Saturday, April 09, 2011

Tea Party Gone Banana’s Over “ Boehner Cave”

   The following post echoes my sentiments exactly, that is why I posted it. If you have ever been to RedState or HotAir, they are a riot.

Posted at DKos

Tea Party in Full Meltdown over "Boehner's Cave"

by joelgp             Sat Apr 09, 2011

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.  There is a crisis in the Tea Party!  I took a late night scroll around Foxnation, Redstate and Hotair and people, these conservatives are going nuts over what is now affectionately called "Boehner's Cave." 

These people were seriously expecting 100 billion in cuts, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, Obamacare and the EPA or a complete shutdown. Now in full disclosure, I contributed just a little to their meltdown with several "well timely" posts like these:

1. "breaking news: the gop caved on planned parenthood, caved on destroying the EPA, and fully funded obamacare. okay? what's next?"

2. "i cannot believe the tea party is rolling over and fully funding obamacare and planned parenthood. dang, we should have thrown in the dream act and cap-n-trade if we knew they would wimp out so easily. oh well...governing is hard."

Okay, okay, I'm sorry--people, it was fun.

Needless to say, the screaming was loud, sustained and furious. Check out the whaling and gnashing of teeth over on Hotair:

1. "The Republicans LOST a warmup game – and lost it big. There is NO reason to believe they’ll show any better in the upcoming fights on the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget. Sorry – if they couldn’t cut $100B as they promised – which is only two weeks worth of deficit out of this budget – they don’t have the nuts to win any bigger fight."

2. "If anyone thinks that the Ryan plan has any chance of seeing the light of day, I want some of what you’re smoking. If you can’t win in this small battle how are you going to win in the bigger war. Major, epic, fail."

3. "$39 B in cuts? If that buys more than 4 days of “business as usual,” it is an incredibly bad deal: so bad, that Boehner MUST GO!!!"

4. "Well, first I heard defunding NPR was a minor battle, the BIG battle was the cuts in the CR! Then I heard the CR was a minor battle, the BIG battle was the budget for the year! Now it’s the Ryan budget? Give me a break…when you practice over and over how to cave, the only thing you are good at is caving."

And then there's the "special people" at Foxnation:

1. "As Speaker of the House, John Boehner is acting like a junior member of congress. Speaker Boehner, haven't you heard the latest news? Obama and George Soros want to push the new Tea Party members out of congress and replace them with radical leftwing members. The tax dollars you just surrendered to Obama's campaign chest last night will help he do just that. Why are you helping Obama elect liberals to replace conservatives???"

2. "Bohner quite the negotiator for the dems He was asked to cut 100 billion and agreed to that, then it became 61 billion. final product 38.5 billion the dems # with funding for planned parenthood still in place, We need change folks."

And then there's the "friends of CNN" at Redstate:

1. "So they hold a vote about PP funding and Obamacare on the Senate floor and it goes down to defeat, and the GOP claims that it has kept its agreement with the voters. I guess they really do think we’re idiots."

2. "Now they can’t hide from their votes and will have to defend their votes for supporting a baby-killing machine and the fiscal nightmare known as Obamacare."

And, check out what election guru Charlie Cook wrote about their plan to end Medicare:

The Cook Report: Death Wish?

"Republicans pushing to revamp Medicare could find themselves voted out of office in the next election."

Simply put, I'm glad 800,000 federally workers didn't receive a work interruption.  I'm disappointed that our side gave up 38.5 billion. I'm thrilled that Planned Parenthood, the EPA and Obamacare is intact.

But most of all, I'm absolutely giddy, with totally irrational exuberance and chest-thumping duggies because the teacons have gone completely nuts!!

Maher Pitches For Class Warfare

  It is about time that someone has suggest that the middle class and the poorer people in the United States begin their own “ class warfare “ against the American Taliban and their corporate leaders. They have been doing it  to you and I for a long time now.

50 Years Later, Republicans Still Trying to Kill Medicare

Avenging Angel      Wed Apr 06, 2011     (  Original Article  )

Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed the obvious about Paul Ryan's plan to end Medicare as we know it.  The GOP plan to "voucherize" and inevitably ration Medicare would lead to future seniors paying more - much more - for health insurance.  Of course, killing the wildly popular program which helped dramatically reduce poverty among the elderly is no problem for the Republicans.  After all, they've been at it for 50 years.

