Well, what a week that one of June 28th turned out to be! I'm afraid to say that I experienced disappointment from two areas. From one area, was to be expected. Sadly, from the other, my new found sense of nervousness was - unexpected. It's taken me so long to write about everything because I am active in the OFA - yes, despite my storied reservations about Obama, I'm fighting to promote his agenda, because I believe in it, and I know that somehow he's still trying to turn this country to the right course. And we are both dealing with the same crazies!
I also realize that Republican throats are getting dry as their Wall Street masters are feeling nervous about D Day (Default Day,) and are pressuring their minions to break with the Tea Party, because if the GOP gets destroyed they'll simply create a new one. And yes, I understand that Obama may be pulling a bit of theater to expose the Republican's intransigence, thereby squeezing them into a deal by embarrassing them into it. We will save the economy. We may even raise the taxes!
Even so, what I started to write on the week of the 28th is as valid now as it was then. Anyway you look at it, big cuts or small, raised "revenues" or not, the middle class takes the biggest hit in the "shared sacrifices" of this deal!
As if to underscore the situation we are dealing with in Washington, let me begin the narrative of the week of June 28th as I intended, and draw you a picture of a Tea Partier at the local level - our own Nurse Annie:
Well, the former item took place in the good ol' 25th NY, in a little burg called the Village of Manlius, where Our Dear Nurse Annie decided to regale us with her accomplishments and her wisdom concerning the present economic and political situation. And I daresay, her little presentation was more revealing for the things that she didn't say. You see, Mrs. Buerkle was a little light, or maybe self serving concerning the facts.
She was most revealing when it came to her arguments on the debt ceiling and Medicare. Now let's see if you can spot all the things Our Dear Nurse Annie didn't say:
We cannot just raise this debt ceiling without making substantial cuts and reforms and spending caps to avoid this situation again. I say it over and over again - the United States of America borrows forty two cents on every dollar it spends! Forty two cents they have to go borrow to pay whoever they are paying money to on every dollar. Think about if you ran your household like that. Think about if you ran your business like that. You're leveraging 50% as credit. The government of the United States of America is on an unsustainable course, so, my best guess is we will raise the debt ceiling but only when there are substantial cuts, and there are statutory reforms in caps and spending so that we can avoid this problem again.
Well wasn't that special! Notice that Buerkle said nothing about raising revenues like ending the Bush tax cuts, and giving this country a little financial independence. To her, it's all about borrowing. Mrs. Buerkle's analogy about "thinking about if you ran your household like that," isn't the right one to use. Mrs. Buerkle sounds more like the deadbeat who's mooching off of her family to pay the rent, because she spent it all on the ponies! Even better, she's Scrooge McDuck hoarding her cash while complaining about being on the cuff up to the collar! Thin people: Eat something! Rich people: PAY something!
Paul Ryan's budget, and I think this is so important, because it's been demagogued, is a proposal. It is a proposal, and a place to start the discussion. Now last Friday I drafted a piece of legislation, and it was a bill to defund both the Senate and the House if they failed to pass a budget. It defunds their budget committees for failure to pass a budget, because the Senate since 2009 hasn't passed a budget. The House just passed a budget, and the Senate has not. Now, how are we going to get a spending plan in place, if the Senate does not put forth a budget that we can debate? Paul Ryan's budget, and all this concern about Medicare, is a proposal. It's a proposal to begin the discussion, and it has been demagogued, and it has been, here locally in the district the seniors are getting, they've gotten robocalls, they've been (inaudible) warned that we are going to get rid of Medicare. Everyone agrees. Joe Lieberman came out today on the Senate side with a plan for Medicare. Everyone agrees. The CBO Director Ryan Ellewell agrees that Medicare will be bankrupt, especially Part A the hospital, by 2025. It will be bankrupt. So we've got to change, and we've got to look at Medicare and make it sustainable. Now, the one thing you're not hearing is that the healthcare law, which is a law, which does go into effect in 2014, the healthcare law disrupts Medicare as we know it. So when we talk about Medicare now, and it's very important, the healthcare law disrupts Medicare. It cuts Medicare by $500 billion, and it also creates the independent advisory board. Fifteen bureaucrats appointed, not elected officials, who will make the healthcare decisions for Medicare recipients. That's what the healthcare law does. It will begin in 2014. So, Medicare as we know it is going to be disrupted and changed in 2014. Now Ryan is offering a proposal for Medicare.
First thing that I didn't hear: If Ryan's plan was just a "proposal," then why did the House just pass it without a proper vetting? I guess the Tea Party wanted everyone on record as supporting it!
The next charge was that the healthcare bill "cuts Medicare by $500 billion" from Medicare. More smoke blowing from Buerkle to bribe and scare the seniors!
