud" and "reforming payment policies."

And what would the country have gotten in return, under McCain's plan? An estimated 5 million insured Americans, out of an uninsured population of almost 50 million.

Works out to a cost of $250,000 per newly insured American.

But John McCain is a serious man!

Posted by: Peter Principle on August 26, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly