Friday, August 19, 2011

The Debt Reduction Advocacy Question, Coburn Agrees: Sorry Families

To Advocate or To Not Advocate

As reported previously here in TMDR, "Gridlock, as much as it's derided, may be the best outcome for the elderly, health care providers and poor people in this fall's fight over further deficit cuts.  . . .  If it [the 'super committee'] doesn't produce such a package [a proposal for $1.5 trillion in budget savings over 10 years], or Congress doesn't pass its plan by Christmas, up to $1.2 trillion in spending cuts would be automatically unleashed on hundreds of programs.  It's meant to be a scary prospect, but it doesn't threaten everyone."

As readers of TMDR know, "Some programs have been exempted from the automatic cuts: Social Security, the Medicaid health program for the poor, Medicare health benefits for the elderly, veterans' pensions and many programs for people with low incomes.  Now lobbyists are calculating whether programs they fight for would fare better under an unpredictable package from the supercommittee or in the round of automatic cuts that would be triggered if its mission fails."

Actually, there is an advocacy approach to not advocating.  You must be advocating not to take any action.  That might not be popular, and the Joint Committee actually might feel pressure to "do something."  Gridlock is not a lock.  Just the same, Congress has become adept at stalling.  I, myself, have been thinking that no proposal might be best.  Direct Medicare benefits would not be cut but payments to providers would be.  That, of course, would have some impact on the aged and disabled, but it might be preferable to more drastic action.  Remember:  Medicare is your pre-paid public benefit, earned by you.

Coburn Joins Perry? Sorry Families the Burden Is On You

Sen. Coburn ducked the direct question with his evasive "answer."  "At a town hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) appeared to embrace Perry’s claim that providing for America’s seniors is unconstitutional."  "COBURN: That’s a great question.  The first question I have for you is if you look in the Constitution, where is it the federal government’s role to do that?  That’s number one.  Number two is the way I was brought up that’s a family responsibility, not a government responsibility."

If only it were as easy as that.  If only well-paying jobs with adequate pensions were available -- sufficient for income security in retirement and access to / availability of meaningful health care insurance, so we could save for unanticipated expenses and buy quality health and long term care insurance.  So we wouldn't have to rely on our children who -- at present-- are facing a more hostile economy than anything we ever faced.  If only . . . .  Sen. Coburn obviously agrees with former Sen. Rick Santorum who says that health care, like a car, is a luxury.  Thanks, Mr. Santorum.  (I can't make this stuff up, but I sure appreciate the opportunity to share it.)

Republican Shame-Free Zone


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