Friday, June 24, 2011

Franken on Medicare & Progressive Values, More Good News for Medicare - Bad News For Ryan, Budget Talks Continue

Al Franken on Medicare and Progressive Values

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is Fighting For America's Middle Class.  Here's an excerpt from his speech on Saturday at Netroots Nation 2011, the annual convention of progressive grassroots leaders and activists.  "Progressives, in a way, are the new conservatives.  We want to conserve what we fought to build.  And the right-wingers who call themselves conservatives are the ones who want radical change in the way our government works, and the way our country works.

"Newt Gingrich went on 'Meet the Press' last month and said that the Ryan plan that would end Medicare was 'right-wing social engineering,' that it was 'too big a jump.'  He has spent the month since apologizing -- but for once in his life, Newt was right.

"Actually, that's not fair.  He was calling for electronic medical records years before the rest of the country got on board with the idea.  So he was right the one other time.  Gotta give a guy credit.  But ending Medicare, like privatizing Social Security, is astonishingly radical.

"Part of the middle class promise is that, after a lifetime of hard work, you'll be able to retire and enjoy the fruits of that labor.  Medicare was established to secure that promise.  There was no private insurance market for people over 65 back in 1964.  [See my blog of May 29 for a link to JFK's "Medicare" speech.]  And if Republicans destroy Medicare, there won't be one now.  The average Social Security benefit is $15,000.  The average out of pocket health care cost for seniors under the Ryan plan would be over $12,000.

"So if Republicans eliminate Medicare, America will become a country in which you can never retire -- and once you physically can no longer work, you are desperately poor until you die.  That is a radical change to our society."

Be sure to read his full column; it's well worth the time.

Poll:  Good News for Medicare - Bad News For Paul Ryan

A new poll finds that Americans oppose the Ryan plan to repeal Medicare and don't care very much for Paul Ryan either.  "Democrats are winning the messaging war on Rep. Paul Ryan’s bid to overhaul Medicare, with a new Bloomberg poll finding 57 percent of Americans believe they would be worse off under his plan.  Only 34 percent said they would be better off if Congress replaced 'traditional Medicare' with a program to purchase private insurance with government subsidies, as Ryan has proposed.  The poll also found Ryan is now the nation’s third most disliked Republican, with net unfavorable ratings that trail only former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin."  (Note my blog of May 27 where I report that Mr. Ryan is viewed unfavorably by a plurality of voters in his home state.) 

Budget Talks Continue

Meanwhile, deficit talks are in danger as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) withdrew from the negotiations in a calculated attempt to turn the talks in favor of the Conservatives.  "Republicans moved in concert Thursday to disrupt deficit reduction talks with the White House, refusing to participate in some cases until President Barack Obama become more personally involved and resolves the divisive issue of taxes.  It is a high-stakes gamble designed to change the dynamic of the talks and push back hard on the revenue question -- a central tenet for the party.  But it also betrays a growing defensiveness inside the GOP, as the debt ceiling gets closer with no deal in sight and pressure for negotiators to consider defense cuts and eliminating some tax subsidies."

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) is looking for tax increases in the budget talks: Revenues In Debt Limit Deal Should Match Medicare Cuts.  " 'I'm disappointed that Leader Cantor's withdrawn,' said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus during a hearing on health care spending.  'I think we should stay at the table.  I think we should keep working, difficult as it is, and try to balance between Medicare cuts -- additional Medicare cuts -- so long as there is commensurate additional revenue.  We need balance here.'  Baucus made clear that the talks frayed over Democrats' insistence that tax increases of some sort be part of the final deal."


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