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Just shoot me.
“I think we’ve got to do Medicare,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s going to pull this economy down. We’ve got to deal with it. And I think most rational people, including Democrats, realize that we’ve got to make some cuts or deal with Medicare. But, you know, let’s have some means testing."
When lawmakers go on these national cable shows they really need to go in knowing what in the hell they're talking about when what they're talking about is so critical to the livelihood of so many American citizens.

Jared Bernstein, take it away:

Medicare is means tested.  You might want it to be more so (the current means test only hits the top 5% of beneficiaries by income), but as my colleague Paul Van de Water points out, it already is…means-tested, that is.
Yup, people who have higher incomes pay higher Medicare premiums already. Under Obamacare, they're also paying more for their Medicare prescription drug benefit. Squeezing whatever you can out of Medicare and pretending it's only the more wealthy people who suffer might have some appeal. But that's not what this is about. It's about what Bernstein says it is: "once you shift a program from universal coverage to means testing, it’s increasingly vulnerable to deeper means testing until it eventually becomes a poverty program which everyone wants to get rid of."

When Republicans "helpfully" offer up an idea like means testing to Democrats, they're not doing it in a true spirit of bipartisan compromise. They just don't do that. It's not their game. When in the hell will Democrats (Sen. Dick Durbin, we're looking at you) understand that Republicans don't care about the deficit, don't care about compromise? They care about destroying the good stuff government does. Period.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:29 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sigh, he's supposed to be on our side nt (7+ / 0-)

    (R's) take those tired memes and shove 'em, Denise Velez Oliver, 11/7/2012.

    by a2nite on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:35:26 PM PST

  •  He's always one to mouth off about shit (8+ / 0-)

    he knows nothing about. This isn't the first time. Probably wont be the last.

    •  Not true. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arlene

      if you're speaking of Rep. Cleaver. He has always been a reliable vote for civil rights and progressive values. He's my rep, and I intend to see that he at least gets the link to this diary, so perhaps he'll understand the depth of the shite he stepped in on Morning Joke.

  •  Once again, (11+ / 0-)

    ...the turkeys are celebrating Thanksgiving.

    I cannot tolerate Democrats who think this way.  (Has Rep. Cleaver heard of the Democratic Party platform, or FDR, or thought about the importance of earned benefits to the people he represents? No, apparently.)  I would not vote for this man if he voted to cut Medicare.  eom

  •  It can be means tested and universal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    democrattotheend, DamselleFly

    Isn't that what we have now? If one pays into the program, one is entitled to receive the benefit. That is not welfare.

    The only question is how much one receives and at what income threshold(s) does the cost increase?

    I believe we should put Medicare For All, or some kind of buy-in starting around 35. If Medicare/Medicaid are "on the table" then why is it we can't agitate for progressive reform? Why is it the only discussion on this site about losing before anything is agreed to?

    The Shock Doctrine can work for us too if we dare work for it. Are there any groups out there organizing for progressive reform?

    "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

    by sebastianguy99 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:49:39 PM PST

    •  if he wants to decrease costs, he needs to (9+ / 0-)

      increase the risk pool so you have more healthy people, i.e. younger people.  The way to do this is single payer

      •  If he wants to decrease the cost, let Medicare be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arlene

        given the same power other agencies have to negotiate the price of pharma in Part D, rather than simply take what pharma offers, and the right to pick adn choose among the technically acceptable treatments available to pick the ones that work medically and are more economical, a right it does not now have and ACA took steps toward getting. As it is Medicare has to pay for every damned thing not affirmatively found unsafe, and whatever pharma charges. That will surely attack the rising costs of Medicare. And since O's Medicare adjustments are supposedly on the supplier side and not the beneficiary side, some of that might just happen.

    •  I've sent a note to all my Congresscritters (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OregonWetDog, createpeace, IdaMena2

      Proposing expanding Medicare to everyone age 50+. Emailed them this morning.

      If insolvency is the problem, increasing the pool of premium payers would be a solution.

      Allowing HHS to negotiate on the price of drugs Medicare pays for would help as well.

