Simplistic repetition of rhetoric in politics regardless of issue facts or complexity is a tool that has been used with great success on the right to deceive citizens into supporting actions counter to their own interests. It raises its head frequently in the fiscal posturing machinations of today’s über-conservatives’ attacks on progressive taxation, spending that benefits people over political profits, and the mindless worship of the free market which really stands for corporations being free to harm common citizens.
Getting the lie of equivalency into circulation is the very first step. Whether it is hanging a banner on Maine’s GOP headquarters saying “Working People Vote Republican” to create an unbalanced perception or planting the specter of a mushroom cloud in the public’s mind to get the nation’s war blood up, this deceptive and simplistic approach is used time and time again to our detriment. And so the images of Republicans “having ladders on their trucks” and Iraq attacking with nuclear weapons us if we do not attack them first are evoked to push actions which makes no sense. Their objective is to ignore the core truth by using a lie of equivalency that only serves to heighten partisanship and destroy consensus, compromise, or cooperation.
A now a brand new lie of equivalency is being tested by Republican Paul Ryan as detailed at Talking Points Memo:
…Ryan reframed the entitlement cuts in his budget as "strengthen[ing] welfare for those who need it,"…
Ryan and his allies trotted the concept of changing Medicare to a voucher program that would put one of the most popular, effective, and needed entitlements on the pathway to filling private insurance company profit coffers and diminishing the level of effective help to citizens by both that action and allowing the benefit to shrink over time in relation to rising health care costs. Ryan and company got a strong negative reaction from across the political and public spectrum and even many Republicans raced to distance themselves from the rapid Ryan repulsion reaction.
Ryan didn’t have a good lie in place and just got the obligatory “at least he’s trying to do something and put something out there so we can chat about something and water down something so it looks like we do something” banter. But the powers to be do not want to address the deficit with appropriate progressive tax structures and tough decisions around exorbitant defense spending exemptions from reality. With quick turnaround, a GOP desirable lie is being auditioned to equate Medicare with welfare.
Thus cutting Medicare equals strengthening welfare for those who need it. “Those who need it” will be subject to strict and stern definition. In one fell swoop Medicare is the same as welfare and should now guide the future of the program. First there might be WelfareMedicare vouchers, followed perhaps by WelfareMedicare means testing, and of course finally elimination of the WelfareMedicare nanny state.
Medicare evokes a positive image of government serving all people well for their societal betterment, the essence of an advantageous entitlement because you are fortunate enough to be a United States citizen. The image of welfare in this context is designed to do precisely the opposite and reinforced by the misleading argument of need as a tepid low value positive over entitlement as an outright negative connotation. Ryan’s pairing of the two, a lie of equivalency, is poised now for rhetorical repeating and will be coming to a GOP theater near you.
* Based on 2010 estimated Medicare enrollment.