Sunday, September 2, 2012

The KILLERS (Flim-Flam Men) - Medicare First, Then Social Security, Medicaid, Disability (It's Inequality, Stupid!) & Who Says Ryan's Not Open To Adventure? Black College Girl Friend Favors Obama Now

(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)

BREAKING NEWS:   Paul Ryan's Black College Sweetheart Arrested and Imprisoned For Fraud?

The thing that continues to stick in my craw (wherever that is) is the overweening air of superiority seen in Ann Rmoney's easily-accepted (by the MSM talking heads) explanation of how and why they have told "you people" (me and my ilk) all they are ever going to about her and her Presidential candidate husband's tax payments, and her desire to be left alone with her brilliant mind (compliments of Barb Bush during the Katrina catastrophe) and $100,000 horse tax writeoffs as she makes her plans to help her husband take over the White House (and the government) of the U.S. (funded by those whose money lives in untaxable Cayman Island accounts as well as in other countries with their own unique agendas).

My government, that is. My White House. But I have no right (in her mind anyhow) to question who they are, how they got to where they are politically and financially, and exactly what their plans are for me and my family and friends due to the fact that they feel free to lie without respite to their inferiors (me/us) because they know that their inferiors don't have any rights - or enforceable rights anyway. At all. Because that's effectively all the Rethuglican Convention was about - right down to the lies told by law-and-order icon Clint Eastwood.

However, until the entire Bill of Rights is revoked, I still think I have some right to know (and we all do) what these jokers are planning, and can ask them as many times as we desire with a reasonable expectation of getting some truthful answers (to put us off a little while they hope - until November at least) in a still somewhat democratic-seeming country.

And if I/we don't get these answers, then that's the progressive campaign agenda (metaphorically, anyhow) that should go forward:   the full-on exposure of self-serving lies.

(But as I'm not actually in charge of any part of the powerful media presence existent in this country today, that is probably a dream or a moot point anyway.)

Matt Taibbi | Romney, Ryan Speeches Make Me Miss George Bush

The Bushs and the Cheneys at the 2004 Republican convention. (photo: Getty Images)

The Bushes and the Cheneys at the 2004 Republican convention. (photo: Getty Images)