When Rep. Ryan first introduced his Roadmap for America's Future, analysts were quick to point out that his plan to convert the single-payer insurance program for 46 million Americans into a voucher system would quickly lead to rationing.  By slashing $3 trillion in funding, leaving beneficiaries at the whim of private insurers whose policies cost more and are padded by substantially higher overhead, and capping the value of their vouchers, Ryan's budget proposal unveiled this week would produce dire consequences.


On Wednesday, the CBO agreed, concluding, "A typical beneficiary would spend more for health care under the proposal."  Make that, as Director Douglas Elmendorf explained, a lot more. 

Under the proposal, most elderly people who would be entitled to premium support payments would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system. For a typical 65-year-old with average health spending enrolled in a plan with benefits similar to those currently provided by Medicare, CBO estimated the beneficiary's spending on premiums and out-of-pocket expenditures as a share of a benchmark amount: what total health care spending would be if a private insurer covered the beneficiary. By 2030, the beneficiary's share would be 68 percent of that benchmark under the proposal, 25 percent under the extended-baseline scenario, and 30 percent under the alternative fiscal scenario.

Of course, the Ryan scenario of an America without Medicare is one Republicans have been pushing since the program's inception in the 1960's.

As ThinkProgress noted two years, Republican demagoguery on Medicare has a long and sordid past. While George H.W. Bush in 1964 used the now-eternal sound bite to describe it simply as "socialized medicine," Ronald Reagan warned three years earlier that failure to stop Medicare meant " you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."

But even as they savaged Democrats with charges of "death panels" which would "pull the plug on grandma" and see seniors "put to death," a long and growing list of Republicans had been lining up for months behind Congressman Ryan's plan to ration Medicare.  They just waited until after the 2010 midterm elections were safely won to make it the official platform of the Republican Party.

As Steve Benen detailed in the Washington Monthly in the fall of 2009:

In April, 137 Republicans voted in support of a GOP alternative budget. It didn't generate a lot of attention, but the plan, drafted by the House Budget Committee's Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for "replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans."

The AP noted at the time that Republican leaders were "clearly nervous that votes in favor of the GOP alternative have exposed their members to political danger."

Nevertheless, calls from leading Republicans to euthanize the wildly popular Medicare program came fast and furious.  In September, death panel inventor Sarah Palin penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed which similarly called for "providing Medicare recipients with vouchers that allow them to purchase their own coverage."  The next month, Georgia Rep. Paul Broun proposed legislation that would roll back the Medicare system and replace it with a system of vouchers that seniors could use to purchase private insurance or put into tax-free medical savings accounts.

Palin and Broun had plenty of company.  Within a span of a few days in 2010, Michele Bachmann (R-MN) echoed Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) by insisting "what we have to do is wean everybody" off Medicare and Social Security.  Then, Missouri Senator Kit Bond similarly argued that Medicare enrollees should be given a voucher to buy health insurance on their own.  And days later, Broun's Georgia GOP colleague Jack Kingston told Fox Business:

"We need to go in, and we need to cut duplicate programs, programs that are inefficient, programs that are expanding the entitlement mentality. I think we should go back to Social Security, take it off budget, dedicate the funds, put personal accounts on it. On Medicare, I think something like vouchers, where people actually have an incentive to save money."

Of course, as Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias and TPM (among others) noted, this new Republican deficit reduction gambit would inevitably lead to the rationing of Medicare.

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.

Last year, Ryan acknowledged as much. Sadly for the Republican brain trust, he failed to follow the GOP script that 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."

If this all sound familiar, it should.  The Republican Party which tried to abort Medicare in the 1960's is now simply trying to smother it to death.

The words of Republicans past and present tell the tale. Before his later canonization by the GOP faithful, Ronald Reagan announced in 1961 that the failure to stop Medicare meant "you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free." Three years later, his future successor George H.W. Bush decried it as "socialized Medicine."  Last July, Missouri's Roy Blunt argued that "government should have never gotten into the health care business."  That same month, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, a one-time orthopedic surgeon and current chairman of the Republican Study Group, proclaimed:

"Going down the path of more government will only compound the problem. While the stated goal remains noble, as a physician, I can attest that nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government's intrusion into medicine through Medicare."

