Saturday, April 30, 2011

Does Paul Ryan (R-WI) Have Some Kind of Mental Problem

CBO Report: Plan Also Contains Deeper Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid Than Paul Ryan(R-WI) Revealed
For Medicare, the CBO report reveals that the Ryan plan would raise the age at which people become eligible from 65 to 67, even as it repeals the health reform law's coverage provisions. This means 65- and 66-year-olds would have neither Medicare nor access to health insurance exchanges in which they could buy coverage at an affordable price and receive subsidies to help them purchase coverage if their incomes are low. This change, which is not mentioned in the 73-page booklet on his plan that Chairman Ryan released,[4] would put many more 65- and 66-year-olds who don't have employer coverage and can't afford insurance into the individual insurance market — where the premiums charged to people in this age group tend to be very high — leaving them uninsured. People of limited means, such as those who are trying to get by on incomes as low as $12,000 a year in today's dollars, would be affected most harshly because they wouldn't be able to afford private coverage.

The CBO report also reveals that the vouchers, or "defined contribution amounts," that Ryan would provide to seniors to buy coverage from private insurance companies in lieu of current Medicare coverage would be adjusted each year only by the general inflation rate. For more than 30 years, health care costs per beneficiary in the United States have been rising about two percentage points per year faster than GDP growth per capita.
So does Ryan have a mental stability problem or is he his a plain old fli-flam Republican - who like with the Bush tax cuts that were supposed to pay for themselves, the lie that there were WMD in Iraq and from 2000 to 2008 told America deficits don't matter and also told us that regulating Wall St was anti-capitalism. Yet another Fact Check says Ryan and his Republican band of liars are trying to pull another con on the American people - GOP lawmakers tout Medicare reform by stretching a comparison to the health benefits they receive

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Its Official The Tea Party is Just a Puppet for Wall Street

Its Official The Tea Party is Just a Puppet for Wall Street

They came, they saw, they conquered. This line pretty well sums up a little-reported but important story about the new tea partiers in the U.S. House of Representatives.

No sooner had they arrived than the corporate lobbying corps came to visit, saw what these supposed rebels were made of and quickly conquered them without a fight. The forces of big business needed only to lay out some campaign cash — and quicker than you can say, "Business as usual," the budding lawmakers snatched up the money and immediately began carrying the lobbyists' corporate agenda.

Check out the financial services subcommittee, which handles legislation affecting Wall Street bankers. Five tea partiers got coveted slots on this panel, and all five were suddenly showered with big donations from such financial lobbying interests as Goldman Sachs. Now, all five are sponsoring bills to undo parts of the recent reforms to reign in Wall Street excesses.

Steve Stivers of Ohio, for example, hauled in nearly $100,000 in just his first two months in office — 85 percent of it from the special interests his committee oversees. He insists that the cash he took from Goldman Sachs and others has nothing to do with his subsequent support of bills that Goldman is lobbying so strongly for. Stivers claims that his sole legislative focus is on jobs for Ohio's 15th district.

Really? Among the deform-the-reform bills that Steve is carrying is one to let Wall Street giants avoid disclosing the difference in what the CEO is paid and what average employees make. Another would exempt billionaire private equity hucksters from regulation. I can see that these bills are great job extenders for the barons of Wall Street, but how do either of them create a single job in his district?

This stuff does nothing but shelter the greed-headed banksters who wrecked our economy.

Is that what the tea party rebellion was all about?

While Wall Street is running roughshod all over Americans, it's good to know that the FBI, Justice Department and federal courts are all over the major crime cases that so dramatically affect millions of Americans. Like the seven-year prosecution and $6 million trial of baseball player Barry Bonds.

What a waste of time, tax dollars and prosecutorial credibility. Meanwhile, not a single major player in Wall Street's mugging of our economy has even been charged, much less imprisoned. People were robbed of hundreds of billions of dollars — and millions of jobs, homes and businesses were lost — yet the banksters not only skated free, they're now collecting billions in bonus payments for their work.

A New York Times investigative report reveals that top Washington officials — Republican and Democrats — rushed to the crime scene at the start of the financial crash. They rushed not to arrest anyone, but to stave off any serious investigations of the top Wall Streeters who'd obviously cooked their books, fraudulently awarded bonuses to themselves, cashed in on inside information and lied to regulators.

Barry Bonds might've been juiced up on steroids, but these guys were juiced up on hubris and greed, doing criminal damage to America.

Yet, the FBI was backed off, the Justice Department averted its eyes, and bank regulators failed to build criminal cases. Why? Because top politicos, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, were convinced by their Wall Street confidants that prosecutions would make big investors jittery and endanger the markets.

A couple of weeks after Japan's nuclear meltdown began, a photograph ran worldwide showing a trio of the nuclear plant's top corporate executives. They were at the hospital bedside of a victim of radiation poisoning, bowing deeply in apology. That's the picture of Wall Street executives that I want to see.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.
Something most of us knew all along. Were there some sincere tea baggers who thought they were part of some grass roots effort to get the country from under the thumb of special interests - there probably were. Some people actually believe products and movements are as advertised. From the very beginning the tea nut movement was financed by and had their agenda written by the Koch brothers and puppets for special interest like Dick Army and FreedomWorks.

How Wall Street Thieves, Led by Goldman Sachs, Took Down the Global Economy -- Their Outsized Influence Must be Stopped

WorldNetDaily CEO and Birther czar Joseph Farah owe at least $15,000 to the Kapi'olani Medical Center.

