Thursday, December 12, 2013

(Sen. Warren Blows Bloomberg Frauds Away!) The Latest Salvo in the Transfer of Working Class People's Money to the 1%? (Getting A Decent Policy Under Obamacare If You're Poor? (Impossible))

As Cuba Gooding says in The Murder of Crows*, "If money talks, all I've heard it say is 'Goodbye!'"

(Please consider making a contribution to the Welcome to Pottersville2 Holiday Season Fundraiser or at least sending a link to your friends if you think the subjects discussed here are worth publicizing. Thank you for your support. We are in a real tight spot financially right now and would sincerely appreciate any type of contribution. Anything you can do will make a huge difference in this blog's ability to survive.)

You'll want to watch this very short video if only for the joy of seeing one program on TV which isn't Koch-funded propaganda (or even Bloomberg's) about how we need to impoverish (starve) both the old and young now in order to assure riches for those real "entitled" (being taught to complain loudly on TV today) who'll be around decades in the future to collect on this seemingly can't-lose bet. (It will also bring a bonus of really lemming-desperate people into those "new" jobs coming back into the U.S. at full speed at below current minimum-wage pay scales.) (Whoopee! Go 1%!)

Elizabeth Warren Destroys Bloomberg Hosts on Social Security Entitlements Crisis

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sen. Elisabeth Warren (D-MA) took two Bloomberg TV hosts to school on Wednesday after they suggested that Social Security was the root of an “entitlements crisis” that was driving the nation’s budget deficit.

In an interview on Market Makers, host Stephanie Ruhle confronted the Massachusetts Democrat for her recent call to increase Social Security benefits.

“When I think about imbalance, I think about our children,” Ruhle said. “In the next 10 years, between Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending, it’s going to grow to $780 billion. Our spending on children is $20 billion. Are you not worried about kids? Why should these senior citizens be getting more money?”

“Of course, I’m worried about our children and I want to see more investment in our children,” Warren replied. “But we cannot ignore the fact that we have a retirement crisis in the United States right now.”

“Social Security is not driving our deficit,” the senator continued. “Social Security is a system that pays for itself. If we did absolutely nothing to Social Security, we would make payments for more than 20 years exactly at this level. And then they would drop by roughly by about 25 percent and pay forever into the future… We can make modest adjustments now in Social Security and make sure it will be there to pay on into the future. And if we make some more adjustments, we could see an increase in Social Security benefits for those who count on it.”

Warren pointed out that two out of three seniors relied on Social Security for food and housing so it was the last thing that should be cut during a retirement crisis.

Co-host Erik Schatzker, however, insisted that the U.S. was also facing an “entitlements crisis.”

“Social Security is not creating a deficit in our budget right now or in the future,” Warren declared. “So, let’s just pull that one out of it, because that is not a conversation.”

Watch this (short) video from the Bloomberg TV’s Market Makers, broadcast Dec. 12, 2013.

*Clifford Dubose: You're going downtown!
Lawson Russell: On what charge?
Clifford Dubose: Arrogance.

*Lawson Russell: I'll say it once again. It's an immutable fact of life. The strong will always tred on the weak. But every once in a while, we get a little bit of justice. That's all we can hope for.

Another Obama speech full of lovely progressive-sounding, fluid misrepresentations? (You gotta love that guy's optimism about the 1%'s needs!)

From the Center for Economic and Policy Research we learn:

President Obama Misrepresents Role of Government: It Has Promoted Inequality

Thursday, 05 December 2013

The Washington Post should have found someone who would have pointed out President Obama's misrepresentation when it quoted him saying:

"“Government can’t stand on the sidelines in our efforts [to reduce inequality and increase mobility], because government is us. It can and should reflect our deepest values and commitments.”
Of course government has not been on sidelines, it has pursued policies that increase inequality. There are a long list that fall into this category including the bank bailouts of 2008-2010, too big to fail insurance for large banks, stronger and longer patent and copyright protection, and a trade policy that puts less educated workers in direct competition with low paid workers in the developing world, while largely protecting the most highly paid professionals, like doctors, from the same sort of competition.
However the biggest way in which the government has promoted inequality is by running budgets that lead to large scale unemployment and underemployment. Just as the decision to deliberately use fiscal policy to stimulate the economy and create jobs is a policy choice so is the decision to run smaller budget deficits, thereby reducing growth and employment. The government is currently following the latter policy denying work to millions of people. Also, since the bargaining power of workers in the bottom third of the labor market depends hugely on the level of unemployment, the high unemployment policy is also reducing their wages.

Everyone should thank the Suburban Guerrilla for revealing her personal tale of woe, which provides an excellent example of what happens when a person of limited means tries to pick a policy that's affordable and offers decent coverage under Obamacare.

I've said from the first that people without extra income - meaning more than necessary for rent, utilities and food (including Food Stamps) - will not be able to afford any policy because none of them will actually cover any of the medical expenses that poor people usually have to pay for outright due to lack of insurance. Instead, they'll be paying a high price (if they have it at all) for high deductibles, little coverage and poorer outcomes.

Thanks, Susie! You've done the nation (the poor nation, anyhow) a service.

