Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Saving Private Ryan

  R-money's executive VP pick, some call him Ry-Ann Rand, is the new poster boy for the latest voodoo economics  sideshow being propagated by the far right. I'd go so far as to call him the Charlie Sheen of this campaign, who thinks he's "winning" while being intoxicated on the ideological mead of this new conservatism, and has gotten so addicted to it that he can't see the forest for the trees.

  Both executives on the R-money ticket favor privatizing Medicare as one of their party planks. Both favor the voucher system to replace what is the most efficently delivered health care system nationally, with an incredibly low adminstrative cost. People are already receiving rebate checks from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for those whose companies spend more than 20% on overhead. That's where the $700 billion dollars in savings comes from that the R-money campaign outright lies call President Obama's cut to Medicare, probably just to confuse seniors while they try to slip in their privatization plan.

  The vouchers will cost seniors about $6,500 yearly to participate in the  program, and that's on top of any supplemental plan they already have to purchase currently to cover the remaining 20% of what Medicare doesn't pay for. The voucher idea is already dead in the water in many's view because the natural progression of inflation, even the low inflation rate we enjoy now, will quickly pass off the additional costs that accrue yearly to the elderly who will have to pay the difference between that $6,500 voucher and inflation.

  Even some Republicans didn't agree with Ryan's plans before, witness Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) op-ed on Politico: "First, I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support— and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays. Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform (Brown 2011)." It is important to remember that healthcare costs increase at least twice that of inflation.

  Will you save private Ryan to preserve his Medicare voucher disaster (CNN 2011) ?

  Over 60% of the savings the hachet men look to carve out for their budget come from the least able to pay for it, the middle class, working poor, and the indigent living even below the poverty level    (Gleckman 2012).

The safety net:

  The Ryan budget allows child tax credit to expire for many working families, pushing the families of 2 million children back into poverty.

   Converts federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant that’s indexed for inflation and population growth. You just know what's going to happen to that, block grants usually go into state's budgets to pay for shortfalls in other necessities, such as public safety. Medicaid already pays aprx 25% less to providers than private insurance companies do, so where are saving's even possible ? About 30 million people in total are left after ACA coverage of about 33 million who didn't have coverage previously. They're going to be covered by Medicaid after the Red states recalcitrants find that the Federal deal is just too good to turn down.

 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Better known as food stamps, SNAP gets the Medicaid treatment, conversion to block grants. Say hello to tens of millions of more hungry children. Before that is done, they propose cutting down the daily allotment of food stamps by $5 a day for 50 million black, white, and brown people , 16 million of which are children.

  Education: Slashing 20% across the board including setting Pell Grants back to 2008 levels, wiping out recent increases. R-money has already said he favors eliminating the Federal Department of Education.

  Will you save private Ryan to put millions more below the poverty level, starve them, keep them from studying, and deny them health care ?

  Repealing the ACA. This turns the R-money crowd from a death panel of Ryan budgeteers to a collective assemblage of radical conservative fundamentalist engineers, or for lack of a better disparagement, barbarians. For the barbarians really are at the Tea Party. 

  Millions of uninsured job seekers would lose their attractiveness as applicants already covered by a healthcare plan. Millions more of women would lose their preventive care, to a total of 54 million now eligible for such care nationwide.  Nearly 4 million seniors that saved over $2 billion on their prescription drugs would be left without a program to close "the donut hole."

  Further, 2 and 1/2 million more young adults are currently eligible to stay on their parents plan until they are 26 years of age. Many of these young people are not finding meaningful employment, much less jobs that have good health care plans. 50,000 people who were previously uninsured because of pre-existing conditions now have coverage, and repealing the ACA obviously sounds a death knell for these patients.

  Small business benefits greatly from the ACA, contrary to the breast beatings by Teapublicans. If an employer has less than 25 employees and they provide health insurance, they generally qualify for a tax credit of about 30%, which increases to fully half in 2014.

Freedom of choice is retained for "grandfathered" previous plans and choice of doctors. Annual caps on coverage are gone in 2014, and lifetime limits on coverage are already banned now. There are no more barriers that insurance companies can place on necessary emergency care at an out-of-network hospital.  The above are the major points, and those that would be gone forever if the ACA is repealed, and there is no replacement plan sitting in wait or being worked on by the barbarians. None.

  Will you save private Ryan to eliminate the ACA to permit insurance companies massive profiteering and denial of services ? To participate in cattle car herding into untreated injuries, diseases, and maladies ?

  Tax policy. Generally permitting tax cuts for families of 18 million children to expire, while permitting millionaires a tax cut of about 250,000 dollars. Over 200 members of the 112th Congress are millionaires. So who is going to look out for the middle and lower classes ?

  “Reform the tax code by consolidating the current six brackets and cutting the top individual rate from 35 percent to 25 percent ( Klein 2011)." 25% is the lowest rate since the Hoover administration. Ryan's budget does the same for the corporate rate, lower it to 25%, adding  a shift to a territorial tax system, where multinationals would owe no U.S. tax on foreign earnings. It also repeals the alternative minimum tax, so that only individuals (and some corporations, but certainly not those like G.E., which pays nearly no tax) would shoulder the most burden of funding the Federal goverment. Meanwhile, wealthy individuals who only acquire income by investments and other shennanigans would be guaranteed to pay nothing.

