Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rep. Anthony Weiner Thanks The House For Emergency Defunding Of NPR

    Time to post this sarcastic response to the GOP’s  American Taliban’s emergency meeting to help out our economy.

WI Judge Issues Restraining Order to Block Walker's Bill from Being Published

     by RhodaA         Fri Mar 18, 2011     Original Article

Judge Maryann Sumi Issues Retraining Order


A Dane County judge has issued a restraining order on Friday to block publication of the state's collective bargaining law.

The legislative committee that broke a political stalemate that had kept the law in limbo for weeks met without the 24-hour notice required by Wisconsin's open meetings law. The Republican majority voted last week to pass the legislation without Senate Democrats, who had left the state to block just such a vote. The Republican-controlled Legislature subsequently passed the measure and Gov. Scott Walker signed it last week.

The law can't take effect until it's formally published, and the Democratic secretary of state said he plans to wait the full 10 days allowed to publish it March 25.

Ozanne said he wanted a judge to block publication of the law so the case can be heard before the measure takes effect.

The state Attorney's General Office will appeal the temporary restraining order placed on Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining bill by a circuit court judge Friday morning.

    While  we are at it, here is one of many emails that Walker released on Friday, March 18 to the A.P after he was sued by them in order to gain access to those emails. Walker has made the claim that the emails would show support for his assault on the public union workers.

"The majority are telling us to stay firm, to stay strong, to stand with the taxpayers," Walker said at the time. "While the protesters have every right to be heard, I'm going to make sure the taxpayers of the state are heard and their voices are not drowned out by those circling the Capitol."

  But, check this out!

An initial review by the AP of the emails found that a mass email Walker sent to state workers on Feb. 11, the day he introduced his proposal, thanking them for their service was met with a deluge of responses, many of them angry.

"Please, keep your backhanded 'thank you's and empty compliments to yourself," one person who identified himself as a state corrections worker wrote to Walker. "Actions speak louder than words, and every one of your actions speaks quite clearly to your irrational hatred of the very people that have dedicated their lives and careers to keeping the state running safely and efficiently."

   He did get some emails that actually showed him some support, but not all that many.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Funnies: Bumper Sticker Edition









Those Inept Teabaggers

   I was working on a Donald Trump post and I ran across this article, after getting side-tracked, about those stupid teabaggers and how little they think before acting.

Thu Mar 17, 2011

This is what Teabaggery looks like!   by sboucher

After cutting $3 million from the library budget, DeKalb County commissioners are shocked -- shocked I tell ya! -- that neighborhood branches have to close.

On March 1, the DeKalb (GA) County Board of Commissioners rejected a tax hike and voted to cut $33.6 million from this year’s budget, including $3 million (22 percent) from the Public Library system. After learning from an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the neighborhood branch would close, the commissioners got all upset. They had no idea that slashing the budget would result in closing some branches and limiting hours at others.

Sekondi Landry, age 12 and a daily user of the facilities, started a petition to keep Scott Candler Library open. Landry, who was born with one arm, said he wanted to be like his "granddaddy," who grew up marching for civil rights.

Interim County Library Director Alison Weissinger said there is no option: on April 1, the library on McAfee Road will close and many of the other 22 county branches will see reductions in hours.

We have to move forward. Unless they give us more money,
I don’t know what else we can do.

The books and materials budget, which was $2.4 million in 2008, has been cut to $100,000 this year.

* Because of the cuts, the library system lost 50 staff positions (down to 240).

* Because of the cuts, no new books will be purchased.

* Because of the cuts, many newspaper and magazine subscriptions will be canceled.

* Because of the cuts, hours will be reduced at many branches, including cutting Sunday hours at the Wesley Chapel, Chamblee and Tucker branches. Four other smaller libraries -- Brookhaven, Embry Hills, Gresham and Lithonia-Davidson -- will now be closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

The commissioners are really upset. They don't think this branch should be closed.

“The budget committee did not recommend closing the [Candler] library and I think it’s a mistake,” Commissioner Larry Johnson said. “This is a high unemployment area and this is a resource for them to try and find some employment. If you want to close for 10 months, what are these folks going to do?”

