McCarthy on the Secret History of Medicare

There’s nobody I agree with 100% of the time, but I honestly can’t remember ever finding Andy McCarthy’s commentary lacking. You should take the time to read his take on what Medicare’s architects were really thinking, and why the system deserves to die:
Medicare was a scam from the start. It had to be a scam because its ostensible purpose — providing health insurance for the elderly — was never the objective of its proponents. Instead, Medicare was a stepping stone to a utopia its champions dared not acknowledge: A compulsory universal-health-care system administered by government experts. FDR’s Committee on Economic Security initially intended to issue a health-care plan in conjunction with its universal, compulsory Social Security proposal in 1934. As Cato’s Charlotte Twight recounts, the former was dropped due to fear that pervasive opposition among the public and the medical profession would jeopardize passage of the latter. But Roosevelt got right back to it the day after he signed the 1935 Social Security Act, empowering the new Social Security Board to study the “related” area of health insurance.
There followed three decades of progressive proposals, each shot down by lawmakers animated by fierce public dissent. The Left realized the dream of socializing the health-care sector was not attainable in one fell swoop, so an incremental strategy was adopted: Get a foot in the door with less ambitious proposals; establish the precedent of government control while avoiding debate over the principle of government control. “Incremental change,” said Medicare scholar Martha Derthick, “has less potential for generating conflict than change that involves innovation in principle.” […]

More shrewdly, proponents misrepresented Medicare as an “insurance” program, with a “trust fund” into which working people paid “contributions” and beneficiaries paid “premiums” that would “entitle” them to claim “benefits.” In reality, there is no “trust fund.” Workers pay taxes — at levels that can no longer satisfy the pay-outs for current beneficiaries. This state of affairs was entirely predictable when Medicare was enacted in 1965 with the Baby Boom well underway. Back in the early days, when the program was flush, the surplus of taxes passed from the “trust fund” into the federal treasury, which redistributed the money to whatever chicanery Washington happened to be heaping money on. In return, the “trust fund” got an IOU, which would ultimately have to be satisfied by future taxes (or by borrowing from creditors who’d have to be repaid by taxpayers with interest). And the “premiums” largely turned out to be nonsense, too: The pols endeared themselves to elderly voters by arranging for Uncle Sam pick up more and more of the tab, or by using the government’s newfound market power to demand that providers accept lower payments.
When Medicare was enacted in 1965, the inevitability of its many adverse consequences was crystal clear. The system was grossly underfunded. The fee-for-service structure (expertly described by Capretta) was certain to increase costs exorbitantly with no commensurate increase in quality of care (indeed, care is mediocre, or worse). But most palpably, the fact that government was at the wheel made Medicare instantly ripe for political gaming and demagoguery. The ensuing 46 years have not only made the obvious explicit; Medicare and its tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities are actually worse than even its most fearful early critics predicted it would be.
McCarthy also throws some cold water on Paul Ryan fanboys like Bill Kristol and Charlie Sykes:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich steered the break-out of his presidential campaign into a ditch a couple of weeks ago by suggesting that the Ryan Medicare reform was “right-wing social engineering.” He was wrong, but not for the reason cited by his critics. To be more precise, Representative Ryan’s plan is a surrender to left-wing social engineering on terms the right wing naïvely believes it can accept. Ryan is the darling of a Washington breed of conservative wonk convinced that we can make the welfare state work if we just incorporate a few free-market, family-friendly tweaks […]

Reformers such as Representative Ryan always ignore this inevitable trajectory of entitlement politics. They rationalize that they can make a government-sanctioned bribery system run better, or at least preempt Democrats from making it run worse. Hoping to stave off Medicare, congressional moderates in 1960 passed a bill to provide means-tested medical assistance to the elderly. It only greased the wheels for not only Medicare but Medicaid. In Massachusetts, Romneycare was another well-meaning attempt to install a compulsory statewide health-insurance system that would be less autocratic and costly than the one the Left would have imposed. It is, predictably, a disaster that tends toward ever-more-suffocating government control.
Go read the whole thing, as well as McCarthy’s rebuttal to critic Peter Wehner.
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John Guardiano Responds, Fails (Updated)

As much as I once applauded and cited some of John Guardiano’s work, I could never get over his devotion to the deplorable David Frum, whose dishonesty should repulse all men of goodwill, regardless of political leanings. But his increasingly-hyperbolic attacks on Islam’s critics – including falsely accusing Andy McCarthy of wanting to strip Muslims of First Amendment protection – have confirmed that he and Frum are two peas in a pod.