That's the Honolulu hospital listed on Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate . Farah made a promise in August 2009 on Obama's birthday -- or as Farah put it, "what he claims to be his birthday" -- that he would make a big donation to the medical center if Obama released his birth certificate:

"We've tried the stick," said Farah. "Now let's try the carrot. Obama has said he was born in Kapi'olani Hospital in Honolulu. He participated in a fund-raiser for the medical center in January. WND will send a check in the amount of $15,000 to whatever birth hospital is listed on his long-form birth certificate. All Obama has to do to see that donation made is to release it publicly."

Farah's pledge was memorialized in the "birth certificate" section of the WND Superstore (it also sold bumper stickers of Obama with the words "UNDOCUMENTED WORKER"). Fans could donate money that would (WND claims) be given to the hospital listed on the long-form document:

No doctor or nurse has come forward to say they were present for that historic birth.

No witness of any kind has come forward to say they have first-hand knowledge or involvement in that historic birth -- at least in Hawaii.


All donations made to this fund, if not used to make a donation to the birth hospital, will be used to further WND's investigative reporting efforts and the billboard campaign that asks the question, "Where's the birth certificate?"

It's not clear how big the "fund" is at this point. I've asked Farah -- who still has doubts about Obama's eligibility -- if he'll be donating that money now, and I'll update this post if he gets back to me.
Farah would have to have some honor and integrity to pay up. In other words he will never send that hospital one cent.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Republicans Don't Get It. We Have a Revenue Problem and a Wing-Nut Problem, Not A Spending Problem

Republicans Don't Get It. We Have a Revenue Problem and a Wing-Nut Problem, Not A Spending Problem

At first glance, it appears to be one of the most remarkable political stories in a long time: a new poll shows not only that 80 percent of all Americans do not want Medicare to be cut, but, amazingly, that total includes 70 percent of self-identified tea-partiers. How is that possible? Isn't their main goal to cut a huge amount out of government spending -- all government spending?

Why does Medicare (and even Medicaid) appear to be off the table even for them?

The answer is simple: Medicare works. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, and lots of Americans, including tea partiers and their parents, benefit from it. The fact is that, for more than 45 years, Medicare has paid the medical care bills for elderly Americans, as well as for many who are disabled. Even though the social insurance program is administered by the U.S. government, it is hugely popular. How is that possible!

Their health, rightly, is a big worry for seniors, and Medicare has provided access to the medical services they need. As people who live largely on fixed incomes, they know that, otherwise, they would have lots of trouble getting that care. Not only do the seniors appreciate it, but so do their children. The fact is that not having to worry about whether they can access needed care is a great comfort to those affected and probably shortens their recovery time.

Of course, the program has problems. Chief among them, the amount of spending has grown year after year (though somewhat less than total health care spending). Partly as a result, seniors' sense of Medicare-induced security has been eroding over the years, as cost-sharing of ever-more expensive services has become impossible for some beneficiaries to manage. And when Medicare reduces fees to physicians (or declines to raise them) in the effort to contain its expenditures, it drives some of those physicians from the program, further reducing access to services.

Rather than seek creative ways to solve Medicare's problems, however, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives recently punted. They passed a budget for 2012 that would simply end the current program. Instead, beneficiaries -- that may not be the right word any more! -- would receive a voucher that would cover part of the cost of a private insurance plan that seniors could buy on the open market. Since seniors and everyone else already knows what private, for-profit insurers do in that market, they are not too happy about that prospect.

Insurers' first goals are to make a profit and grow the value of their shares. But they have only three ways to achieve those objectives: (1) they can limit who buys their policies to those who are likely to need fewer services (and discourage those likely to need more); (2) they can limit benefits, either by limiting the amount of services covered or increasing cost-sharing; or (3) they can raise prices. Each of these would reduce seniors' access to needed services.

Moreover, with less revenue, providers -- doctors, hospitals, and others -- would lose the cash they need to keep up with the latest developments, to maintain and modernize their equipment, to invest in information technology, and to engage in continuing education. In other words, the health care delivery system would continue to deteriorate as providers searched for ways to make up the lost income. One way is to look for other money-making opportunities. For example, they might diversify -- perhaps, by earning fees for participating in clinical trials (which can also create conflicts of interest). A side effect of that approach is to divert providers' attention from their patients' medical needs, thus eroding the quality of care, which already is unreliable enough.

Although Medicare needs some changes, its problems are largely those of the larger medical care system, not the program. Until we tackle and solve the real problems -- like the methods of paying providers -- the potential for saving money without reducing access to care or contributing to the further deterioration of quality is virtually non-existent.

Given Medicare's popularity, it should be obvious that by pursuing this approach, the GOP is putting itself at considerable political risk. Of course, the extent to which that risk will be realized will depend to a great degree on the actions of Democrats and other Medicare supporters.

Will they let Republicans frame the issue as the imperative to cut costs? Or will they insist the real goal is to protect the good that Medicare does for seniors (and the health care system)? Will Democrats highlight the nasty behavior of for-profit insurers or the trends in Medicare expenditures? Will Medicare spending be taken in isolation or compared to other health-care spending?