Gosh, maybe the commissioners should have thought about these folks before slashing "unnecessary" items from the county budget.

But the Teabaggers were very proud of this victory in DeKalb, as noted by AJC conservative columnist, Kyle Wingnut Wingfield:

Taxpayers are a larger voting bloc, but before the tea party they were an amorphous — and therefore voiceless — group. Now that they are organized, they are electing people like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who are willing to side with taxpayers over the unions — and people like the commissioners in Georgia’s DeKalb County who this week voted for layoffs rather than higher taxes.

It's not just the libraries; it's the courts, tax collections, schools, police academy. And each time, the commissioners have reacted with surprise and chagrin that cuts in services are being made -- "We didn't mean for this to happen!"

I hope the backlash against the teabaggers is swift and fatal.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Michigan Taliban Leader Rick Snyder…

…has taken the meaning of “ asshole “ to a new level with the powers that his cronies in the Michigan legislature have given him, and themselves, and the corporations which paid for Snyder’s election.

image This piece of shit is a communist plain and simple with no idea’s on how to fix budget deficits in the state other than the usual American Taliban idea of more tax cuts for businesses, less funding of educational programs, and other state services in order to punish the working people and the poor, who tend to vote Democrat at election time. Oh yes. Let us not forget the union bashing and the sorry “ budget “ problems as an excuse to kill off those unions.

       Rachel Maddow Nails It Down

    It is time for you to get off of your asses and RISE UP while you still can. If Scott Walker and Rick Snyder make it through this power grab of theirs, it is all over for the average American.  Other Taliban governors are waiting in the wings for their marching orders from Koch and the rest of the Corporate Taliban, and it will be coming to a state that you live in if you and I do not act now.

All in a Month’s Work- Crashing BofA, Drawing Beck’s Ire & Shaming Corporate Tax Dodgers

Tue Mar 15, 2011     by US Uncut       DailyKos

Open your wallet. Take out a dollar bill, and feel it between your fingers. That thin piece of paper is more than Bank of America, Citigroup, Verizon and Boeing all paid in income taxes last year, combined.

Read on below the fold if you know that's just plain wrong, and if it makes you downright angry.

One month ago to the date, I was intrigued by an article my dad emailed to me with the subject line, “This looks right up your alley.”  That article was “How to Build a Progressive Tea Party” by Johann Hari, describing the rising UK Uncut movement that holds tax dodgers’ feet to the fire across the pond.  The implication was that we should do the same in the United States.

Little did my dad know that just 2 weeks later, we would hold events in 50 cities around the country with 2,000+ activists hitting Bank of America storefronts to protest the fact that they made $4.4 Billion in profits while paying $0 in taxes. We took to the streets to tell the people directly that if this one corporation alone paid their fair share, we could ‘uncut’ $1.7 Billion in early childhood education (Head Start & Title I).  Activists came, direct actions were held, and we persuaded the people.

The message is magnetic and it spreads like populist wildfire.  Everyone agrees.  We win.

Our message is a simple one- before you fire one more teacher, before you take one more police officer off the streets, before you close down one more fire station, before you sacrifice one more decent public servant upon the altar of deficit reduction, our political leaders have an obligation to make sure corporations are paying their fair share in taxes like the rest of us.

Right now, we're missing out on up to $100 billion per year in corporate tax revenue because of offshore tax haven abuse- that's $1 trillion each decade. Bank of America alone uses 115 tropical tax havens to hide their profits. Instead of Congress cutting higher education to the tune of $100 Billion this year (Pell Grants) or cutting low-income heating assistance for poor families, Congress could simply pass legislation that makes offshore tax havens illegal (see: Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act).

At the first BofA investors' conference in 3 years, US Uncut NYC found a way inside and called out a roomful of millionaire and billionaire hedge fund managers and bank executives to their faces. Glenn Beck has twice set aside time on his show to call us Marxists/Communists/Socialists who want to "end capitalism as we know it."  All we are saying, Mr. Beck, is that “we pay our taxes, why don’t they?”  Where’s the comrade in that, psychopath?

