Compassionate Conservatism: Pretending to Have Our Backs

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    The three guests may be forgiven their lack of business savvy, they are physicians. But the self-proclaimed business icon and Virginia 2nd District Congressman Scott Rigell can’t. In the Republican free market version of a death panel, the four of them claimed to be protecting those over 55.

    Representative Rigell hosted a town hall last night in Virginia Beach. It was billed as “Let’s Talk About Health Care, A Conversation with Members of Congress.” Everyone there recognized that there are problems and issues. There was plenty of chatter. But no one who attended was provided any information that would change their already rigid opinions. Anecdotes passed for evidence. No one on the panel had any credible argument to support positions presented. Everyone applauded statements they supported and ignored information challenging their firmly held assumptions. However one BIG LIE proffered was that grandfathering citizens over 55 in the current Medicare system is some magnanimous, compassionate gesture. Another BIG LIE is that business experience conveys financial acumen. Rigell never recognized the first BIG LIE, demonstrating the second BIG LIE (see Governor Bob McDonnell and ABC).

    “To give us a little background on why this is such an issue going forward for our country, as you can see, the average couple turning 65 today in their lifetimes has contributed a little over $100,000 to the Medicare program over the course of their lives. But because of the increased costs of healthcare and all the technology and all the things we can do for people today, that same couple will have about $300,000 in benefits over the course of their lives.” – Representative Larry Bucshon (M.D.) R-IN

    So, what’s your point, Doctor? That works out to be a surplus of over $54,888.88 at death. $100,000 invested on a straight line over 45 years earning a reasonable (until recently) 5% per annum, compounded, would yield $354,888.88 (game it yourself). A surplus even if the bill was levied on the first day of eligibility; which it isn’t and the balance will continue to accrue interest and grow through the remainder of their hypothetical lives.  

    Yes, this is a simple illustration. But the more complex cases will have similar outcomes. One can quibble all day about the methodology, but it doesn’t change the fact that these fellows have it wrong and Scott Rigell doesn’t understand finance. To present these “facts” and pretend to be doing those who have paid in to Medicare their whole lives a favor is treachery. To send out messengers disguised as compassionate conservatives who may actually buy into the simple lies compounds the fraud being perpetrated.  

    The fact that Rigell’s three guests (Congressman Phil Gingrey (M.D.) R-GA, and Phil Roe (M.D.) R-TN, joined Congressman Bucshon) took time from their schedules to travel to Hampton Roads says something. But it just doesn’t say much about solving the issue. This IS NOT ABOUT increased costs and technology. It IS ABOUT executive and congressional irresponsibility acting as stewards of our nation’s treasure. And if we can’t blame Bush for a thing, then forget about pointing at past Congresses. Congress needs to make this right. And if the current health care law is not the answer, then build a better mousetrap. The United States has an obligation to fulfill its promises to her people. These gentlemen were offering nothing more than the switch of a bait and switch. And the record says this switch is a death knell for Medicare. They are the Medicare death panel.