The Medicare Killers

Paul Krugman August 31, 2012 Paul Ryan’s speech Wednesday night may have accomplished one good thing: It finally may have dispelled the myth that he is a Serious, Honest Conservative. Indeed, Mr. Ryan’s brazen dishonesty left even his critics breathless.
Some of his fibs were trivial but telling, like his suggestion that President Obama is responsible for a closed auto plant in his hometown, even though the plant closed before Mr. Obama took office. Others were infuriating, like his sanctimonious declaration that “the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” This from a man proposing savage cuts in Medicaid, which would cause tens of millions of vulnerable Americans to lose health coverage.
And Mr. Ryan — who has proposed $4.3 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, versus only about $1.7 trillion in specific spending cuts — is still posing as a deficit hawk.
But Mr. Ryan’s big lie — and, yes, it deserves that designation — was his claim that “a Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare.” Actually, it would kill the program.
Before I get there, let me just mention that Mr. Ryan has now gone all-in on the party line that the president’s plan to trim Medicare expenses by around $700 billion over the next decade — savings achieved by paying less to insurance companies and hospitals, not by reducing benefits — is a terrible, terrible thing. Yet, just a few days ago, Mr. Ryan was still touting his own budget plan, which included those very same savings.
But back to the big lie. The Republican Party is now firmly committed to replacing Medicare with what we might call Vouchercare. The government would no longer pay your major medical bills; instead, it would give you a voucher that could be applied to the purchase of private insurance. And, if the voucher proved insufficient to buy decent coverage, hey, that would be your problem.
Moreover, the vouchers almost certainly would be inadequate; their value would be set by a formula taking no account of likely increases in health care costs.
Why would anyone think that this was a good idea? The G.O.P. platform says that it “will empower millions of seniors to control their personal health care decisions.” Indeed. Because those of us too young for Medicare just feel so personally empowered, you know, when dealing with insurance companies.
Still, wouldn’t private insurers reduce costs through the magic of the marketplace? No. All, and I mean all, the evidence says that public systems like Medicare and Medicaid, which have less bureaucracy than private insurers (if you can’t believe this, you’ve never had to deal with an insurance company) and greater bargaining power, are better than the private sector at controlling costs.
I know this flies in the face of free-market dogma, but it’s just a fact. You can see this fact in the history of Medicare Advantage, which is run through private insurers and has consistently had higher costs than traditional Medicare. You can see it from comparisons between Medicaid and private insurance: Medicaid costs much less. And you can see it in international comparisons: The United States has the most privatized health system in the advanced world and, by far, the highest health costs.
So Vouchercare would mean higher costs and lower benefits for seniors. Over time, the Republican plan wouldn’t just end Medicare as we know it, it would kill the thing Medicare is supposed to provide: universal access to essential care. Seniors who couldn’t afford to top up their vouchers with a lot of additional money would just be out of luck.
Still, the G.O.P. promises to maintain Medicare as we know it for those currently over 55. Should everyone born before 1957 feel safe? Again, no.
For one thing, repeal of Obamacare would cause older Americans to lose a number of significant benefits that the law provides, including the way it closes the “doughnut hole” in drug coverage and the way it protects early retirees.
Beyond that, the promise of unchanged benefits for Americans of a certain age just isn’t credible. Think about the political dynamics that would arise once someone born in 1956 still received full Medicare while someone born in 1959 couldn’t afford decent coverage. Do you really think that would be a stable situation? For sure, it would unleash political warfare between the cohorts — and the odds are high that older cohorts would soon find their alleged guarantees snatched away.
The question now is whether voters will understand what’s really going on (which depends to a large extent on whether the news media do their jobs). Mr. Ryan and his party are betting that they can bluster their way through this, pretending that they are the real defenders of Medicare even as they work to kill it. Will they get away with it?
  •, Falls Church, Va
Dr. Krugman,
Heroic truth telling. Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney are leading a heavily funded campaign designed to implement a strategy of lies & misleading statements via the media, and much of the media is owned by the donors to the GOP. From Mitt Romney's acceptance speech until the last debate in October, the American voter will be subjected to a huge wave of misleading statements, lies, and images designed to trigger our Stone Age emotions, rather than our intellect & persuade voters to go to the polls & cast a vote Mitt Romeny. In bad times, particularly these, with the realities of the 40 year trends of declining and flat wages, increasing income inequality plus poor performance of our public school system, outrageously high college tuitions, loss of social mobility, deteriorating public infrastructure, & high un- & under-employment, rising gasoline, food, and healthcare costs & a blatantly unfair tax code that favors the rich & keeps wage earners in chattel which started a solid year before the Obama election. I noticed in Mr. Romney's speech that he conveniently forgot to mention the starting time of the recession. The American political process for selection of candidates deliberately separates voters from reality. The campaign and the media propaganda places the voter in an emotional state by creating a false reality that we are in an urgent crisis that favors casting a vote for change. The urgent crisis, is "the deficit" despite your great work. Keep it up.
Aug. 31, 2012
  • RLS
  • Virginia
