Serious Business: Lankford Wants To Dismantle Medicare

U.S. Reps. James Lankford and Paul Ryan photo from

U.S. Rep. James Lankford released a self-serving political press release recently that deserves to be noted for its crass partisanship and rhetorical deception.

In it, Lankford depicts himself and his Republican colleague as Serious and Important leaders who have to put up with President Barack Obama’s “MediSCARE” tactics when all they want to do, really, is “to preserve and protect Medicare for future generations.” Right.

Does Lankford, pictured right in the background with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, really believe this or is he just looking for press attention as a freshman congressman with nothing else to do? I choose the latter. He has to run again in 2012, and his support for dismantling Medicare could well play a factor in the election. He needs to qualify it any way he can.

Here’s part of the first paragraph of the release:

Congressman James Lankford (R-OK) joined fellow members of the freshman class at their press conference today calling on President Obama to put an end to their MediSCARE tactics and efforts to demagogue the Republican proposal to preserve and protect Medicare for future generations.

Note the use of the word “MediSCARE” in a sentence that calls for “an end” to “tactics and efforts to demagogue . . .” It simply doesn’t get more obviously partisan or rhetorically deceptive than that. When Democrats speak, it’s demagoguery. When Republicans speak, it’s, as Lankford says later in the release, “serious business.”

So let’s get down to serious business. Lankford, according to the release, apparently supports a plan advanced by Wisconsin’s Ryan that will change Medicare as we know it. If approved, in the future, seniors would receive a voucher from the government and then would have to shop for private health insurance and pay the rest out of their pockets. As everyone knows, health care costs keep going up. It’s quite conceivable that a senior couple, in the future, could have to pay $1,000 or even much more a month to stay insured.

Lankford, according to the release, is upset Democrats are using the word “voucher.” He calls it “premium support.” What’s the difference? He also, according to the release, wants to remind everyone that the proposal doesn’t change anything for people 55 and older, but that brings up some serious questions: (1) How will the government continue to pay for the original Medicare program as it guts it? (2) Would this just be the first step in ending the program altogether, which is want many Republicans really want? (3) Who wants to participate in a health insurance program that is essentially obsolete and gets weaker as the years go on? (4) Do current senior citizens, who often rely on children in their forties and fifties for assistance, want to let Lankford and company hurt the retirements of those very same children?

The bottom line is there’s no way to really demagogue the proposal. It dismantles Medicare, as we know it, and it puts millions of current and future seniors at risk for poorer medical outcomes. Also, does anyone actually believe that the Republicans would stop at this proposal if it were passed?

As Lankford puts it, “Let’s get past all the attacks and get on to the serious business.”
So this is the “serious business” seniors and others in Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District need to do: Vote Lankford out of office in 2012 and elect someone who will actually protect and improve Medicare for everyone.