The media has begun calling us the ‘progressive tea party’.  Well, that’s handy for the attention span of the 24-hour news cycle, but let’s be clear about a few things.  First, we have no billionaires funding our movement, nor a bank account for that matter (your money’s no good here, only your capacity for action).  This ain’t Astroturf funded by oil executives busing us around the country along with a major cable news network providing free national publicity – this is grassroots pure and simple – by the people, for the people, and of the people (the way it should be).  Lastly, US Uncut is focused on action, and like the tea party, we prefer direct action in full view of the public instead of clicktivism and online petitions (you know who you are).  This is truly a people-powered movement, its showing no sign of slowing down, and we shall be heard.

US Uncut's message isn't one that endorses any specific candidates for office, or any major political party- we are a united group of citizens who believe its wrong to make the other 98% of us foot the bill for the greediest 2%. We're fighting for teachers, for police officers, firefighters, libraries, students, the unemployed, and everyone who has been victimized by corporate greed and a complicit government's manufactured budget crisis.

Our next global day of action is Saturday, March 26th. Uncut movements in France, Netherlands, Sudan, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Switzerland will be joining UK Uncut and US Uncut as we take to the streets to fight the most egregious corporate tax dodgers. Can we all shake off the chains of complicity and stand in solidarity for one cause, worldwide?

Wouldn't it be great if our legislators and the talking heads on TV all stopped their chatter about "spreading the pain around" and "shared sacrifice," and instead filled the airwaves with populist language that appeals to the rest of us? Perhaps another month from now, liberal and conservative pundits will capitalize on middle-class anger and use language like, "they caused this crisis- make them pay for it" or "this isn't a spending problem, its a revenue problem."

Wouldn't it be great if the geriatric rednecks sitting in red, white & blue lawn chairs while holding "STOP THE SPENDING, SUPER SECRET TERRORIST MUSLIM OBAMA" signs were replaced in the media? In another month's time, we might see scads of slightly younger folks along with ‘soccer moms’ and disabled veterans all standing together, waving flags, and holding signs like "CHOP FROM THE TOP – BANK OF AMERICA IS BAD FOR AMERICA!"

What if the progressive message of corporate accountability dominated the media coverage on Tax Day this year, instead of Fox News tea party rallies at the national mall? What if 10,000 people descended on Washington, D.C. on April 18th for a rally focused on egregious corporate tax dodgers and how their greed directly hurts We the People? What if these progressives presented a one-page bill to Congress that made it illegal to hide profits overseas, demanded action, and dared them to pass it?

This is our time to change the debate for once. This is our time to put aside our nitpicking and our petty ideological differences to stand together and demand our leaders act on this grave injustice that impacts us all.  This is our time for direct and meaningful action.

Instead of banks rewarding themselves with bonuses that could solve every state budget crisis and lower the unemployment rate by 4 percentage points, what if banks were all collectively forced to pay billions back to Uncle Sam for all those years of tax dodging? If we all stood together, united in this one cause and refused to relent until our leaders gave in and corporations finally paid up, we would quickly triumph.

Aren't you tired of wondering why the President we worked so hard to elect hasn't led a movement to drive a stake through the heart of the US Chamber of Commerce? Aren't you tired of clicking endless petitions to be sent to Congressmen already bought and paid for by Wall Street and K Street? Aren't you ready to finally be seen and be heard out in the streets, where we can't be ignored?

US Uncut is. Take a stand with us, and go to to find everything you need to get started.

The momentum is finally on our side.  Let's get to work.  #Winning

The revolution will be tweeted, liked, & shared.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wisonsin, Michigan,Florida...

....and a few other states have had nothing but what are basically communist ideas voted into law by their American Taliban governors.

“ Right To Work For Less “ Bill Gets Clobbered In Missouri

   The American Taliban got the shit kicked out of them on Tuesday thanks to protestors and at least one Republican not supporting the bill.

politicsusa: Do Not Pass Go: Missouri Rallies Halt Republicans’ Anti Union Bill

Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan (D) said supporters of “right to work” for less legislation who claim it will attract more businesses to the state might as well be arguing “let us race to become more competitive by emulating the Third World…

through unions and good jobs we created a middle class. The middle class didn’t cause recession, Big Banks did.

