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By Matthew Rothschild
In his 60 Minutes interview, Mitt Romney made clear that he’d pull the safety net apart.
First, he came out in favor of block-granting Medicaid, housing vouchers, and even food stamps. There would no longer be a federal guarantee of specific benefits for the poor and the disabled.
“I’d take the dollars for those programs, send them back to the states, and say, ‘You craft your programs at your state level and the way you think best.” The problem with that is that many states will erect ridiculously high hurdles for the poor and the disabled to clear before they can get these crucial benefits. And states, which are strapped for revenue, will have an almost irresistible temptation to divert some of this money to cover their budget deficits.
Second, he said he was in favor of means testing for Social Security and for Medicare, which will undercut the universal support for these programs.
And on Medicare, he backed the Paul Ryan approach of giving people who are 55 or younger vouchers to buy their insurance on the private market. That will be a boon to the private insurance companies, but it will force people to pay an estimated $6,000 more than what they otherwise would be paying under the existing Medicare system.
Finally, he said he would repeal “Obamacare,” but he was unable to answer the basic question about how the 50 million uninsured people would get care if he were President. Pathetically, he said: “Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance, people—we—if someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and – and die. We—we pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.” That’s no answer at all. Waiting until people’s arteries are so clogged that they have a heart attack and must utilize expensive emergency room care is insane: It leads to unnecessary deaths, and it’s a foolishly expensive way to provide health care. Rather then encourage cheaper, preventive care, which the Affordable Car Act does, Romney would entrench our existing system. That system provides no federal guarantees of coverage, even though health care is a human right. And it is running health care costs through the roof. This, then, was Romney’s take-away message: Elect me, and you can kiss the safety net goodbye.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Ann Romney, Paul Ryan Spin Themselves Dizzy in Defending Romney."