Paul Ryan Envisions New, State-Based Castigation Opportunities

Rep. Paul Ryan has released yet another “plan” to fix poverty and the Safety Net.  He’s release a new discussion draft, “Expanding Opportunity in America.” This latest draft proposes a new “pilot project” which he asserts will strengthen the safety net.  He also proposes a number of reforms to the EITC, education, criminal justice, and ‘regressive’ regulation.

Upon releasing the discussion draft, Chairman Ryan made the following statement:  “Hardworking taxpayers deserve a break in this country. Too many Americans are working harder and harder to get ahead, and yet they’re falling further and further behind. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, we can all agree: America deserves better.   “So with this discussion draft, I want to start a conversation. I want to talk about how we can expand opportunity in America. I don’t have all the answers; nobody does. But by working together, we can build a healthy economy and help working families get ahead.”

I can agree that we need much better than Rep. Ryan, who is now proposing state-led pilot programs.  Under his latest rendition, he proposes to consolidate funding for 11 federal programs, including food stamps, housing vouchers, heating aid, child-care assistance and welfare payments into an “opportunity” grant that would be managed at the state level by those opting into his grand experiment.  Participating states could then “experiment” with various methods for delivering services, as long as they meet certain standards defined by Rep. Ryan and his GOP cohorts.  Something tells me execution of this approach will go about as well as executions of death row prisoners have performed of late by Republican governors. As Rep. Ryan envisions our Safety Net should be handled, a “life plan” contract would be developed for each recipient by case managers working for non-profit or for-profit organizations.  I guess he’s proposing to get around “big government” by having private contractors administer any services to be received (the first step in siphoning off monies from those block granted funds, like Haliburton did in Iraq).  At a minimum, each “life plan” contract would be required to include, at a minimum:

  • A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success
  • A timeline for meeting those benchmarks
  • Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract
  • Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract
  • Time limits for remaining on cash assistance
  • A commandment that to receive any benefits at all — “thou shalt work”

Holy crap!  The GOP may talk “small government” — but they certainly don’t walk that talk.  His grandiose plan is going to take some serious bureaucracy, albeit a huge state-level network of private contractors, to get that done.  Just think about it.  It’s like having to hire a whole bunch of parole officers, oops, I mean case managers, who would need to monitor things like parenting skills, substance abuse, finances, living situation, and relationships with friends and family members. Plus—they would need to have authority to castigate those whom might not be in conformance with their “life plan.”  What I see is “overseers” and shaming for the recipients, but I don’t see—is oversight for the castigators. I also don’t see assurances of consistency from state to state, or across audiences of recipients within a state. Ryan claims that states, being closest to the recipients of these programs really do know best what their citizens need.  Really?  Just like they really know who should vote and who shouldn’t?  How long before “Jim Crow-like” permutations begin spreading through the disparate “life plan” contracts being imposed on certain citizens based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, etc.?  How long would it take before governors like Sam Brownback of Kansas, or Rick Scott of Florida, or Pat McCrory of North Carolina can find ways to channel those grant dollars into the pockets of rich and powerful individuals and corporations across their states instead into programs helping the truly needy? Those funds they’ll be doling out are our Federal tax dollars that, as it is now, are disparately disbursed to States, with Red State taking a larger portion of that bucket of available dollars. If the GOP truly believes those programs should be State-based programs, owned and managed by the States, then they should have the intestinal fortitude to propose eliminating those programs entirely from the Federal budget and tell the States they’ll just need to increase their taxes to fund what they’re willing to provide. Modifying National programs which have been created over time to help those in need in such a way as to victimize and unjustly punish them for seeking help, is flatly contrary to our Nation’s established moral principles.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s well past time to end Mr. Ryan’s tenure as House Budget Committee Chairman.  I’ve had enough, thank you! Know Thine Enemy — Other References:

 

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RADICAL REPUBLICAN BUDGET: ROBIN HOOD IN REVERSE

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today is continuing the drumbeat against House Republicans who voted for the radical Republican budget, releasing a new web video to highlight the chasm between mainstream Americans’ priorities and House Republicans’ radical approach. In the video – “Radical Republican Budget: Robin Hood in Reverse” – Republicans describe the budget as the best way to communicate their “governing philosophy.” The video goes on to show the GOP Doctrine for Governance in clear terms: higher taxes for the middle class, bigger medical bills for seniors on Medicare, more expensive student loans and a tax break for millionaires.

Under the Republican doctrine for governance, the Ryan budget, middle class Americans could pay $3,000 more in taxes and the Medicare guarantee, paid for with deductions from every dollar earned by working Americans ….  will END. Thus, their governance philosophy will take that money to fund other things like a $245,000 tax for millionaires, and  force seniors to pay more for their care — if they can find an insurance company to cover it and if they can find a doctor to provide it.  And, while the middle class would be paying more in taxes, folks like Mitt Romney, whose tax liability is imposed primarily by capital gains taxes, would see their tax liabilities plummet with Ryan’s slash to capital gains taxes.  Valuing making money off the fruits of others’ labors, without having to exert an ounce of labor yourself, is not an “American” value.