When asked at a rally last month, Rep. Price refused to defend Medicare after stating "we will not rest until we make certain that government-run health care is ended."

Throughout the 1990's, Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell and their Republican colleagues continued the GOP war on Medicare.  Hoping to slowly but surely undermine the program by shifting its beneficiaries to managed care and private insurance, in 1995 McConnell was among the Republican revolutionaries backing Gingrich's call to slash Medicare spending by $270 billion (14%) over seven years. As Gingrich put it then:

"We don't want to get rid of it in round one because we don't think it's politically smart," he said. "But we believe that it's going to wither on the vine because we think [seniors] are going to leave it voluntarily."

When President Clinton and his Democratic allies in Congress rushed to defend Medicare from the Republican onslaught, Gingrich launched a blistering assault:

"Think about a party whose last stand is to frighten 85-year-olds, and you'll understand how totally morally bankrupt the modern Democratic Party is."

Of course, when it comes to Medicare, moral bankruptcy is the sin of Republicans alone.  As Paul Krugman lamented last year:

"Don't cut Medicare. The reform bills passed by the House and Senate cut Medicare by approximately $500 billion. This is wrong." So declared Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, in a recent op-ed article written with John Goodman, the president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

And irony died.

That irony is all the more painful because today's senior citizens, the only age group to back John McCain in the 2008 election, paved the way for the new Republican House majority.  Terrified by a relentless GOP campaign about supposed Democratic cuts to Medicare, the elderly by a 59% to 38% margin chose Republicans to kill the program instead.

* Crossposted at Perrspective *

Friday, April 08, 2011

Government Shutdown Averted, For Now…

But wait! There’s more!

Some eye-roll inducing details:



Friday Funnies: Government Shutdown Edition

    Once again I am off to do some serious boating out on the ocean. If Boehner and the rest of the American Taliban close down the government over Planned Parenthood funding, then they will have some hell to pay the next time that they are up for re-election.

   Have a great weekend!!

  As the possible government shutdown nears, Obama has said that he will veto the current bill as it is at this time. 

Jimmy Fallon: "The White House may have to lay off all nonessential workers if the government shuts down. You know: interns, pages, Biden..."

"Fox News announced today that Glenn Beck will leave his show later this year. It's nothing personal. He just wants to spend more time with the voices in his head."

Jay Leno: "We're heading for a government shutdown. This is serious. Without the government who will fail to inspect our airplanes? Who will fail to secure our borders? Who will put us 14 trillion dollars in debt?"

"Members of Congress will still get paid if there's a shutdown. So it will be just like it is now. We'll be paying them to do nothing."

Conan O'Brien : "Due to the budget impasse, the federal government may shut down next week. There will be another season of 'Jersey Shore,' but the U.S. government is still up in the air."

Jimmy Kimmel: "If Congress can't agree on a budget by midnight Friday, the government will shut down. Democrats are demanding to tax all of the people's money and use it to fund abortions, while the Republicans want to sell the country to Exxon Mobil and relocate gays to Puerto Rico."

"All government services may be shut down next week, which could really make the DMV inconvenient."

Fund The Troops?



[T]he House Democrats tried three times to pass a measure that would ensure the troops received pay. The Republicans overwhelmingly opposed every single “troop-funding” opportunity....

What’s more, the Obama administration announced today that it “would support a short-term, clean Continuing Resolution” like the alternative Democrats offered. Thus, by voting against these measures, House Republicans are flatly refusing to support any “troop funding bill” unless their anti-abortion and anti-environmental riders get passed. Incidentally, Republicans have ensured that, unlike the troops, Members of Congress will still get paid.

Interestingly enough, not all teahadist Republicans are on board. "Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and — surprisingly — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) have signaled a willingness drop the policy rider to reach an agreement and avoid a shutdown." Even more shockingly, Rep. Allen West says he is "disgusted at the perception that Leaders in my own Party...are now using the men and women in uniform" to pass a short-term budget bill.           DKos  

    So we may have a government shutdown because the Tea Party/Republicans/Taliban do not want Planned Parenthood to be funded? Even without the funding, this does next to nothing to lessen the deficit.

