The Year Ahead
"As we approach budget time we can look forward to another burst of hand wringing by the Washington elites, who will once again tell us about the need to cut Social Security and Medicare. News stories and opinion columns will be filled with solemn pronouncements about how these programs must be curtailed before they drive the nation to bankruptcy. We can look forward to that famously deceptive graph showing how the cost of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are projected to soar as a share of the economy over the next two or three decades. Those with good eyes will notice that it is the cost of Medicare and Medicaid that are soaring, not Social Security."
A look at who's behind calls to cut the coverage and eligibility for Medicare and Social Security (the 99%). . . . And why we need to hold out against any retreat from strong and effective programs.
"A key Democrat tasked with helping to negotiate a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, and Medicare physician reimbursements says Republicans will have to move significantly off their December demands or all three will lapse. 'We want to extend the middle class tax cut, we want to extend unemployment insurance, and we want to keep our promise to Medicare beneficiaries that we’re going to pay for their doctors, so they can have access to their physicians,' Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) told me in a brief interview off the House floor Tuesday. 'But I’m not going to support something to pay for that by cutting Medicare or cutting the middle class. We can reach an agreement on these things, but the Republicans are going to have to move.'"
Looks like there's hope that Democrats will stand firm on Medicare and Social Security.
Congressional Elections: Millionaires Over Medicare
"After a wave election gave Republicans the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010, no one thought that Democrats, a year later, would be in a position to take it back. A key reason Democrats are feeling good about November is the particular crop of Republicans they are looking to replace: the freshmen tea partiers elected in 2010. '[Democrat] candidates are going to be aggressively holding Republicans accountable for consistently choosing Millionaires over Medicare, oil companies subsides over middle class tax cuts and ideology over solutions,' Israel said. The Dem spin is that much of the work that needs to be done to take back the House, Republicans have done for them over the past year."
Medicare Debate on the Ground
OREGON: "When it comes to Social Security, Democratic congressional candidate Suzanne Bonamici doesn't venture far beyond talking about raising taxes on the wealthy to shore up the retirement system, something that appears dead on arrival politically. Her Republican rival, Rob Cornilles, is willing to go further out on a political limb by suggesting he would support a bipartisan deal like the one cut in 1983 that could gradually trim benefits for future Social Security recipients."
"Cornilles is taking a lot of hits from Democratic advertising that questions his commitment to Social Security and Medicare. He says he supports both programs but is just more willing to talk about how to get them on a sound financial footing. ... Bonamici says she supports raising the cap on wages subject to the Social Security tax -- now set at $106,800 -- to bring in more revenue. She points to a bill sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that would also levy Social Security taxes on income above $250,000 a year."
If you read the article, you'll see the kinds of questions and interactions that will be unfolding this election year.
"Right" Fight, Wrong Time
"Speaker of the House John Boehner admitted Wednesday that his strategy in last year's fight over extending the payroll tax cut was mistaken. 'We were picking the right fight, but I would argue we probably picked it at the wrong time,' Boehner told reporters, referring to the House GOP's decision to battle against the Senate's two-month extension in favor of a yearlong measure in the waning days of the 2011 session."