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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The “Welfare Wedge” Is Back

A lot of Democrats look at Republican efforts to alienate Medicare beneficiaries from health care reform and think it’s all a matter of misinformation: if seniors really understood that their own health insurance was “government-run,” they’d be less inclined to oppose an offer of similiar insurance to others.
I”m afraid this interepretation misses something fundamental about the conservative assault on health care reform: the idea is to convince seniors that the uninsured don’t deserve similar federal benefits. In essence, they’re bringing back the old “welfare wedge” in a new form, this time aimed at stigmatizing the working poor and at middle-class families trying to stay in the middle class.
I’ve got an article up at Salon that goes into this in some detail, and examines how “welfare” rhetoric began characterizing Republican attacks on Obama’s policies back during the presidential campaign. This is something progressives need to get a grip on, because this divisive strategy is by no means limited to, or likely to end with, health care reform.

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