      •  Why stop at 50? (0+ / 0-)

        How about 30-35? Afterall, President Obama won voters under 40. He lost those older voters.

        Also, those entering early add more healthy folks into pool and should be enticed by offering lower rates later in life if they enter at an earlier point than in their 50's.

        "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

        by sebastianguy99 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:38:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Raise the FICA income cap... (0+ / 0-)

      Without cutting benefits, we could raise the FICA annual income cap from 110K to 150 or 200K and the additional revenue would help both Medicare and Social Security stay solvent for a few more years...

      "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." ~Soren Kierkegaard

      by Beastly Fool on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:40:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Medicare isn't the problem. (19+ / 0-)

    The problem is our "healthcare system" that's twice the cost per-capita of other comparable nations. Why is our "Healthcare system" spending 30% of it's funds on administrative expenses?

    "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

    by irate on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:50:58 PM PST

  •  Do not vote for me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, 1Nic Ven

    They really should take off their "Do not vote for me" Benedict Arnold buttons.  I mean who could vote for a Democrat who cuts Medicare?  Not me.  I mean would I continue voting for a party that I supported loyally for 40 years only to have it screw me when I turned 60?  Not me.

  •  I don't completely disagree, but (0+ / 0-)

    I think of all the options on the table that have any realistic chance of passing this or next Congress, higher premiums for wealthier Medicare beneficiaries is the least bad option when compared to across the board cuts or a higher eligibility age. I do not support making anyone ineligible for Medicare based on income or assets, but I don't see why it's so unreasonable to ask those seniors who make/have plenty of money to pay a little more.

    I know some people here say there is no need to make a deal, but I think that's a bit unrealistic. While the president has the upper hand in this first round, because of the automatic tax increases if he does nothing, the Republicans will be able to once again use the debt ceiling to force spending cuts. I am starting to think it might be better if the president can make a deal now, even if it includes minimal cuts to Medicare, if it includes passing the McConnell Rule and taking away the GOP's ability to use the debt ceiling for extortion. Otherwise, I am afraid the Republicans will be able to use it to extract much worse cuts to Medicare and other programs when we are on the verge of default if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling.

    •  So if we can get enough Rs (8+ / 0-)

      to agree with something, we should go ahead and do it, no matter how bad an idea it is? I say we stop being afraid and stick by our guns.

      •  If the alternative is defaulting on the debt, yes (0+ / 0-)

        If we had control of Congress we would not need to get any Republicans to agree. But since we don't we have to accept that we won't get everything we want.

        The president is going to need Republican votes to raise the debt ceiling, to pass additional stimulus and extend unemployment benefits, to get emergency relief money for Hurricane Sandy, and for anything else he wants to do. I don't see them backing off their demand for entitlement cuts in exchange, and I see this as the least bad option.

        •  That is not the alternative, however. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eyesbright, Miggles
          •  It will be early next year (0+ / 0-)

            They will have to raise the debt ceiling in January or February. That is the GOP's leverage. That is why they are considering caving on the middle class tax cuts now, to give them more leverage when the debt ceiling comes up.

            I know some people think the president can just ignore the debt ceiling, but that is not a viable option for several reasons. The constitutional issue is murky, it's not clear he would win in the courts, and the uncertainty could deter lenders from buying Treasury bonds, making the Treasury Department unable to just keep borrowing. Not to mention that President Obama will surely face impeachment in the House if he does that. While we might see it as a heroic move to say no to ransom, the Republicans and the media will spin it as him resorting to a desperate power grab because he was unable to make a deal. A move like that would likely have significant consequences for Democrats in 2014 and cripple his ability to get anything done for the rest of his presidency.

    •  There's no more to cut (4+ / 0-)

      Medicare is already not that great a deal for many seniors not poor enough to get Medicaid or SSI but not well off enough to be able to afford their medical bills on their own. Those 20% cost shares are huge.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:25:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's why I think some means-testing is better (0+ / 0-)

        than cuts that affect all beneficiaries. For many seniors, the 20% coinsurance and the premiums are already straining their budgets, and I don't want to see them have to shoulder a greater percent of the cost when they are already struggling. While I understand the dangers of means-testing, I think raising the extra premiums already paid by higher-income beneficiaries is much more tolerable than cuts that will impact those who are already struggling or raising the eligibility age.