Even tea partiers realize they have a stake in the Democrats getting it right.
The tea baggers are those people who seemed to have slept through the years 2000-2008, when conservatives controlled all three branches of government ( except for 2006-2008) when Democrats took a slight majority in the House. Those eight years conservatives spent like crazy. Just as bad, they did not pause for even one moment to think about rising revenue. They did not think about fixing Medicare, Medicaid or health care costs. Thee only thing they seemed to do was fixate on invading a country that had no WMD and posed no real threat in one of the most heavily armed nations on earth. When they were not thinking about declaring wars for no reason they were creating the worse culture of corruption since Warren Harding or Ronald Reagan was president. Now that the bill has come due they think working class Americans and seniors should pay it. Have they no shame.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lying Sleaze Bag Alert - Paul Ryan Plan is an Attack on Social Security

Lying Sleaze Bag Alert - Paul Ryan(R-WI) Plan is an Attack on Social Security

There's been so much noise about what Paul Ryan's budget plan does to Medicare and Medicaid that the damage it does to Social Security has gone unnoticed.

It is true that Ryan sidesteps proposing specific cuts in Social Security benefits. (For some insight into where Ryan's heart lies, however, we have his privatization scheme in his 2010 Roadmap for America's Future, aka the Highway to Hell.)

But Ryan's budget strikes two major blows to Social Security:

*It creates an unprecedented new fast-track procedure to ram through Social Security benefit cuts. Under Ryan's plan, any year Social Security is not in 75-year balance, the President and Congress would have to legislate changes that bring it to solvency through an "expedited process."

* In effect, Ryan would free up Social Security for fast-track cuts by turning it into a regular line budget item. Since Social Security is not part of the general budget, has its own revenue stream, and is forbidden by law from borrowing, it has always been dealt with separately from the rest of the budget. In fact, Ryan had to create a new fast-track process to trigger cuts for Social Security alone, because by law, it is excluded from fast-track reconciliation procedures for the general budget.

* Further, projections of Social Security's solvency change every year, which means that Ryan's plan could force big changes to Social Security based on very short-term variations in the program's finances.

• It endorses major middle class benefit cuts. Just what kinds of changes would Ryan push through under the new "expedited process" he is proposing? Well, short of explicitly embracing their recommendations, Ryan makes clear that the draconian plan put forward by Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson is his model for reform.

The Bowles-Simpson proposal was two-thirds benefit cuts, and one-third revenue increases. Only, Ryan thinks the "merits" of their paltry revenue increases are "debatable." He'll take the gargantuan benefit cuts and leave the additional revenue, thank you very much.

Here's a brief summary of the Bowles-Simpson cuts:
* Cut benefits for 60% of "Very Low" earners, those with average annual earnings of $10,771
* Raise the full retirement age to 69, and the earliest eligibility age to 64 (13% cut)
* Cut the COLA by adopting the Chained CPI, cutting $108 billion in benefits over 10 years
* Flatten the benefit formula, dramatically reducing Social Security's wage replacement rate for all but the poorest workers, thus eroding the link between earnings and benefits, and turning Social Security into a welfare-style program

In addition, Ryan's plan would "pare back spending on non-security government bureaucracies to below 2008 levels and hold this category of spending to a five-year freeze." It would be up to the Appropriations Committee to decide which specific government programs get cut under this spending freeze, which means the Social Security Administration's administrative funding would be in the hands of the Republican Appropriations Committee.

If the $1.7 billion in administrative funding cuts in the House Republicans' Continuing Resolution, HR 1, is any guide, however, the Appropriations Committee will not tread lightly on Social Security's administrative funding. To give an idea of the effects cuts to SSA's administrative funding could have, the $1.7 billion in cuts in the HR 1 would have shuttered SSA offices for four weeks, causing them furlough thousands of workers and preventing the processing of 700,000 new claims.
Because of Ryan's forcing future seniors, anyone currently under 55, to get a big portion of their health care through the private market ( rather than Medicare) he will in fact be cutting Social Security through the back door - by forcing seniors to spend their Social Security on health insurance. That is if seniors can find someone willing to sell them health insurance at prices they can afford.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Obama Accurately Blamed Deficit Problems On Bush-Era Policies, Republicans Cry Over Hearing the Truth

Obama Accurately Blamed Deficit Problems On Bush-Era Policies, Conservative Republicans Cry Over Hearing the Truth

Responding to President Obama's budget speech, right-wing media have complained that Obama "blame[d] Bush" for the nation's deficit problems. In fact, Obama is right: Experts agree that President Bush's policies, along with the economic downturn, are largely to blame for the growing deficit.

Obama: "[B]y The Time I Took Office, We Once Again Found Ourselves Deeply In Debt"

In Budget Speech, Obama Stated: "Democrats And Republicans Committed To Fiscal Discipline During The 1990s, We Lost Our Way In The Decade That Followed." From Obama's April 13 speech on the budget:

To meet this challenge, our leaders came together three times during the 1990s to reduce our nation's deficit -- three times. They forged historic agreements that required tough decisions made by the first President Bush, then made by President Clinton, by Democratic Congresses and by a Republican Congress. All three agreements asked for shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. But they largely protected the middle class; they largely protected our commitment to seniors; they protected our key investments in our future.

As a result of these bipartisan efforts, America's finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely debt free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boomers.

But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program -- but we didn't pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts -- tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.

To give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our nation's checkbook, consider this: In the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years.

