Thursday, November 3, 2011

Saving Medicare Beneficiaries, Joint Committee - Ideas Many & Recycled, Taxing Wall Street, Cutting Social Security

As its deadline looms closer, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is facing greater pressure from all sides -- advocates for Medicare beneficiaries, Members of Congress, their own hearing, public opinion, and of course non-public lobbying pressure.

Advocates Speak

I like the statement from the Medicare Rights Center on the Hearing before Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:  "As the deadline for a deficit-reduction package fast approaches, we ask members of the supercommittee and policymakers at large to remember that people with Medicare already have 'skin in the game.'  Proposals that increase costs or cut benefits for Medicare beneficiaries can have tragic consequences for their health, quality of life, and financial well-being, as well as the financial well-being of their families and caregivers.  Policymakers do have difficult choices to make, but too many in the Medicare population do as well -- the choice between medicine and food, or health care and housing.  Asking them to bear the burden of deficit reduction will only exacerbate this problem."

"The real answer to reining in health care spending is to address costs across the entire health care sector, and to achieve this we must look at delivery and payment system reforms that incentivize quality of care over quantity of services provided.  Equally important, increases in revenue must be part of the equation.  Asking those with limited means in difficult financial times to contribute more is not only unconscionable, but is also bad policy."

Please wholeheartedly support the Medicare Rights Center.

Congressmen Push All Ideas on Joint Committee

"Forty House Republicans joined 60 Democrats Wednesday in pressing Congress' special debt reduction committee to consider all options, including higher revenues, and shoot for $4 trillion in savings.  Their letter puts about one-sixth of House GOP lawmakers on record as saying the supercommittee should consider collecting more taxes to help shrink the enormous national debt, now at $14.8 trillion.  Most Republicans have strongly opposed raising revenues to address the problem.  'To succeed, all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues must be on the table,' according to the letter."

No guts - no glory.  We give these Republicans credit for taking a stand.  Let's see if their leaders, who have fallen under the control of inflexible Conservatives, can get them to come back and toe the party line.

Joint Committee Hears Recycled Ideas

"Members of the Committee held a hearing entitled “Overview of Previous Debt Proposals” on Tuesday, November 1 at 1:30 p.m. in 1100 Longworth (House Ways and Means Committee) House Office Building.  Panel Witnesses: Senator Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, Senator Pete Domenici & Dr. Alice Rivlin."

From Kaiser Health News:  Health On The Hill: Budget Experts Warn Super Committee About Consequences Of Failure -- "Jackie Judd talks with KHN's Mary Agnes Carey about the super committee's public hearing Tuesday when it heard from the leaders of previous deficit reduction groups."  Recommended.

Coming down to the wire.  But why bring up these ideas again, unless you really want to meld them into something workable?  Do they want to accomplish something?  We don't know.

OPINION:  Tax Wall Street

"The Congressional Super Committee has been charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions and has floated the idea of targeting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  But take note: a recently proposed Wall Street Tax on financial transactions would cover nearly all of the Super Committee's mandated deficit reductions.  So Congress is about to face a telling choice.  Will they vote to tax Wall Street gamblers in the 1%, or cut the Social Security checks of senior citizens in the 99%?  Members of Congress should be warned: If they vote against the 99% on this, they should be prepared for the 99% to vote against them next November."

OPINION: Cutting Social Security

"The Congressional Super Committee to cut the budget deficit, due to report soon, has let it be known that it will cut Social Security benefits. Let me be short and sour about this.  It is a public relations stunt.  They basically say so.  All this is about is showing the world America is serious about cutting its long-term deficit.  The nation has the guts to do what it takes.  It is no bleeding heart country.  It is willing to beat up on the elderly.  Other allegedly serious Democratic economists from fancy institutions have made the same argument.  The reason is simple.  You seemingly can make modest adjustments to Social Security to dent or even eliminate the projected longer-run shortfall.  You can't do that with Medicare."

In spite of the availability of truly simple and equitable solutions, the Joint Committee (both Democrats and Republicans) would hurt the aged and disabled -- rather than face up to . . . the one percent who have the real power in America.  Sickening.


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