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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Hurray for Bill Clinton and Ed Kilgore

I have had some problem getting over my distress about one long ago Ed Kilgore post so it is with great pleasure that I comment that I absolutely think he has found the diamond in the huge pile of jewels which was Clinton's speech.

He wrote

In the progressive takes on Clinton’s speech last night, I was impressed and gratified how much attention is being paid to the significance of the Big Dog’s discussion of Medicaid. Up until now, I’ve felt pretty lonely in excoriating Democrats for having largely ignored this topic (virtually unmentioned at the Convention, I think, until Sister Simone Campbell’s speech yesterday; even HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius failed to go into it).

and quoted the excellent Ezra Klein on a key point

As Clinton notes, much of Medicaid’s spending goes to nursing home care for seniors, and there’s no way Romney and Ryan can cut the program by a third without hurting the seniors who account for the plurality of Medicaid’s spending.
I comment

You are so so soooo right.  The fear of letting middle America know we care about poor people has made many Democrats so cynical that they are stupid.  Medicaid is very very popular.  Opposition to cutting Medicaid is almost as overwhelming as opposition to cutting Medicare (one of many many possible links).

The reason is that not all poor people are "those people."  A few months in a nursing home and a formerly middle class person is eligible for Medicaid.  I'm sure many people actually know this (roughly as many as accept that Medicare is a government program).

The Medicaid puzzle has always been how can there be a huge program for poor people in America.  The reason is, sad to say, based on class.  Medicaid money is not spent mostly on the underclass whose poverty is passed down generation to generation and who can be othered.  It is mostly spent on the newly poor made poor by chronic disease.  People can't other their mother and many know they would be paying for her nursing home care if it weren't for Medicaid.

I am slipping towards cynicism, but the point is that Medicaid is a great program which does absolutely necessary things for poor people who have been poor all their life and it is popular because it is also social insurance for people who were doing OK but now are chronically sick.  That's the ticket -- you can help the poor if the same program helps the middle class (or former middle class if one insists that class can change quickly).

Also and totally separately, I will fight to reverse the 1996 welfare reform and especially for a 10 fold increase in foreign aid.  But I will be careful to make it clear that I am arguing against the Democratic party when I do so. (can't punch hippies if there are no hippies to punch).

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