   Here is even more on just how much government cash goes into those evil Planned Parenthood clinics, and for what they pay for.

From Planned Parenthood's annual report for 208-09 [pdf].


Ninety percent of the health care provided by Planned Parenthood health centers is designed to:
  • prevent unintended pregnancies through contraception
  • reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections through testing and treatment
  • prevent cervical and other cancers through lifesaving screenings.

For those who are pregnant, Planned Parenthood provides

  • pregnancy testing
  • prenatal care
  • abortion
  • referral for adoption (select affiliates)
  • midlife care helping women manage the effects of menopause (select affiliates)

That's a pretty radical agenda, there, keeping women, including pregnant women and their unborn children, healthy. Too icky for Republicans since it all involves women parts.

By the way, the Republicans aren't just defunding Planned Parenthood, they're taking federal funding away from all reproductive health services—including family planning—for all women's clinics. And none of that funding—none—pays for abortion. Only about a quarter of federal funds for family planning and women's healthcare goes to Planned Parenthood, three-quarters goes to clinics in communities all over the country. And for many American women, those clinics are the only healthcare they have access to.    Source

The Government Shutdown: American Taliban Unknown To The General American Public So Who Will Be Blamed?



Shutdown Hinges On Planned Parenthood Cuts?

So the Democrats and the American Taliban Party cannot reach a budget agreement only because Chief Boehner and the hoods want P.P. to no longer exist, basically?

Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations said that proposed restrictions on money for Planned Parenthood remained the chief sticking point, and that attempts to resolve the disagreement through alternatives like allowing a separate floor vote on the issue had not been successful. Democrats said they were told by the Republicans that the votes of anti-abortion social conservatives would be needed to move any budget measure through the House. John Boehner's PR flack told the New York Times that spending was still the primary issue, but no Republicans that are involved in the negotiations have actually backed that up. And Politico's David Rogers, who has some of the best sources inside negotiating rooms, described the negotiations as having "moved beyond spending toward social policy." As Dick Durbin says, "This is no longer about the budget deficit, it’s about bumper stickers." And the question is: will the GOP shut the government down over a bumper sticker? My bet: no. But if they do, there will be hell to pay.

Businesses Speak About Tax Cuts Creating Jobs…

   ….which anyone with an I.Q. over 1 knows does not happen no matter how many drugs the Republicans take in order to see that illusion.

Tax Cuts do not create Jobs. Why Do Republicans push this myth?
by Blue Creekwater, Yahoo! Answers?

I'm a small business owner here in Atlanta Ga. We have a clothing store, and have an online clothing website. Both do very well, I can tell you right now, as a business owner, as a person who comes from a family of small business owners. Tax Cuts do not create jobs. Tax cuts adds profits into business owners pockets. If I get another 10% Tax cut, as the republicans are planning to push, lets say it moves and wins. If my current staff is can handle the volume, there is no incentive for me to hire new employees. That is the way it works.  [...]

Tax cuts for rich don't trickle down
By Lew Prince, -- 12/3/10

I’ve run a small business for more than 30 years, and the claim that more tax cuts for the rich can generate jobs at small businesses is ridiculous. Expecting high-end tax cuts to trickle down as job creation is about as reasonable as pouring gasoline on your hood and expecting it to run your engine.

My company’s success or failure is tied to the economic health of our 24 employees, our customers, our community, our state and our country.   [...]

Extending the Bush Tax Cuts: Would They Create More Jobs? Or Just Comfort The Comfortable?
John Keefe, The Macro View, -- Jul 28, 2010

It’s about the top-line success of the business, and whether the Subway sandwich shop owner is selling more sandwiches, or the software consulting firm is adding new customers. Having been a small business owner, I know that taxes are very low on the priority list.

  One more for you to take a look at.

