Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 in Review, 2012 in Preview

Here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Social Security On the Defensive

"For Social Security’s advocates, this past year has been all about defense.  Fortunately, the defense outplayed the offense.  Those of us playing defense were backed by the overwhelming majority of the American people who across both party line and virtually every demographic are clear that they do not want to see Social Security benefits weakened by benefit cuts."

"The determined efforts of the enemies of Social Security to sacrifice the program on the altar of deficit reduction have been frustrated, at least for the moment.  Social Security came out of 2011 without cuts to the protections of present and future beneficiaries.  Having halted the offense, 2012 should be the year of switching to offense ourselves.  At this momentary interlude in the action, let’s recap the politics of Social Security in 2011."

Thanks to Strengthen Social Security for this review of 2011 and for being among those keeping watch for Social Security and Medicare.  They remind us that our work to secure Medicare for future generations is not yet finished.

Resisting Conservative Wordsmithing

"The language factories of the Right have been working overtime over the last couple of years to destroy public faith in Social Security and Medicare, destroy the government's ability to stimulate the economy when it's needed most, and absolve our political leaders of responsibility for their own actions.  What were the Right's favorite word-weapons of 2011?  Here are a few of the big ones:"

" 'Entitlement Reform:' This phrase is used over and over to describe proposals that would 'reform' nothing, but instead would gut the highly popular programs that support seniors and the disabled -- Social Security and Medicare.  The use of the word 'entitlement,' along with the formulation that seniors who collect money from a program they've contributed to all their lives are 'greedy geezers,' is designed to persuade the public that an elderly woman living on $800 per month is a social parasite -- but the hedge fund manager who pays 15% tax rate on his billions is not."

This article provides a good perspective on how politicians nuance their attacks.  Words do matter.  They create reactions.  Remember: Medicare and Social Security are "pre-paid benefits" provided to you because you worked for and paid for them.

Boomers in Crosshairs

"Baby boomers take note: Medicare as your parents have known it is headed for big changes no matter who wins the White House in 2012.  You may not like it, but you might have to accept it.  Dial down the partisan rhetoric and surprising similarities emerge from competing policy prescriptions by President Barack Obama and leading Republicans such as Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.  Limit the overall growth of Medicare spending?  It's in both approaches.  Squeeze more money from upper-income retirees and some in the middle-class?  Ditto.  Raise the eligibility age?  That too, if the deal is right."

All of this makes for a dangerous 2012 (and beyond) for Medicare.  Not that we don't think real improvements should not be made.  They should.  However, changes need to be well thought through and ultimately must create a Medicare which is stronger and better able to meet the health and financial needs of older and disabled Americans.

For Your Information

The Republican Reality-Free Zone


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