But that's not what happened. And so, by the time I took office, we once again found ourselves deeply in debt and unprepared for a Baby Boom retirement that is now starting to take place. When I took office, our projected deficit, annually, was more than $1 trillion. On top of that, we faced a terrible financial crisis and a recession that, like most recessions, led us to temporarily borrow even more.

[ ]....Kilmeade: Obama's Speech Was "Blame Bush." On the April 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that the theme of Obama's budget speech amounted to "blame Bush." Guest co-host Peter Johnson Jr. responded by saying, "All the way. Very perceptive, Brian." Kilmeade then stated, "How could you possibly, three years into your presidency, blame what happened eight years ago or along the way?"

[ ]....Carlson: "Obama Back To The Bush Blame Game When It Comes To The Deficit." Later on Fox & Friends, Carlson teased an upcoming segment by stating: "And as we told you, President Obama back to the bush Blame game when it comes to the deficit. But now that he's holding the checkbook, does that argument really work?" While Carlson spoke, on-screen text stated, "Bush blame game":

In Fact, Experts Agree That Bush Policies, Economic Downturn Are Largely To Blame For The Growing Deficit

CBO Projected $1.2T Deficit In January 2009 Based On Spending Bush Authorized; Actual Deficit Was $1.4T. In a January 7, 2009, report, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected, based on spending authorized under the Bush administration, that the federal deficit in FY2009 would total $1.2 trillion. According to the CBO, the actual federal deficit for FY2009, which began during the Bush's last year in office, was $1.4 trillion. [CBO, January 2009 and January 2010]

CAP: "Single Most Important [Cause Of The Deficit] Is The Legacy Of President George W. Bush's Legislative Agenda." In an August 2009 analysis, the Center for American Progress (CAP) concluded that about two-thirds of the then-projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 could be attributed to either Bush's policies or the economic downturn:

Deficit Chart

The report explained:

As for the deficit's cause, the single most important factor is the legacy of President George W. Bush's legislative agenda. Overall, changes in federal law during the Bush administration are responsible for 40 percent of the short-term fiscal problem. For example, we estimate that the tax cuts passed during the Bush presidency are reducing government revenue collections by $231 billion in 2009. Also, because of the additions to the federal debt due to Bush administration policies, the government will be paying $218 billion more in interest payments in 2009.

Had President Bush not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and adopting other programs without paying for them, the current deficit would be only 4.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, instead of the eye-catching 11.2 percent--despite the weak economy and the costly efforts taken to restore it. In 2010, the deficit would be 3.2 percent instead of 9.6 percent.

The weak economy also plays a major role in the deficit picture. The failure of Bush economic policies--fiscal irresponsibility, regulatory indifference, fueling of an asset and credit bubble, a failure to focus on jobs and incomes, and inaction as the economy started slipping--contributed mightily to the nation's current economic situation. When the economy contracts, tax revenues decline and outlays increase for programs designed to keep people from falling deep into poverty (with the tax impact much larger than the spending impact). All told, the weak economy is responsible for 20 percent of the fiscal problems we face in 2009 and 2010.

President Obama's policies have also contributed to the federal deficit--but only 16 percent of the projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 are attributable to those policies. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designed to help bring the economy out of the recession is, by far, the largest single additional public spending under this administration. [CAP, 8/25/09]

CBPP: "[V]irtually The Entire Deficit Over The Next Ten Years" Due To Bush Policies, Economic Downturn." The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) published an analysis of federal deficits in December 2009, which was most recently updated on June 28, 2010, titled, "Critics Still Wrong on What's Driving Deficits in Coming Years: Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers."
Republicans cannot handle the truth. Their voodoo economics cost the country trillions of dollars in wealth. Obam and the nation not only inherited the debt caused by right-wing conservative economic policy, that debt, even without new spending continues to climb because it is a lot like using a credit card. We have to repay the debt plus the daily interests. Republicans are secretly enjoying this because it gives them a chance to destroy the social safety net insurance programs they hate -like Medicare and Social Security.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why Do Republicans Hate America - Paul Ryan and Republicans Are Bamboozling American Public

Should The Revenue Assumptions In Ryan’s Budget Be Trusted?

During a speech at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that his budget — which was released yesterday — “reduces the debt as a percentage of the economy, and puts the nation on a path to actually pay off our national debt.” But does it?

According to the official score from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the House Republican budget does significantly reduce the national debt, eventually (though it increases the debt in the short-term, because the health care cuts it would implement phase in slowly, while the giant tax cuts for the rich it includes would take effect immediately). But the CBO only shows this result because it is assuming that the government will raise 19 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in revenue.

Why is the CBO assuming that? Because Ryan’s staff told it to, without indicating how that revenue would actually be raised:

The path for revenues as a percentage of GDP was specified by Chairman Ryan’s staff. The path rises steadily from about 15 percent of GDP in 2010 to 19 percent in 2028 and remains at that level thereafter. There were no specifications of particular revenue provisions that would generate that path.

If you tell the CBO to assume a certain amount of revenue will be raised, it does, even if that revenue is wildly optimistic. Ryan did the same thing when he had the CBO score his Roadmap For America’s Future. He told the CBO to assume that the plan would raise 19 percent of GDP in revenue, and the CBO based the rest of its numbers on that assumption. But when the Tax Policy Center ran the numbers, it found the Roadmap would raise far less than Ryan said it would:

Assuming taxpayers choose their preferred tax system, revenue would average 16.1 percent of GDP between fiscal years 2011 and 2015, rising to 16.6 percent by 2020, compared with 20.2 percent under CBO’s January 2010 baseline. The fall in revenue would result primarily from the lower individual income tax rates and the exemption of capital income.

