This editorial will probably get a lot of attention but I think it’s horrible advocacy and hurts the people it’s intended to help:
More than three-fifths of the cuts proposed by Mr. Ryan, and eagerly accepted by the Tea Party-driven House, come from programs for low-income Americans.
Mr. Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment,” the bishops wrote in an April letter to the House. “These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”
I don’t want to save Mitt Romney’s soul. I want to beat him. In order to do that I have to get around this kind of pious, useless saccharine moralizing and tell the truth about who benefits from the programs Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan told us they will cut. I have to tell that truth to working and middle class voters, not speak to Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan, because Romney and Ryan are beyond reaching. If you’re going to appoint yourself an advocate for “the poor” be a smart advocate, use your head, make an argument that reaches voters, and for God’s sake give up on trying to shame conservatives by beating them over the head with the religion they use to get elected. That’s a loser. It hasn’t worked once in 30 years. Try something else.
Going along with the nonsense that Romney-Ryan are selling, that these programs only benefit “the poor” harms “the poor”. Cutting “the poor” out of the herd and making them the objects of whatever charitable impulses Republicans may or may not have hurts “the poor”.
So lay off the poor and start telling middle class and working class people how these programs benefit them. The best way to protect the poor, who really are vulnerable, is to have working class and middle class people standing in front of them. Oh, and the next time I hear some elite pundit whining about liberals engaging in “class warfare” I would like them to explain why Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are permitted to set the working class and middle class against the poor every fucking day, but one liberal suggests raising taxes on the uber-wealthy and our elite pundit class go into a tizzy. You wanna see some real class warfare listen to Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney demonize the poor in an attempt to win over the working class and middle class. They’re doing it today. Right now. Where’s the outrage, pundits? This is class warfare!
Romney and Ryan want to drastically cut Medicaid. Who benefits from Medicaid? The poor, obviously, but also the children of the working class and the elderly parents of the working and middle class, who rely on Medicaid to pay for “long term care” (pdf):
Over 7 million of Medicaid’s 50 million beneficiaries are “dual eligibles,” low-income elderly and individuals with disabilities who are enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare. While Medicare covers basic health services, including physician and hospital care, dual eligibles rely on Medicaid to pay Medicare premiums and cost-sharing and to cover critical benefits Medicare does not cover, such as long-term care.
Dual eligibles comprised 18% of all Medicare beneficiaries in 2000, but they accounted for 24% of total Medicare spending. Similarly, they represented 16% of all Medicaid enrollees but 42% of program spending.
Got that? 40% of Medicaid spending goes to elderly and disabled. They’re “the poor”, sure, but they’re also the children and parents of working and middle class people.
If you have an elderly parent who requires long-term care and cannot afford long-term care and Romney and Ryan cut Medicaid, you have two options. You can pay for that long-term care yourself (which you won’t be able to do if you’re a middle class wage-earner) or you can quit your job and care for that elderly parent. If you’re a working class or lower middle class parent and your children qualify for Medicaid under SCHIP or any other program, Romney and Ryan are threatening to take health insurance away from your children. Not “the poor”. You. Your children.
Medicaid benefits working class and middle class people, now, today, and Romney-Ryan want to gut it. That’s how I’ll be presenting The Romney-Ryan Plan to voters face-to-face in this white working class county because that’s the truth. “The poor” will thus benefit without being made the abstract objects of appeals to pity or charity, and we can finally start the long, slow process of telling the truth about who gets what in this country. We can start admitting that MOST of us benefit from federal programs, either directly or indirectly.
I benefitted directly from a federal-state program for poor pregnant women 22 years ago. I was temporarily poor. I’m no longer poor. The healthy baby that resulted from that excellent low-cost subsidized maternity care I received 22 years ago is now working and paying taxes. Soonergrunt wrote a wonderful, brutally honest piece where he told us he once (gasp!) received aid when his family was in a bind. Soonergrunt works and pays taxes. He was temporarily poor. He’s no longer poor. There are a LOT of us with these stories. If we want to help “the poor” we should tell these stories and stand in front of them, with them, not cut them off and set them apart and beg on their behalf. “The poor” will be better for it, and so will the rest of us, because we’ll be living in reality.