Tweeting from last night’s session, Cathy Sherwin, the Missouri AFL-CIO communications director, noted that opposition to the bill crossed party lines, including Sen. Kevin Engler (R) who said his parents’ union membership benefited both the family and the state.

Because my parents had good union benefits, my parents are going into a nursing home with NO state benefits needed at no cost to state.

Senate leaders said they would not bring the bill back up this week and it was uncertain if it would be on the agenda after the legislature’s spring break next week.

Two Words For American Taliban Member Eric Cantor

  Even the ongoing problems in Japan have no affect on the Republican Taliban Party in America as is noted HERE.

   Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.):

"All of us need to be tempered by the fact that we've got to stop spending money we don't have. Essentially, what you are saying is to go borrow money from the Japanese so we can spend it there to help the Japanese."

   I agree with the writer of the linked article to this bullshit!      FUCK YOU ERIC CANTOR

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Scramble to end Japanese reactor risk continues, media coverage muddled

                  DONATE TO HELP JAPAN

Tue Mar 15, 2011  by   Meteor Blades    Original Article

Fukushima Dai Ichi Nuclear Plant/Image by

For those confused, troubled, irritated and worried about the media reporting of what's happening with the Japanese electricity-generating reactors affected by last week's earthquake and ensuing tsunami, rest assured you're not alone. Here's Clive Cook at The Atlantic:

Coverage of the nuclear emergency is probably as informative as it can be under the circumstances—but still I find it frustrating. Purportedly analytical accounts are muddled; obvious questions are left unresolved or unaddressed; there are inconsistencies all over the place. Much of this is unavoidable, I know, but the problem is compounded by the journalistic propensity to glide around what you don't know or have failed to understand.

From the start of this calamity I have wanted to know, "What is the worst that can happen at these nuclear sites? Suppose everything that could go wrong does go wrong: what then?" I still don't know the answer. In what I have read so far--dozens of articles--nobody who knows what he is talking about has spelt this out carefully.

My father, who retired many years ago, was a mechanical engineer in the British nuclear power industry. He worked on the designs of several new reactors, specialising in the handling of fuel. I vividly recall his telling me decades ago that the thing that concerned him most about nuclear power was not the reactors but the storage of spent fuel.

A three-hour fire in a spent-fuel pool at one of the reactors was what caught the attention of many expert analysts Monday. The subsequent rise in radiation detected near the reactors and in lesser amounts as far away as the skies over Tokyo sparked a government warning to Japanese up to 30 kilometers away from the plants to stay indoors.

That stirred CNN International Security Analyst Jim Walsh, who is usually reasonably accurate, to remark that the Japanese keep spent fuel in water-filled pools on-site, but the United States buries its spent fuel. As anyone who has heard of Yucca Mountain knows, that is not the case. Low-level and mid-level radioactive wastes are buried. But spent fuel is ferociously radioactive, and dealing with it has yet to be fully resolved. Japan would like to reprocess its spent fuel at its Rokkasho facility owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited. But, two-and-a-half years ago, scientists said the Rokkasho plant is built above a fault that could generate a magnitude 8 earthquake. JPNL has said an earthquake of more than 6.5 is unlikely and the plant could withstand a 6.9 quake. One could laugh if the tears weren't getting in the way.

It's shoot-from-the-lip commentary like Walsh's that muddies understanding of an issue that most people have very little knowledge of to begin with.

Such botchery aside, the situation remains grim, with the ultimate outcome purely speculative this stage other than to say that the nuclear energy renaissance that we've been told is nearly upon us is certain to be delayed at the first least.

What is happening in Japan?

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, who founded the blog ArmsControlWonk, writes:

FEPC has released another statement that confirms the spent fuel at Reactor 4 burned for about three hours before they were able to put it out.

This is very bad news — yesterday, I noted this was the wildcard scenario. The radiation release was very large — detectors recorded a measurement of 400 millisieverts per hour. Milli, not micro.  People can stop with the comparisons to airline flights or X-rays, unless you get your X-rays performed at DARHT.

If you are scoring at home, most folks I know seem to think we are at INES 6 now, heading for 7 (and the Ch-word) unless TEPCO catches a break.


