As Chuck Pierce reminds us, the biggest media falsehood over the last several years that doesn't personally involve Barack Obama is the idiotic notion that GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan is some sort of policy wonk.
I had thought that the burlesque comic opera The Agony of Paul Ryan, Genius had closed on the night in 2012 when Joe Biden laughed the zombie-eyed granny starver off the stage during their debate. (That was the night that Ryan demonstrated that he knew it snowed in Afghanistan in the winter.) But I had not reckoned with his many fanboys among the kept political press. He ascended to become Speaker of the House, largely because nobody else wanted the job after John Boehner got kicked to the curb by the crazy people.
Now he is out there pimping the dungheap that is the new healthcare reform bill as though Mitch and Murray from downtown were lighting his pants on fire. He even lost the suit coat and broke out the PowerPoint on Thursday. It was like watching something on cable access late at night, or a flop-sweaty rookie substitute teacher, and it was hilarious—except for the parts where people will lose their health insurance and die, of course. And this is what he said and, peace be unto Dave Barry, I am not making it up, either:
Paul Ryan said that insurance cannot work if healthy people have to pay more to subsidize the sick.
This is literally how all insurance works. If someone's house burns down, some of your fire insurance money goes to help that person rebuild. If someone gets sick, some of your premium, healthy person, goes toward that person's coverage. Increasingly, I have come to believe that Paul Ryan is a not particularly bright creature from another world. Let us see if we can explain this to the lad.
Let's say that, in 1986, a 16-year-old lad loses his father to a sudden heart attack. Despite the fact that the family's construction firm is relatively prosperous due to its generous share of government contracts, the family's finances are considerably straitened. For the next two years, the young man and his mother receive Social Security survivor's benefits. Of course, these came from millions of people who had Social Security withheld from their paychecks and whose fathers did not die young due to a sudden heart attack. One of them was, say, a 32-year-old sportswriter for the Boston Herald, who had Social Security withheld from what he was paid to watch the Red Sox blow the '86 World Series, and whose father was still alive, but slipping fast into Alzheimer's. Some of his money went to make sure Paul Ryan could complete high school and go on the college and get the BA in economics that made him the smartest man in the world.
Ouch, man. Ouch.
Pierce is right, of course. The entire point of insurance is that healthy people who pay premiums help subsidize sick people (who also pay premiums). The Law of Large Numbers states that as long as you have enough healthy people paying in, the system works. It's not the best deal for the healthy people, but then again you never know if a car accident, cancer, or a pregnancy (hey those cost money too) is around the corner. You're healthy now. Eventually you won't be.
Car insurance (eventually you'll be in an accident), home insurance (eventually something will catch on fire), and life insurance (you too are mortal) work the same way. It's there when you need it.
What Ryan's trying to do is tell people "Well that's not fair! And our plan will fix that!" Well yes, it'll "fix" that, by wrecking the entire concept of health insurance, turning it from "helping sick people" to "lowering costs because dead people don't really need health care."
This is kind of a basic thing here but surprise, Republicans want to wreck it in favor of tax cuts for wealthy people. Actual health care doesn't matter, but tax cuts, well.
And so it goes. Hey, we voted for them. Now we're getting what we deserve.