By Matthew Rothschild on September 24, 2012

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."

 

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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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