As supporters try to put Orrin Hatch, 78, out to pasture and literally dislodge Dick Lugar, 79, zealots in the Senate now are showing their hand against all older Americans by trying to end Medicare for current retirees and enrolling them in a health insurance plan now offered to federal employees by the year after next.
A proposal by Sens. Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee would, by their own admission, do nothing to lower long-term costs of Medicare but start the federal program on the road to privatization.
Eligibility age would rise by three months a year for 20 years from age 65 to 70, and premiums would increase on a sliding income scale until those with a $1 million or more a year would pay the full amount.
It’s curious that pols who bitterly oppose raising rates for all billionaires now have no qualms about punishing the older rich, presumably on the theory that their work as “job creators” diminishes with age.
The plan differs from earlier Republican proposals, which excluded those in or near retirement. Asked what he would tell older Americans who expected to be covered by Medicare for the rest of their lives, Sen. Graham offered a politician’s familiar answer that has always set American teeth (even false ones) on edge: “Trust me. It’s a good deal.”
My fellow octogenarians will be thrilled to learn that the GOP wants to spare us from what Sarah Palin called Democratic death panels under Obamacare, but her fellow ideologues have no such qualms about impoverishment.
“Happy 90th birthday, sir, now fork over what’s left in your bank account.”