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Teabagging Seniors Forget Medicare a Gov't Run Program

Conservative propaganda has convinced much of the public that a government-run program isn't run by the government.
 
 
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Turns out that the teabaggers at one town hall meeting in Texas weren't from the area:
 

Last night, Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) hosted a rowdy town hall meeting to discuss health care reform. Fox’s local Houston affiliate reporter, Duarte Geraldino, reported that he talked to the participants and found that “some attendees admit they don’t live in the district.” How did they get there? Geraldino noted “an internet campaign” by far right activists urging their allies to attend and heckle Democratic Representatives. Geraldino then aired a clip showing one participant acting disrespectfully towards Rep. Green. “Pay close attention to the man behind the congressman,” Geraldino says in this clip, “he seems to have forgotten the part about respect.” Watch it:

Here's my favorite part:

During the town hall, one conservative activist turns to his fellow attendees and asks them to raise their hands if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Almost all the hands shot up. Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, “How many of you have Medicare?” Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.

Decades of conservative message dominance has convinced a healthy portion of the public that a government-run program isn't run by the government. Failure to counteract that message 30 years ago is deeply affecting this debate today.

Paul Waldman writes

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After decades of being told that the federal government is a sinister, rapacious beast with nothing but evil intents, the idea that a complex bill might contain a Soylent Green provision isn't too far a stretch. Nonetheless, it remains entirely possible that before long, health reform will no longer be a debate but will become an actual policy, one that will succeed or fail on its own merits. As both sides have understood (the Republicans more so than the Democrats, however), this battle is so critical because the stakes go to the heart of each party's approach to the role of government.

Both parties hope that the successful implementation of their favored policies will lead to a broader acceptance of their ideology. Republicans want to privatize government services not only as an end in itself but to show people that the private sector works better than government. In the same way, Democrats advocate for effective government services not only to solve an immediate problem but to demonstrate that government can in fact do some things very well.

Unfortunately, the successful implementation of a government program doesn't necessarily convince people that government can successfully implement programs. Antipathy toward government even among many who receive both Medicare and Social Security -- two of the most successful government programs in history -- is remarkably strong. In fact, by some measures, the elderly have the most skeptical views of government. For instance, in the latest version of the Pew values survey, 64 percent of those over 65 -- who are either on Medicare and Social Security or know that they will be soon -- said that "when something is run by the government, it is usually inefficient and wasteful" (see page 34 here). That compares to only 43 percent of those age 18 to 29.

Digby is the proprietor of Hullabaloo.

 
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