Ryan is a fraud. He told the same bold-faced lie while campaigning in Florida with his mother: “When I think about Medicare, it’s not just a program. It’s not just a bunch of numbers. It’s what my mom relies on. Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma, when we needed it then. And Medicare is there for my mom while she needs it now. And we have to keep that guarantee.” “And Mr. Ryan — who has proposed $4.3 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, versus only about $1.7 trillion in specific spending cuts — is still posing as a deficit hawk.” Could it be any clearer that the Ryan budget is not about dealing with the deficit? Giving trillions in tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy when taxes are the lowest in decades while demanding shortsighted and savage cuts on the backs of the most vulnerable and politically weakest in our society is immoral and bad economic policy. Romney and Ryan share Grover Norquist's vision of drowning government in a bathtub. Their reverse-Robin-Hood budgets would end most of government other than Social Security and defense (and corporate welfare), and give more tax breaks to millionaires who don’t need them. Romney Budget Proposals Would Require Massive Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Other Programs
  • KZ
  • Middlesex County, NJ
NYT Pick
Thank you. I'm 47, and I've been paying into the Medicare pot since 1979. This Boomer demographic time bomb has been waiting to go off for decades, and every politician has been ignoring the ticking. Instead of edging out insurance companies, they have doubled down on the most inhumane medical system in the developed world. I can't understand why any of my Gen X cohort would vote for the same people who betrayed us with cuts to our school, elimination of pensions, job insecurity, enormous student loan debt. Unrest, yes there will be if these clowns remove every last shred of our safety net.
Aug. 31, 2012
  • RMC
  • NYC
They will get away with it, because no one is really listening. The message that the Republicans are delivering about Medicare - "you can trust us"-- is meant to deflect criticisms of those policies, so that their audience, white working- and middle-class men, will focus on the Republican's real message: namely, that President Obama is "weak" and a "loser" and has "failed" to fix the economy, and that the only way to remedy that failure is by electing Mitt Romney. The rest, including the Medicare debate, is mere blocking - defense so that the offense can move forward. White working- and middle-class men are terrified.Their identity and sense of purpose have been undermined by 4 years of recession. They yearn to reclaim that identity -- to feel adequate and powerful - by taking action. Romney is giving these men something a choice - vote for him - while characterizing Obama as a loser. In short, the insecurities and real, justified terror, of the victims of the Republican recession (because the Republicans "built it") is being turned against those victims. The deficit and debt are merely fig leaves, offered to the victims to disguise as decisiveness and strength, what is really only a panicked run for cover . If we Democrats don't figure out how to combat this strategy out soon, we can lose this election. We need to reassure frightened people that the President can fight for them, while exposing Romney and his running mate, Elmer Gantry, for the phonies that they are.
  • kurthunt
  • Chicago
You can fact-check, reason, debate, accommodate, compromise. A mountain of undeniable evidence can pile up against the GOP. But the simple fact remains that they don't care about any of it. They are driven my a simplistic hatred of liberals. It's a new sort of tribalism. They love their team, and they hate the opposing team. A logical approach clearly dose not work. We need to understand what motivates these people - nearly fifty percent of our population - and shamelessly manipulate them.... the way that the Koch Brothers and other plutocrats manipulate them. The Democrats need to hire an army of social anthropoligists, psychologists and marketers, to find out what makes these people tick. The policy wonks, economists, legal scholars, historians, and scientists have no effect upon them. We should not debate crazy people. We need to try to understand crazy people and either fix or exploit their sickness.
  • Sandra Andrews
  • North Carolina
I am just turning 65 and am eligible for Medicare, which means that I also have to have a supplemental policy and drug coverage. I am deluged with mail from every insurance company in the free world touting their plans. I find it very confusing, which prompted me to think, if I am having trouble sifting through these supplemental plans, while I am healthy and in my right mind, what in the world would I run into if I was given a voucher for $6400 and told to "find a plan"? Doesn't anyone remember or care to learn why Medicare was enacted in the first place? Not one insurance company wants to insure someone 65 or older at a price they can afford. The elderly will just give up and not get care at all, just like what happened before Medicare.
Aug. 31, 2012
  • Robert
  • London, UK
@VR - my brother is an NHS GP, and yes the plan _was_ to begin privatising the NHS by the Conservatives. It was only the Lib Dem partners in their government, and a huge outcry from the people, that have thwarted their efforts. Even where this has not happened, local PCTs have begun to radically cut compensation to the doctors per patient, most notably in Lambeth in South London (cut by 31%), which has seen several practices merge or close as a result. The NHS is being threatened by bad people with bad ideas - because those practices will be gold mines to anyone that manages to buy the buildings and take them private, as they have all been built on public tax dollars but are expected to go cheaply. That is basically the plan - a huge windfall for those "in the know" and wealthy enough to buy up the chunks of the NHS that are privatised, and reduced care for the citizens. This should sound familiar to anyone in the US, as you are there now...
  • Sheldon Bunin
  • Jackson Heights NY
There are more than one kind of lies. There are outright lies, like the claim that Republicans will save Medicare, a program that they hated for years. There are sugar coated lies, like Vouchercare will will be empowering. Then there are damnable lies when Republicans who caused our economy to collapse and stonewalled and filibustered every effort to create jobs and did the opposite, blame the results of their party's GOP over country politics, on Obama's policies which he cound not implement. . Then there is the gift wrapped, highly polished, juicy looking poisoned apple which Romney and Ryan are trying to get the American people to bite into. "Take a bite. It will solve your little middle class problems." And for the convention a new lie that a man whose presidential run is funded by anonymous billionaires, possibly foreign corporations or foreigners, for all we know and who keeps hundreds of millions in offshore tax havens, promising that all his tax avoidance strategies saved him nothing on taxes but still refuses to release any tax returnes before 2010, because he values his privacy or perhaps he doesn’t dare to, and who runs ads with doctored quotes, tells us that he is a middle class champion and can solves the nations problem, if we just trust him and his team of liars. America is invited to confuse success with making millions. Elect Ronmey get Sheldon Adelson, et al., and the GOP platform. .