        Not all seniors are poor. Some can afford to pay more and I don't understand what is so bad about asking them to. Younger seniors who are/were in the highest tax bracket have benefited from the Bush tax cuts for ten years, as have those who have been able to collect dividends at the lower rates or sell their stock at the lower capital gains rates put in place by the 2003 Bush tax cuts. Why should they not be asked to pay more toward Medicare now in order to help keep the system solvent for future beneficiaries?

        •  I can't answer that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eyesbright, DSPS owl, Nance

          I know the political arguments against means-testing and am not convinced by them, but haven't looked into it enough to have a valid opinion on it. As for the economic and moral arguments against it, I don't know the numbers so I can't answer that either. What I do know is that whoever pays for it, medical treatment in the US is much more expensive than it needs to be (for inferior results), and probably what we should be most focused on. Essential health care should not be a source of high profit for anyone. Decent livings, sure, outrageous profits, no.

          I think we need some sort of price controls on health care in the US. Done properly, it won't lower the quality of health care.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:05:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  either Obama makes his mark on history now (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      84thProblem, OregonWetDog, Nance

      since reelection is no longer a concern of his or he rolls over and plays dead for Boehner.  He passed the ACA so why not answer the Rs with single payer?  Oh which is a Democrat to do?  Why is this even a question.

    •  A white flag should be the party symbol (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      entlord, OregonWetDog

      We're already giving up almost everything.  We're letting almost all the Bush tax cuts stay in place.  Watch them compromise the 2%!  Heck if we need more money for Medicare TAX the top 10%.  

      Instead Democrats give the Republicans EXACTLY what they want.  The Republicans got EXACTLY what they wanted with the Bush cuts.  They deprived the government of money, creating the deficit, and the excuse to cut entitlements.

      Compromising gives Republicans the BIG, FAT, GIANT, ENORMOUS win.  Democrats get to pretend they won something by not quite getting not quite 2% of the top earners to not quite back to the tax rate before Bush. Whoopee.

    •  I don't know what's the smartest in terms of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DSPS owl

      negotiations, but I have no problem with higher income people paying higher premiums than they already do (and that would affect my husband and me).
      However, I don't think it should be offered easily because it is a cut and a sacrifice. This should be the only give there is -- no increased eligibility age, no cut to benefits.
      And I agree with some other commenters that the real way to strengthen Medicare is to broaden the eligibility with buy-ins of younger folks. In fact, maybe that could be one of the possibilities in the exchanges that the federal government will be setting up in states with Republican governors who refuse to set up an exchange.

      We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

      by Tamar on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:59:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like the idea of buy-in, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tamar

        whether it would help keep Medicare solvent longer depends on a number of variables. I don't know how much the premiums would be if they are charged at market value and not subsidized (I am not saying they necessarily shouldn't be subsidized, but I am assuming that for now because we are talking about them as a cost-saving measure). It might be that the full-value premiums for Medicare are too high to make it a viable option for most people who might consider it. And if the premiums for Medicare are higher than a bronze plan in the exchange and the benefits are better, you might have some adverse selection, where sicker people choose to buy into Medicare while healthier individuals choose cheaper plans.

        I think making Medicare an option on the exchanges is a great idea in theory, and it is one of the options I am going to explore in the paper I am writing for my health policy class. One idea I had was that in addition to paying the fine or providing group coverage, we give employers a third option to pay a higher payroll tax for each employee that it wants to cover through Medicare (for higher earners, the payroll tax surcharge could be paid by employer and employee). Another idea I am exploring is allowing employers to pay a payroll tax surcharge for workers over 65 in order to have Medicare provide primary, rather than secondary coverage. While this would not save Medicare any money, it would help to reduce age discrimination and lower the cost for employers to provide health coverage to their workforce.