Radical Republican Budget: Robin Hood in Reverse

“Republicans themselves tell us that their budget is the best way to communicate their ‘governing philosophy’ and that’s exactly what they did – more for millionaires and corporate special interests, less for the middle class and seniors,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Americans rejected the philosophy of this radical Republican budget in the last election because it ends the Medicare guarantee for seniors and asks the middle class to pay more – all while cutting taxes for millionaires and corporate special interests. It might be the Republicans’ governing philosophy, but it isn’t the right philosophy for America’s middle class.”

Ryan’s Path to Poverty budget is the third in a series, all espousing their out of touch governance doctrine.  The GOP hasn’t learned that their “philosophy” isn’t what Americans want.  Instead, thick-headed GOP members of the House  are continuing to push philosophies the American people don’t want.  Bound to their millionaire donors and determined to implement their demands, the GOP intends — to impose their revolutionary doctrine — to convert America into a Plutocracy ruled over by the uber-rich — using budgets — without firing a single bullet. 

Here’s their “philosophy”  documents introduced since 2008 along with their platform.  Read/compare a few to see what you think — and if you’d like you can compare the actual budget numbers here.

 

2012-GOP-Platform GOP Growth Opportunity Rpt 2009-GOP-Road-to-Recovery 2010-GOP-Better-Solutions
GOP 2012 Platform GOP Growth Opportunities 2009 Road to Recovery 2010-Better Solutions
2010-Pledge-to-America Path to Poverty v1.0 Path to Poverty v2.0 Path to Poverty v3.0
2010-Pledge to America P2P v1.0 P2P v2.0 P2P v3.0

Related Posts:

Yes Indeedee, It’s Confirmed: GOP ‘IS’ Out of Touch

GOP Report Shows Party is Out of Touch With Americans on Threats to Democracy: Money in Politics and Voter Suppression

The Republican National Committee released a report on Monday reviewing its losses in the 2012 election cycle and laying out a roadmap for the future of the party.  People For the American Way Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

“This report highlights what we already knew: that the Republican party is out of touch with America. Instead of addressing the party’s anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-worker policies that voters resoundingly rejected in 2012, today’s report calls for a complete gutting of campaign finance reform – in essence calling for even more big money to be poured into our elections.  If the Republican party were listening to Americans, they would know that the country supports finding systemic solutions to the problem of unregulated money in our political system.  The answer is certainly not to gut the regulations we already have in place.  Instead, we need to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC and related cases so that we can create more effective regulations to get big money out of our democracy.

“The GOP report’s recommendations on voting rights also underscore a continuing focus on keeping certain voters from the polls.  After an election cycle overflowing with examples of discriminatory voter suppression efforts aimed at historically disenfranchised communities, the report recommends an ongoing focus on so-called  ‘ballot security training initiatives.’  This is simply another phrase for the same voter intimidation tactics used in the name of preventing supposed ‘voter fraud.’  It’s baffling that the GOP thinks it can improve its image with people of color while still working to block their access to the ballot box.

“This report is yet another example that the GOP’s ‘soul-searching’ hasn’t gotten them very far.  It’s time to refocus our efforts on getting the big money out of elections and the voters into the voting booth.”

Ready to go?

Just exactly how much lipstick have they purchased?  Maybeline and Revlon combined couldn’t make enough lipstick to take care of that pachyderm.

Yesterday— the Republican National Committee released its wide-ranging “autopsy” report called the “Growth And Opportunity Project Report.” In it, the party admits to several shortcomings that contributed to the party’s wide losses in the 2012 election. A portion of the report includes market research from voter focus groups around the country. Not surprisingly, when asked to describe Republicans, respondents said that the party was “scary,” “narrow-minded,” “out of touch,” and full of “stuffy old men.”  What’s most interesting is that the report failed to quantify just how out of touch their party has become on a number of issues, from climate change, to marriage equality, to universal background checks, to women’s rights, to the minimum wage, and more.

