The Facts About the Deficit and Obama…

October 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

While it is true that we have added a little under $5 trillion to the debt since Obama took office, it is important (and fair) to remember that most of the massive spending policies implemented by the previous administration did NOT cease to exist the day Obama was inaugurated. The wars, the ridiculous tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, Medicare Part D (boondoggle for Big Pharma) all continue to contribute to the debt to this day, while adding to the amount of interest that has to be paid on the debt.

The fact is, as a percentage of GDP, new spending by the Obama administration is actually lower than it has been since World War II — lower than the rate of inflation for the past two years. Obama’s actual “new” spending has amounted to about $900 billion over the last 3 years. This, despite the fact that government spending routinely goes up during economic downturns regardless of who is in the White House because more people have to depend on unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps and Medicaid in order to survive.

According to CNN.Money, it has now been determined that more jobs have been created since the economy tanked than were lost. Obama has managed to achieve this net gain in jobs since 2009, despite having to deal with the lowest rated, least productive and most obstructive Congress since the Civil War, not to mention the fact that this country lost more than 50,000 factories between 2000 and 2009.

Mitt Romey’s and Paul Ryan’s plan would cut taxes 20% and allegedly keep those cuts “revenue neutral” by eliminating loopholes and certain deductions which they have both refused to identify. Most economists agree that their tax cuts would cost about $5 trillion over the next 10 years, and they also agree that eliminating every single loophole and write-off would NOT pay for them. In other words, they are making stuff up as they go along, refusing to provide any details because those details would expose the problems with their ideas.

Romney and Ryan also say that they want to “widen the tax base”. There is only one way to interpret this: they want families to start paying federal income tax who have, until now, made too little money to pay any federal income tax. So, according to Romney and Ryan, low income families would be subject to paying taxes they’ve never had to pay before, while the wealthy would get an average of a $250,000/year tax cut.

Obama 2012 –– Because the alternative is UNTHINKABLE!

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Are you better off now……?

October 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Four years ago, this country was on the precipice of a second Great Depression. That’s an economic state where more than a quarter of the population is unemployed, half of all businesses close their doors, banks stop lending, and the government has to go into massive debt to keep the population from starving. It is a time when the majority of the country has to do without basic necessities. The only thing that got us out of the Great Depression was government spending on World War II.

Fortunately, the second Great Depression didn’t happen. In fact, less than three years after the recession bottomed out in 2009, the country has had a net gain in jobs relative to the jobs that had been lost. We have had 32 straight months of job growth in the private sector. The DOW has more than doubled, which has been good news to anyone with a 401K. We did NOT have to turn our auto industry over to foreign manufacturers two years ago, which saved more than a million jobs. Our exports are near record levels and we are less dependent on foreign oil than in the last 20 years. Home prices are finally headed up again. In Los Angeles, home values posted their highest gains in more than 6 years. Taxes have actually gone down since Obama took office, and more than 30 million people now have medical insurance who couldn’t get it before.

By any measure, the economy is trending upward.

Has it been fast enough? Of course not. You don’t recover from the loss of more than 50,000 factories (between 2000 and 2009) in just 3 years. New industries have to be generated. More people need new training for those jobs. It requires a national investment. The problem is, we now have the lowest rated, least productive, most obstructive Congress since the Civil War, whose primary objective has been to ensure that nothing President Obama proposes or supports passes or is adequately funded. It is politics of self-destruction.

Obama’s and Biden’s economic plan has been simple enough to grasp for anybody who has bothered to pay attention. The American Jobs Act was a great bill that would have been paid for while creating 3 million jobs. Guess who blocked it.

Undecided voters have no excuse. And no option.

Obama 2012 –– Because the alternative is UNTHINKABLE.

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What Romney and Ryan are really planning to do…

October 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Both Romney and his running-mate have repeatedly stated that their intent is to cut taxes 20% for everybody who pays federal income tax. The cost of such a cut over a ten-year period is approximately $5 trillion, yet Romney now denies having ever said anything about this tax cut.