The FEPC is the Federation of Electric Power Companies, an Japanese organzation. An X-ray of your spine will give you a dose of 1.5 millisieverts. A CT scan of your stomach and pelvis will give you 15 mSv. INES is the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, which runs one-seven. It set the Three Mile Island event of 1979 at five. Chernobyl was a seven.

The Institute for Science and International Security in the United States has issued a statement:

This event is now closer to a level 6, and it may unfortunately reach a level 7.

A level six event means that consequences are broader and countermeasures are needed to deal with the radioactive contamination. A level seven event would constitute a larger release of radioactive material, and would require further extended countermeasures. The international community should increase assistance to Japan to both contain the emergency at the reactors and to address the wider contamination. We need to find a solution together.

Meanwhile, one of the Chernobyl clean-up experts has slammed the Japanese response.

The Guardian has a continuing status report on the situation with Japan's at-risk nuclear reactors that is regularly updated. As of 6 p.m. UTC (that's 11 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time), this was the situation:

6pm: The latest news on the state of each of the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant:

• No 1: Cooling failure, partial melting of core, vapor vented, hydrogen explosion, seawater pumped in.

• No 2: Cooling failure, seawater pumped in, fuel rods fully exposed temporarily, vapor vented, damage to containment system, potential meltdown feared.

• No 3: Cooling failure, partial melting of core feared, vapor vented, seawater pumped in, hydrogen explosion, high-level radiation measured nearby.

• No 4: Under maintenance when quake struck, fire caused possibly by hydrogen explosion at pool holding spent fuel rods, pool water level feared receding.

• No 5: Under maintenance when quake struck, temperature slightly rising at spent fuel pool.

• No 6 - Under maintenance when quake struck, temperature slightly rising at spent fuel pool.

Here at Daily Kos, several participants have put together a mothership and rotating live-blogs to keep abreast of new information. You can find the current live blog here.

Among Kossacks offering expert hands-on experience are samer, Richard Cranium and kbman. Be forewarned, the latter two strongly disagree with each other.

Whatever else can be said about Fukushima's nukes, diarist akmk is absolutely right to describe as heroes the 50-70 workers on the front-lines, absorbing big doses of radiation. Like first-responders everywhere, they're "just doing their job," they say, but that doesn't lessen their heroism.

Wisconsin & Anonymous:Defending Against The Empire

YouTube Video        MSNBC


Republicans Have Hard Lessons To Learn…

  …which will be an interesting feat since the party is hell-bent on cutting education ( public ) funding almost down to zero if they get their way.

   Here are a few of the political pundits thoughts on the current Republican rampage.

  From Politico:

Democrats in Wisconsin are vowing to transform virtually every upcoming state and local election there into a referendum on Walker’s administration. Party leaders from Madison to Washington are gearing up for a major fight in the hope of sending an unmistakable signal to other ambitious GOP state executives.

Their efforts to make Walker and his supports pay a high political price for their victory has led Republicans to activate their own campaign machinery. Few expect the conflict will stay contained in Wisconsin.

Green Bay [WI] Press Gazette:

For all the unrest that's stemmed from the State Capitol this month — protests that attracted people by the tens of thousands, Capitol lockdowns with increased security and philosophical conflicts that have shaken communities — the fallout doesn't end with the passage of a provision that removes collective bargaining powers for most public employees.  It may just be the start.

Philadelphia Inquirer editorial:

Conservative public officials across the country are using deficits caused primarily by the recession as a pretext to weaken public unions and gain a partisan edge against labor's Democratic allies. Fortunately, people are seeing this ruse for what it is and banding together to stop this partisan scheme before it's too late.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Republicans Holding Social Security, Medicare Hostage

This may be the point where all of those senior citizens who voted for those American Taliban members wish that they hadn't as it seems that the American Taliban leadership in the Senate (Mitch McConnell ) has once again stated that the GOP will block any debt ceiling raise unless the Democrats agree to cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Capitol Hill, Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, says "it's time to pick a fight" over top Republican priorities like banning family planning funding and repealing health care reform. If his party doesn't get its way, Pence says, they should refuse to fund anything at all, forcing the closure of the federal government.
You would think that after having lived 50,60,or more years on this earth that one would know when they are being conned. The sad thing is that this ignorance/stupidity has trickled down to many of the younger generation.