        I agree with you that "this should be the only give there is." I don't like it, but I think it's probably easier for most of us to swallow than some of the other cuts Republicans want.

        •  interesting thoughts. You might be right about (0+ / 0-)

          adverse selection except that, because of the low administrative costs, Medicare might be cheaper than most private coverages even at full cost to the subscriber. If so, that would bring in healthier people to the system.
          Where are you in school? Are you getting an M.P.H.?
          (I have an M.P.H from one school and a Ph.D. in public health from another).

          We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

          by Tamar on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:02:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Isn't there a larger issue? (0+ / 0-)

      "Higher premiums for Medicare beneficiaries" divides the country into those who benefit and those who don't, raising the argument, "Why should I pay if I don't benefit. Currently income for Medicare taxes is capped somewhere around $100,000 annually. Is that because the program assumes thqt people with more money won't need it? What about the wealthier paying their share of their upkeep of others? If we raised the level on which Medicare taxes (Under 2%) could be levied to $500,000 annually or 1,000,000 there would be no problem with solvency. As it is now, the lowest quintiles are bearing the brunt of paying for it, making it in effect, "a poverty program."

      A clay Buddha can't cross water. An iron Buddha can't go through a Furnace. A wood Buddha can't cross a fire. Nothing works all the time.

      by sfzendog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:59:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Confusing taxes vs. premiums for Medicare (0+ / 0-)

        There is no limit on the amount of wages subject to the Medicare tax.

        The premiums paid for Medicare (part B, I think it's called) are a different subject.

        To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men. -Abraham Lincoln

        by Eyesbright on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:26:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was talking about premiums for Part B (0+ / 0-)

          Which already have small surcharges for seniors who earn over $85,000. Several people here and on DU have said they had to pay the extra amount and it was not terribly onerous. I think asking seniors with higher incomes to pay a little more in premiums is not so unreasonable, so long as they are not so high that it makes Part B a bad deal or so high that even these people struggle with the premiums. We don't want to turn Medicare into a welfare program, but I think it's pretty far away from that right now. The premiums for even the higher income seniors for Part B are far lower than what my parents, who are too young for Medicare, pay in premiums for their private insurance. If seniors had to go purchase health insurance on the individual market, they would likely pay even more than what my parents pay. So I think there is room to increase premiums for higher-income Medicare beneficiaries and still provide enough benefit that they care about protecting it.

          •  The problem with that approach, though... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            greenbell

            ...is that it gives ground politically to the GOTP/Ryan meme of splitting the older, wealthier, and Whiter recipients of Medicare (and the doctors who currently receive reimbursment payments for covering Medicare patients) from the poorer, sicker, and younger (and probably darker) recipients, using the old tried and true "Those dirty liberal Obamcrats want to take away MY Medicare to fund those loser 47% moochers!!!!" screech.

            Far better to defend Medicare as a full program, and expand it into Medicare for ALL through a single payer program; and pay for it through savings in busting the Big Insura cartel and taxing the rich they way they should have been all along. Anything else is simple capitulation to the GOTP.

            If Democrats even think about agreeing to raising the Medicare eligibility age and means testing, especially without extending UI benefits or the payroll tax holiday and instituting the McConnell rule against any more debt ceiling shenanigans, then they do not deserve to be called even a respectful liberal party any longer.

            •  I agree that single payer is the better policy (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Eyesbright

              But there is no possible way it would ever pass the current Congress. There was no way it would have passed even the Democratic Congress during Obama's first two years as president. The for profit health industry is way too entrenched in Washington for that to ever be a realistic policy.

              I don't disagree with those who say Obama should have made that his starting point in the negotiations, but there is no way it would have ever passed.

    •  I wish I agreed with you. (0+ / 0-)

      I think with the ACA intact, raising the eligibility age is the easier to live with than means-testing.  I realize since the Medicare Modernization Act, we have means-tested Medicare.  But I thought is was wrong then, and I think it's wrong now.  The wealthy already have such a large Medicare contribution to benefit ratio, and another means test only exacerbates the problem.

