Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Joint Committee Preview, Perry Wants Regressive Taxes - Diminished Federal Role, Medicare Cuts

Rep. Upton Manages Crowd

"The event [at the Cass County Council on Aging] is an early glimpse of what the 12 supercommittee members could face after they try to slice $1.2 trillion in spending this fall: they’ll head home to sell their decisions to voters, many of whom are wary of losing Medicare and Social Security benefits, afraid of seeing their taxes increase -- or will be peeved that Congress could not shift the fiscal trajectory of the country.  In Upton’s case, his approach is to head off the criticism early, warning voters they won’t all be happy - and he didn’t even want the job in the first place."

Sen. Upton seems to have done a good job of describing his own difficult situation to the crowd.

Perry Continues to Assail Medicare and Social Security

"Rick Perry's recent political manifesto Fed Up doesn't just hint that Social Security should be privatized.  It also advocates for a farther-reaching overhaul of the tax code than most conservatives support.  Perry says that government's access to new sources of revenue should be fundamentally limited -- either self-imposed by Congress, or by the Constitution itself."

Why would that be so?  "He [Perry] envisions a federal government that's highly circumscribed.  The book is a root-and-branch critique of post-New Deal America, from which Perry calls for a 'renaissance' -- to a government that eschews direct services like Medicare and Social Security (programs he says are Constitutionally dubious) and provides mainly for the national defense."

Most people disagree that Medicare and Social Security -- our most important pre-paid public benefits -- are unconstitutional.  In fact, these programs are critical to America's welfare as long as business fails to provide defined benefit pensions or adequate health insurance in retirement or disability.

More Perry Probing

"Now that Texas' governor [Perry] is a GOP candidate for president, opinions in his book -- that Social Security is unconstitutional, for example -- move into the spotlight."  He says, "Social Security is something we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years.  And there stands a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal . . . all at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government."

Wow!  I don't think we've been forced to accept Social Security or Medicare.  Hey, anyone can refuse to accept them.  Oh, and while they may be monuments to the New Deal, they certainly are not crumbling.  A little history from Wikipedia: "The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936.  . . .  The programs were responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the "3 Rs": Relief, Recovery, and Reform.  That is, Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression."  If you look back, you can see that one reason for the economic problems we have experienced recently is the backsliding on the protection of citizens and the enhancement of the positions of big business.

Limited [limping] government, at least at the federal level, is what Mr. Perry is all about.  Clearly, if every one of our 50 states were nation-states, like Europe, we too would become balkanized, without a nation -- without "national" standards to hold us together as a Country.

And the Story Continues

Find out "Why Rick Perry’s War On The 16th Amendment Is The Third Prong Of His War On Seniors."  "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is taking a lot of well-deserved criticism for his absurd claims that Medicare and Social Security violate the Constitution. But these are hardly the only part of Perry’s constitutional agenda, which seem designed to inflict unnecessary cruelty on America’s seniors.  Perry also wants to repeal the federal government’s 16th Amendment authority to enact income taxes and replace it with a tax system that would slash millions of Americans life savings."

How to Cut Medicare

"MEDICARE is going to be cut.  That is inevitable.  There is no way to solve the nation’s long-term debt problem without reducing the growth rate of federal health care spending.  The only question is whether the cuts will be smart ones.  Smart cuts eliminate spending on medical tests, treatments and procedures that don’t work -- or that cost significantly more than other treatments while delivering no better health outcomes.  And they can be made without shortchanging patients."

On the surface, these sound like smart, effective ways to save Medicare costs and make it more effective.  But would physicians say that these decisions should be reserved for doctors?  That only doctors should practice medicine?  Of course, one of the greatest drivers of increasing health care costs are health care providers.  Accountability and outcome-based medicine would help with these questions.

The Republican Shame-Free Zone


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