Bank of America Emails Hitting the Internet

  Check this out>   THE SIEGE-Federal Reserve Protests beginning March 28

  I have to tell you that I have been waiting for these emails to come out for a very long time. I should also let you know that I am one who despises this company with a passion due to past problems with them when I had an account there. If they are so sorry that they would lie and cheat a little account holder who is just getting by, I can imaging how the homeowners have been getting screwed by BofA.

   The initial emails can be read HERE if you can get the site to come up. As of 9:31 am eastern time, the site is “ temporarily unavailable.” That could be due to all of the visits to the site, or because the United States government has knocked it offline.  ( Mirror Server )

   Meanwhile, you can go HERE to get caught up on what has been released thus far. A little taste follows.

From Operation LeakS' site,, here is the initial release of what appears to be a whistleblower's (former employee) disclosure that Brian Moynihan's firm is lying to the Federal government. The punchline is that this appears to be a concerted effort from the ground up to hide foreclosure data from auditors and the Fed in order to obtain select preferential treatment in a variety of housing related axes, in many instances to accelerate foreclosures. As the whistleblower summarizes: "Balboa Insurance/Countrywide knowingly hiding foreclosure information from federal auditors during the federal takeovers of IndyMac Federal (a subsidiary of OneWest) and Aurora Loan Services (a subsidiary of Lehman Bros Holdings), falsifying loan documentation in order to proceed with foreclosures by fixing letter cycles in the system, reporting incorrect volumes to all of their lenders and to the federal auditors to avoid fines for falling behind on Loan Modifications, purposefully and knowingly adjusting premiums for REO insurance for their corporate clients while denying forebearances for individual borrowers, etc, etc, etc.

Dennis Kucinich Sums It All Up At Wisconsin Rally

                                                               (  DONATE TO JAPAN)

Dennis Kucinich spoke at a workers rights rally in Madison, Wisconsin, and in 15 minutes he told everyone what is wrong with the economy in the United States.

Japan: The Nuke Cleanup Cost Will Be Taxpayer Responsibility

    At least that is what writer Eric Holm says that the brokers are saying

Wall Street Journal

The liability costs associated with cleaning up after the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will ultimately be borne by the Japanese government instead of the private insurance market, according to experts from the insurance industry. ...

The utility company operating the Fukushima site is required under Japanese law to carry about ¥120 billion, or $1.5 billion, of liability protection to cover costs associated with a radioactive leak, said Dan McGarvey, a nuclear engineer who chairs the U.S. power and utility practice at insurance broker Marsh Inc.

Japanese law says the plant operator, in this case Tokyo Electric Power Co., is responsible for any radiation leaks, several insurance experts said. The reactor manufacturer, General Electric Co. and any contractors doing work at the site aren't liable, they said. GE wouldn't comment on liability issues. ...

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, the government's top spokesman, said at a news conference Saturday that very little radiation has so far leaked from the troubled reactor. So actual liability costs could be significantly less than the limit.

But were costs to go higher than ¥120 billion, Japan's legislature, the Diet, would have to approve additional compensation for victims of the radioactive leak, Mr. McGarvey said.  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Colbert Report: Newt Gingrich Wants To Screw America

                                                                   (  DONATE TO JAPAN )


   Newt Gingrich, the continuing “ old “ face of the Republican Party.

The Elderly Helped The GOP Get Back Into Power…

                                                            (  DONATE TO JAPAN )

   ….and now it is time for those same elderly voters to pay the price for their ignorance/stupidity.


On Friday, Minority Leader McConnell issued just the latest Republican threat to shut down the federal government if GOP demands aren't met.  As the AP reported, McConnell's price for raising the debt ceiling (which his party did seven times under President Bush) is taking the axe to Medicare and Social Security now:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned on Friday that GOP senators will not vote to increase the government's borrowing limit unless President Barack Obama agrees to rein in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, laying down a high-stakes marker just weeks before the debt ceiling is reached.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) has his eyes the retirement and health care programs for the elderly as well.  Despite decrying the supposed "huge cuts in Medicare" Cantor claimed in December 2009 were part of the Affordable Care Act, declared this week that "It is very difficult to balance the budget within 10 years without cutting seniors' benefits now."  And as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan told the AP this week, for fiscal year 2012 House Republicans will propose major changes to Social Security as well as the Medicaid and Medicare programs that provides health insurance for 100 million Americans.  While withholding specifics, Ryan declared:

"What I'm going to put forward is a serious and honest attempt to fix this country's fiscal problems."