      •  I see your point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jim bow

        But I am curious why most liberals are very intent that rich working people should pay their fair share (which I agree with wholeheartedly), but have such a different attitude with regard to rich retirees.

        Depending on how the ACA plays out, you could be right, but it's too soon to know if it will provide a good enough option for most people ages 65-67. The fact that so many states are opting out of the Medicaid expansion and the exchanges is troubling.

        The good news is, I am pretty sure that if they did raise the eligibility age, it would not be instantaneous. It would be phased in over 5 or 10 years, so theoretically, if the ACA was not working they would have time to fix it. But I don't trust that that will happen, since absent a wave election, the GOP will control the House until 2022.

        •  My response: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          democrattotheend
          I am curious why most liberals are very intent that rich working people should pay their fair share (which I agree with wholeheartedly), but have such a different attitude with regard to rich retirees.
          The "social" in social insurance means everyone.  Everyone contributes, and everyone benefits.  It's hard to see how someone contributing $3 million to a social insurance program but only receiving $0.9 million in benefits is going to such a program as a social insurance program.
        •  If the ACA is in place (0+ / 0-)

          when I hit 65, and it provides equivalent coverage and my SS check deduction covers it, terrific. That's a whole lot of ifs.

          And even though I am nowhere near the income category to have it effect me, even folks who are in the $85,000+ category can be wiped out by a serious medical problem. Even at 20% a pop.

          I share your lack of trust in any series of legislatures getting all of these balls juggled just right. Which is why I resist undermining the existing system now in the hope of politicians doing the right things later.

  •  My partner is permanently disabled. (9+ / 0-)

    He counts on Medicare, Medicaid and yes, SNAP. I would like to know who is electing people to tell people like my other half that they have to tighten their belts. It cannot be tightened any further.

    I am gay, and I'm getting married in the Episcopal Church, just like my great-grandmother did.

    by commonmass on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:13:56 PM PST

    •  Well, we all have to sacrifice (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maryabein, PhilJD, commonmass

      If by "we" we mean us little people. We're not communists are we?

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:23:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeh look how well that is working out for (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wishingwell, greenbell, commonmass, Ozzie

        Greece and Spain.  The countries which went for strengthening their social safety nets are doing OK, Germany and France, while the austerity nations such as Ireland continue to wallow in a mire of debt.  Even Cameron of GB has finally admitted austerity does not work and has mentioned a mansion tax.

        •  The myth of finite fiat capital has to die (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          entlord, commonmass, wsexson

          And with it the fear of short-term spikes in inflation, interest rates and currency devaluation. When economies suffer, monetary and fiscal policy is essential, and we can afford it. What we can't afford is to pretend that we can't afford it.

          Not spending money during a downturn for fear that it'll lead to inflation or higher interest rates is like not putting out a fire for fear that it'll flood the building.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:01:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  yeppers, since the GOP is so fond of comparing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            commonmass

            a home budget to a national budget I use the example of if your roof start leaking.  Do you get a homeowner's loan and fix it immediately or do you wait until you can save the money to fix it, while the damage is exacerbated with each day you delay?

            I was raised by grandparents who were adults during the Depression and I get saving and I get living within your means.  At the same time, I also get that the world has changed and some of the old rules have changed from what they were in 1935.

            •  I get that too: (0+ / 0-)

              I have no revolving debt: if I can't pay cash, I can't have it.

              I am gay, and I'm getting married in the Episcopal Church, just like my great-grandmother did.

              by commonmass on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:54:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  but some things cannot be put off (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                commonmass

                and it is currently impossible for the average family to save, say for a home, assuming they are able to find a loan. For myself, I have been forced to a cash basis since the banks tightened their credit in 2007 but I already own a home so it is not an issue for me  

              •  For day to day stuff that's ok (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                commonmass

                For buying a home or car or paying for school, usually not. Our economy is based on debt. Has been since the late middle ages. No going back.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:33:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  I receive SSDI and would gladly return to work (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tamar, DSPS owl, commonmass

      except I am only up and out for 4-8 hours on my good days and may be bedridden for 2-4 days at a stretch.  The only job I can find I can qualify for, given the few days I would be able to show up for work, is Congressman and they don't seem to be hiring