Aug. 31, 2012
  • Dave Scott
  • Ohio
Ryan: "the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” What we have in today''s Republican leadership is nothing less than real evil. At the point when the Wizard publicly bloviates about compassion for the poor while the little man behind the curtain slashes Medicaid, lines of minimal human decency have been crossed -- lines Ryan has also crossed in many other ways. And as a practical matter, I find it hard to believe that some future Congress is going to tell millions of Baby Boom retirees that Medicare is limited to Ryan's vouchers.
Aug. 31, 2012
  • Scott
  • Illinois
Anyone with a sense of history would recoil at the notion that excessive government debt might bring about inflation like Germany had post WWI with people rolling wheelbarrows of money to buy a loaf of bread, but the other side of the coin is the greater threat now with deflation in home prices wiping out years of equity accumulation and impoverishing much of the once middle class. With China and the development of robot technology able to produce an almost endless supply of manufactured goods, supply shortages causing inflation may be almost impossible. The fact that Romney and Ryan don't really want to close the gap between revenue and spending, and are willing to explode the budget plans of either side with a much greater willingness to feed the monster of the military industrial complex by starting a war with Iran leads one to the realization that there is no genuinely resposible course they are likely to persue. Debt elimination is a smokescreen. In the midst of their planned shockwave will be cutbacks in Medicare engineered to be necessary and patriotic because of the dire emergency of the newest military adventure. If we really did have a true military emergency, we ought to sell War Bonds, tax the top incomes at 91% like it was under Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower and reinstate the draft, which would create great protest and turmoil unless the cause were truly just. Or someone could vote for Obama instead. Not perfect, but definitely a more reasoned choice.
Aug. 31, 2012
  • Sunk in...
  • Sausalito, CA
This is entirely consistent with Bain and Co. business model. Human suffering is simply not factored into the equation for this transaction. See Matt Taibbi's article in Rolling Stone. Romney is the presidential personification of a multinational corporation. He has no nationality he's not _from_ anywhere he's entirely divorced from community country or civic duty. He just doing what he does - take.
  • Carl Ian Schwartz
  • Paterson, New Jersey
So...why not Medicare for Everyone. That would level the risk pool. It works in many industrialized countries, such as Canada, France, and England. The other approach is to force health insurance into being non-profit. We had that for years in the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Associations, but those have been taken over by for-profit insurers. Some things shouldn't be for profit: health insurance and our Constitutional guarantees. This iteration of the GOP wants to do just that, and we've seen where it takes us. (Indeed, those who know 20th-century European history have seen where the Corporate State took Italy and Germany.)
  • c kaufman
  • Hoboken, NJ
The rising amount of Washington demagoguery is related to the amount of political disingenuousness needed to get the latest Washington privatization scheme into law. Creating yet another distorted market to deliver the public into. Privatization today is actually using government for one businessman's dubious business plan, rigging profits like a rigged card game (textbook cronyism), and astonishingly Washington is proud of it. There's no public prosecution of cronyism, no public advocate at the table, so there's not going to be a serious political discussion worth a dime. Beyond Washington's barrage of political infomercials, and circular group think it's hard to prove that medicare is the crisis. Our economy, tax base, private healthcare system is in much worse shape. For the GOP to insist that 47 year old Medicare is less stable then one of their many recent privatization programs (banking deregulation, Enron, etc.) is ludicrous. I don't know anyone who wouldn't just pay a few dollars more into our managed not-for profit insurance system (Medicare) to assure themselves benefits later. The goal is to push for transparency, and rigorous management. I don't trust today's conservative politicians who managed to throw all oversight, and responsible management of the 2008 bank bailout out of the window. Let the bankers take the cash and run.
Aug. 31, 2012
  • Ron T
  • Mpls
Is Medicare going “bankrupt”? Not even close. Notice that somehow nobody in GOP says the Army is going bankrupt, yet it doesn't even have its own fake "fund" like SS or Medicare: there is zero dollars appropriated for the Army for future decades - spending for the Army each year is only politically limited: just like SS and Medicare, if someone says otherwise they are lying. The debate is skilfully narrowed down to "whether the Medicare fund will run out in 2042 or 2063", yet the Army "fund" runs out in 2012 (since there is no fund) and we all know that the military will be funded in 2013, more than in 2012. The US government can always fund Medicare if we the people make a political decision to do so. Money is scarce to you and me, but the government creates out of nothing every dollar it spends. And it destroys almost as many dollars by taxing. The government cannot run out of dollars, like a bowling alley cannot run out of points. It can create too many dollars and so fuel inflation, but it cannot run out. See: The only problem may be inadequate REAL output. The government is now manufacturing this future scarcity by refusing to spend and thus allowing unemployment to persist - all this to "save money" it doesn't need. The lost productivity may actually result in us as seniors being unable to obtain the care we will need, not the government "not having dollars" in the future.
Aug. 31, 2012

