Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Medicare, Impact of Deficit Talks Failure, Ryan Plan Saves Little, More Problems for Ryan

Medicare Celebrates 45th Birthday

Today is "the 45th anniversary of the implementation of Medicare (July 1, 1966), following President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the landmark health care program on July 30, 1965.  Despite Medicare’s great run, House Republicans voted almost unanimously to end it in order to pay for tax more breaks [sic] for Big Oil, hedge fund billionaires, huge corporations, and corporate jet owners.  And every single GOP presidential candidate also supports this disastrous plan to end Medicare."  ThinkProgress provides some fast facts on the beloved program that the GOP has devoted itself to destroying."

And, for your brief enjoyment, here's a very short video:  Eisenhower & Johnson on Medicare.

Catastrophic Consequences of Current Debt Ceiling

"Several Republicans have poo-pooed the need to raise the debt ceiling when the nation hits its legal borrowing limit sometime around Aug. 2.  'I doubt that it would be disruptive to the economy,' said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).  Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said yesterday that Americans will say 'well, good' if the U.S. defaults on some obligations."  Unfortunately, the facts interfere with that contention.  One immediate result of default would be immediate cuts to Social Security.

"That Social Security would take such a heavy hit right away is a quirk of the calendar (in that payments are due literally the day after Treasury estimates that the ceiling will be hit), but the point is that an immediate 44 percent cut in government spending, which is what would be necessary if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, is going to adversely affect large and important government programs.  As the BPC wrote, if the debt limit isn’t increased, 'handling all payments for important and popular programs (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Defense, active duty pay) will quickly become impossible.'"

If the Republicans are hoping the economy does not turn around so they have a better chance of defeating President Obama, then this hit to recipients of Social Security would certainly be a major blow to the economy -- and to the aged and disabled.  However, such could be a double-edged political sword.

Almost No Savings from GOP Medicare Repeal

Meanwhile, a Bloomberg study reports that the Ryan Plan to Cut Medicare Vouchers Saves Little.  "The plan 'actually generates very modest dollars' in savings while giving higher-income seniors an incentive to pull out of the entitlement program, said Judith Feder, a professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University in Washington.  Costs for remaining beneficiaries may be higher if that happens, she said."  Could it be that Conservative Republicans are less interested in actual savings than they are in repealing Medicare and giving the money to insurance companies?

Ryan Provides Gifts in Return for Appearance

If it weren't for his "leadership" on repealing Medicare, we might not even notice, but it looks like Paul Ryan might be having trouble getting a turnout for a local appearance.  "Like most Americans, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has plans to celebrate our nation's independence on July 4.  But an email that appears to have come from his Congressional campaign shows his staff is hoping to boost turnout at a Kenosha, WI parade by promising miniature flags and free T-shirts.  Some Democrats think that means Ryan -- who's under fire for his plan to convert Medicare into a voucher system -- is having trouble getting people to turn out and walk with him in Kenosha."


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