    •  BTW, how do you tighten your belt when you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tamar, commonmass, Nance

      boiled and ate said belt some years back?
      Kind of like Democrats calling for bootstrapping for people who are barefooted.  We still need to elect better Ds

    •  Well you would't expect his doctor to sacrifice! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nance

      Heck he probably makes about $250K and we KNOW those folks cannot afford another penny in taxes.  I mean you wouldn't expect physicians, attorneys, accountants, IT specialists, middle managers to sacrifice?  Not when we can bipartisanly screw the sick and the old.  I mean we are a center right country dontcha know.  Get with the program.  Don't be extreme.   Take your bitter pill.  Eat your mushy canned peas.

      •  It's no longer the doctors (primary doctors) who (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DSPS owl

        are raking it in. Medicare is not a high payer to doctors.
        My husband, who doesn't make anything close to the figure you mention, said that if they lower Medicare payments, he won't be able to afford to take Medicare patients anymore.  They already don't pay all that well. If you figure in his time filling out forms for his patients with Medicare, he makes less per hour from Medicare than the per hour of people with good union jobs. And he went to 4 years of medical school, 3 years of residency, 2 years of fellowship, is board certified in both adult & child psychiatry, and came out of his education owing a hell of a lot of money.
        Doctors used to be some of the wealthiest people, but that's changed drastically. The big money in health care is with the insurance company executives, doctors who own high volume operations or do lots of routine surgeries, not the individual doctors who actually see and care for patients in an ongoing way. Insurance companies screw the doctors just as much as they screw the patients, believe me. (we have double reason to hate them after dealing with a disabled child -- they managed to underpay or not pay at all for a lot of caring services delivered to our child).

        We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

        by Tamar on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:21:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But professionals are the class who are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tamar

          being exempted from the tax increases even though their incomes are significantly higher than the median while at the same time they are proposing significant cuts to entitlements which will fall much more heavily on the working poor and lower middle class.

          It makes no sense to me that our excuse for not raising taxes on incomes above $100K is that this is really only middle class but then consider proposals that would deny healthcare to people in their 60's and decrease COLA's on Social Security. The people least able to afford these cuts are those with just enough assets and income not to qualify for Medicaid but far too little income to afford major health care expenses.

          I do understand that primary care providers are not getting rich.  I think the government should be picking up the tab for their medical education.

          •  I agree that $250,000 is too high -- I would make (0+ / 0-)

            it a fair amount lower, but I think it also would need to be related to geography. $100,000/year in Arkansas is a much bigger income than $100,000 in my state of Maryland. (median income for a family of 4 in Arkansas is about $55,000 while in Maryland it's almost double that at close to $107,000).

            We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

            by Tamar on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:13:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  your partner should not have to pay an extra (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, Nance

      dime and should not lose benefits. I'm hearing that most Democrats, particularly people like Pelosi, are with us on this.
      I think it's a few weak-minded idiots that will hopefully be shut down by the better Dems.

      We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

      by Tamar on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:04:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think he confused his talkingpoints. (4+ / 0-)

    It's SocSec that the wingnuts want to means test.
    And he's dead wrong on that score.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:15:51 PM PST

  •  Unbelievable (7+ / 0-)

    Medicare is now means tested and most people, apparently including those who would opine, don't know it. I and my husband pay double what most people pay for traditional Medicare. If the means testing increases enough, yes, then it becomes a welfare program. And BTW I and my husband paid proportionately more into the program when we were working.

    Don't get me wrong, it's still a great program, and I can afford to pay an extra share, but increasing the means testing will decrease the enthusiasm for the program in people who can pay up to stay in traditional Medicare.

    “The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we.” ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

    by Miss Pip on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:18:57 PM PST

    •  Yes, as you point out, the more you make subject (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eyesbright

      to the medicare tax, the more you paid into the program.  And unlike Social Security, paying more into medicare does not increase your benefits.