The GOP thinks they merely have a messaging problem … and just need to change a few words they used to talk about things.  HAH! Now that’s a joke and a half.  Maybe they should look at their 2012 Platform. Better yet, maybe they should look at what is happening in State Legislatures and what members of their party have introduced in the Congress:

  • Restricting access to or insurance reimbursement of costs associated with an abortion;
  • Restricting time frames in which a woman could seek an abortion to 12-weeks and in on case, to 6-weeks from conception;
  • Mandating the use of transvaginal ultrasounds and other medically unnecessary procedures as a means to shame women;
  • Gleefully and gloatingly defunding Planned Parenthood;
  • Attempting to elevate “religious” rights above all others to allow zealots to assert their religious rights to deny all types of service and/or medications should it offend “their” personal religious beliefs, making their beliefs superior to yours;
  • Continually attempting to repeal Obamacare and providing NO replacement;
  • Promoting continued systemic discrimination against the LGBT community, as a whole, via marriage inequality espoused throughout our Nation’s income tax and estate tax structures;
  • Attempting to enact one voter suppression tactic after another to disenfranchise voters as well as restricting early voting opportunities;
  • Continually filibustering one bill after another, even those introduced by Republicans;
  • Blocking Consumer Financial Protection and making multiple attempts to repeal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform;
  • Promoting racial profiling as a means of harassment to convince Hispanics to “self-deport’ ;
  • Promoting Personhood for embryos and essentially demoting women’s status to nothing more than an incubator;
  • Replacing Democracy with Dictatorships (Overseers);
  • Promoting fatherhood visitation rights for rapists.

I’m sure I’ve missed of few other big issues we’ve had to overcome … but need I go on?  There’s a politically incorrect term we frequently used when I was in the Navy to define that kind of behavior.  The term stars with “cluster.”  The GOPs (Grouchy Old Patriarchs) problem is much more than a “messaging” problem.  It’s a policy problem and we should cheer them on  in pursuit of their messaging delusion.  It will most certainly shorten their path to minor party status.  We may have a few challenges to overcome in the short run, but we’ll all be much better off in the long run.

Don’t believe me?  See for yourself,  take your pick, click a pic or two.  Read/compare a few — then compare the numbers.

2012-GOP-Platform GOP Growth Opportunity Rpt 2009-GOP-Path-to-Recovery 2010-GOP-Better-Solutions
GOP 2012 Platform GOP Growth Opportunites 2009 Path to Recovery 2010-Better Solutions
2010-Pledge-to-America Path to Poverty v1.0 Path to Poverty v2.0 Path to Poverty v3.0
2010-Pledge to America P2P v1.0 P2P v2.0 P2P v3.0

Latest GOP Budget Marks Latest Attack on Women

Budgets are statements of values and priorities. Based on the GOP’s latest budget, apparently the interests of women are not a priority.

Here’s a look at how the GOP budget is bad for women and children.

P2Pv3-0

Here’s a link to a comparison of the numbers of all three versions of Ryan’s Path to Poverty budgets. [Numbers compiled from 112-HCONRES34112-HCONRES112113-HCONRES###]

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You Might’ve Missed


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Even Republicans Are Dissing Appointed-Senator Heller

NEW YORK TIMES: DEAN HELLER’S PLAN TO END MEDICARE PANNED BY HIS OWN REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES

Republican Candidates From Coast To Coast Agree That
Heller/Ryan Budget Would Devastate Seniors

New TV Ad From MT GOP Senate Candidate Rehberg:
“Rehberg Refused To Support A Republican Budget Plan That Could Harm
The Medicare Programs So Many Of Montana’s Seniors Rely On”
Op-Ed from MA Senator Scott Brown on Heller/Ryan Plan:
“The Elderly Will Be Forced To Pay Ever Higher Deductibles And Co-Pays”

Las Vegas – Today, the Nevada State Democratic Party is criticizing the Dean Heller plan to end Medicare as we know by using unlikely sources – his own Republican colleagues.  A recent New York Times article points out that Republican candidates from coast to coast are rushing to distance themselves from Heller’s plan to end Medicare.

Republican Montana Senate candidate Dennis Rehberg released a television ad, paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Montana Republican Party.  The ad states that “Rehberg refused to support a Republican budget plan that could harm the Medicare programs so many of Montana’s seniors rely on.”  (Yea, Rehberg, the same guy who voted against returning Veterans Benefits) 

Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown wrote an opinion piece for Politico.com to explain why the Heller plan was unacceptable to him.  Brown wrote, “I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support — and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays.  Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform.”

And in 2011, Republican Congressman David McKinley told a reporter that “My home state of West Virginia has the highest percentage of Medicare beneficiaries in the country, and I cannot support a plan that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has determined would nearly double out-of-pocket healthcare costs for future retirees.”

“Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much these days, but both sides now concur that Senator Dean Heller’s scheme to end Medicare by turning the program over to profit-hungry insurance companies would be devastating for seniors across the country,” said Zach Hudson, Nevada State Democratic Party spokesman.  “Pretty soon, the only allies Senator Heller will have are the Wall Street banks and profit-hungry insurance companies he wants to turn Social Security and Medicare over to.”