Both Romney and Ryan say that these cuts would be deficit neutral because, at the same time, their plan would eliminate certain unspecified loopholes and write-offs currently in the tax code. The problem is, even if they eliminated every single write-off, including charitable donations and home mortgage interest, it still wouldn’t come close to covering the cost of the $5 trillion tax cut.

HOWEVER, they also say that they would increase revenue by “broadening the tax base”. The only way to interpret this is that they intend to tax low and middle income families who, until now, have no earned enough to qualify for paying federal income tax. Therefore, their stated intent is to cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans and raise taxes on the middle class. You can’t get around that.

By the way, cutting taxes does NOT stimulate economic growth. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Low taxes encourage profit-taking. Periods of higher tax rates show more re-investment. Business owners take less profit out of their companies if they know they’re going to pay higher taxes on that income. In any case, the last eleven years has provided ample proof that tax cuts boost nothing but the wealth of the top 1% of the population. 93% of all gains in the economy over the last two years have accrued to that small group of highly fortunate people.

Romney has also stated numerous times that he wants to increase defense spending by a $1 trillion over the next ten years and $2 trillion over the next 20 years. He would also add more than 100,000 more personnel to the armed forces. He has vowed to do this despite the fact that the Pentagon has said it doesn’t need the additional people or extra money. Romney just wants to be seen as a pro-military leader by his right-wing base. It is a completely disingenuous position.

All that said, I also have doubts about President Obama’s debating skills (although I don’t know what that has to do with being President of the United States). I wish he had been more energetic and assertive in the debate. I also wish that he called Romney on all of his lies and half-truths. That was a major mistake.

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Paul Ryan’s Lies

October 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Ryan’s speech was a well-written, well-executed pack of lies. This is the same guy who voted FOR every single one of George W. Bush’s big spending policies — both unfunded wars, all of the unpaid for tax cuts, the Medicare Part D boondoggle for Big Pharma, and TARP. Yet HE’S calling Obama a big government spender. (By the way, all of these policy decisions continue to contribute billions to the national debt every year. They didn’t just go away when George W. Bush left office).

Ryan stated that Obama took $716B out of Medicare and gave it “too someone else”. Two responses: First, Obama SAVED $716B in Medicare by eliminating waste and fraud, and discontinuing the tax-payer funded subsidies to private insurance companies that were “administering” the Medicare Advantage program; Second, Obama used that savings to close the drug “donut hole” for seniors and having wellness visits covered. Mr. Ryan’s plan also cuts $716B out of Medicare, but he uses that money to help pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Ryan’s plan, which Mitt Romney has embraced, gives seniors the “option” of using “premium support” (vouchers) to go out and buy their own insurance from private insurance companies. This assumes that seniors could even find an insurance company that would be willing to give them coverage when they are older and more likely to become ill or injured. If they could find such a company, it would cost them an average of $6500 out-of-pocket to get coverage equal to what they currently have with Medicare. Of course, just by offering this option, Ryan strangles an already threatened Medicare program by taking people out of the mandated system. The obvious objective here is to end Medicare for EVERYBODY.

Ryan also took a shot at Obama for walking away from the Simpson Bowles Commission. This remark was the height of hypocrisy as Ryan himself turned his back on the commission’s recommendation to reduce the debt in a balanced fashion by cutting spending AND increasing revenue by raising taxes. Obama walked away from it because he knew the House would NEVER pass it. Subsequently, Obama asked congressional leaders to form the Super Committee, which the Republicans in Congress agreed to follow and which they are now threatening to back out on.

Ryan’s entire speech was riddled with falsehoods and half-truths and it made me sick every time that audience cheered what it was hearing. These people are supposed to be well-educated, moderately well-informed adults, yet they were jubilant about the load of garbage Ryan was feeding them.

“A downgraded America.” Ryan blamed the president for the nation’s credit downgrade in August 2011 after Republicans threatened to allow the government to default on its debt for the first time in history. But the ratings agency explicitly blamed “Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.”

