Friday, October 18, 2013

Although It's A Ceasefire, Obama Still In the Cross-Hairs (The Reality of How Badly Off We Still Are Finally Sinks In) FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!!!!!



(Please consider making even a small contribution to the Welcome to  Pottersville2 Quarterly Fundraiser happening now ($5.00 is suggested for those on a tight budget) or sending a link to your friends if you think the subjects discussed here are worth publicizing. Thank you for your support. We really appreciate it. Anything you can do will make a huge difference in this blog's ability to survive in these difficult economic times.)


Robert Reich confirms my worst fears.

Social Security and Medicare are dead dogs if the TeaTards triumph.

And it looks like they've got every advantage.

We know the parameters of the upcoming budget debate because we’ve been there before. The House already has its version — the budget Paul Ryan bequeathed to them. This includes major cuts in Medicare (turning it into a voucher) and Social Security (privatizing much of it), and substantial cuts in domestic programs ranging from education and infrastructure to help for poorer Americans. Republicans also have some bargaining leverage in the sequester, which continues to indiscriminately choke government spending.

. . . Here, I fear, is where the President is likely to cave.

He’s already put on the table a way to reduce future Social Security payments by altering the way cost-of-living adjustments are made – using the so-called “chained” consumer price index, which assumes that when prices rise people economize by switching to cheaper alternatives.

This makes no sense for seniors, who already spend a disproportionate share of their income on prescription drugs, home healthcare, and medical devices – the prices of which have been rising faster than inflation. Besides, Social Security isn’t responsible for our budget deficits. Quite the opposite: For years its surpluses have been used to fund everything else the government does.

The President has also suggested “means-testing” Medicare – that is, providing less of it to higher-income seniors. This might be sensible. The danger is it becomes the start of a slippery slope that eventually turns Medicare into another type of Medicaid, a program perceived to be for the poor and therefore vulnerable to budget cuts.

But why even suggest cutting Medicare at all, when the program isn’t responsible for the large budget deficits projected a decade or more from now? Medicare itself is enormously efficient; its administrative costs are far lower than commercial health insurance.

The real problem is the rising costs of healthcare, coupled with the aging of the post-war boomers. The best way to deal with the former – short of a single-payer system — is to use Medicare’s bargaining power over providers to move them from  “fee-for-services,” in which providers have every incentive to do more tests and procedures, to “payments-for-healthy-outcomes,” where providers would have every incentive to keep people healthy.

What to Expect During the Cease-Fire


October 17, 2013

The war isn’t over. It’s only a cease-fire.

Republicans have agreed to fund the federal government through January 15 and extend the government’s ability to borrow (raise the debt ceiling) through Feb. 7. The two sides have committed themselves to negotiate a long-term budget plan by mid-December. 


Regardless of what happens in the upcoming budget negotiations, it seems doubtful House Republicans will try to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised next February. Saner heads in the GOP will be able to point to the debacle Tea Partiers created this time around – the public’s anger, directed mostly at Republicans; upset among business leaders and Wall Street executives, who bankroll much of the GOP; and the sharply negative reaction of stock and bond markets, where the American middle class parks whatever savings it has.

The saner Republicans will also be able to point out that President Obama means it when he says he won’t ever negotiate over the debt ceiling. The fact that he negotiated over it in 2011 is now irrelevant.

On the other hand, there’s a significant chance of another government shutdown in January. By then we’ll be well into the gravitational pull of the 2014 midterm elections. Every House member is up for reelection – mostly from safe (often gerrymandered) districts in which their major competitors are likely to be primary opponents from the Tea Party right.

These opponents will be challenging them to show what they’ve done to sandbag Obamacare and shrink the size of government. The President and the Democrats have made it clear they’ll protect Obamacare at all costs. Which means the real action between now and January 15 will be over the federal budget. The threat of another government shutdown is the only major bargaining leverage House Republicans possess in order to get what they consider “meaningful” concessions.

We know the parameters of the upcoming budget debate because we’ve been there before. The House already has its version — the budget Paul Ryan bequeathed to them. This includes major cuts in Medicare (turning it into a voucher) and Social Security (privatizing much of it), and substantial cuts in domestic programs ranging from education and infrastructure to help for poorer Americans. Republicans also have some bargaining leverage in the sequester, which continues to indiscriminately choke government spending.

The Senate has its own version of a budget, which, by contrast, cuts corporate welfare, reduces defense spending, and raises revenues by closing tax loopholes for the wealthy.

Here, I fear, is where the President is likely to cave.

He’s already put on the table a way to reduce future Social Security payments by altering the way cost-of-living adjustments are made – using the so-called “chained” consumer price index, which assumes that when prices rise people economize by switching to cheaper alternatives. This makes no sense for seniors, who already spend a disproportionate share of their income on prescription drugs, home healthcare, and medical devices – the prices of which have been rising faster than inflation. Besides, Social Security isn’t responsible for our budget deficits. Quite the opposite: For years its surpluses have been used to fund everything else the government does.