      Hey Teaparty! 4 more years of MuslimKenyanSocialism!

      by filby on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:25:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  hate to be a CT but I note that Humana and other (0+ / 0-)

      commercial carriers continue to tout their MC+ programs; their ultimate dream is to kill traditional MC and have their HMOs replace the program.  Problem is MC+ is plagued with higher costs and lower level of services to pts

    •  Exactly eventually people will opt out (0+ / 0-)

      If you have higher incomes you'll say forget Medicare, I might as well buy private insurance or self-insure.  Doctors will stop taking Medicare patients and the spiral continues destroying Medicare just as effectively as would Ryan's voucher system.

  •  Still too many Dems, bless 'em (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein

    who SEEM to mean well, but every time they open their mouths say something stupid, ignorant and self-defeating. Still too many lazy, foolish, weak Dems all too eager to look "serious" and "reasonable", squandering the political capital that their predecessors--and in some cases they themselves--painstakingly built up over a century, with all this unnecessary verbal vomit.

    Or:

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:22:29 PM PST

  •  I oppose means testing of Medicare and SS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, greenbell

    On Social Security, part of it is already subject to income tax if your income is on the low end of middle class, thereby reducing your net benefits.

    As Joan notes, well off folks pay more for medicare premiums.

    I support higher marginal income tax rates, but think that means testing SS/M is bull$hit.  When you're 65, you need healthcare.  You've been paying into SS/M for all your working life.  Why should you receive the full benefit that you were promised?  I guess those who think it's okay to cancel promised pension or medical benefits would think this is okay.

    I don't object to raising or removing the cap that's subject to SS tax, but means testing the benefits is costly and wrong.

    Hey Teaparty! 4 more years of MuslimKenyanSocialism!

    by filby on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:22:39 PM PST

  •  did he talk about out of control military spending (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilJD, Eyesbright, Nance

    if money was a problem military spending would be slashed.  

  •  small note for Rep Cleaver (0+ / 0-)

    ( I will not ask him how the Beav is doing these days)

    Medicare already has the smallest percentage of administrative costs/total costs compared to commercial insurance, hence Medicare is likely to be the model for any means testing.

    Like so many of our representatives he seems to have no concept of how risk pools operate.  The problem with MC is the bulk of total expenditures for an individual lies in their last 90 days of life,  The US as a society is not ready to address this very basic issue  

  •  Means testing via taxation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, DSPS owl, Nance

    There is no need to add unnecessary, burdensome bureaucracy to means test individuals' earned benefits. Just tax the wealthy more, in a progressive fashion. Their eventual benefits returned in retirement will be a lower proportion of the amount they paid into the system (and at top incomes, preferably, they pay more than they get back, but that is how insurance works, socialized or privatized).

    •  Top FICA Limit is capped at $110,100 (0+ / 0-)

      and is progressive to that point.

      It has been raised routinely in the past and can be raised again - maybe to $150,000 or $200,000.  

      Such a limit to the FICA cap would not have to affect anything else about medicare at all, but could have a huge affect on solvency...

      The system doesn't require major overhauls, just some simple tweaks and continuous fraud management, for all the actual criminal abuse.

      ACA needs some time to prove itself.

      Much of the GOP 'bargaining' right now is to keep the ACA from getting off the ground. As well as to keep with the perennial republican 'drowning in the bathtub' approach to what they've convinced us all to call entitlement programs.

      We built them. We've earned them...

      "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." ~Soren Kierkegaard

      by Beastly Fool on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 01:05:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, for fuck's sake, Joan... (0+ / 0-)

    Hmmm, I either need to change that opening - or open ALL of my comments with "Well, for fuck's sake, Joan..."

    Ahem.

    Hey Joan, if you're going to do a post on how Medicare already is means tested, and that people need to be educated on that point, then you (or Jared, actually) need to stop using (or linking to) language like this:

    "once you shift a program from universal coverage to means testing..."

    That kinda muddles up the education aspect, y'know?