“More debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” Romney has made the almost identical claim, that Obama has amassed more debt “as almost all of the other presidents combined.” But their mathdoesn’t add up: when Obama took office, the national debt was $10.626 trillion. It has increased to slightly above $15 trillion.

Shuttered General Motors plant is “one more broken promise.” Ryan described a GM plant that closed down in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, and blamed Obama for breaking his promise to keep the plant open when he visited during his campaign. But Obama never made that promise, and the plant shut down in December 2008, before Obama even took office.

“The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak.” Ryan closed the speech with an invocation of social responsibility, saying, “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” However, numerous clergy members have condemned Ryan’s budget plan as “cruel,” and “an immoral disaster” because of its devastating cuts in social programs the poor and sick rely on. Meanwhile, Ryan would giveultra-rich individuals and corporations $3 trillion in tax breaks.

Finally, the recent ad being run by the Romney/Ryan campaign asserts that President Obama took the job requirement out of the welfare reform law that was passed during the Clinton administration. It has been debunked by every fact checking organization on the net and several major newspapers, yet the RNC has doubled down and continues to run the TV spot. Clearly, the decision has been made by the RNC that lying is perfectly acceptable as long as it works. Unfortunately, it does appear to be working in a couple of crucial swing states. Again, this demonstrates a willingness by some people to believe any lie that is spoken against this president, no matter how blatant or disproven by facts.

Obama 2012 — Because the alternative is unthinkable.

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Paul Ryan : A radical ideologue or just plain stupid?

May 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

In a recent CNN interview, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) accused opponents of his alleged “Path to Prosperity” of being “willing to lie and demagogue Medicare and scare seniors”. This is the same man who has been screaming the sky is falling for the last two years and that we have to radically reduce the deficit RIGHT NOW, or the country will suddenly fall into an economic abyss. He doesn’t see the content of his plan as being the cause for resistance. He claims that it’s a “marketing problem”. To clarify things, he says, “Our budget’s so clear. It doesn’t change benefits for people over the age of 55 and it saves Medicare for the next generation”. Clearly, his plan does not “save” Medicare for anybody. It is a classic example of privatization.

Let’s first examine what Ryan claims to be his primary motivation: the deficit crisis. We should not allow Ryan’s alarmist rhetoric to panic us. We have some economic problems, but we’re not Greece. Deficits should decline markedly over the next few years, and Social Security and Medicare will not devour us. Over the last 3 years, the federal deficit has been about 9% to 10% of GDP. By historical standards, that’s very large, but it wasn’t the result of profligate spending. It was caused by the worst recession in +70 years. While it is happening slowly, the economy has been steadily recovering since June 2009. Barring some catastrophe, the effects of recession should fade and the economy should start showing more robust growth. (Certainly, we’ve already seen this in the American auto industy). This means greatly increased revenues and less spending on things like unemployment benefits, food stamps, Medicaid rises and financial bailouts. Plus, we have the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to look forward to, as long as Republicans don’t try to extort another extension.

The bottom line is that, if we do NOTHING, the deficit as a percentage of GDP should go from 10% to about 3% by 2014. Using Medicare as an instrument of fear to justify radical change, which is what Ryan has been doing, is more than a little dishonest. In 2010, Medicare spending (less premiums paid by beneficiaries) was 3.1% of GDP. In 2021, the CBO projects it will be 3.6%, an increase of only 0.5 percent. In other words, this budgetary “monster” which Ryan claims is going to ruin the American way of life will increase its share of the national economy by about 1%. This amounts to less than half the cost of the Bush tax cuts.

This is not a long-term fiscal emergency; it’s what you’d expect after the deepest recession since the Great Depression. So Rep. Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare is not only extreme, it is wholly unnecessary. Ryan’s Medicare plan would force those who become beneficiaries starting in 2021 to more than double their out-of-pocket spending. Some estimates for this out-of-pocket increase are as high as $7,500/year. But that’s not the worst thing about his plan.