And as his Roadmap for America's Future shows, Paul Ryan is serious if not quite so honest about privatizing Social Security and rationing Medicare.

As TPM summarized the "slash and privatize" agenda in Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future:

Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-WI) the ranking Republican on the budget committee, recently detailed the Republican plan for Social Security that preserves the existing program for those 55 or older. For younger people the plan "offers the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees."

To that replay of George W. Bush's wildly unpopular privatization plan, Ryan's Roadmap adds the incredibly popular Medicare program now serving 43 million American seniors.

In 2009, 137 House Republican voted for an "alternative budget" drafted by Ryan which called for "called for "replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans."  In a Washington Post op-ed last year (oxymoronically titled "A Roadmap to Saving Medicare"), Congressman Ryan explained how his voucher scheme would work:

Future Medicare beneficiaries would receive a payment to apply to a list of Medicare-certified coverage options. The Medicare payment would grow every year, with additional support for those who have low incomes and higher health costs, and less government support for high-income beneficiaries. The most vulnerable seniors would also receive supplemental Medicaid coverage and continue to be eligible for Medicaid's long-term care benefit.

Sadly for the party which cried "death panels," Ryan proposal would necessarily lead to rationing.  As it turns out, Paul Ryan admitted as much.

When Ryan unveiled his Roadmap back in February, as Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias and TPM all noted, privatization of Medicare was the centerpiece of his deficit reduction vision. But because the value of Ryan's vouchers fails to keep up with the out-of-control rise in premiums in the private health insurance market, America's elderly would be forced to pay more out of pocket or accept less coverage. The Washington Post's Klein described the inexorable Republican rationing of Medicare which would then ensue:

The proposal would shift risk from the federal government to seniors themselves. The money seniors would get to buy their own policies would grow more slowly than their health-care costs, and more slowly than their expected Medicare benefits, which means that they'd need to either cut back on how comprehensive their insurance is or how much health-care they purchase. Exacerbating the situation -- and this is important -- Medicare currently pays providers less and works more efficiently than private insurers, so seniors trying to purchase a plan equivalent to Medicare would pay more for it on the private market.

It's hard, given the constraints of our current debate, to call something "rationing" without being accused of slurring it. But this is rationing, and that's not a slur. This is the government capping its payments and moderating their growth in such a way that many seniors will not get the care they need.

Ryan acknowledged as much. Sadly for the Republican brain trust, he failed to follow the GOP script that says only Democratic reforms lead to "health care denied, delayed and rationed."

"Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it? The government? Or you, your doctor and your family?"

(Of course, Ryan left out the real culprit - the private insurance market. But with 50 million uninsured, another 25 million underinsured, one in five American postponing needed care and medical costs driving over 60% of personal bankruptcies, Congressman Ryan is surely right that "rationing happens today.")

And as it turns out, The Republican treachery started within days of taking over the House.  The same party that tried to kill Medicare in the 1960's and gut it in the 1990's swept to victory in 2010 by terrifying seniors about mythical cuts to their benefits supposedly part of the Democratic health care law.  (In August 2009, Politifact found that "the core benefits of Medicare won't change.")  But within days of grabbing the gavel, Speaker Boehner and his Republican caucus voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and with it, the benefits already delivered to the elderly in order to fill the infamous Medicare "donut hole."

Last year, in a step authorized under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the government provided checks of $250 to Medicare beneficiaries who fell into the gap in prescription drug coverage known as the "donut hole." Richard Foster, the Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, stated in a report published last week in The Hill newspaper that "in theory," the House-passed repeal bill would force seniors to return these checks.

If the Republicans had succeeded in their repeal effort, seniors' pain would not have ended there.  A recent survey showed that 31% of Medicare recipients fall into the gap on drug coverage between $2,830 and $6,440.  In 2011, ACA provides for half-price discounts for these gap prescriptions and by 2020, eliminates them altogether.