  •  Until the last gerrymandering - er, redisrict - (0+ / 0-)

    ing Cleaver was my representative.  I can't count the number of times that man pissed me off.  But this is what passes for a Democrat in Missouri (think McCaskill).  Even so, without a complete change to the way we pick our representatives we'll keep voting for guys like this because - believe t or not - their Republican opponents are always worse.

    -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

    I lie to myself because I'm the only one who continues to believe me. - Vermin

    by 84thProblem on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:37:12 PM PST

  •  Cleaver has his head doubly up his a$$ (0+ / 0-)

    Almost every dollar of medicare medicaid and social security is spent in the productive economy and gets multiplied as it circulates until it is eventually consumed in taxes, exports, or savings. Almost every dollar in capital gains is extracted from the productive economy as savings, predominately by the 0.1%. Likewise, almost every dollar of taxable income over $250K is withdrawn from the productive economy. Currently, middle class families are shedding debt (classified as savings since debt is negative savings) which also detracts from the productive economy. The fiscal cliff bullshit also includes re-imposition of payroll taxes - another big chunk out pf the productive economy.

    The irony is that Cleaver's district includes the University of Missouri Kansas City, which is one of the meccas of Modern Monetary Theory. MMT convincingly demonstrates what Paul Krugman has been hinting at recently, and what both Greenspan and Bernacke have stated publicly; that the United States, as the issuer of the currency, can always pay any obligation denominated in dollars, and that dollars are made - created out of nothing - by computer keystrokes. It also demonstrates that bonds are issued for monetary, not fiscal purposes. In other words we do not borrow to spend. We spend, then we sell bonds to soak up the excess cash in order for the central bank (FED) to control interest rates.  

  •  uh oh, the (0+ / 0-)

    left and unions need to be stepping up the pressure here.

    this is a new beltway idea

  •  Well (0+ / 0-)
    They care about destroying the good stuff government does
    why is that exactly? What motivates someone to have a world view like this? Is it just simple selfishness that drives these people? Fear of death? What?

    Discuss.

  •  Medicare payments are pro-rated (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, greenbell

    In 2010, I worked to supplement my small pension and social security.  In 2011, I got a notice from Social Security telling me my Medicare payments were doubled due to the extra income.  Now that I've been laid off and my only income is pension and social security, I wonder how long it will take for them to drop Medicare payments back to original?

  •  So the R's don't have a monopoly on (0+ / 0-)

    cluelessness.  The free market of commentariat fail lives !

    "..The political class cannot solve the problems it created. " - Jay Rosen

    by New Rule on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:28:00 PM PST

  •  Tax cuts, not shrinking government (0+ / 0-)

    No, Republicans don't care about shrinking government or even reducing services to anybody (if that would lose them votes). Haven't you noticed that government has not shrunk when Republicans have been in control? They care about reducing taxes for rich people. Grover Norquist and "shrinking government" are just phony ideological cover for cutting rich people's taxes.

    •  Not entirely true. (0+ / 0-)

      They care about dismantling any form of phase of government that prevents the privileged from exploiting everyone else; and about using the full power of the State to enforce their right-wing social mantras.

      And, they want to reduce taxes for the 1% by imposing the burden on everyone else.

  •  "They care about destroying the (0+ / 0-)

    good stuff government does.  Period."

    Probably because they simply refuse to believe that government ever does any good stuff.

    It's why they are #maroons.

    It's also why the broad base of the American Electorate finally rejected them and their ideas, so demonstrably, last month.


    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

    by Angie in WA State on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:26:27 PM PST

  •  Build on what was done in aca (0+ / 0-)

    More I think about that is the only sort of change that makes sense.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:33:44 PM PST

  •  I used to support means testing (0+ / 0-)

    And I was confused as to why Democrats/progressives were against it. So I googled it. Lo and behold, progressives' arguments made sense, and I was convinced. Why can't Cleaver do the same? So much for all that soaring rhetoric from the convention.

  •  Not Just on the Back End (0+ / 0-)

    People making more pay more, especially since there's no cut off. It's means tested on the front and the back ends!

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