Without the level of revenue specified, Ryan’s Roadmap wouldn’t set the country on a path to reducing the debt, with debt growing to 175 percent of GDP. Are the revenue assumptions for Ryan’s 2012 budget any better? If they’re not — and we have no reason to believe they are, given Ryan’s previous performance — the radical cuts that Ryan has in mind will fail to reduce the country’s debt.
The Republican - Ryan plan is all smoke and no substance - other than destroying Medicare and robbing the poor to pay the rich - Ryan Budget Plan Produces Far Less Real Deficit Cutting than Reported. Plan’s $4.3 Trillion in Program Cuts, Offset by $4.2 Trillion in Tax Cuts, Yield Just $155 Billion in Deficit Reduction

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Paul Ryan (R-WI) Hypocrite of the Week - Deficit Reduction He Once Described as "Phantom" He Now Thinks Are Real

Paul Ryan (R-WI) Hypocrite of the Week - Deficit Reduction He Once Described as "Phantom" He Now Thinks Are Real

When President Obama released his fiscal 2012 budget back in February, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) criticized the administration for counting “phantom savings” from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

The savings that they’re talking about, they suggest that they’re going to be in Afghanistan and Iraq at current levels for 10 years and then they have a withdrawal that saves $1.1 trillion. So a lot of the savings they’re claiming, I think, are phantom savings.

But as it turns out, Ryan’s budget counts these same “phantom savings” as actual savings:

$1.3 trillion in “savings” from the official CBO baseline that comes merely from the fact that the Ryan plan reflects the costs of current policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. The CBO baseline contains a large anomaly related to the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Following the rules governing budget baselines, CBO’s baseline mechanically assumes that current levels of U.S. operations — and costs — in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue forever rather than phasing down.

For budgeting purposes, the Congressional Budget Office assumes that war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan will remain stable over the course of the entire ten-year budget window, when in reality troop reductions are scheduled. So Ryan’s budget garners “savings” from an inflated CBO baseline that assumes military spending in those two theaters never decreases. When that spending actually decreases, Ryan’s “savings” will vanish:

Discounting these phantom savings — and accounting for “$200 billion in lower interest savings due to an error by Chairman Ryan’s staff” — make the deficits in Ryan’s budget about $1.6 trillion higher than he says they are.

The health care savings in Ryan’s budget are, as Ezra Klein put it, “absurd.” There is also very good reason to question the revenue assumptions in his budget, as his Roadmap for America’s Future depended on wildly optimistic revenue totals. And the Heritage Foundation analysis that Ryan included with his budget was so laughably bad that Heritage had to throw its numbers down the memory hole and produce new ones. And, as it turns out, his deficit reduction numbers aren’t any better.
Maybe some day America will learn. In the run up to lying us into the Iraq invasion, conservatives like Ryan told us it would only cost a few billion dollars ( current estimates put the costs will be over three trillion) and we'd be out in a few months. Conservatives like Ryan said the nation's economy was doing great during the years 2000 to 2008. Their fiscal policies lead to the Great Recession. Ryan and conservative Republicans are so used to lying to get their way it has become the very low standard under which they operate day in and day out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Taliban Comes to America Disguised as Conservative Republicans

The Taliban Comes to America Disguised as Conservative Republicans

Marching in step with the GOP’s nationwide war on a woman’s right to choose, the Idaho legislature gave final approval to a bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks. Modeled after Nebraska’s first-in-the-nation measure, the bill — like the one passed in Kansas last week — is based on highly disputed medical research alleging that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Idaho’s bill, however, also fails to include exceptions for rape, incest, severe fetal abnormality or the mental or psychological health of the mother. “Only when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or physical health could a post-20-week abortion be performed.”

In 1990, Idaho’s anti-abortion Gov. Cecil Andrus (D) vetoed a similar bill expressly because it failed to provide a rape or incest exception. “The bill is drawn so narrowly that it would punitively and without compassion further harm an Idaho woman who may find herself in the horrible, unthinkable position of confronting a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest,” he said.

But this year during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, state Republican lawmakers found plenty of reasons to advocate for it. State Rep. Shannon McMillan (R) argued that women who were impregnated under “violent circumstances” should have no choice because it’s not the fetus’s fault. State Rep. Brent Crane, the bill’s sponsor, took it a step further. Believing that “tragic, horrific” acts of rape or incest are the “hand of the Almighty,” Crane said women should trust God to turn the consequences of their sexual assault into “wonderful examples”:

“Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton. “It didn’t ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own.”[...]

The Idaho bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told legislators that the “hand of the Almighty” was at work. “His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples.”

Crane’s belief that good can come from such horrific circumstances may be one shared or embraced by a sexual assault victim. However, that interpretation, that belief, that choice should be made by the woman — not forced upon her by law. The right to choose is not about the “innocence” or “guilt” of the fetus – or of the woman for that matter. It is about a woman being able to decide whether she is willing and able to carry a pregnancy to term.

The bill does more than compel sexual assault victims to carry pregnancies to term, it makes it a felony to perform such an abortion and allows spouses and relatives to file legal injunctions against physicians who break the ban. The bill also sets up a fund that can accept donations to defend the bill — a needed provision since the Idaho attorney general has issued two legal opinions declaring the bill unconstitutional for violating the Roe v. Wade decision’s viability standard.

