Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cutting Medicare, Privatizing Social Security, The Union & the Joint Committee

The President's Cuts

From Kaiser Health News:  How Obama Plans To Cut Health Programs By $320 Billion.  "In his plan to trim the federal deficit, President Barack Obama Monday proposed $320 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, largely by changing how the federal government pays health providers, slashing payments to drug companies, and dramatically changing the way it splits the costs of Medicaid with the states, according to a fact sheet the White House released."

"The biggest cut to Medicare requires pharmaceutical companies to lower their rates.  The proposal would save Medicare an estimated $135 billion over 10 years starting in 2013.  The change would allow the federal government to receive the same brand name and generic rebates for low-income Medicare patients as are provided to Medicaid beneficiaries. "

Much of the response to this proposal is mixed or cautious.  So is mine.  We need to do our best to protect the aged and disabled.  While this would make reasonable cuts, the impact of those savings on beneficiaries is uncertain.  Clearly, if sensible changes which save money ever are pursued in a rational manner, these are the kinds of changes to be considered.  Unfortunately, today's atmosphere is too inflammatory.  However, as usual, Kaiser Health News presents a well-balanced and thoughtful article.  Recommended reading.

Pushing Privatization

"Since jumping in the race, GOP presidential front runner Gov. Rick Perry’s (TX) radical views on Social Security have garnered the most attention.  And for good reason, as Perry lands far to the right of even his most right-wing opponents."  "But Perry’s extremism is taking focus away from the fact that most of the top contenders also embrace a radical idea: Social Security privatization.  As the AP reports, most of the top Republicans running are reviving President George W. Bush’s unpopular plan to create private investment accounts for young workers."

We've mentioned this problem in the past, and the above includes a summary of each candidate's position.  Unfortunately, because every one of them is an extremist, we have fewer realistic choices.

AFL-CIO Speaks Up

The AFL-CIO has outlined its positions on Congressional Super Committee Issues.  "Working people are clamoring for leaders in Washington to focus first and hard on creating good jobs.  Speaker Boehner was channeling George Orwell when he claimed the Congressional Super Committee is a jobs committee.  The way to create jobs is not through fiscal austerity and cuts to core middle class programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

"Let's be clear: if the Super Committee were to follow Speaker Boehner's advice, it would deepen our jobs crisis and sink our economy into a black hole.  This is the same failed economic philosophy that drove our economy off a cliff in the first place, and is now once again bringing the global economy to a standstill."

A brief, but impassioned, summary of their concerns and positions.  Get reading!

For Your Serious Attention

The Republican Denial Zone


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