The Bush Tax Cuts and the Economy
Congressional Research Service -- CRS Report for Congress
Thomas L. Hungerford, Specialist in Public Finance -- Dec 10, 2010

[pg 8]

Revenue Loss from the Bush Tax Cut Provisions

Over five years, extending the provisions are estimated to reduce tax revenues by $869 billion. The 10-year revenue loss is estimated to be $2,023 billion. Debt service costs associated with permanently extending the Bush tax cuts are [...] estimated to be $450 billion.    Sources

   The American Taliban continue to push this lie and it has worked pretty damned well over the past 3 or so decades. They have to be taking in a pretty good off-the-books income from these corporations who got them into office in the first place.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Boehner Breaks Out The Tissue

American Taliban House leader John Boehner decided to break out into tears on Thursday as the talks over the federal budget went no-where. Perhaps this piece of crap should seek the attention of a medical specialist.

All of the lying and bullshit that he and his ilk have been presenting to the American public must be getting to him.
At an afternoon news conference today, Boehner announced the House GOP will press forward with a short-term government funding bill in hopes of averting a shutdown this Friday. But President Obama said Tuesday he wouldn't support a measure.

Rep. Ryan's Budget Cost? 2 Million Jobs

So much for job creation under any Republican proposals.

Over the next five years (during which time CBO projects that the economy will still be below potential), Chairman Ryan's Medicaid proposal would cut the program by $207 billion, which includes both eliminating the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and even deeper cuts to the Medicaid program. Using a standard macroeconomic model that is consistent with private- and public-sector forecasters, we find that a $207 billion cut would result in a loss of 2.1 million jobs over the next five years, or 2.9 million full-time equivalent jobs.... These figures are in job-years, which refer to a job held for a single year, meaning that five jobs lost in a single year is the equivalent to one job lost over five years. Furthermore, the job loss would overwhelmingly be in the private economy. Medicaid has very low overhead, as about 96% of the program’s funds go toward benefits which are spent in the private sector. Assuming the 96% ratio is relatively constant across states (or at least not systematically biased in one direction), Medicaid cuts of this magnitude would result in the loss of just under 2 million private-sector jobs, or 2.8 million full-time equivalent jobs. This estimate is conservative for two reasons. First, because Medicaid is a program that generally benefits low-income households—who out of necessity are much more likely to consume rather than save—a larger-than-normal share of these cuts will undermine demand in the private sector. This suggests that the cut to Medicaid would have an even larger impact on the economy than we estimate here. Second, it is likely that an even larger share of the job loss would fall on the private sector because overhead includes not only labor but equipment and supplies as well, which are provided by private companies.
Info comes from:

On Those Little Pills That Americans Love To Take

   Gail Collins with a thought or two on those prescription pills that are pushed on television ads all day long.

Americans should know by now that you can’t put a pill in your mouth without risk. Television is full of commercials for wonder drugs that will perk up your spirits, soothe your allergies or lower your cholesterol, improving life altogether except in the cases where they lead to vivid dreams, suicidal thoughts, hair loss, stabbing pains or sudden death.

Feds Seize Over $6 Million In Medical Supplies…

   … on Wednesday after the Food and Drug Administration made the request to U.S. Marshals.

U.S. Marshals, acting at the request of the federal Food and Drug Administration, seized a wide range of intimate care products manufactured and distributed by H&P Industries Inc. and the Triad Group of Hartland, Wis., FDA officials said.

  Seized items included cough medicines, cold medicines, medicated wipes, povidone iodine and benzalkonium chloride antiseptic products, as well as other products.

FDA officials said the seizure follows the firm's continued failure to comply with current good manufacturing practice or cGMP, regulations. The agency last week asked H&P Industries to voluntarily cease making and distributing drug products, but the firm did not heed the request.

FDA inspections at the plant led to three voluntarily recalls of Triad Group products since December 2010, including massive recalls of alcohol prep pads, povidone iodine prep pads and lubricating jelly because of problems with microbial contamination.

Investigators also found systemic problems that included issues with sterility and contamination and situations in which firm officials knew products were possibly tainted and sent them for public distribution anyway.