Guardiano has responded to my post on that point. Since the evidence he originally offered was bogus, he now claims the proof is in McCarthy’s latest book, where McCarthy discusses how Islam is not merely a religion, but also a comprehensive social and political program, and therefore not everything that falls under the banner of “Islam” is constitutionally protected.

The problem, of course, is that McCarthy’s right about both Islam and the general principle that not every “religious” act is covered by freedom of religion. Witch-burning is just one of many things that members of other religions could claim their faith demands; would Guardiano say that by making such an obvious statement, I’m advocating denying First Amendment protection to Puritans? Further, neither statement comes close to claiming that Muslims deserve no religious liberty, or that no aspect of Islam is constitutionally protected.

So, yes, John, you lied about Andy McCarthy, because – like the deranged blowhard you work for – you are psychologically disposed to assume the worst from people who say things the “wrong” way.

I just have three more things to say to John. First, how can you in good conscience write for such a dishonest, demagogic website as FrumForum? Second, as David Swindle has noted, you have yet to clearly demonstrate that your foes’ assessment of Islam is wrong.  Lastly, yes, I believe the Founders would respect Muslims’ true religious liberties, it’s worth noting which assessment of Islam our forefathers would find more accurate. Hint: it’s not yours.

Update: In response, whining about “nastiness.” If I were him, I’d be more concerned about having allied myself with the dishonest “Right” rather than the “vitriolic.”

Does David Frum Make His Writers Fulfill a Lie Quota or Something? (UPDATED)

At ScumForum, John Guardiano has another condescending lecture about how conservatives need to stop being mean to Islam. David Swindle responded to John’s previous effort last week, and overall it suffices as a rebuttal to this one too; go read it.

One detail in particular caught my eye:

National Review’s Andrew McCarthy suggests we might have to reconsider whether the First Amendment ought even to apply to Muslims. After all, he argues, “intolerance is not just part of al-Qaeda; it is part of Islam.”

Woah! A prominent anti-terror conservative advocating a repeal of American Muslims’ First Amendment rights?  Man, if that’s true, National Review ought to fire McCarthy on the spot.

Oh, wait. It’s not true.

In the article Guardiano links, McCarthy makes no mention of the First Amendment at all, much less calls for exempting Muslims from its protections. In fact, McCarthy says:

No one credibly questions the legal right of Muslim landowners to use their property in any lawful fashion. Legality is an irrelevant issue, even if the back-tracking Obama now wants to pretend it is the only one he was really talking about on Friday night. The question here is propriety.

In other words, Guardiano’s lying. Not a shocker – that sort of thing is standard operating procedure at FrumForum.

UPDATE: Guardiano tweets that he’s not lying “at all,” and that details to come later. I look forward to whatever details he’s got, but if McCarthy really did say somewhere that the First Amendment shouldn’t apply to Muslims (a couple of quick Google searches sure haven’t come up with anything, and I have to imagine the Left would be shouting it from the rooftops if it were true), then Guardiano has no excuse for not elaborating or linking to it in the original piece. Basic morality and professionalism should keep people from leveling explosive charges against people if they’re not accompanied by evidence. Guardiano only linked to one example of McCarthy’s words – in which McCarthy expressed the exact opposite of the sentiments attributed to him.

At least John spelled my name right this time. I hear he’s particular about that sort of thing.

News Around the Web

Valentine’s Day and Islam: not exactly the best combination.

More
excellence from Wisconsin’s disappointing Attorney General.

The Texas criminal appellate court
has upheld the recognition of the killing of preborn twins as double homicide.

Andy McCarthy
notices an area where John McCain can genuinely distinguish himself from Clinton and Obama. McCain doesn’t.

Remember Larry Craig? Yesterday the Senate Ethics Committee
lowered the hammer on him.

More liberals “supporting” the troops. Just don’t question their patriotism.

Oh, and Indiana Jones
is back.

A New Addition to Team Mitt

Boston, MA – Today, Governor Mitt Romney announced that Andrew C. McCarthy will be joining his Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts, which is co-chaired by Professor Douglas W. Kmiec, former constitutional legal counsel to President Ronald Reagan, and former Congressman David McIntosh who co-founded the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.

The fact that Andy McCarthy
will be helping advise Mitt Romney and shape his policies ought to be yet another sign of hope for conservatives wary of Romney’s potential.