In Which Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post Fisks Michael Steele and Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post
The only thing about the Washington Post's publication of Michael Steele's oped on Monday worse than the oped itself was the fact that Fred Hiatt had published it.
Steven Pearlstein replies:
The New Republican Plan to Bankrupt America: Michael Steele... revealed a secret Republican plan that would end up eliminating all federal farm subsidies; closing down Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks; selling off the interstate highway system; and canceling Head Start, subsidized school lunches and the entire college loan program... [in] an op-ed piece this week in The Washington Post in which the party chairman committed the GOP to spending an ever-increasing share of the federal budget, and the national income, on Medicare. When combined with other Republican promises -- to balance the budget, protect defense spending and never, ever raise anyone's taxes -- the inescapable inference is that the government would run out of money for every other domestic program sometime around 2035.
Steele's stunning announcement brings the conservative strategy of "starving the beast" to a new level... eliminating half a dozen Cabinet agencies, firing tens of thousands of government workers and ending government regulation as we know it.... Steele promised that under the Republican health-care plan, runaway Medicare spending would continue untreated and unabated. Not only would that mean no cuts in benefits, but it would ensure that reimbursement rates to doctors, hospitals and drug companies would continue to rise faster than inflation, regardless of how much they earn or how unnecessary or wasteful the services they provide. Any effort to contain future spending growth, Republicans now believe, is nothing more than a "raid" on Medicare, the government-run health plan that Republicans were against before they were for it.
The country's top Republican official also vowed to cut off all federal funding for research....
According to Steele, Republicans will also seek to outlaw "any effort to ration health care based on age." You don't have to be a lawyer like Steele to understand that would effectively make it a federal crime for any hospital to refuse a heart transplant to a 95-year-old....
After reading his broadside, one is left wondering exactly what health reform plan Steele thought he was attacking. At one point, Steele claims that Democrats would prevent Americans from keeping their doctors or an insurance plan they like. Later, he warns that government will soon be setting caps on how many heart surgeries could be performed in the United States each year. Where is he getting this stuff? Has the chairman of the Republican Party somehow gotten hold of a top-secret plan for a government takeover of the health-care system that GOP operatives snatched during a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters?
If all that sounds like a spurious and unsubstantiated allegation, it is. And it fits right in with the cynical lies, distortions and political scare tactics that Steele and other Republicans have used to poison the national debate over health reform.
Have you no shame, sir, have you no shame?
We need a very different opposition party to the Democrats--and a very different newspaper in Washington DC.