(March 7)  President Joe Biden could have done a truly constructive thing by writing in Tuesday’s New York Times about the need to save the Medicare system from insolvency. Instead, he spread lies and took political cheap shots, thus offering poison rather than good policy medicine.

Medicare’s finances are indeed precarious. That’s why some of us for two decades have been begging for bipartisancooperativeno-blame efforts to extend the system’s life span. And it’s why we all may need to swallow at least a few mildly unwanted policy changes to get everybody on the same page to save Medicare.

On Tuesday, Biden could have extended an olive branch to Republicans and invited them to join such a reformist effort. Instead, he absolutely bashed Republicans while flagrantly misdescribing how the system works and outrageously promising “savings” as if with a magic wand. This nasty, partisan approach is why almost nothing ever gets done to save Medicare, even as its date of financial doom moves ever nearer.

Here’s how the president first described, and lied about, Republican approaches to Medicare: “For decades, I’ve listened to my Republican friends claim that the only way to be serious about preserving Medicare is to cut benefits. … Some have threatened our economy unless I agree to benefit cuts. Only in Washington can people claim that they are saving something by destroying it.”

First, to say that most major Republican plans propose “benefit cuts” is a flat-out lie. Second, nobody of good faith invites someone to a table by describing them as evildoers intent on destroying the feast. What Biden offered here isn’t public-spirited leadership — it’s an escalation of a political knife fight.

When Biden actually began talking about policy, he didn’t get any better…. [The rest of this column can be found right here.]



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