Despite the lack of constitutionality or compassion, the bill passed 54 to 14 with only one Republican joining all 13 Democrats in opposition. The bill now heads to Gov. Butch Otter (R) “who is expected to sign it.”
The Taliban celebrates as Republicans bring more and more Sharia law to the USA. The Taliban believes that every woman's uterus and her reproductive rights are the sole prevail of centralized male authority.

Conservative are being Ludicrous and Cruel

Well, they should have waited until people who know how to read budget numbers had a chance to study the proposal. For the G.O.P. plan turns out not to be serious at all. Instead, it’s simultaneously ridiculous and heartless.

How ridiculous is it? Let me count the ways — or rather a few of the ways, because there are more howlers in the plan than I can cover in one column.

First, Republicans have once again gone all in for voodoo economics — the claim, refuted by experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves.

Specifically, the Ryan proposal trumpets the results of an economic projection from the Heritage Foundation, which claims that the plan’s tax cuts would set off a gigantic boom. Indeed, the foundation initially predicted that the G.O.P. plan would bring the unemployment rate down to 2.8 percent — a number we haven’t achieved since the Korean War. After widespread jeering, the unemployment projection vanished from the Heritage Foundation’s Web site, but voodoo still permeates the rest of the analysis.

In particular, the original voodoo proposition — the claim that lower taxes mean higher revenue — is still very much there. The Heritage Foundation projection has large tax cuts actually increasing revenue by almost $600 billion over the next 10 years.

A more sober assessment from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office tells a different story. It finds that a large part of the supposed savings from spending cuts would go, not to reduce the deficit, but to pay for tax cuts. In fact, the budget office finds that over the next decade the plan would lead to bigger deficits and more debt than current law.

And about those spending cuts: leave health care on one side for a moment and focus on the rest of the proposal. It turns out that Mr. Ryan and his colleagues are assuming drastic cuts in nonhealth spending without explaining how that is supposed to happen.

How drastic? According to the budget office, which analyzed the plan using assumptions dictated by House Republicans, the proposal calls for spending on items other than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — but including defense — to fall from 12 percent of G.D.P. last year to 6 percent of G.D.P. in 2022, and just 3.5 percent of G.D.P. in the long run.

That last number is less than we currently spend on defense alone; it’s not much bigger than federal spending when Calvin Coolidge was president, and the United States, among other things, had only a tiny military establishment. How could such a drastic shrinking of government take place without crippling essential public functions? The plan doesn’t say.

And then there’s the much-ballyhooed proposal to abolish Medicare and replace it with vouchers that can be used to buy private health insurance.

The point here is that privatizing Medicare does nothing, in itself, to limit health-care costs. In fact, it almost surely raises them by adding a layer of middlemen. Yet the House plan assumes that we can cut health-care spending as a percentage of G.D.P. despite an aging population and rising health care costs.

The only way that can happen is if those vouchers are worth much less than the cost of health insurance. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2030 the value of a voucher would cover only a third of the cost of a private insurance policy equivalent to Medicare as we know it. So the plan would deprive many and probably most seniors of adequate health care.
Ryan and his conservative comrades, in the name of class warfare, have decided to institute what Sarah Palin falsely accused President Obama of creating. Republican are creating their own death panels.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Republicans to Destroy Medicare. Tell American Public It is Because of Debt Crisis

Ryan to 32M Americans: No Insurance for You

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has published his proposal for downsizing the federal government. In the hours and days to come, you're going to hear a lot of different numbers from his proposal. But let me draw your attention to a figure that's not in there: 32 million. Based on the available information, that's roughly the number of people likely to lose health insurance, relative to current law, if the budget were to become reality.

The spending blueprint calls explicitly for repealing the Affordable Care Act. That means taking insurance away from all of the people who are supposed to get coverage in 2014, when the Act is fully implemented. And Ryan's budget document proposes no alternative mechanism for significantly expanding coverage or making insurance itself more secure.

Back in January, the Congressional Budget Office analyzed what such a change would mean when it produced an estimate of repeal for Speaker John Boehner:

...about 32 million fewer nonelderly people would have health insurance in 2019, leaving a total of about 54 million nonelderly people uninsured. The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage in 2019 would be about 83 percent, compared with a projected share of 94 percent under current law (and 83 percent currently).

Several experts I consulted confirmed that it was reasonable to assume repeal will have approximately the same effect in Ryan's plan. Quips David Cutler, the Harvard economist and co-architect of President Obama's campaign plan, "It's like Survivor: Health Care."

All of this may sound like old news, since Republicans proposed repealing the Affordable Care Act a long time ago. But repeal is an essential component of Ryan's plan. It's supposed to reduce spending by $1.4 trillion over ten years, providing about a quarter of the total savings Ryan claims to generate.

I have asked Ryan's office for a comment. They have not yet responded. If and when they do, I assume they will say what conservatives usually say in these kinds of conversations: That this blueprint reduces the cost of health care overall, making insurance more affordable for some people.

But even with fairly heroic assumptions about the impact of the changes Republicans have in mind, you'd have to weigh that effect against the loss of subsidies, improved benefits, and consumer protections that come with the Affordable Care Act.