What congressional conservatives have wanted to do for decades is wipe out the entitlements: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They don’t view these programs as vital safety nets for seniors which have helped lift them out of poverty over the last 70 years. They see them as evil ideology; socialism.; an obstacle to states’ rights, which they have been fighting for since the mid-19th century. They know that the quickest way to kill these programs is to privatize them. Put for-profit companies in charge and let the so-called free market do the rest. They realize that Medicare, as a government program, operates on about 6% overhead, while private insurance companies have overhead costs which are six times that. On top of that, private insurers have to show their investors a profit every year. So, what we’re looking at here is a plan that will drastically reduce coverage, while allowing premiums and deductibles to continue to escalate at warp speed. Medicare, as a vital service to seniors, will become a shell of its former self. All the money people have paid into Medicare during their working years will now be handed over to private insurance companies, with more than 1/3 going to pay for corporate overhead. Then, insurance companies will fight tooth & nail to hold onto the other 2/3s by denying claims and greatly reducing coverages. That’s how for-profit companies work.

So, the question remains: Is Paul Ryan consciously trying to destroy Medicare in order to satisfy his ideologically-driven hatred of the federal government, or is he just an ignoramus who actually believes the growth predictions that his plan borrowed from The Heritage Foundation? Does he actually believe that he’s saving Medicare for the next generation? From what I can tell, Paul Ryan is not a stupid man. But his common sense and humanity are definitely being held hostage by his extreme right-wing ideology. I don’t think he really cares about the deficit at all. If he did, he wouldn’t be so dead set against letting the Bush tax cut for the wealthy expire, and he certainly wouldn’t have opposed ending subsidies for Big Oil. Ryan has also opposed allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma, which could save seniors billions of dollars, and such a proposal is nowhere to be seen in his plan. I believe Ryan and the GOP are trying to manufacture hysteria over the deficit, then use that fear to gain support for dismantling vital federal programs and, more importantly, to defeat Barack Obama in 2012.

I think the funniest thing I ever heard was Mitch McConnell on a recent Sunday morning news program, defending Ryan’s plan for Medicare. McConnell said it would “empower Grandma, by giving her the power to shop for the best policy for her”. He went on to say this “shopping would create competition and drive down costs.” He conveniently leaves out that Ryan’s plan would be giving her a fixed “premium assistance” check which would end up covering less than half what her new private insurer would charge for adequate coverage. This also begs the question as to whether or not insurance companies are going to be lining up to insure people in their 70’s and 80’s. Doesn’t sound very realistic to me.

At the end of the day, Ryan’s plan destroys Medicare by privatizing it, and leaves a new program in place which would be more aptly named Mini-Care.

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How to Slash the Deficit Without Slashing Our Own Throats

April 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Making large spending cuts while the country is still struggling to climb out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression is NOT a smart idea. Here’s what I would do:

1. Cut defense spending immediately by 5%, and 10% over the next 5 years, by closing a few bases in Europe and Asia. Make all defense contracts subject to mandatory competitive bidding, and empower the OMB to audit all defense expenditures. Eliminate the development and production of out-dated weapons systems. (Secretary Gates has already endorsed most of this).

2. Institute means-testing for all Medicare recipients. Benefits should decrease as our income increases. Giving free medical care to a millionaire who makes almost $3,000 per day is obscene. Everybody should get some benefits, but we have to stop throwing money at people who are made of money. (Leave Medicaid alone! The poor, low-income families and the elderly are having a difficult enough time already). Finally, empower Medicare administrators to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma. This would save seniors and the Medicare program billions of dollars, yet Republicans in Congress are obstructing any move to do this.

3. Raise the retirement age for Social Security to 68, not 70. The current retirement age is not reflective of the world we live in, with people living and working longer. Payroll deductions for Social Security should NOT have a cap for wage earners. Lower the annual tax to 5% from 6.2%, but remove the wage base cap (currently at $106,000) for employees. Retain the wage base cap for employers so that their matching contribution requirement ends when the employee reaches $110,000 in gross wages. Finally, take Social Security out of the General Fund, so that it can’t be stolen from again.

