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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/15/11

Stop the Bipartisan Assault on Medicare. Support the People's Budget.

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Message Claudia Chaufan

So, folks, what is the greatest danger affecting the nation?


You might think that it is a completely out of control military machinery, which has maimed or murdered millions of innocents throughout the world and made a mockery of our so-called "American values". Or maybe it is the eight million families thrown out of their homes over the last three years while bankers sit on big piles of cash and Wall Street gangsters are paid corporate bonuses at taxpayers' expense. Yet another good candidate for "greatest danger to the nation" would be the 50 million uninsured, many of them lining up in health fairs throughout the country, such as that at the Oakland Coliseum this past week, to receive free medical care from organizations like Remote Medical Area, that conducts medical "expeditions" in the "Third World".


But then, you would be wrong.


As President Obama announced in his Wednesday evening address, our Greatest Danger is"the Federal Deficit. And he said this with a straight face, and to frantic applauses from many Very Important People, including many "progressives".


Now, you would imagine that, in order to fight this Greatest Danger, the president has proposed to end wars, raise taxes on millionaires or billionaires, or eliminate the cancer of a health-care system that spends at least a third of each health care dollar avoiding the sick. And that he's proposed instead to replace it with a truly universal, comprehensive and high quality Medicare for All, supported by over half of the population and close to 60% of US physicians, and with the power to reduce the deficit by half a trillion dollars in the first year alone.


But you would be wrong again. Instead, Obama is out to slash domestic spending, increase the military monster until it devours whatever good is left of this nation, and assign an unelected "commission" the power to "overhaul" (dismantle in Washington speak) an American symbol of solidarity: Medicare, or what it's left of it after years of encroaching privatization.


Granted, the Republican alternative is outright brutal: the latest star in Capitol Hill, Paul Ryan, has proposed to turn Medicare into an all but worthless voucher program that will send impoverished seniors to comparative-shop for the sort of policies that are leading an increasing number of Americans to bankruptcy when they need serious health care. And it launches a open war on the poor, turning Medicaid (health care for the poor) into confetti, and slashing the food stamps program, support for child care, the environment, and the rest of socially useful services other than the military.


So it is really not hard to score political points if you spend at least half an hour denouncing the Republicans' plan, as Obama self-righteously did, because whatever you do will look good by comparison.


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Claudia Chaufan, M.D., Ph.D., is Associate Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also a member of Physicians for a National Health Program-California (http://pnhpcalifornia.org/).

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