New York Times: Republican Budget Plan Comes Under Fire From Unlikely Source: G.O.P. Candidates

JONATHAN WEISMAN
June 22, 2012
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/22/republican-budget-plan-under-fire-from-unlikely-source-g-o-p-candidates/

Republican leaders in Congress had hoped to lay out big plans for 2013, then run for election in November united around that vision. But the vision itself is coming under attack from an unlikely and possibly potent source: Republican candidates.

Republicans wishing to assert their political independence in tough races have picked up Democratic talking points against the House-passed budget plan written by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, especially the budget’s plan for Medicare.

This week, the Montana Republican Party began broadcasting advertisements on behalf of Representative Denny Rehberg, who is running for the Senate, touting his independence: “Rehberg refused to support a Republican budget plan that could harm the Medicare programs so many of Montana’s seniors rely on.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee transferred $50,000 to the Montana state party in April and May, according to campaign finance documents.

Mr. Rehberg did indeed vote against the Republican budget in March, one of only 10 Republicans to do so. Another no vote belonged to Representative David McKinley, a freshman who justified his vote to his constituents in explicit terms. A glossy mailer explained to West Virginians that “the plan would privatize Medicare for future retirees, raise the retirement age and keep in place the Medicare cuts included in last year’s health care bill. The Congressional Budget Office determined the plan would nearly double out-of-pocket healthcare costs for future retirees.”

That amounts to a double-whammy for other Republicans who voted for the Ryan plan. It picks up Democratic language on privatization, a word Republican leaders reject, and it makes a point that Republicans and their supporters fail to note when they attack Democrats for Medicare spending cuts in the 2010 health care law. The same cuts they are blasting in some of their most potent attack ads are retained in the Ryan plan they voted on, but are used for deficit reduction, not health insurance subsidies.

Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, stays away from the word “privatization,” instead calling his Medicare plan “premium support.” Under it, federal spending on Medicare would be capped. Future retirees would be offered a menu of private insurance plans and traditional Medicare, and would be offered an annual subsidy to help pay for the insurance they choose.

Senator Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, another Republican asserting his political independence as he runs for re-election, wrote an opinion piece for Politico.com to explain why that was unacceptable to him: “I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support — and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays,” he wrote. “Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform.”

Such attacks could complicate Mr. Ryan’s vision of a united Republican Party running on his transformative vision for federal entitlements, claiming a mandate, then carrying out his plan with a Republican in the White House. It also raises questions about the future of the Ryan plan.

Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, made it clear the party has another issue to run on: health care.

“Democrats should be more concerned with the unanimous opinion of House Republicans and a vast majority of Americans who believe Obamacare is raising health care costs and hurting the ability of small businesses to hire,” he said.

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, said in a recent interview that much of the Republican budget plan could be done if the party takes control of the White House and the Senate through “reconciliation,” a parliamentary process that would thwart a Democratic filibuster and give the party the chance to pass its plans with a simple Senate majority.

But that simple majority counts on victories this fall by Mr. Rehberg in Montana and Mr. Brown in Massachusetts.

Background:

Rep. David McKinley: “I Cannot Support A Plan That The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Has Determined Would Nearly Double Out-Of-Pocket Healthcare Costs For Future Retirees.” In an April 2011 statement to Slate regarding his vote against the original Ryan Budget plan, Rep. David McKinley, R-WV, said, “My home state of West Virginia has the highest percentage of Medicare beneficiaries in the country, and I cannot support a plan that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has determined would nearly double out-of-pocket healthcare costs for future retirees. Unfortunately, Medicare is on a path to bankruptcy unless action is taken. However, I am not convinced that such a dramatic overhaul of benefits for future retirees is necessary to save the program.” [Slate, 4/19/11]

Under the Reading Lamp — 4/3/2012

BANKING


When Bankers Rule the World

David Korten, Op-Ed: “The tell-all defection of Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs executive, provided an insider’s view of the moral corruption of the Wall Street banks that control of much of America’s economy and politics. Smith confirms what insightful observers have known for years: the business purpose of Wall Street bankers is to maximize their personal financial take without regard to the consequences for others.”


Fed Policy and Inflation Risk

Martin Feldstein, Op-Ed: “During the past four years, the United States Federal Reserve has added enormous liquidity to the US commercial banking system, and thus to the American economy. Many observers worry that this liquidity will lead in the future to a rapid increase in the volume of bank credit, causing a brisk rise in the money supply – and of the subsequent rate of inflation.”

CIVIL RIGHTS


Chris Hedges | Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You

Chris Hedges, Truthdig Op-Ed: “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law by President Barack Obama last Dec. 31, puts into the hands of people with no discernible understanding of legitimate dissent the power to use the military to deny due process to all deemed to be terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers, and hold them indefinitely in military detention.”

ECONOMY


Robert Reich | Whose Recovery?

