Saturday, May 28, 2011

At Last, Peggy Noonan Says Something Interesting: “We Don’t Accept That Card Anymore.”

I rarely make it through a Peggy Noonan article. Her WSJ column soars into the stratosphere, high above the political fray. She muses in rhetorical flourishes about the human condition. She offers little advice or analysis that I consider of practical use.

Enter the mainstream media and their newfound consensus: The Republican Ryan plan to change Medicare from a card guaranteeing senior citizens medical care to a voucher to buy private insurance will hand the 2012 election to the Democrats.

I suggest that the Republicans offer a prize for the shortest and clearest explanation of why senior citizens are better off with the Ryan voucher. This task is not easy. It requires that voters understand that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” (I offered a parable in my posting of yesterday).

Noonan, so far, is my nominee for the prize. She notes the great political appeal of Medicare as it is currently constituted:

“Here's the great thing about Medicare: You turn 65 and it's there. They give you a card and the nurse takes it. Supporters of Mr. Ryan's Medicare plan must talk very specifically about how this would all work, and why it would make your life better, not worse.”

And here is the nugget buried in her column:

“They also have to make two things clearer. One is that if nothing is done to change Medicare, the system will collapse. You'll give the card to the nurse and she'll laugh: ‘We don't take that anymore.’ This already happens in doctors offices. Without reform it will happen more often.”

“Sorry, we do not take that card anymore” should be the Republican rallying cry.

I can imagine the 20-second commercial: A timid elderly couple walks into the doctor’s office to be told by a frosty receptionist: “Oh, you want to see the doctor. We haven’t taken that card for years. I’d tell you to go at the cash clinic at Walmart but they have been on strike every since they unionized.”

In confusion and tears, the elderly couple stumbles out of the office.

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