  Will you save private Ryan to do as conservatives say "starve the beast", where we, the people are the "beasts" who are in reality to starve ? To reduce the revenues necessary to run government to the point that as Grover Norquist said " “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub (Matt 2004).” Private Ryan and his ilk (elk ?) also wish to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, making that the most measurable significant reduction in tax revenue that will starve everyone, government and it's people indiscriminately.

There's much, much more frightening news in the Teapublican budget:

  Defense spending remains the same, and to increase after 2013. The defense budget has doubled since 2001, so who are we going to invade next ? Repair and reconstitution needed due to the insanely uptempo pace that has resulted in a depleted inventory and deployment weary personnel doesn't require maintaining an ever higher defense budget. Just maintaining and or increasing the defense-related discretionary budget as such a high % of GNP is endangering national security in it's own right during this sluggish recovery. Guns or butter, or stated in a more productive way, guns or critical infrastructure.

  Would you save private Ryan so he and his new partner in rhyme both with no military or foreign policy experience and surrounded by the exact same neocon foreign policy "experts" (oxymoron) so they can embark on the next neocon military misadventure ? Are these the guys that you'd want to answer that phone call at 3 o'clock in the morning ? Come, you know it's not. Even Agent 86 in "Get Smart" would be a better choice.

  Speaking of infrastructure, the Ryan budget also plans to spend 25% less on this important crumbling feature of our nation. "Right now, the United States is facing a number of pressing infrastructure challenges. The National Highway System, first built in the 1950s, is reaching the end of its natural lifespan. Our air-traffic control system is outdated, causing airport delays around the country. About one-quarter of the country’s bridges are either 'structurally deficient' or inadequate to today’s traffic needs, according to the GAO (Plumer 2012)." It's also rather strange for an heir to a fortune from a family highway building business to be cutting critical infrastructure in any kind of budget proposal. 

  (Plumer 2012) "A variety of think tanks and analysts have pegged the cost of repairing and upgrading our transportation networks at somewhere between $200 billion and $262 billion per year over the next decade. The White House’s budget envisions spending an average of about $104 billion per year. Ryan’s budget, meanwhile, allocates $78 billion per year."

  (Plumer 2012) "I asked Third Way’s budget expert David Kendall if he could update some of his numbers for Ryan’s budget. Under Ryan’s plan, for instance, spending on transportation would be 26.1 percent lower in 2014 than it is today. If that size cut was applied to, say, air-traffic control programs, Kendall notes, 'there would be 3,092 more flight cancellations and 68,683 delays annually. At the U.S. average of 49 passengers per flight, that’s enough to strand 151,503 more people at the gate and make 3,365,685 more people late every year.” Airports are part of our critical infrastructure.

  (Plumer 2012) "Likewise, spending on natural resources and the environment would be 14.6 percent lower under Ryan’s budget in 2014 than it is today. Assuming those cuts hit all programs in this category equally — and, again, this is for illustration purposes — then this is how it would affect weather forecasting." Again, the waterways that carry river and lake traffic, the ground water that supplies both drinking water and for energy production and industrial usage, these are all critical infrastructures.

  Similarly, the current damage to critical infrastructure is unquestionably related to certain trends in global climate change. This is true without even learning of the "fix first" policy proposals of such rational organizations like former Gov. Rendell's "Building America's Future". I'm talking about add-on damage, especially during the mega drought now affecting half of the country, basically meaning Rep. Ryan is leading the blocking of the Farm Bill with the rest of his Teapublicans who are fiddling (at home on leave) while Rome burns. I still can't believe the 112th Congress just left our country in the lurch during this crisis. 

  “The link between a nation’s infrastructure and its economic competitiveness has always been understood,' said Kathy J. Caldwell, president of the ASCE. 'But today, for the first time, we have data showing how much failing to invest in our surface transportation system can negatively impact job growth and family budgets (Ashley III 2011).”

  (Ashley III 2011)“If investments in surface transportation infrastructure are not made soon, these costs are expected to grow exponentially,” the ASCE said. “Within 10 years, U.S. businesses would pay an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than $7,000, and U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion.”

  Will you save private Ryan from turning our nation into an environmental mega disaster of choking haze, voluminous oil spills, scant water resources, falling bridges, crumbling highways and rutted runways, crawling railcars, constant wildfires, mudslides, failing crops, dying livestock, stuck barges, smouldering transformers, downed power lines, and the like ?

  There's more, such as the promise to repeal the Dodd-Frank bill and shutting down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but those are another whole financial nightmare in and of themselves for another day. That day will come soon.

  "The Rising American Electorate--'unmarried women, people of color, and younger voters -- comprises a rapidly growing majority of the eligible voting population in this country.  These voters formed a strong base for progressive victories and drove change in 2006 and 2008; however, among some, their support for Democrats dropped in 2010.  Regaining that support and motivating these voters to turn out is crucial for President Obama's reelection and congressional victories in 2012 among those who support an agenda for economic recovery for the middle class (Carville & Greenburg, Democracy Corps 2012)."

  For now, we need to concentrate on fighting back against voter suppression and get out the vote, especially amongst single women, young adults, and minorities. We need to save ourselves from private Ryan. 

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