Boy, I'm really disappointed at Chris Matthews for this interview with Rep. Marsha Blackburn. He made all of the right points about what Paul Ryan's proposed budget is going to do to the Medicare program and that seniors are not going to be able to afford to pay for their health care if they're forced to shop for private insurance, but he allowed her to keep repeating her talking points without challenging her and had to throw a line in there about how much he respected her.
This is not exactly the treatment we've seen him give others on a regular basis on his show. Normally you can't stop him from interrupting and talking over his guests. Makes me wonder why he decided to handle her with kid gloves.
It would have been nice to see her challenged about how seniors were supposed to afford their care when Ryan's plan is not going to keep up with the rate of medical inflation. Maybe someone could ask Matthews to watch Jon Stewart's segment on Paul Ryan's sham of a budget from the previous day before he has another Republican on his show defending it.
The Republicans are desperate to pretend like they're not really getting rid of Medicare, but I don't think all of the interviews like this one in the world are going to help them once people start taking a good look at Ryan's proposals. Blackburn also made sure to add the caveat that this isn't going to affect anyone over the age of 55. Does she think those people don't care about what happens to their children and grandchildren? And does she think anyone under 55 isn't going to care that those benefits aren't there for them any more?
MATTHEWS: OK, let`s talk about the two big issues. Let`s talk about Medicare and defense. Medicare -- everybody knows that`s driving the budget. Let me ask you this right now. Can we tell seniors that instead of paying for their health benefits, which we do now -- the federal government does now under Medicare -- that we`re going to give them a check which will pay a portion of their medical cost, and then they have to go out and find an insurance company to insure them. Do you think that`s good idea? That`s the Ryan idea. Is that a good idea?
BLACKBURN: What we have in the Ryan budget, where seniors have more options, more -- things that are -- more familiar to them via Medicare Advantage. What you`re going to see is more options for seniors, but these won`t kick in until you get to -- I think it`s 2021. So people that are under 55, 54 years old --
BLACKBURN: -- are going to see a change and it will be --
MATTHEWS: What`s the option here?
BLACKBURN: -- similar to the Medicare Advantage program.
MATTHEWS: Tell them there`s no more Medicare -- but you say they have an option, but they don`t have an option of keeping Medicare as it is. They don`t have that option under the Ryan plan.
BLACKBURN: They have an option of expanding the coverage that they have. Talk to people that are in the Medicare Advantage program. It works.
MATTHEWS: No, no.
BLACKBURN: They`re happy with it.
BLACKBURN: They like having --
BLACKBURN: -- the opportunity to have --
MATTHEWS: This is where we go into -- I respect you, Congresswoman. You`ve been elected so many times, and you`re great to come on the show. But here`s the problem. The reason Medicare was passed in the `60s is because the private sector wasn`t providing medical care for people. Once you reach your 70s and 80s, nobody`s going to bet on you having great health. They know it`s going to be expensive. You`re going to be making a lot of costs for that company. So the government has to pay it. That`s why people have Medicare, why they like it. You`re saying a private company is going to go out and insure somebody in their 70s and 80 against not having big medical costs? They`re going to think that`s a good investment?
BLACKBURN: Chris, I`ve got to tell you, as we have talked with our near-seniors and with seniors, those that have more options like having more options. They will tell you that. But the Ryan budget does not touch those that are seniors and near-seniors. It moves back down -- remember, Medicare is a program that has been coming -- that money has been coming out of your paycheck. The government has first right of refusal on your paycheck. What we want to do is preserve the program.
The way you do that is to move back down the age tables a little bit and then say, Let`s look at options and give you more options. And do I think it`s going to work? Yes, I do. Did the prescription drug benefit program come in under budget? Yes, it did. Have seniors responded and have insurance companies responded to the opportunity to provide --
MATTHEWS: OK --
BLACKBURN: -- seniors with more options? Yes, indeed, they have. And I think that what we need to do is realize that cutting what the federal government spends --
MATTHEWS: OK --
BLACKBURN: -- beginning to make some serious decisions and have some adult conversations needs to be done. And for the future --
MATTHEWS: I agree with you. I agree with you about that.
BLACKBURN: -- of my two grandsons, I`m willing to have those conversations.
Full transcript here.
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