4. Do not touch discretionary spending, which only accounts for about 16% of the budget. I would actually increase this percentage, so that it includes infrastructure projects that would create jobs. All programs should, however, be subject to annual audits to ensure money is being spent where it’s supposed to be spent and there is no fraud or waste.

5. Implement a transactional tax on hedge fund managers and Wall Street speculators that will bring their real tax liability up to the top bracket where they belong. Some of these people are earning 12-figure incomes, contributing nothing to the economy but higher costs for commodities, and their current tax rate is about 11%.

6. Eliminate the tax loophole created by George W. Bush in 2005 which allows corporations to write-off the cost of training foreign workers in this country, as they out-source American jobs to foreign countries. This loophole actually incentivizes out-sourcing.

7. Keep current individual tax rates where they are for people earning between $50,000/year and $300,000/year. Those earning less should also be given a ‘payroll tax holiday’ for the next two years. Those earning more than $300,000/year should see an increase in their tax rate from 35% to 39%. (These rates can all come down over the next 10 years if we’re serious about ending many of the tax avoidance loopholes in the tax code).

8. Leave corporate taxes where they are, but provide some tax incentives for companies who move their manufacturing facilities back into the US. We have lost nearly 60,000 factories in the last decade and our economy will not fully recover until we can get manufacturing back on its feet in this country.

9. Raise the Estate Tax on estates valued in excess of $10 million. Estates valued at less than $2 million should pay no Estate Tax.

10. End the subsidies to the wealthiest industries on the planet — big oil and big agra. It is absurd that US tax payers are helping to finance the operations of these mega-businesses).

None of these ten ideas alone is perfect, but we have to do something. I believe that taking the above ten steps would drastically reduce our deficit with the least amount of pain for everybody. More importantly, it would serve to buttress the middle class, which is the engine that drives our economy.

In concert with these ten steps, we need to address the trade imbalance and its underlying causes. India and China in particular, need to implement worker protections and an acceptable minimum wage. China needs to stop manipulating the value of its currency and subsidizing its so-called ‘private industry’, so the playing field is more level. Otherwise, their exports should face tariffs.

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It’s time to outlaw lobbyists in Washington.

October 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

As long as lobbying members of Congress is allowed, no member should be permitted to vote on a piece of legislation which has any connection to those that are lobbying him or her. This would obviously stem the flow of cash, free private jets, sexual favors and other perks which are currently provided to senators and representatives by various corporate and political interests in Washington in order to secure votes and vocal support. Unless we have this form of recusal, the concept of a representative government in Washington will be a fairy tale.

What we’ve witnessed over the last several months of debate over health care reform is ample evidence of how much this kind of change is needed. From Mitch McConnell to Max Baucus, we’ve witnessed the corporate takeover of the democratic process in the United States. Baucus, who has received more than $3.5 million from the insurance industry, is probably the most hypocritical of the lot, pretending to be for serious reform and calling himself a democrat, he voted against the public option in the Finance Committee. His reason, as stated following the vote, was that it was his responsibility to get a bill out of the committee which could pass in the Senate and he “just didn’t see the votes there for a public option”. In other words, the quality of the bill’s contents was less important to Baucus than its chances of winning approval. More importantly, he failed to mention that a majority of his own constituency favors the public option. Whom does Max Baucus represent?

Baucus’ bill contains the “mandate” which requires all citizens to obtain medical coverage, yet it does nothing to create effective price controls on the insurance industry. Those who cannot afford to pay their insurance premiums will receive tax credits to help them pay. In other words, in addition to giving the insurance industry millions of more customers by government mandate, Baucus would have tax-payers paying for those who can’t afford insurance. The best that Baucus’ Finance Committee could come up with after months of haggling is a windfall for the insurance industry that provides zero relief to citizens. What idiot could possibly support this obvious scam?