Robert Reich, Op-Ed: According to an analysis of tax returns by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Pikkety, the top 1 percent pocketed 93 percent of the gains in 2010. 37 percent of the gains went to the top one-tenth of one percent. No one below the richest 10 percent saw any gain at all. In fact, most of the bottom 90 percent have lost ground. Their average adjusted gross income was $29,840 in 2010.


Desolation Row: Five Pictures of the Future in a Paul Ryan/Mitt Romney America

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Op-Ed: The Romney/Ryan America of tomorrow is more like the science-fiction worlds of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine or Fritz Lang’s Metropolis than it is like the United States, as we know it. The privileged few would be even wealthier than they are today, while the rest of us struggle to survive in a dystonic world of disease, deprivation, and fear. That’s not lefty rhetoric, either. All you have to do is read the budget. What did Romney say about Ryan’s budget? “He is setting the right tone for finally getting spending and entitlements under control.”

ELECTION REFORM


Conservative Wisconsinites Call For Greater Transparency In Outside Election Spending

Scott Keyes, Video Report: With the election just two months away, outside spending groups are already scrambling to pour money into ads both for and against Walker. However, because of a quirk in Wisconsin campaign law, these groups can spend unlimited funds without disclosing where their money is coming from. ThinkProgress spoke with attendees last weekend at the Americans For Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit in Milwaukee.

ENERGY


A New Energy Third World in North America?

Michael T. Klare, Op-Ed: Eager to escape ever-stronger environmental restrictions and dying oil fields at home, the energy giants were naturally drawn to the economically and environmentally wide-open producing areas of the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America — the Third World — where oil deposits were plentiful, governments compliant, and environmental regulations few or nonexistent.


Steve Horn | Unpacking the Shale Gas LNG Export Boom

Steve Horn, News Analysis: “While the North American shale gas boom continues full-steam ahead, so too does another boom receiving less of the spotlight: the LNG export boom. LNG, shorthand for liquefied natural gas, is gas that’s been condensed into a liquid form by chilling it to approximately −162 °C (−260 °F). That gas is placed in LNG tankers, also known as ‘trains,’ then shipped off to lucrative global markets.”

ENVIRONMENTAL


Jim Hightower | Congress Opts to Keep Poisoning Children

Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “Yes, we certainly need to cut unnecessary and frivolous federal spending, because…well, because it’s unnecessary and frivolous. So Congress has targeted unnecessary oil subsidies and frivolous tax giveaways to billionaires, right? Uh…no. Instead, our learned solons have chosen to whack the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.”


FDA Rejects Monumental BPA Ban

Mike Barrett, News Report: BPA has been shown to prompt hyperactivity and depression in young girls, while also being linked to breast cancer in more than 130 studies. Infertility and fertility defects are also caused by BPA exposure. The chemical is used so widely that it has been found in the urine of nearly 93 percent of Americans, with one study finding that eating canned soup can spike urinary bisphenol-A levels by 1,200 percent compared to fresh soup.


Anthony Gucciardi | BPA Makers to Gross $8 Billion Thanks to FDA Rejecting Ban

Anthony Gucciardi, News Report: “Producers of toxic BPA are now boasting $8 billion in sales for 2012 thanks to the FDA rejecting a potential ban on the cancer-linked chemical on March 30th. According to GlobalData, manufacturers will produce 4.7 million metric tons of BPA this year to be dispersed into the daily lives of millions worldwide.”


Illegal Ocean Dumping Persists Despite DOJ Crackdown

Ronnie Greene, News Report: “Under federal and international law, ships must properly dispose of oily wastewater and sludge by passing the waste through an oil-water separator on board, or burning sludge in an incinerator. The ship’s crew must record each transfer or disposal in an ‘Oil Record Book.’ When dumping occurs in international waters, U.S. authorities cannot prosecute the actual pollution because it lies outside their jurisdiction.”


Extreme Weather is the New Normal

Stephen Leahy, News Analysis: “A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released Mar. 28, provides solid evidence that record-breaking weather events are increasing in number and becoming more extreme. And if current rates of greenhouse gas emissions are maintained, these events will reach dangerous new levels over the coming century.”


Anthony Gucciardi | Stealth GMOs Rapidly Consuming Global Food Supply

Anthony Gucciardi, News Analysis: “Obviously there is no room for GMOs in truly healthy food products, which is why it is truly vital that you understand the nature of GMOs and how they are oftentimes hidden in commercial food products. It may very well shock you to know just how prevalent GMOs are within the food supply. It’s truly amazing that modified products continue to go unlabeled despite being linked to organ damage — among a barrage of other conditions — in a prominent review of 19 studies.”

HEALTHCARE


The Best, Most Revealing Reporting on Our Healthcare System

Blair Hickman and Cora Currier, News Analysis: As we wait for the Supreme Court to issue its verdict on the health-care reform law, we rounded up some of the most revealing reporting on the issues. They’re grouped roughly into articles on high costs and those on insurance. The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters are some publications who have given their opinion on the subject matter.


