Why What Howard Dean Says About The Ryan-Romney Plan To Voucherize Medicare Is Important

There are young people out there and even older folks who say this:  “I’m sorry, but the only thing I know about Howard Dean is the [fake] scream.” Link to how it was faked.

So just for the record, Howard Dean was a six-term governor of Vermont and ran a grassroots and internet-based campaign for president in 2004 on a platform of opposition to the war in Iraq, health care for everyone, fiscal responsibility and media reform.  After John Kerry won the Democratic nomination, Dean was then the overwhelming choice of state Democratic party chairs around the country to be the chair of the DNC.  Dean is also a physician who successfully implemented universal health care coverage for children in the state of Vermont.  This is why the media allows him to come out when the conversation is about Medicare, Medicaid and health care reform.  Howard Dean is not a darling of the media because he tends to tell the truth which  TV abhors.

Yesterday, Governor Dean was a Roundtable guest on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.  As soon as Dean began to speak he was interrupted by the host, attempting to correct Dean when he called the Ryan-Romney plan for Medicare a “voucher” program, and  inserting Romney’s preferred talking point!   (Then Peggy Noonan was allowed to loftily pontificate on and on. But that’s why it will be good when Up! With Chris Hayes is back on Sundays).

I’ve recently been thinking that  “privatize” is not the best Democratic talking point to communicate what the GOP wants to do with Medicare. “Privatize” makes it sound sort of benign, like oh, it’s going to be the same program, just administered by insurance companies, kind of like insurance is now, that doesn’t sound too terrible, nothing to get upset about, nothing to see here folks, just move along…”   The word “privatize” doesn’t really cause your internal alarm system to go off like “voucherize” does.  With the word “voucher” the brain automatically conjers up images of layers of frustrating bureaucratic red tape with little certainty that it’s going to work out.  The word “voucherize” correctly reveals that the complete gutting of the Medicare program is Ryan and Romney’s true intent. In a single word, you get it, you understand that this would be an end to the Medicare program. Period.

And think about this.  If the Medicare program were ever to be God forbid reduced to a system of vouchers to help buy private insurance with,  how hard would it be after that for them to chip away at it, or in the words of that great GOP thinker Grover Norquist, “drown it in the bathtub?”

Take note, progressives.  The word is “voucherize” not “privatize.”  Here’s Governor Dean.

Howard Dean: “Ryan is going to give a real choice. That’s exactly what Romney was trying to avoid before, he was trying to move toward the middle  and Ryan makes it impossible for him to do that.  Ryan wants a voucher program for Medicare – well, that’s anathema to some of the independents and seniors…”

George Stephanopoulos:   “No he [Romney] doesn’t like that word,  he calls it premium support…”

Howard Dean:  “Yeah, it’s a voucher program.   That’s what it is.  You get a piece of paper from the government you can use,  to spend it on buying health insurance and if you have to pay more too bad for you.  It’s a voucher program.

You can go to ABCNews.com to watch the Roundtable portion of the show.

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