It's Inequality, Stupid

Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
31 August 12
he most troubling economic trend facing America this Labor Day weekend is the increasing concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the very top - among a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people - and the steady decline of the great American middle class.
Inequality in America is at record levels. The 400 richest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together.
Republicans claim the rich are job creators. Nothing could be further from the truth. In order to create jobs, businesses need customers. But the rich spend only a small fraction of what they earn. They park most of it wherever around the world they can get the highest return.
The real job creators are the vast middle class, whose spending drives the economy and creates jobs.
But as the middle class's share of total income continues to drop, it cannot spend as much as before. Nor can most Americans borrow as they did before the crash of 2008 - borrowing that temporarily masked their declining purchasing power.
As a result, businesses are reluctant to hire. This is the main reason why the recovery has been so anemic.
As wealth and income rise to the top, moreover, so does political power. The rich are able to entrench themselves by lowering their taxes, gaining special tax breaks (such as the "carried interest" loophole allowing private equity and hedge fund managers to treat their incomes as capital gains), and ensuring a steady flow of corporate welfare to their businesses (special breaks for oil and gas, big agriculture, big insurance, Big Pharma, and, of course, Wall Street).
All of this squeezes public budgets, corrupts government, and undermines our democracy. The issue isn't the size of our government; it's who our government is for. It has become less responsive to the needs of most citizens and more to the demands of a comparative few.
The Republican response - as we saw dramatically articulated this past week in Tampa - is to further reduce taxes on the rich, defund programs for the poor, fight unions, allow the median wage to continue to fall, and oppose any limits on campaign contributions or spending.
It does not take a great deal of brainpower to understand this strategy will lead to an even more lopsided economy, more entrenched wealth, and more corrupt democracy.
The question of the moment is whether next week President Obama will make a bold and powerful rejoinder. If he and the Democratic Party stand for anything, it must be to reverse this disastrous trend.

(Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers Aftershock and The Work of Nations. His latest is an e-book, Beyond Outrage. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.)

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