Romney Would Lower Health Costs By Asking Patients To Pay More For Their Benefits

Igor Volsky, News Analysis: “Republicans like to claim that exposing people to the true cost of health care — that is, putting more skin in the game — would discourage overtutilizaiton of care and force health care beneficiaries to act more like consumers, shop around, and select the best deal for a given service or treatment. The theory sounds good, but there is very limited evidence that it actually works. After all, insurers have been shifting individuals into high-deductible plans for some time now, but premiums and prices continue to increase. ”

IDEOLOGY


Five Preposterous but Persistent Conservative Myths

Paul Buchheit , Op-Ed: “With the mainstream media in the hands of the mostly conservative wealthy, it’s difficult for average Americans to learn the truth about critical issues. The following five conservative claims are examples of mythical beliefs that fall apart in the presence of inconvenient facts.”


Koch-Funded Reason Institute Trivializes Severity of Bullying Young People Experience

Zack Ford, News Report: Despite acknowledging the technology young people have access to, he completely ignores the significant impact that cyberbullying now has on young people. Last year, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that nine out of ten have witnessed the cyberbullying of their peers. A similar Associated Press-MTV poll found that about half of young people regularly encounter discriminatory slang in their online communications, and 54 percent of them think it’s okay to use such language in their circle of friends because “I know we don’t mean it.”

INTERNET GAMBLING


Robert Reich | Turning America Into a Giant Casino

Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Organized gambling is a scam. And it particularly preys upon people with lower incomes – who assume they can’t make it big any other way, who often find it hardest to assess the odds, and whose families can least afford to lose the money. Yet America is now opening the floodgates. Organized gambling is a scam. And it particularly preys upon people with lower incomes – who assume they can’t make it big any other way, who often find it hardest to assess the odds, and whose families can least afford to lose the money.”

SUPREME COURT


Robert Scheer | Five Hypocrites and One Bad Plan

Robert Scheer, Truthdig Op-Ed: “The Supreme Court is so full of it. The entire institution, as well as its sanctimonious judges themselves, reeks of a time-honored hypocrisy steeped in the arrogance that justice is served by unaccountable elitism. My problem is not with the Republicans who dominate the court questioning the obviously flawed individual mandate for the purchasing of private-sector health insurance but rather with their zeal to limit federal power only when it threatens to help the most vulnerable.”


Jokes from Justice Scalia Mask Grim Reality of American Health Care

Wendell Potter, News Analysis: “Since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia clearly isn’t going to take the time to actually read the health care reform law before he decides whether or not it’s constitutional, maybe he and a couple of his buddies on the High Court can catch a screening of ‘The Hunger Games’, the movie about children battling each other to the death in a futuristic America, renamed Panem.”


Dean Baker | The Supreme Scream: Obamacare After the Court Ruling

Dean Baker, Op-Ed: “The conventional wisdom following the oral arguments before the Supreme Court last week is that, at the least, the health insurance mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act is going down. Many observers thought it likely that the Republican-controlled court would strike down the entire bill. Either way, it will be necessary to do some serious rethinking of health care policy.”


The Right’s Stealthy Coup

E.J. Dionne Jr., Op-Ed: “Last week’s Supreme Court oral arguments on health care were the most dramatic example of how radical tea partyism has displaced mainstream conservative thinking. It’s not just that the law’s individual mandate was, until very recently, a conservative idea. Even conservative legal analysts were insisting it was impossible to imagine the court declaring the health-care mandate unconstitutional, given its past decisions.”

Ryan-Romney Budget Gives Away the Store

Congressman Paul Ryan has finally endorsed Mitt Romney as his preferred candidate for president.   Yeah, like we didn’t expect that coming.  Thus, it should be no surprise that both Romney and Ryan support the same key budget tenets — massive cuts to programs critical to its economic security of middle class Americans, and ending Medicare for our nation’s seniors as we’ve known it and paid into throughout our working careers — all so they can transform our nation’s wealth into outrageous tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

There budget plans would

  • Turn Medicare into a voucher program to help pay for massive tax cuts to the wealthiest.
  • Turn Medicaid into a block grant program that can easily be underfunded or diverted by states for other purposes.
  • Protect tax loopholes that benefit oil companies and hedge fund managers.
  • Repeal Health Care Reform, re-opening the do-nut hole, re-instituting pre-existing conditions and increasing health care costs to every American by thousands of dollars for not just medical premiums and services but in increased taxes as well.
  • Make arbitrary cuts to programs essential to middle-class families like education, environment and clean energy.
  • Provide large new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, above and beyond any permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts
  • Not balance the budget and in fact, would increase our national debt.