It turns out that, under the plan I selected, I’d have to meet a $6000 deductible before even a doctor visit was covered. (Thanks to Brendan for pointing this out.)
Then I spent a hour on the phone last night trying to find someone who could help me cancel the policy.
I finally figured out that the only plans I could afford with zero deductibles were HMO plans. But in the HMO plans, they have three-tiered service.
I’ve written about this before. Tiered service means if you want to go to a good doctor or hospital, you have to pay a lot more. So the co-pay for me to see my GI doctor at the Tier 3 hospital is… $100 instead of $30 or $50. Which is insane, because poor people on Medicaid can go to that same doctor!
By the time this CORPORATE CONSERVATIVE-DESIGNED clusterfuck gets straightened out, I’ll be on Medicare.

As a final denouement, please consider viewing In Good Company. It's a hoot and might even give you one better day after being replaced (by someone at least 20 years younger than you) when you're struggling to stay alive until you're eligible for Medicare (if it is still allowed to exist then).

Okay, maybe only a moment or two of respite.

Or . . . you could watch Stealth. ("EDI is the whole idea!")

"EDI UCAV. Extreme Deep Invader."

- It's humming.

- No, EDI's thinking.

- Thinking? Thinking about what, sir?

- You. All of you.

He's going over your files.

He's reviewing all your flight logs.

. . . Swarm logic activated.

All right, Ben.

EDI's here to learn from you.

. . . Got no heart, but it sure can fly.

That's not bad for a tin man.

EDI, it's official. You got a call sign.

UCAV "Tin Man" EDI, the first.

. . . I think it's only fair that I tell you that EDI's been designed to evolve.

- It's just unpredictable . . .

- Let me ask you something.

Just between you and me, do you have confidence in this plane?

. . . - We've already been through this.

- Scrub EDI from the mission.

I know you have a vision. I know how much this project means to you . . .

... but this plane is putting all of our lives at unnecessary risk.

You're just not getting it, are you, lieutenant?

EDI is the whole idea.

I don't know why I like that movie so much. I just think it speaks the truth clearly about what certain people have planned for our future.

Remember the exciting news touted by business leaders about the sure-fire Japanese management strategy to improve productivity in the 80's? (Quality Circles!)



Meanwhile, various state-led efforts are under way that advocates hope will sweep the country statehouse by statehouse, as soon as lawmakers see the advantage of a single-payer system.

Bernie Sanders Introduces Single Payer Legislation

Could anger at the Obamacare rollout make Americans more receptive to a kind of Medicare-for-all system? That's what activists are hoping-and they're plotting a state-by-state fight.

As the rollout of Obamacare clunks forward, activists who opposed the law from the beginning say it is time to seize the moment, to tear down the current health-care edifice and start anew, especially now as frustration with the law's implementation is reaching a peak.

These are not Tea Party activists but advocates for a single-payer health-care system who say some of the problems with the launch of the Affordable Care Act-in addition to built-in problems with the law itself-have made the American public more receptive than ever to a Medicare-for-all kind of coverage system.

On Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the American Health Security Act, which would require each state to set up a single-payer health-care system and would undo the exchanges that have plagued Obamacare. Meanwhile, various state-led efforts are under way that advocates hope will sweep the country statehouse by statehouse, as soon as lawmakers see the advantage of a single-payer system. In Vermont, for example, lawmakers have set aside the financing and are already preparing to adopt a single-payer system when the federal government permits it, which according to provisions of the Affordable Care Act will be in 2015. In Massachusetts, Don Berwick, a former top Obama administration health official, is basing his campaign for governor on bringing a single-payer system to the commonwealth. And advocates in New York, Maryland, Oregon, and around the country say they see new energy around their cause.

"As the president fully understands, the rollout has been a disaster, the website has been a disaster," said Sanders in an interview moments after his bill was introduced in the Senate. "But the truth is, even if all of those problems were corrected tomorrow and if the Affordable Care Act did all that it was supposed to do, it would be only a modest step forward to dealing with the dysfunction of the American health-care system. When you have a lot of complications, it is an opportunity for insurance companies and drug companies and medical equipment suppliers to make billions and billions of profits rather than to see our money go into health care and making people well."

Democrats conceded that Republican efforts to sabotage Obamacare with endless lawsuits and by declining to set up state-run exchanges have damaged the law's popularity, but they say the confusion will lead the public inevitably to conclude that a simple single-payer system, one that avoids malfunctioning websites and complicated gold/silver/bronze options, is preferable.

. . . "I think the thing that is most interesting about government is that populism gets its biggest support not from Democrats but from what Republicans do," said former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who stressed that he did not count himself among the populist members of the Democratic Party. "They torpedo the Affordable Care Act, and I believe we will now have single payer in this country within the next 15 years."

Come on, North Carolina!

The European Parliament Votes to Invite Edward Snowden

The European parliament has voted to formally invite Edward Snowden to give testimony on NSA spying, despite opposition from conservative MEPs. If the US whistleblower provides answers to the questions compiled by parliamentarians in time, a hearing via video link could take place in early January.

It had looked on Wednesday as if European conservatives were trying to kick the hearing into the long grass. The European People's party (EPP), the alliance of centre-right parties, had raised a number of concerns about inviting Snowden for a hearing, noting that it could endanger the transatlantic trade agreement with the US.

But on Thursday morning, the leaders of the main political groupings in the European parliament voted to invite Snowden. In the coming weeks, questions will be compiled and then forwarded to the former NSA contractor's lawyer, with roughly two questions coming from each political group.

Labour MEP Claude Moraes, the lead rapporteur for the European parliament inquiry on the mass surveillance of EU citizens, welcomed the outcome of the vote and promised that questioning would be "rigorous and fair".

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