Here is an assessment from Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who advised Democrats on the Affordable Care Act and advised Republican Governor Mitt Romney on his state's health care reforms:

Repealing the ACA would not only mean leaving 32 million more Americans uninsured, ensuring thousands of additional deaths each year. It would also remove the critical gains in economic and health security for the rest of Americans who are subject to losing their employer-provided health insurance. These individuals now face a harsh and unpredictable non-group market where they are one gene or one bad accident away from being uninsurable. Given the steady erosion of employer-sponsored insurance in the U.S. it is unconscionable to expose individuals to this source of risk and stress.

And that's not to mention the massive changes to Medicare and Medicaid Republicans are proposing. As noted previously, those changes will shift more costs onto seniors and likely result in less coverage for the poor. Writes Edwin Park, of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "the Ryan plan’s Medicaid changes would profoundly impair health care coverage for seniors, people with disabilities, and people with low incomes." In fact, it's entirely possible that the end result of the Ryan plan would be that proportionally fewer people have health insurance, relative not only to what's supposed to happen in 2014 but also relative to the situation this very day.

Fiscal results aren't the only way to measure a budget. The human toll matters too. Here's hoping that the debate over Ryan's proposal reflects that.
GOP Moving To Dismantle Medicare

The idea to privatize Medicare is a significant part of Ryan's "Roadmap for America." As we previously reported, Ryan claimed in his book, Young Guns (written with Reps. Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy), that his "Roadmap" will "secure the future of Social Security and Medicare." However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), his plan would actually dismantle Medicare:

The Ryan plan would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), converting these health programs largely to vouchers that low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities could use to help buy insurance in the private health insurance market.

But as the AP article notes, "The amount of the voucher would be based on total current Medicare spending and indexed to grow year by year thereafter. But that growth would be less than the torrid pace of health care inflation now." So basically, each year the vouchers would be worth less and less coverage and "by 2080, Medicare would be cut 76 percent below its projected size under current policies."
The media has decided that Ryan's plan is "bold". Since when is it bold to condemn several thousand Americans to death.

Republicans are not making these cuts because there is an actual debt crisis. They are making them because they consider it wrong to rise taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How to Screw the Middle-Class, Senate Republican Leaders’ Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment

Senate Republican Leaders’ Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment

The balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that Senate Republican leaders unveiled today is the most radical major fiscal policy proposal in decades. It would require a balanced budget every year regardless of the state of the economy, an exceedingly unwise requirement that most economists have long counseled against because it would require the largest budget cuts or tax increases when the economy is weakest and thereby could tip faltering economies into recessions and make recessions worse (see box). It also would require budget cuts of such a magnitude as to force policymakers to severely slash Medicare, Medicaid, and many other programs or scrap them altogether — even while opening the door to massive new tax cuts.
Draconian Spending Cuts

The amendment would bar total federal spending from exceeding about 16.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product . It says spending in any fiscal year may not exceed 18 percent of the GDP of the previous calendar year (i.e., the calendar year that ended before the fiscal year began). Using CBO’s economic assumptions, in the first five years that the amendment would be in effect, the amount of spending allowed would average 16.7 percent of the current year’s GDP.

The last year that federal spending was 16.7 percent of GDP or lower was 1956 . In that year, Medicare and Medicaid did not exist and millions of workers (including many low-income and minority workers) were excluded from Social Security. Federal aid to education barely existed. Most federal environmental protection did not exist. Nor, for that matter, did most basic programs to ease poverty and hardship such as Supplemental Security Income for the elderly and disabled poor, food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. More than a third of elderly Americans lived in poverty, infant mortality was far above today’s levels, and rates of child malnutrition in some areas of the country approached those of Third World nations.

Even under President Reagan, federal expenditures averaged 22 percent of GDP — and that was before any members of the baby boom generation had retired; at a time when health care spending was a third lower as a share of GDP than it is today; and before the 9/11 terrorist attacks led policymakers to create a new category of homeland security spending and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led to increases in veterans’ health costs that will endure for decades.
More Tax Cutting

Since federal spending would fall to 16.7 percent of GDP, the amendment would create room for very big new tax cuts. That’s because, with a balanced budget mandate, revenues could be reduced to that level as well. Most Senate sponsors of the amendment favor making permanent all of President Bush’s tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, including those for the wealthiest Americans. Those tax cuts give people with incomes of more than $1 million tax reductions that average more than $125,000 a year, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Making those tax cuts permanent could be just the start; there would be room for large new tax cuts on top of those. Some policymakers surely would propose further large tax cuts for affluent Americans and large corporations.

Moreover, new tax loopholes — including loopholes that Congress didn’t intend but that high-priced tax lawyers and accountants have found ways to create — would become untouchable once they appeared. That’s because the amendment would require a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to raise taxes. Not only would this essentially rule out any revenue contribution to deficit reduction, it also would mean that once a tax loophole opened up, it would become virtually impossible to close (because lobbyists generally could prevent a two-thirds vote in both chambers).

Adding to these problems, the amendment would heighten the risk of a federal government default for the first time in U.S. history. It would require a three-fifths vote of both the House and the Senate to raise the debt limit. In recent years, Congress has found it increasingly difficult to secure the votes needed to raise the debt limit, which currently requires only a majority vote in the House (and a majority in the Senate in the absence of a filibuster).
Mistaken Analogies to States and Families

Proponents of the amendment likely will argue that states and families must balance their budgets every year and the federal government should do so, too. But claims that the amendment would align federal budgeting practices with those of states and families would be false.