An inspection that concluded March 28 found problems with the firm's air handling and water systems and "failure to take proper measures to ensure the quality of incoming components," the FDA said.    MSNBC

   This is our government agencies doing what they are paid to do. Yet, if you ask the Republican Party, you and I do not need this kind of government regulation because most corporations/businesses will monitor themselves.   What a freakin joke.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Baucus Blasts Ryan Plan: 'Not On My Watch'

Joan McCarter for Daily Kos         Tue Apr 05, 2011

Max Baucus

Sen. Max Baucus (Mitch Dumke/REUTERS)

Via e-mail, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus blasted the Ryan "Path to Prosperity," ripping into the proposal to end Medicare as we know it today.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today blasted a House Republican budget proposal to cut more than $2 trillion in health care benefits and nursing home coverage for seniors. According to the Wall Street Journal, the proposal would "essentially end Medicare" as it exists today and instead funnel Medicare dollars to private insurance companies to cover only a portion of seniors’ coverage, cutting seniors’ benefits and increasing their costs. Under the budget proposed today by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), seniors would be forced to pay thousands of dollars more for their health care coverage. They would no longer enjoy guaranteed benefits or coverage, and insurance companies would be allowed to increase seniors' costs or drop their coverage if they get sick.

"Independent experts agree the House Plan would make deep cuts to the Medicare benefits seniors count on," said Baucus. "It would end Medicare as we know it and funnel Medicare dollars directly into private insurance companies' pockets. Under the House plan, seniors' coverage would be cut drastically, benefits would no longer be guaranteed and seniors' costs would skyrocket. We can't allow the House to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and we won't—not on my watch."

That's a pretty unequivocal statement that the Ryan plan is a dead letter in the Senate. It's the kind of simple messaging Josh Marshall has been asking for and which we need to be hearing from a lot more Dems. More of this, and less, much, much less, of this.

Wisconsin:Challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg Wins...

...but there will most certainly be a recount.

...according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. She says: "Wisconsin voters have spoken and I am grateful for, and humbled by, their confidence and trust." The latest tally from the AP has Kloppenburg with 740,090 votes and Prosser with 739,886 votes -- a 204-vote margin.

Wisconsin Election

As of 11:40 am  ( 12:40 EST ), JoAnne Kloppenburg remains slightly ahead of David Prosser in unofficial totals from the AP with a gap of a little over 200 votes.  Only one precinct has yet to report.  Recount virtually certain.         Source


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

American Taliban Screwing Their Elderly Voters…

   …and as I have said before, those elderly voters voted for  the GOP out of fear and now they may pay the price for their stupidity. I guess that they are to old to learn anything new.

Original Article

The Republican Betrayal of the Elderly Begins

by Avenging Angel            Sun Feb 20, 2011

Perhaps more than any other factor, the overwhelming Republican midterm triumph was fueled by the elderly.  Voters 65 and over, the only age group to support John McCain in 2008, boosted their share of the turnout to 21% from 16% two years earlier.  Nationwide, Republicans won seniors by a staggering 59% to 38%.  But now, their reward is a slap in the face.  After all, from trying to repeal health care reform and threatening to shutdown the government to proposals to privatize Social Security and Medicare, the new GOP majority is betraying the elderly Americans who put them in power.

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 less than two weeks, their Social Security checks may also come to a halt, if Republicans have their way.

That's because just two days after House Majority Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced we ought to get [a government shutdown] off the table," Speaker Boehner virtually guaranteed one by insisting Thursday he is "not going to move any kind of short-term [spending bill] at current levels."  Despite certain opposition from the Senate and a certain veto from President Obama, House Republicans nevertheless passed $61 billion in draconian spending cuts, cuts they demand in order to keep funding the federal government after March 4.

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.

Last week, Republicans leaders including Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Paul Ryan criticized President Obama's proposed 2012 budget.  McConnell, who voted against the creation of the deficit commission later authorized by executive order scoffed, "The President has offered an unserious budget that ignores the warnings of his own bipartisan deficit commission and chooses political expediency over real leadership."  Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman and a member of the Bowles-Simpson commission who also voted against its recommendations, complained, "When his own commission put forward a set of fundamental entitlement and tax reforms, he ignored them."

Ryan's tough talk didn't end there.  "We plan to step in the breach," Ryan declared, "And provide that kind of leadership by showing the country how we would do things different."

By different, Ryan and his Republican colleagues mean 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.")

