Joe Klein: The result in NY-26 was a "victory for socialism"

He’s crowing about Hochul’s big win and that’s irritating, so I feel obliged to rip on him — and yet, I don’t really disagree. Medicare is socialistic and the public might, might, be attached to it to the point where they prefer not to touch it even though that necessarily means a fiscal crisis sooner rather than later. To quote Bill Clinton: “We’ve got to deal with these things. You cannot have health care devour the economy.” But — maybe you can. Maybe enough of the public is so invested in getting their benefits, whatever the broader consequences, that Medicare reform will remain a politically suicidal position to take until the very day that the dam bursts. I’d like to think that there are enough congressmen willing to commit suicide under those circumstances and vote for reform anyway in the name of preserving fiscal stability. But I don’t.

In fact, I feel increasingly fatalistic about the whole Ryan effort. I hope it works, for my sake and yours, but if he and the GOP really do succeed in educating the public about the consequences of inaction and they end up voting for unsustainability anyway, then fair enough. This problem is, as Ace says, “self-correcting”; those corrections will be more terrible the longer they’re delayed, but I’ll refer you to Mencken for further thoughts on that. Why Democrats would want to inherit full responsibility for dealing with this problem down the road when they could share responsibility with the GOP right now, I have no idea; presumably it’s a simple matter of the logic of electoral politics being “win first, worry later,” even when it comes to a radioactive problem like this. The irony is, if all their Mediscare dreams come true and they win big next year, they’re the ones who’ll have to break the news to the public that for socialism to truly be “victorious,” they’re going to have to hike taxes on the middle class and/or take a scalpel to the cherished Medicare program anyway. That glimmer of schadenfreude is my only comfort as we speed towards the cliff. Click the image to watch.