The leaders of the Republican Party in Congress, such as McConnell, Boehner and Canter, are all on the take from the private insurance industry, and the few members that are not being lobbied are too cowardly to stand up to them. Of course, there are also many democrats, such as Baucus, Childers and Lincoln, who are also enjoying the generosity of the insurance industry, but the majority of democrats are not and it shows in their votes in these committees.

If you’re a Republican who is against the public option or serious health care reform because you sincerely believe what we have is adequate, you need to ask yourself how you arrived at that conclusion. If you’re just having a knee-jerk, partisan reaction to any idea that a democrat comes up with, then you have a problem. Even worse, if you’re basing your opinion on information that has been spread by organizations like Americans for Prosperity you have a bigger problem because that so-called grass-roots group is a tool of the private insurance industry, which has a vested interested in the status quo and discrediting any kind of reform.

The private insurance industry has 6 lobbyists in Washington for every representative and senator and it is now spending nearly $2 MILLION PER DAY to undermine attempts to fix our broken, soon-to-collapse health care system. In the last 6 months, it has spent more than $390 million to convince voters that the government wants to take over health care and euthanize the elderly. This is the most money that has ever been spent on influence-peddling in the history of the United States. If you believe any of those lies, either you hate President Obama to the point of being self-destructive, or you are simply too ignorant to understand what is being proposed. Either way, you have become a willing tool of corporate fascists who are in control of one of the few business sectors that has continued to see profits grow despite a severe global recession.

At the end of the day, the power of lobbyists in Washington is about as unAmerican and anti-democratic as anything Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler tried to do. It has become abundantly clear over the last few months that real change in ANY AREA will never be possible as long as our elected representatives are in the pockets of corrupt, for-profit industries which do not have the interests of the American people at heart.

And don’t expect any tort reform while the Democratic Party is in the back pocket of the Trial Lawyers.

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This is a sad time for American politics

September 4, 2009 at 7:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

For the first time in the history of our nation, the President of the United States is being attacked for speaking to children in our schools. He is being accused of trying to indoctrinate kids with socialist ideals and saying things that might contradict what their parents are teaching them. I hope he does. Because the ideals that these children must be learning from those parents is totally inconsistent with our nation’s way of life. To suggest, so that children can hear, that the President is an evil man with an unAmerican agenda, is the essence of fascism. The Republican Party has been co-opted by extremists who have intimidated moderates and tried to undermine the country’s confidence in its government. With each day that passes, they go a step closer to treason. Their words and actions have been a far greater threat to our democracy than any 1950’s communist conspiracy ever was. At bottom of this pit of seething hatred is a core of bigotry that seeks to undo all of the progress this country has made over the last half century.

How do you combat this kind of bellicose prejudice without slipping into the same mire of angry name-calling and unproductive vitriole? We’re getting closer and closer to the point where it doesn’t really matter. The sad fact is that a significant percentage of our population, either through ignorance, or a history of racial prejudice, would rather bring down the whole country before they would allow a black president to have any kind of political victory. These people cluster in their blogs of like-minded zealots, feeding each other rumors and half-truths, then re-enforcing their validity. There is absolutely zero willingness to even consider an opposing view. It is horrifying to see.

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This is a must-see for every American who is interested in health care reform.

August 25, 2009 at 9:05 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Here is a very enlightening video about Canadian health care and how it has been portrayed by opponents of health care reform in the U.S. Every American should watch this before they arrive at any conclusions about who is on the right side of this issue:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXBCFnhsUc

The statement in this video that is most shocking is the statistic that 31¢ out of every $1 that is spent on health care in this country goes to “administrative costs”. The amount of waste in our system is positively ghastly.

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Time to focus on the truth, not the liars.

August 18, 2009 at 9:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

This information has been derived from various websites, such as AARP.com, PoliticFact,com and FactCheck.org, in addition to the several public statements made by President Obama on the subject of health care reform. I’ve only relied on mass media information when it has cited specific sources, such as the recent study conducted at Emory University and various official statements by AARP.