But beyond the deep cuts in programs, those cuts mean some serious job losses in the public sector.  That means the Republicans intend to dump more Americans into the unemployment roles and simultaneously slash the safety net that would have assisted them.

Romney has said he is on the same page as Ryan – even “applauding” Ryan’s budget – so America’s seniors and the middle class need to take note of what this budget means to and for them.  Here’s a press release from the Obama/Biden Campaign that compares the two GOP budgets.  Is that where you think American should be going?  Do those represent your priorities for America?  If not, then get of your duff and get out there and fight for our ticket!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Obama/Biden Campaign

THE RYAN-ROMNEY BUDGET PROMOTES GIVEAWAYS TO OIL COMPANIES, WALL STREET, 
AND THE WEALTHIEST WHILE SENIORS AND THE MIDDLE CLASS FOOT THE BILL

“Governor Romney has said he is on the same page as Congressman Ryan, so America’s seniors and the middle class should take note of what that means for them. The Romney and Ryan budgets would turn Medicare into a voucher program, increase health care costs to seniors by thousands of dollars and make arbitrary cuts to programs essential to middle class families like education and clean energy, all while giving massive tax cuts to the wealthiest and protecting taxpayer subsidies to oil companies and hedge fund managers. And by repealing health care reform and cutting over $1 trillion from Medicaid, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan would deny coverage to approximately 50 million Americans who currently have it, including low-income children, pregnant women, nursing home patients and people with disabilities. We can’t do the same thing and expect a different result – Governor Romney has embraced a carbon copy of the policies that led to the economic crisis.” — Ben LaBolt, Press Secretary

ROMNEY-RYAN BUDGET: TAX CUTS FOR THE TOP, DEEP CUTS FOR THE MIDDLE-CLASS

The budget released today by Rep. Paul Ryan mirrors the radical policies supported by Gov. Mitt Romney: massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, privatize Medicare and deep, arbitrary cuts that hurt middle-class families.

Ryan’s Path to Poverty

Romney Budget Plan

Mutual Admiration 
  • “Look at what he put out! This is a great development. … This tracks perfectly with the House budget.” — Ryan on Romney’s budget,  Washington Post, 11/4/11
  • “When Paul Ryan put his plan out in the first place, I said it was a major advance, a big step forward, we were on the same page.”  — Romney on Ryan’s Medicare plan New York Times, 2/1/12
Privatizes Medicare 
  • YES. Turns Medicare into a voucher program that shifts costs to seniors.
  • YES. Similar voucher plans make seniors pay $6,350 more a year.
  • Charges seniors more for prescription drugs and preventive care.
  • Increases payments to insurance companies by $100 billion and repeals other reforms, accelerating the exhaustion of the Medicare trust fund to 2016.
Breaks Bipartisan Deal on Spending 
  • YES. Deep cuts to domestic spending would break the bipartisan agreement.
  • Cuts would cost jobs and hurt average Americans, slashing investments in education, clean energy and scientific and medical research.
  • YES. Proposes similarly deep cuts to discretionary spending that would also break the bipartisan deal.
  • Holding true to his promise to balance the budget would require deeper cuts to all domestic spending than the House plan.
Huge Tax Cuts for the Wealthy 
  • YES. Extends all of the Bush tax cuts.
  • Provides trillions more in tax rate cuts weighted towards the rich without specifying how to pay for them.
  • YES. Extends all of the Bush tax cuts.
  • Provides $5 trillion in tax cuts weighted towards the wealthy without specifying how to pay for them.
Deep Cuts in Medicaid and Healthcare Coverage 
  • YES. Repeals health reform and cuts over $1 trillion from Medicaid over the decade.
  • Deny coverage to up to 60 million people, including low-income children, pregnant women, nursing home patients, and people with disabilities.
  • YES. Repeals health reform and cuts over $1 trillion from Medicaid over the decade.
  • Deny coverage to up to 53 million people, including low-income children, pregnant women, nursing home patients, and people with disabilities.
Repeals Key Protections in Wall Street Reform 
  • YES. Rolls back key protections in Wall Street Reform designed to prevent future financial crises and end the era of “too big to fail.”
  • YES. Repeals all of Wall Street Reform,  even though it creates no budget  savings.

End note:  Absent from the Obama/Biden press release above was the restoration of the sequestration cuts that were made to military spending which takes up, by far, the largest portion of spending in the federal budget.  It is time to put our money “where our mouth is” and stop putting money into more and more weapons of destruction and involving our Country in one armed conflict after another.  Maybe we should mandate that every Republican is required to watch that new “Bully” film and

Ryan’s Path to Poverty — The Numbers

Okay … I went back and pulled out my last summary of version 1.0 of the Ryan “Path to Prosperity” budget and added in the figures he’s proposing in his “version 2.0” of the Path to Prosperity.  It’s startling.  Before you start down through the figures, there are probably a few terms you should understand:

  1. Budget authority is the legal authority to incur financial obligations that will result in immediate or future outlays of federal government funds.
  2. Obligations are commitments to make payments, immediately or in the future. Examples include contracts and purchase orders.
  3. An outlay is a payment (usually a check drawn on the Treasury, or in cash) by the government in fulfillment of an obligation.

