Fox News Channel video: Sen. Marco Rubio on 'Fox News Sunday' with host Chris Wallace - April 3, 2011.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZRDCHGMILs
Speaking of being articulate and specific about what your own personal policy positions are regarding the looming federal budget battle and the national debt, so that there's no confusion or misunderstanding, as we were the other day with Marco Rubio, the opposite take on that approach causes me to ask aloud whether Sen. Bill Nelson is still among us.
The South Florida news media seems not to be too keen to actually ask Nelson where he stands on any of these things and what he wants to do or cut or anything.
No, they almost seem to be going out of their way to ignore Nelson, which causes me to ask whether that's for his lack of a cogent plan, strategy or framework, or whether it's just that they know in advance that, after eleven years in the Senate, he'll say absolutely nothing noteworthy in his usual earnest, plodding style, and they don't want to waste their time doing that, knowing that it's an hour they'll never ever have again.
Which is one of the reasons that while today is April 3rd, you CAN'T find a single story in the Miami Herald this year where Bill Nelson actually talks about the federal budget and the debt ceiling, and what he thinks should be done or how he will vote.
Go ahead, I dare you.
It simply can't be found -there isn't one.
Yes, with every passing day, collectively, the Miami Herald and the rest of the South Florida news media just continue walking deeper-and-deeper into the black hole of utter irrelevancy...
Fox News Channel video: Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman of U.S. House Budget Comm.: on Fox News Channel's 'Sean Hannity Show' - March 1, 2011 - "House GOP Will Lead Where the President Has Failed"
Rubio is right to push for cuts to senior programs
9:49 PM EDT, April 2, 2011
Marco Rubio says he isn't interested in running for vice president in 2012. And to confirm that, he then said we have to scale back senior entitlement programs.That got him lots of national attention, and a resounding round of silence from his Republican colleagues in Washington.
They didn't win the U.S. House this year, with an eye on the White House next year, only to risk it all by alienating the people who comprise the biggest voting bloc.
You will not see a Republican pointing to the retirees at a Tea Party gathering and saying, "You're the biggest part of the problem.''
Does anyone remember "A Roadmap for America's Future'' put out by Paul Ryan, the whiz-kid, budget-slashing congressman from Wisconsin who wanted to overhaul Medicare?
Or how about that report by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that recommended entitlement cuts?
Associate the word entitlement with the words cut or reform and off you go to the Bermuda Triangle.
I hope Marco fares better.
He says he would keep existing entitlements intact for those older than 55, an attempt to appease what former Sen. Alan Simpson calls the "greediest generation.''
This might work for Social Security, where there is time to fix it.
But Medicare is dragging us off the cliff now. It is so daunting and so complex that Washington is paralyzed.
Tackling Medicare not only means taking on the seniors, but the entire medical industrial complex that depends on Medicare's billions. Sending old folks for body scans is a huge part of the economy.
Taking money away is very hard for a political system designed to give it away.
Making matters worse, many seniors believe that since they have paid into Medicare their entire lives, they have earned their benefits. Reducing benefits equates to theft.
But the cost of medical care has risen so sharply that, on average, seniors now pay for less than half the benefits they receive.
This is what differentiates Medicare from Social Security, where workers indeed have paid for most of their benefits.
With Social Security, they get a single check each month for the same amount. That makes planning relatively easy.
But Medicare is an open checkbook that pays for an unlimited amount of services.
The medical industry has adapted by creating a system based on quantity. More specialists. More tests. More procedures. More medications.
Outcomes and cost-effectiveness do not matter.
This has driven up costs while at the same time we have an exploding population of seniors. Medicare is, by far, the biggest driver of our long-term national debt.
Medicaid, which provides care to the poor, would be right there with it but states share this burden. And a growing percent of the Medicaid budget is directed at nursing-home care.
Sure, we can cut fraud and waste, as the refrain goes. But any savings will be dwarfed by the sheer number of baby boomers entering the system.
During the next 20 years, we will add eight beneficiaries to the Medicare rolls for every new worker. And these seniors will be more obese and laden with more self-inflicted chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Help, we need more immigrants!
I am 56. And as much as I'd like Marco Rubio to include me in the existing system, I don't want to make my kids my indentured servants by having to pay for it.
A worker making $20,000 a year should not have to subsidize health care for snow birds sitting in their Palm Beach condos. We need to adjust premiums, deductibles and co-pays according to income.
People are too disconnected from the cost of their health care. And that encourages abuse of the system.
We need more gatekeepers. We need fewer specialists, and they need to make less money. We need more general practitioners and they need to make more money. We need nurses to diagnose the flu instead of doctors.
We need longer wait times for non-emergency procedures.
We need more docs in Walmart and more Solantic clinics in strip malls.
We need more end-of-life planning to avoid the onslaught of machines that only delay the inevitable.
We need more plans and cheaper options.
We need what we can afford.
We have no choice. The Chinese are going to stop buying our debt.
The longer we put this off, the worse it will be.
It is why Marco Rubio is one of the most important people in Washington right now.
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