Thanks to the Democratic-controlled Senate, senior citizens won't have to cut Uncle Sam a $250 check this year.  But in just a few weeks, their Social Security checks may also come to a halt, if Republicans have their way.

That prospect isn't just because of Mitch McConnell's dangerous game of brinksmanship on the upcoming vote to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.  Despite Cantor's past declarationthat "we ought to get [a government shutdown] off the table," Republican posturing over the continued funding of the federal government makes that shutdown more likely.

For his part, President Obama warned:

"This is not an abstraction," he said at his Tuesday news conference. "People don't get their Social Security checks. They don't get their veterans payments. Basic functions [are] shut down. And it would have an adverse effect on our economic recovery."

While Social Security checks did continue during the Republican government shutdown of 1995 and 1996, the Los Angeles Times noted that "many other Social Security services halted, including responses to requests for retirement and disability claims, address changes and Social Security numbers needed for work."

Even if a shutdown is averted, the House GOP budget slashes $1.7 billion from the Social Security program's administrative budget. And that, the agency warned last week, could lead to furloughs of Social Security workers responsible for the distribution of benefits.

But the bigger Republican threat to Social Security is longer term. Despite the obvious conclusion by Obama budget chief Jacob Lew that "Social Security does not contribute to the deficit in the medium term....There is no need to deal with Social Security, and dealing with it would have at best a negligible impact," Republicans remain committed to privatizing the program for future retirees.

Which is why Republicans ran away from Ryan's plan throughout the 2010 election. Last February, then House Minority Leader John Boehner began distancing himself from Ryan's Roadmap, saying, "It's his." In July, Boehner grumbled, "There are parts of it that are well done," adding, "Other parts I have some doubts about, in terms of how good the policy is." And with good reason. With its draconian spending cuts, Medicare rationing, tax cuts for the rich and Social Security privatization, a GOP platform based on Ryan's Roadmap would about as popular as the Ebola virus. As the Washington Post put it last summer:

Many Republican colleagues, who, even as they praise Ryan for his doggedness, privately consider the Roadmap a path to electoral disaster.

Even Ryan's closest political allies feared the blowback from his ideas. Last year, GOP representatives Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) joined in Ryan in publishing Young Guns. But even Ryan's co-authors were afraid to back his draconian plans before November's vote. As ThinkProgress reported last August, Cantor repeatedly refused to endorse Ryan's Roadmap.  As for his other co-author, in September McCarthy lied about what was in Ryan's plan - and their book, pretending "no one has a proposal up to cut Social Security. It's about protecting it."

One Republican voice still posing - for now - as a protector of Social Security and Medicare is House Speaker John Boehner.  Boehner, who throughout the 2010 campaign refused to specify the non-discretionary budget cuts he demanded, doesn't want entitlement programs to be discussed until the next budget year:

"To try to muddle the current issue with entitlement programs, tax increases -- that's what the next budget process is for. We'll have plenty of opportunity to talk about that."

Back in the summer of 2009, former RNC chairman Michael Steele ran afoul of his party's leadership when he proposed a so-called "Seniors' Bill of Rights."  Starring in an RNC ad, Steele declared;

"Let's agree in both parties that Congress should only consider health reform proposals that protect senior citizens. For starters, no cuts to Medicare to pay for another program. Zero."

As Politico reported, that did not make Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders very happy:

The congressional leaders were particularly miffed that Steele had in late August unveiled a seniors' "health care bill of rights" without consulting with them. The statement of health care principles, outlined in a Washington Post op-ed, began with a robust defense of Medicare that puzzled some in a party not known for its attachment to entitlements.

Which is exactly right.  During the health care debate, Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of "sticking it to seniors with cuts to Medicare."  (McConnell also insisted Americans "don't go without health care" and claimed the public option "may cost you your life.")  But McConnell took Michael Steele to the woodshed precisely because he knew Republicans would turn their backs on elderly voters just as soon as the 2010 midterm elections were over.

Sure enough, the great Republican double-cross of America's seniors is underway.

* Crossposted at Perrspectives *