Is there anyone in America today who does not have at least one family member on Medicare or receiving Social Security? If there is, that person has no family members at all.
Which is why I find the repugs' eagerness to trash both extremely popular programs extremely disquieting. Yes, they're stupid, but they're not suicidal.
The wingnuts all believe they're going to live forever and nothing bad can ever happen to them. Here's the GOP's Great Hispanic Hope on Medicare and Social Security:
These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.
Isn't that nice? If only we could go back to the days of Ward and June Cleaver when everyone took care of each other and didn't need things like money or health insurance when they got old and sick and couldn't work. Back in the good old days everyone took care of the poor and there was no suffering or pain. It was one big happy family. Except, of course, that's just crap.
Think Progress reports:
[P]rior to Medicare’s enactment in 1965, “about one-half of America’s seniors did not have hospital insurance,” “more than one in four elderly were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns,” and one in three seniors were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line.
Listening to Rubio's rhetoric takes us all the way back to Ronald Reagan's famous jeremiads against these "socialist" programs. But there used to be another way of talking about this which people seemed to understand quite well. Here's an excerpt of the comments by President Johnson on the signing of Medicare into law in 1965:
It was a generation ago that Harry Truman said, and I quote him: "Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and to enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. And the time has now arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and to help them get that protection."
Well, today, Mr. President, and my fellow Americans, we are taking such action--20 years later. And we are doing that under the great leadership of men like John McCormack, our Speaker; Carl Albert, our majority leader; our very able and beloved majority leader of the Senate, Mike Mansfield; and distinguished Members of the Ways and Means and Finance Committees of the House and Senate--of both parties, Democratic and Republican.
Because the need for this action is plain; and it is so clear indeed that we marvel not simply at the passage of this bill, but what we marvel at is that it took so many years to pass it. And I am so glad that Aime Forand is here to see it finally passed and signed--one of the first authors.
There are more than 18 million Americans over the age of 65. Most of them have low incomes. Most of them are threatened by illness and medical expenses that they cannot afford.
And through this new law, Mr. President, every citizen will be able, in his productive years when he is earning, to insure himself against the ravages of illness in his old age...
No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts.
And no longer will this Nation refuse the hand of justice to those who have given a lifetime of service and wisdom and labor to the progress of this progressive country.
President Harry Truman, as any President must, made many decisions of great moment; although he always made them frankly and with a courage and a clarity that few men have ever shared. The immense and the intricate questions of freedom and survival were caught up many times in the web of Harry Truman's judgment. And this is in the tradition of leadership.
But there is another tradition that we share today. It calls upon us never to be indifferent toward despair. It commands us never to turn away from helplessness. It directs us never to ignore or to spurn those who suffer untended in a land that is bursting with abundance...
And this is not just our tradition--or the tradition of the Democratic Party--or even the tradition of the Nation. It is as old as the day it was first commanded: "Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, to thy needy, in thy land."
And just think, Mr. President, because of this document--and the long years of struggle which so many have put into creating it--in this town, and a thousand other towns like it, there are men and women in pain who will now find ease. There are those, alone in suffering who will now hear the sound of some approaching footsteps coming to help. There are those fearing the terrible darkness of despairing poverty--despite their long years of labor and expectation--who will now look up to see the light of hope and realization.
What, no paeans to the free market defensively thrown in there to ensure that nobody thought he was some kind of a liberal squish? How odd.
So we're back to arguing first principles with silly young men embarrassingly proclaiming that our great nation requires that (lazy) old people depend on their children to support them or go begging in the streets, like they used to do, essentially so "productive" people won't have to pay taxes for anything but lots of cops and lots of soldiers. Isn't that what America is really all about?
Like most boomers, I have elderly parents who have endured multiple surgeries and medical procedures since they turned 65. Without Medicare, those treatments would have bankrupted my parents, my siblings and me. Or my parents would have died, slowly and painfully, of untreated ailments.
Yes, that's the world the GOP wants to re-create: bankruptcy or suffering, your choice.