Below are just a few of the most pervasive lies and fear tactics which have been spread by the insurance companies and various extremist groups:

1. Death Panels: This is so absurd, it barely warrants a response. The ‘end of life’ counseling item was added to the House bill by a Republican (Grassley) and it is something which has already existed in previous health care legislation. It simply means that meetings between a family and a doctor concerning important decisions, such as hospice care, would be covered. Section 1233 of the House bill would allow Medicare for the first time to cover patient-doctor consultations about end-of-life planning, including discussions about drawing up a living will or planning hospice treatment. Patients would, of course, seek out such advice on their own — they would not be required to. The provision would limit Medicare coverage to one consultation every five years. The only “death panels” we have now are the ones owned and operated by the private, for-profit insurance companies, which decide who will be covered and how much it will cost.

2. You don’t get eye care till you go blind: A curious claim by opponents of health care reform, since no proposal being considered mentions blindness, macular degeneration, or the word “sight”. Since the vast majority of people who suffer from macular degeneration are elderly white women, this claim has been an effective scare tactic and no doubt incited many seniors to scream at anybody who supported reform.

3. Socialized medicine: This is an oft-repeated yet totally unfounded claim, given that the government wouldn’t be taking over anything and that no plan currently being considered would put any doctors, nurses, technicians or therapists on the government payroll (not even the so-called “public option” does that). Genuine socialized medicine precludes any choices for the consumer, and that is obviously not the case with either of the reform bills being proposed. What we have right now is a form of corporate socialism (more accurately “corporate fascism”), where a handful of insurance company executives and non-physician actuaries make life-or-death decisions about who will be denied coverage and how high premiums will go. The only thing that the government would administer is the public option, which is only a small part of reform bills being proposed.

4. “I don’t want the government messin’ with my Medicare!” An amazing complaint, considering that Medicare is administered by the federal government, and that most seniors are extremely happy with their coverage. Medicare is in financial trouble, not because of government mismanagement, but because of sky-rocketing medical costs. Unless those costs are brought under control, Medicare will go into the red, taxes will go up and the deficit will continue to explode. It is important to note here that nearly 3/4’s of our annual deficit is driven by just three things: social security payments, military spending, and Medicare coverage. Given that fact, if you’re a genuine conservative, health care reform should be at the top of your “Things-to-Do” list. Under the House proposal, Medicare costs would be reduced, primarily by eliminating waste and fraud, and service to seniors would probably improve. Also, Medicare and Medicaid would be expanded, to accommodate the increasing numbers of seniors in the population. The Boomers.

5. Rationing of medical care for the elderly: There is no such provision in either of the bills currently being considered. In fact, Medicare would remain untouched. Of course, reducing health care costs across the board would ensure that Medicare avoids going into the red. This is yet another scare tactic employed by various anti-reform groups that has zero basis in fact. Americans will not face “rationing” in health care any more than they do now. While a public plan would not be able to cover all procedures, private insurance plans don’t either.

6. The public option will drive people away from private insurers. This is one of the more frequently repeated lies being spread around the internet. This scenario could only happen if private insurers refused to cut their operating costs, lower premiums, and become competitive– which is capitalism in action. Plenty of private companies compete with government-run entities. FedEx and UPS have done quite nicely despite the United States Postal Service. Also, there are many private universities that have flourished despite the less expensive and more ubiquitous state colleges and universities. In any case, the rates of pay to providers would be negotiated and not dictated by the public option. Given that, if private insurers still can’t compete with the public option, then they should probably close their doors anyway. The whole notion that a profit motive should dictate the quality of health care in the United States is immoral anyway. There are plenty of other industries where making a buck is perfectly acceptable. But we’re talking about people’s lives here and the fact that far too many hard-working Americans are going bankrupt every year because they can’t afford decent medical coverage or get coverage at any price because of a previous condition. The legislation in both the House and the Senate would actually prohibit many people with employer-based insurance from switching to the public option, even if they wanted to. The primary purpose of the public option is to provide coverage for people who would otherwise not be able to afford insurance. Period. People and blogs which state otherwise are simply using scare tactics. For every dollar spent on health care in the United States, 31¢ goes to administrative costs. And, of that 31¢, a significant portion is paid out in monumental bonuses to insurance company executives and media costs such as those that are being sustained by the massive disinformation campaign currently being waged by the insurance industry against reform. FACT: The CBO estimates the House bill would result in a net increase of 3 million Americans with employer-provided care.