The specter of rationing at a time when the party was demagoguing Democrats over Medicare explains why Republicans ran away from Ryan's plan throughout the 2010 election.  Last February, then House Minority Leader John Boehnerbegan 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 (R-VA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) joined in Ryan in publishing Young Guns. But even Ryan's co-authors are afraid to back his draconian plans. As ThinkProgress reported last August, Cantor repeatedly refused to endorse Ryan's Roadmap. Even a month ago, he could only muster, "I'm hopeful that we can get elements of what Paul is aiming for incorporated."  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."

But feeling emboldened after their victories last fall, the Republican brain trust is turning to Paul Ryan to architect a plan for America's senior citizens current and future.  Declaring Republicans long silent about specifics would "be specific about bold reforms." Eric Cantor last week announced that Republicans "will be presenting at the end of next month, towards the beginning of April, our own budget, a serious document that will reflect the type of path we feel we should be taking to address the fiscal situation, including addressing entitlement reforms, unlike the president did in his budget."  As for Speaker Boehner, he was quite clear about who would be writing those bold plans.  As Politico noted:

When pressed if such reforms would include Social Security and Medicare, Boehner said he would "let Paul Ryan and the Budget Committee do their work. I have no doubt that all of these issues will be on the table."

That isn't be good news for America's seniors.  Just a few months after backing the GOP with a gray-haired generation gap that ensured victory at the polls. Republicans are turning their backs on the elderly voters who elected them.

* Crossposted at Perrspectives *

Monday, April 04, 2011

American Taliban's Plan To Replace Medicare

The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills. Mr. Ryan and other conservatives say this is necessary because of the program's soaring costs. ... Mr. Ryan's proposal would apply to those currently under the age of 55, and for those Americans would convert Medicare into a "premium support" system. Participants from that group would choose from an array of private insurance plans when they reach 65 and become eligible, and the government would pay about the first $15,000 in premiums.
The above come from The Wall Street Journal but my link will not come up for whatever reason. If you wish to go to their site:

American Taliban “ Has Been “ Newt Gingrich Has A Nice Cash Flow…

    …. which happens to be coming from billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a shy casino owner who has these gambling meccas spread out all over the planet.

    Adelson, the 5th wealthiest man in the United States according to Forbes, is the chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation with an estimated worth of $23 billion, and he has thus far dropped $7 million ( over 5 years ) in to one of the Newts political organizations,

 American Solutions. More than 10% of the groups total funding has come from Mr. Adelson which helps Gingrich promote his usual conservative line of bullshit.

Adelson has also provided Gingrich the use of his aircraft for travel at times, according to a report today by the Center for Public Integrity.

And, according to Republican Party sources close to both men, Adelson is now expected to be a key fundraiser for Gingrich’s expected presidential campaign, steering funds from two lucrative groups with whom he has influence — Las Vegas casino executives and wealthy Republican Jewish donors.      MSNBC

   So I take it the Newt will be owing some gambling permits if he makes it into the White house. As luck would have it for both you and myself, nobody will write that horror story.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

North Dakota: Best State To Live In…

   ….and that isn’t a joke.

  North Dakota’s  Economics/Fiscal Policy are to be admired.

Unemployment rate: 3.8%

Statewide GDP: 3.9%  ranked 3rd in the United States in 2009, as 2010 stats are not available at this time.

Job Growth: Businesses in North Dakota  had the best hiring to firing ratio of all the 50 states in 2010 according to a Gallup survey.

Stable housing market. Across the nation, nearly 1 in 4 homeowners with a mortgage are underwater. In North Dakota, just 1 in 14 have negative equity, the fourth lowest negative-equity ratio among all the states. The state also has the third-lowest home foreclosure rate. Affordable homes are a big part of the story here; let's just say you don't need to overstretch to own. According to Zillow, the median home price in North Dakota is below $150,000. That's less than three times the state's median household income. By comparison, even after sharp post-bubble price declines, the median priced home in California is still about five times median household income.

Violent Crime: 4th lowest in the United States and almost 60% lower than national average according to 2008 stats which are the latest available.    Source

Add that all up and you have the makings for a pretty contended bunch. In fact, Gallup recently concluded that North Dakota is the third happiest state in the U.S., trailing only Hawaii and Wyoming. (The saddest state? West Virginia.)


[Happiest U.S. Cities to Work]