Paul Krugman wrote a piece published in the New York Times called “Messing with Medicare” where he questions why President Obama is contemplating raising the age of eligible Americans in order to get a deal with Republicans to raise the debt-ceiling.
“Also, did I mention that Republicans are doing all they can to undermine health care reform — they even tried to undermine it as part of the debt negotiations — and may eventually succeed? If they do, many of those losing Medicare coverage would find themselves unable to replace it.”
“So raising the Medicare age is a terrible idea. Means-testing — reducing benefits for wealthier Americans — isn’t equally bad, but it’s still poor policy.”
President Obama wanted to reduce the “Empathy Deficit” on the 2008 Campaign trail: Where are we today?
In his 2008 presidential campaign and in other instances President Obama spoke frequently about bridging the “empathy deficit.” Why then does he think it is OK to make it more difficult for seniors to get Medicare or Social Security?
President Obama: 2008 Campaign
Question from Curry on the Trail (From the Today Show): What was the best thing your Mom every taught you?
Obama: “Empathy. Making sure that you can see the world through somebody else’s eyes; stand in their shoes. I think that’s the basis for kindness and compassion.”
Road to the White House – MSNBC debate
“Part of what we’ve lost is a sense of empathy towards each other. We have been governed in fear and division. And we talk about the federal deficit but we don’t talk enough about the empathy deficit—a sense that I stand in somebody else’s shoes; I see through their eyes–People who are struggling trying to figure out how to pay the gas bill or try to send their kids to college. We are not thinking about them at the federal level.
That’s the reason I am running for President because I want to restore that.”
Walking in the Shoes of our Senior Citizens:
President Obama ran in 2008 on the importance of being able to “stand in another person’s shoes.” Raising the age of eligibility for Medicare for our elderly shows a lack of empathy for their needs and concerns.
As President Obama said, he ran in 2008 to understand the needs of working people. He ran to “restore” a sense of “empathy” and fairness to the American system of government where people making fiscal decisions in the federal government think about the needs of the majority of Americans.
Spouting off about “deficits” without understanding the costs to Americans from heartless cuts to Medicare and Social Security is widening the empathy gap. In order to close the divide, President Obama must set the tone and help Congress understand that the debt-ceiling is separate from Medicare and Social Security. Connecting the issues is an artificial attempt to hold these successful programs hostage. It is unfair and uncalled for.
It is the role of Americans to let Congress and President Obama know their concerns about putting Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block as the sacrificial lamb to raise the debt-ceiling.
William Ury, negotiator and conflict resolution expert, mentions that the community plays the role of “the third side” in helping to bring parties in conflict to gain a better perspective on how to resolve an issue for a “sustainable solution” which meets the needs of all parties. It is time for Americans to step up and bring sanity to the debt-ceiling negotiations so our politicians gain insight into what will be in the best interest of all Americans, not just the top 1%.
Negotiation Expert William Ury said in a TED Talk presentation in Chicago:
“And the third side of the conflict is us. It’s the surrounding community; it’s the friends, the allies, the family members, the neighbors; and we can play an incredibly constructive role.”
“Perhaps the most fundamental way in which the third side can help is to remind the parties of what’s really at stake, you know for the sake of the kids, for the sake of the family, for the sake of the community, for the sake of the future.”