7. I don’t want my tax dollars payin’ for any baby killin’! This is another hot button issue for conservatives and it was an obvious choice for those who wanted to derail any calm discussion of health care reform. Of course, there are no provisions in either of the bills being considered in Congress which call for or endorse federal funding of abortions-on-demand. This would be illegal anyway, because it is expressly forbidden by the Hyde Amendment, which limits federal funding for abortion care. Effective in 1977, this amendment, specifies what abortion services are covered under Medicaid. In September 1993, Congress rewrote the provision to include Medicaid funding for abortions in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, and the present version of the Hyde Amendment requires coverage of abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. Again, this was a Republican sponsored amendment which passed during a Democratic administration. Again, opponents of health care reform have taken some of the wording in the current reform proposals out of context, ignoring the fact that this issue is already covered in previous health care legislation– just like the so-called “death panels” issue. Most important of all, NOBODY has ever said anything about trying to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which would require an act of Congress. The likelihood of that ever happening is about zero. The fact is that health care reform proposals have to be neutral on this issue or they would risk being thrown out by the Supreme Court.

8. “I’m not payin’ for no wetback free health care!” Both reform bills being considered make it quite clear that this will not happen. Repeating over and over and over again that illegal immigrants would get free medical care under those bills does not make it a fact. It’s not. The quickest way to derail any kind of genuine reform is to start stacking other controversial and highly complex issues on top of it. That is exactly what right-wing anti-Obama groups and the insurance companies are trying to do. The handling of illegal immigration is a totally separate issue that will probably take years to work out. Sticking it and other controversial problems onto the issue of health care reform is a less than subtle way of just saying you don’t want reform of any kind. The only way that an undocumented alien can get insurance coverage under President Obama’s plan IS TO PAY FOR IT! Many already do. Finally, the Welfare Act of 1996 is a federal law which strictly forbids any illegal immigrant from obtaining a federally subsidized benefit or service of any kind. Any health care reform bill would be required to conform to that law.

9. “President Obama is tryin’ to sneak the government into taking over our health care.” Obama has always been for single-payer health care, or a ‘Medicare for all’ system. He’s never been secretive about that. He has also made it quite clear that he knows that a sudden shift to such a system would be too disruptive, in addition to being politically unfeasible. What is interesting in this debate is that those who are attacking the single-payer system are actually attacking something that would benefit them. They’re against it because someone has told them that it’s “socialized medicine” and that the federal government is incompetent and evil. They blame the financial woes of Medicare and Medicaid on the government, ignoring the fact that sky-rocketing medical costs are the real culprit. Shockingly enough, they trust the insurance company executives who are driven by an out of control profit motive more than they would trust the government, which has myriad checks and balances in place. It is more than a little amazing that some people would condemn this president for putting the right of their fellow citizens to have affordable health care ahead of the profiteering and greed of the insurance industry. The notion that the federal government is eternally incompetent and insidiously evil goes back to the Civil War, when some states chose to secede from the Union rather than emancipate their slaves. What we’re seeing now is a new group of bellicose bigots who are willing to attack anything this black president tries to do, even if it would benefit them and their families in the end. By some unfathomable logic, these people are proud of the fact that THE UNITED STATES IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD WHICH DOES NOT OFFER ITS CITIZENS AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE.

There are so many liars out there who seem to be driven by something other than the facts about health care reform. Perhaps it’s anger that we have a black man sitting in the White House. As many commentators are saying now, this debate hasn’t been about health care reform for some time. It’s now about President Obama. That’s why we have people screaming in the faces of their elected representatives who are trying to dispel all the rumors and untruths.

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