Perhaps if we may be charitable, she might have meant the readjustments made to Medicare Advantage. The free gym membership, the lower premiums, or the extra pair of eyeglasses might go. Well, Nurse Annie, the rest of are paying for those little goodies with a raise in our premiums. The healthcare bill will force insurance companies into competitive bidding on contracts for Medicare Advantage, so that we won't get skinned by MA.
When Factcheck.org reported (once again ad nauseam,) on this, it replied to a similar allegation made by Crossroads GPS:
But when we asked Crossroads spokesman Collegio how this mom's benefits were going to be affected, he told us that the line in the ad was a reference to the fact that the law cuts Medicare spending by $500 billion over 10 years — therefore, "mom's Medicare will be cut." Even if viewers read nothing more into the claim than that, they should know that the law cuts the future growth of spending in Medicare over a decade, not the current budget. About 40 percent of those cuts come from reducing the future growth of payments to hospitals, and skilled nursing and home health organizations. Another 25 percent of the savings come from the changes to Medicare Advantage that we just described.
If Buerkle thinks that the GOP can buy off seniors with a cutoff age of 55 and over, she hasn't sold it to this grandmother!
This sign gives the same message!
And these senior citizens were not sold either!
Having said what I did about Buerkle's rather sorry turn, I'm rather surprised and worried at the sudden turn of events in Washington where President Obama seems to be making disappointing moves on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
We have had this conversation before Mr. President. It's not the first time you've kicked us in the shins concerning something we hold very dear. And yet we've continued to support either you, or the Progressive cause in general, all in the face of the most unreasonable Republican psychopathy imaginable. And yet, sir in this post-Citizen's United world, you would do well to no longer ignore your base, and shore it up as tightly as possible, in the face of untold gobs of money being thrown at you by the opposition, as if it were feces from gorilla's back.
It's time for you to start listening to what those who pound the pavement and make the phone calls for you have to say!
Mr. President, I understand that the burden of debt would stifle our further growth, and stunt us as a nation, but what you are forgetting is, that at this point we are fighting just to keep the things we have, not for some future as that is yet - unattainable. We are keeping our heads above water, and still hemorrhaging jobs. On top of this, you ask us to bear the burden of putting ourselves into a state of starvation to save us from default?
Where is the "shared sacrifice" in this?
Why aren't the Bush tax cuts that have so crippled the nation revoked? And why are the tax benefits to the oil industry continued? Why isn't Wall Street sharing in the burden of getting us out of the mess they created?
As Eugene Robinson put it in the Washington Post:
The way to avoid this dystopian future is to bring spending and revenue more into balance. Yes, there will be some pain and sacrifice. But it is not necessary — nor is it wise — to heap a disproportionate share of the burden onto the backs of the poor, the elderly and the battered middle class.
At this point I would have to say that Obama is playing a dangerous game if he is trying to outmaneuver Boehner. He may be trying to drive a wedge between Boehner and Cantor, who's Tea Party base would bolt if he agreed to raising taxes in return for cuts in spending on the Big Three. But if Obama's deal is more than calling Boehner's bluff, he should remember that Social Security is having no effect on the deficit. He risks losing his base. In the post-Citizen's United era, this us dangerous. According to the Hill, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka among others is not very happy:
The public sector union is not the only labor group concerned about cuts to entitlements.
On Friday, Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said her union would not accept cuts to Social Security.
“As the negotiations continue, Congress should also take cuts to Social Security off the table. Social Security has not added one penny to our deficit and should not be targeted as a means toward reaching a deal,' Henry said in a statement.
That followed a similar statement Thursday from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
'At a time when retirement security remains an elusive goal for most Americans, cuts to Social Security benefits — in whatever form they take — should not be on the table,” Trumka said. “The AFL-CIO continues to oppose any cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, including any cuts in cost of living adjustments. The best solution to our deficit problem is to create good jobs that will rebuild our economy. That should be our first priority.'
Anyway you look at it, as long as cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are on the table, then even if we raise taxes on the very rich, the middle class will still get the worst of it. The job market is still dismal, and many people will still be on fixed income in the foreseeable future. And those people are facing cuts? And just what kind of cut should be reasonable for people in dire circumstances?
If a progressive tax rate would be raised on people with incomes over $250,000, as you promised us you would do, they will hardly notice it, and we will not default on August 2nd.
Mr. President, WE are the job makers, not those under taxed deadbeats who took the easy way out with cheaper foreign labor, and fake outsourced mailboxes in the Cayman Islands that are used as tax shelters. Give us the means, and like water through a hydroelectric dam, we'll generate enough energy to power a dozen US economies!