How You Can Help Save Medicare
I’m still reeling from this election: from the reality of what a Trump administration may mean, from the heartbreak of having the hope that my daughter would experience childhood with a woman as president crushed by the most gruesome caricature of a leader imaginable becoming the president elect. I've been feeling like I don't know what to do or where to begin in the days following the election--I’m exhausted. I came out of my post-election fugue state already behind on grading the papers my students turned in on November 7, and in the face of a white nationalist taking the reins in the White House, I’m struggling to care if the research project proposal I just read fourteen times without processing deserves a B or a B-. In between reminding myself to keep doing my job, I’ve been grasping for a better use of my time than compulsively reading too much news and feeling like barfing. Money is tight right now; I can only make small donations to the organizations we’re going to need in the next few years: The ACLU, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood
If you are feeling like me, here is a starting place, here is something you can do: you can work to save Medicare. We are going to need to fight as hard as we can to preserve whatever social safety net we can in the next few years. I know that many of us are scared to see Obamacare and the Medicare expansion rolled back--we have friends and family and fellow citizens with disabilities and chronic illness who will die if they are dropped from insurance because these programs are eliminated.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I would much prefer an expansion of Medicare to cover all USians to the private markets created by Obamacare. Well, here’s the thing. Paul Ryan has had the privatization of Medicare in his budget for years, and he sees the chaos of the Trump transition as his best option to pass it. Instead of expanding it, we face losing it altogether. Ryan has said that he hopes to have a vote on this on inauguration day--that's probably ambitious, but it's clear that he plans to move quickly. If you're wondering why Ryan won't disavow Steve Bannon? It's because he's happy to make nice with a white supremacist if it means he can finally destroy Medicare.
This is going to happen fast so that it doesn't get covered in the media--the transition team sideshow is going to distract from the actual legislative action that's about to take place.
Talking Points Memo has been covering this--Ryan's statements on the issue, a change on the Trump transition website yesterday from stating that he won't touch entitlements to stating that he will support Ryan's plan.
The best thing you can do is to call your representative and your senators on the phone and tell them that you are very concerned about the destruction of Medicare by privatization, and you do not support this action.
Don’t send an email, don’t send a form letter, don’t send an actual letter on paper--that shit has to be irradiated before your senator touches it, which means she probably won’t get it until February, when this issue may be moot. There’s a great roundup of tweets from former congressional staffer Emily Ellsworth making the rounds that explains why a phone call is the best choice. It’s not enough to share this post on Facebook; you need to call your representatives.
If you have a Republican representative, it’s likely the office will deny having knowledge or position on this issue. Again, Talking Points Memo is doing fantastic ground work on this:
A lot of you have been writing in that you've contacted members of the House and Senate and they simply refuse to tell you how their bosses will vote on Paul Ryan's Medicare Phaseout plan. They've never heard of it; there's no bill; the boss doesn't have a position yet. Yada yada yada. Here's something that will help. There is a plan. In fact, there's a bill. And virtually every member of the House at least has voted on it. The Ryan Medicare Phaseout proposal is part of the Ryan budget which has been voted on in the House every year since 2011.
. . .
The budget passed by a vote of 219 to 208. All 219 were Republicans, all but 26 members of the GOP caucus. Did your Rep vote for it? Easy enough to find out. Here's the roll call. For all 219 of them, they've already voted for the plan. They know about it because they voted for it. So no one can wriggle out of saying they don't know about it or there's no plan or they haven't announced a position yet. They already voted for it - at least if they're among the 219 who voted for it.
The only question is whether they plan to vote on it again now that Obama's veto pen is out of the way.
So here’s what you do:
Check the roll call for the vote on the Ryan budget. Know how your rep voted when you call.
Put all three numbers in your phone. You are going to need to call them a lot in the next four years.
Call each of the numbers and leave a message.
When you call your representatives, make sure you:
State that you are a constituent and be prepared to provide your zip code and/or address.
State that you are opposed not only to the elimination of Medicare, but also to the privatization of Medicare. It’s unlikely that anyone planning to vote for this will be willing to call it “the destruction of Medicare” or “the elimination of Medicare”.
I am pretty worried about the state of our democracy right now. I don’t know how this administration is going to change our governmental institutions. But right now, there are still certain norms in place, and your representatives will pay attention if they are flooded by calls. It’s not enough for any one of us to take this step. After you’ve done this? Get your mom to do it. Get your sister to do it. Talk to your friends, and help them find the numbers they need to call. Tell them about your experience so they’re not nervous about making the call.
This is important, and it’s something you can do today. You don’t have to leave the house, and you don’t have to have any money. I promise you: when you’re done, you’ll feel a little bit better.