The President has also suggested “means-testing” Medicare – that is, providing less of it to higher-income seniors. This might be sensible. The danger is it becomes the start of a slippery slope that eventually turns Medicare into another type of Medicaid, a program perceived to be for the poor and therefore vulnerable to budget cuts.

But why even suggest cutting Medicare at all, when the program isn’t responsible for the large budget deficits projected a decade or more from now? Medicare itself is enormously efficient; its administrative costs are far lower than commercial health insurance

The real problem is the rising costs of healthcare, coupled with the aging of the post-war boomers. The best way to deal with the former – short of a single-payer system — is to use Medicare’s bargaining power over providers to move them from  “fee-for-services,” in which providers have every incentive to do more tests and procedures, to “payments-for-healthy-outcomes,” where providers would have every incentive to keep people healthy. (The best way to deal with the latter – the aging of the American population – is to allow more young immigrants into America.)

More generally, the President has been too eager to accept the argument that the major economic problem facing the nation is large budget deficits – when, in point of fact, the deficit has been shrinking as a share of the national economy. The only reason it’s expected to increase in future years is, again, rising healthcare costs.

Our real economic problem continues to be a dearth of good jobs along with widening inequality. Cutting the budget deficit may make both worse, by reducing total demand for goods and services and eliminating programs that lower-income Americans depend on

The President has now scored a significant victory over extremist Republicans. But the fight will continue. He mustn’t relinquish ground during the upcoming cease-fire
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Have I mentioned lately how much I just looooooove this guy?

The Tea Party’s intention is destruction.

Yesterday, Salon.com published a detailed interview with Congressman Alan Grayson about his thoughts as the current artificial crisis induced by the Republicans in the House of Representatives was about to end. Read the full interview (click on link to Salon above). Share it with your friends and family, and ask them to join the thousands of Americans who have had enough of the Republicans' ridiculous antics by signing our petition to end the lunacy at the website (where else?) EndtheLunacy.com.




1.8M-year-old skull gives glimpse of our evolution

8 comments:

Phil said...

Hey, Suzan, can you think of any reason why we should stop short of single-payer health care? I can't. Instead of entertaining Tea Party demands and suggesting possible concessions, Obama should have made some outrageous (and non-negotiable) demands of his own. Once you concede anything to the GOP, the bastards own you.

Alan Grayson is a political rock star. If he ever tires of Florida politics, I hope he'll consider moving to Oregon; we need a new governor and a replacement for Rep. Greg Walden--he could take his pick. The same can be said for Wendy Davis.

Cirze said...

You're a man after my heart, Phil.

I love you.

My only concern with your remarks is that you don't think that Obama has bitten the rightwing bullet and that he would want to negotiate better terms for the taxpayer.

I think he's for privatizing Social Security and voucherizing Medicare as well as giving all the rest of the social safety net programs to private companies to administer, which are wet dreams for his Goldman Sachs/MorganStanleyChase banker buddies - thus he never tries to renegotiate about single payer during these times or anything else that would benefit the taxpayers. He knows where their extortion leads and he's ready for the final showdown (with our money ready to be passed over to the thugs).

Wish I were wrong but I've been viewing the conman's actions for over 5 years and he only sounded like my candidate during the first campaign.

Take care!

Wish I were in OR.

Phil said...

Obama has been a presidential lost cause and a major disappointment since his first week in office. He caved early on, and now the Republicans own him.

Some people think that 2-party politics is like good cop/bad cop, but it's not; it's more like bad cop/worse cop. Both parties work toward the same goal, but one party presses for immediate results while the other makes the people think they have a chance.

Cirze said...

And we've got no chance.

Did you see that Jamie Dimon gave us less than 5 years before the **!!** hits the fan?

And Glenn Greenwald cashes in.

Out of the country, of course.


Phil said...

Aren't we the night owls?

Count on Jamie Dimon bein' one of the ones throwin' the **!!**.

For what it's worth, Suze, I wish you were in OR, too. NC's political landscape makes it one of the bleaker states, while Oregon, comparatively speaking, is awash in progressivism. If you find total immersion in right-wing nuttery to be terribly depressing, give Oregon a try; we need all the progressive voices we can get.

Cirze said...

I'm on the way, baby.

In my dreams.

Love you.

TONY said...

Obama's performance in the face of the GOP nihilists has been supine even by his standards. Bland statements, lame put-downs. As a result it appears from outside that there are many in the US who bizarrely blame him for the shutdown. He is an extreme moderate imo who believes in not very much. He will end up in the Moloch-portraited Morgan Stanley board room like Tony Blair who he would like to emulate I reckon. A role 5 years down the road as a shill for corporatists/dodgy dictatorships and, as ever, Israel. Keep up the good fight, girl...x

Cirze said...

As usual, Tony.

From your lips to . . . .

xo