I knew I was at the right place when I saw this minivan parked outside Janesville's Municipal Building where Rep. Paul Ryan was hosting a listening session. Inside, the city council chamber was cramped with about 150 people seated and another 40 including media workers standing around in the perimeter aisles and huddled at the center entrance door.
The crowd was not the typical pro-Ryan crowd that I've come to expect at Ryan's hometown meetings where usually a solid majority are members of his local political cheerleading network. This time there were many citizens prepared to challenge his assertions. A few even had charts and graphs of their own only to be discounted by Ryan claiming that he could produce a chart showing an opposite view. One citizen pointedly stated that Ryan voted for most of the debt that he now wants to fix on the backs of seniors. Ryan avoided those remarks with poofy contortions that it's time to move forward, etc. Several of Ryan's answers appeared to be deliberately stretched out into nauseating time-killing recitals of individual responsibility about fostering growth to build a larger tax base and personal wealth.
One item that struck me was that Ryan openly admitted that health care costs are rising much faster and higher than the standard rate of inflation. He never however directly connected the industry's rocketing inflation rates and high costs to his "shorted" vouchers OR as the main problem driving Medicare's instability except to explain later that somehow costs will magically go down once the private health care insurance companies start fighting for your voucher payment. The on-your-own individual he insists, will have more leverage than the US Government does when it comes to exerting power for lower prices. Of course Ryan does not offer his so-called competitive lower price "advantage" to current seniors to help lower the costs for future seniors - but only those currently under the age of 55.
The second item of interest was Ryan's statements about giving states more control over social and poverty programs while at the same time boasting on how well the non-state Medicare Part D is performing. Ryan seems to cherry pick and save the programs that have a strong relationship with Big Business for congressional control, while throwing the bones and toast to the states under a federal block grant. But if Ryan felt so strongly about state control and rights, he would have insisted Big Pharma deal with the states and not voted for Medicare Part D. Ryan is clearly fighting for Big Lobby interests and he wants to keep it that way. There's just too much money at stake.
When another member of the audience was telling Ryan that Washington politicians are sell-outs to Big Money and we need to get rid of lobbyists, Ryan laughably took out his pen and notebook and appeared to be jotting notes as if that was the first time he's ever heard of such a thing. I was rolling my eyes at the play acting.
The problem with Ryan's convenient deception is that the rising costs and out-of-control inflation in the nation's private health care industry is the nation's biggest driver of debt and uncompetiveness not with only the federal budget, but state budgets, business budgets and family budgets as well - and it is now endangering Medicare. Medicare is a victim - not the suspect. There can be no doubt that Ryan's plan to end Medicare as we know it is an effort to wrest the power of government insurance away from individuals during our most vulnerable years and turn our hardship over to the profiteers on Wall Street for private financial gain - that is his path to prosperity. His plan to privatize profits for the health insurance industry is very different than Obama's plan, but like Obama's, it offers absolutely nothing in the way of slashing health care costs and fixing the real problem.
Also read: Best way To Fight Deficits