The period from January 20th, 2001 until the same day in 2009 was not a good time to be a veteran. Conservative experiments in privatization resulted in the Walter Reed scandal -- America's heroes among rats and moldy walls. The Bushies cut claims processors while tens of thousands of disabled, traumatized new heroes hit the system. As the nation experienced another wave of homeless and unemployed vets, new rules limited benefits. And let's not even talk about a new epidemic of PTSD.
War sucks. Those who fight them must always have the sanctuary of the state -- because that ironclad promise is what makes the army of democracy possible. The republic is the bulwark of all rights and its defense is a high calling, so you will excuse me if my natural reaction to this Maddow segment is to make a sound only a soldier knows how to make.
More after the jump...
Note: "HUAH" is not pronounced like Al Pacino does in Scent of a Woman. It is a single syllable that comes from the toes on up in a motivated burst of enthusiasm. It is best delivered from the position of attention. Ahem.
Maddow zeroes in on Ms. Angle's quote:
ANGLE: He's 87 years old and has Parkinson's and we have to pay more and more for his healthcare. I know he pays over 800 dollars a month in prescription drugs that we can't get through his VA nor through Medicare -- they just wont cover those things. And I know lots of seniors --
BECKER: Should they cover those things?
ANGLE: No, not if you're working towards a privatized system. And he can pay for them. That's my whole point. Even with the system we've got, it's broken, its not covering for every cost that he has. And if he were dependent upon that, he wouldn't be getting the healthcare he needs and that's why we need to fix the system. (Italics mine)
Yes, their costs are going up fast -- but Angle's solution is a weak equivocation. It is not covering all the costs, therefore it needs to be fixed...by going to a privatized system? How would that control costs? In fact, the agency does a terrific job of cutting costs. The VA demolishes every conservative myth about health care, and that makes it a high-value ideological target -- just like Social Security.
Angle only made things worse when she corrected herself: "What I said was we could do better...We pay into it, so in some respects, it is an insurance policy that we bought into with our paychecks." This is utter nonsense: veterans "pay into" the VA system by serving the country. Angle is correct that America can do better, but she won't say how except to hint at privatization.
And this is a problem for Republicans, because throwing veterans on the tender mercies of the free market with a voucher that doesn't cover the costs of health care is an extremely unpopular idea...with anyone, least of all veterans (who vote more often than non-veterans [reg. required]) but also with their families and friends. It's even unpopular with Republicans. Whereas right wing success depends on maintaining all manner of political rationalizations, this is one rationalization very few people are willing to make.
That is what I find exciting about Maddow's segment last night: Republicans are extremely vulnerable on this issue. The only word vets want to hear Angle say is "no,"but it's an answer many in the party of no would have trouble giving if asked. The right may rationalize all it likes, but the cognitive dissonance on this issue is actually a bridge too far.