While the budget bill (H.Con.Res.112) doesn’t specify the amount of obligations that have been undertaken, you’ll clearly see a difference in new budget authority and anticipated outlays that will occur during each given budget year.  All figures below are shown in millions of dollars ( number X 1,000,000).

Now, a budget is basically a statement of priorities.  I don’t agree with the GOP’s statement of priorities.  As you peruse the numbers, here are a couple of questions you should ask yourselves as to the GOP’s priorities:

  1. National Defense (050):  Do we really need to spend that much money on weapons, war, etc.?  Do you think it’s time to close down some of those foreign bases?  A large number of those basest were necessary for “cold war’ security … but really … the cold war ended during Reagan’s term.
  2. Rep. Ryan claimed during introduction of version 2 of the “Path to Prosperity” that he was leaving  Social Security alone … yet check the numbers, he’s cut back Social Security even further than he proposed under version 1.0.  Are his figures realistic given the number of baby boomers headed into retirement … or does it look to you like he’s hiding a privatization scheme in his back pocket?
  3. Rep. Ryan claimed that he needs to change the way we fund and deal with Medicare (turning it into voucher program).  Given that fact that he’s cut Medicare spending even further from his V1.0 Path … what kind of value might those vouchers have?  And, how many Seniors will no longer be able to afford health care (or how many will be denied care by private insurance companies) before all is said and done?
  4. Funding for space and science has been increased.  Hmmm.  Is he hedging his bet just in case the Newster manages to pull of a major coup, win the Presidency and need the funding for his moon base?
  5. He pretty much cut Energy to the bone in favor of locking us into nothing but oil strategy for the foreseeable future.
  6. He cut education below what he proposed in Version 1.0 until 2017, when funding finally manages to eke past what he proposed in his Version 1.0 Path.
  7. He increased funding for the Criminal Justice System … is he planning to incarcerate even more Americans?
  8. And lastly … he proposes to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Plan … yet in doing so, the federal government saves nothing in the process.  In fact, check out the rapidly escalating rise in health care costs (550).  Are you looking forward to insurance companies once again being in charge of your health, denying coverage, limiting lifetime coverage, utilizing claims of “pre-existing conditions” to deny coverage, charging women far more for insurance coverage than men, etc.?
Rep. Ryan has proposed nearly $3 Trillion dollars in cuts for the wealthy and multinational corporations.  Absent, however, from his “Path” was the means through which he would pay for those cuts.  Other than stealing working American’s Social Security and Medicare, he has no means to pay for such unnecessary and outrageous cuts to government revenue. Pure and simple, his “path” amounts to nothing more than ‘theft.”  And, if you scroll all the way to the bottom of this post, you will see that what Mr. Ryan has proposed will not get us any where near balancing our federal budget as the GOP is claiming this budget will get us closer to doing.  It does not and it will not.  What it will do is explode our national debt to $21,627,396,000,000 by 2022.  That’s not a path to prosperity, that’s a path to poverty and the destruction of our nation.





President Obama Needs All of Us Right Now!

Republicans can carp about Democrats rushing things through Congress, but Republicans are just as guilty if more more guilty of that tactic.  This week, Republicans in Congress are set to vote (HCONRES112) to eliminate Medicare as you know it, and use the savings to pay for more special tax breaks for big corporations, political donors and Washington special interests. We must stand with President Obama to make sure right-wing Republicans don’t get away with breaking this sacred promise to our seniors.

After you watch the video, please join us in calling on all Americans who care about keeping our promises to future generations to contact their Member of Congress and tell them to keep their hands off our Medicare. The vote is imminent so we must take action now. Nevada’s Representatives:

  • Democrat Shelley Berkeley …. (202)  225-5965
  • Republican Mark Amodei …. (202) 225-6155
  • Republican Joe Heck …. (202) 225-3252

Call  the Republican Leadership:

  • Republican Speaker John Boehner ….  (202) 225-6205
  • Republican Leader Eric Cantor …. (202) 225-2815
  • Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan …. (202) 225-3031

Key Points

  • It’s an insult to ask seniors, who have worked hard their entire lives earning Medicare benefits, to be asked to sacrifice, while millionaires and Big Oil companies receive huge tax breaks.
  • The Republican plan ends the Medicare guarantee and shifts substantial costs onto seniors.
  • This is about our values and priorities. We must have a budget that is fair and protects Medicare, while creating jobs, strengthening small businesses, rebuilding the middle class and reducing the deficit.