States must balance their operating budgets, but they can borrow to finance their capital budgets — to finance roads, schools, and other projects — and most states do so. States also can build reserves during good times and draw on them in bad times without counting the drawdown from reserves as new spending that unbalances a budget.
Families follow similar practices. They borrow (e.g., mortgages to buy a home or student loans to send a child to college), and they draw down savings when times are tight.
The amendment, however, would bar such practices at the federal level. The total federal budget — including capital investments — would have to be balanced every year, with no borrowing allowed for infrastructure or other investments that can boost future economic growth. And if the federal government ran a surplus one year, it could not draw it down the next year to help balance the budget.

The amendment would pose many risks to the economy. If another financial crisis hit, such as the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s or the financial market crisis of 2008 and 2009, the federal government would be stuck. It could not mount the critical rescues that it did in those circumstances unless two-thirds of the House and the Senate approved.

In short, this proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution risks doing serious damage to the economy, to the nation’s basic social fabric, and to the well being of most Americans. It would take us much farther from fiscal and economic sanity, not closer to it.
During the Bush 43 era deficits did not matter ( Dick Cheney's famous words). Now that they have left the economy in tatters, they revive their long lost concern for deficits. Do Republicans stand for anything? Serial lies, deceit and cynical opportunism. Who is going to pay these the inevitable cuts in services - to basic health research, care for your poor grand parents, disabled children, fire protection and affordable public universities? Not the Republican party's friends on Wall St who are back to taking their multi-million dollar bonuses. Nope, middle-class America will be paying for the consequences of conservative economics.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Conservatives, Modern Corporations and Corporate Socialism

Conservatives, Modern Corporations and Corporate Socialism

Reckless Wall Street banksters get taxpayer-funded bailouts. Billionaires get tax breaks. Corporations like GE and Bank of America pay absolutely no federal income taxes. But workers don’t get those breaks. As a result, it’s workers footing the bill for the government services that enrich the rich. It’s time patriots stood up to the ultra-wealthy and corporate freeloaders. Join Monday’s We Are One rallies. These demonstrations across the country that planned by religious groups, social justice organizations and labor unions will illustrate that the middle class is mad as hell and not going to take trickster economics anymore.

The nation’s greedy corporations and insatiable wealthy are fattening themselves on workers. There’s no trickle down. It’s the opposite; the rich have been sucking the economic lifeblood from the middle class for decades.

When reckless Wall Street banksters get taxpayer-funded bailouts, billionaires get tax breaks and gigantic corporations like GE and Bank of America pay absolutely no federal income taxes, they’re getting for free the very public services that enable them to make massive profits in this country – the courts, the roads, the trade regulators, the patent enforcement.

The middle class doesn’t get those big time special deals and loopholes. Workers pay their taxes. As a result, it’s workers footing the bill for the government services that enrich the rich. Greedy corporations, their CEOs and the right-wing politicians they buy with tens of millions in campaign cash are freeloaders.

It’s time workers stood up to the freeloaders. Join Monday’s We Are One rallies. These demonstrations across the country by religious groups, social justice organizations and labor unions will illustrate that the middle class is mad as hell and not going to take trickster economics anymore.

It’s time for greedy corporations and the insatiable rich to pay their fair share. It’s time to stop cuts to the government programs most treasured by and vital to the middle class and the vulnerable in this country – education, public transportation, Social Security. It’s time to stop right-wing attempts to terminate democratic rights like collective bargaining and voting without harassment. It’s time for the middle class to stop paying for everything and for the insatiable rich and greedy corporations to start sharing the sacrifice required to recover from the economic crisis caused by reckless gambling by Wall Street bankster corporations.

March for your rights Monday. March for the middle class facing record rates of foreclosure, unemployment, child poverty, and loss of opportunity as country club conservatives cut off college loans and Head Start. March for the right of college students to register and vote in the towns where they study. March for the right of workers to band together, elect representatives and bargain with employers for better pay and working conditions. March for the right of the people to insist that corporations pay at least the same rate of taxes as workers do. March to end tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent who have now acquired more wealth than all the workers in the bottom 90 percent.

Greedy corporations, the insatiable wealthy and their purchased politicians have for three decades skewed public policy to enrich themselves while pushing down wages and benefits for the middle class.

From 1947 to 1975, a time of strong unionization in the workforce, real wages of average workers increased with productivity. The 75 percent rise in productivity and the nearly matching rise in wages gave the United States the largest, most vibrant middle class in the history of the world.

Since 1978, productivity grew 86 percent, but compensation for workers grew only 37 percent, and if the cost of benefits, mostly uncontrolled health insurance increases, is removed, the real average hourly wage did not rise for 35 years, according to Alan S. Blinder, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Here’s how it works: The nation’s largest corporation, General Electric, earns tens of billions in profits from the labor of its workers but refuses to share the benefits with them. GE is expected to demand that its 15,000 unionized U.S. workers accept benefit cuts. So they’ll pay more for their retirement and health care and have less money to live and to pay taxes.

Meanwhile, the share of national income captured by the richest one percent rose from 8 percent in 1975 to 23.5 percent in 2005.

Under Dwight D. Eisenhower, the president in the 1950s, the nation’s richest paid an effective tax rate of 70 percent after loopholes. Today, it’s 16 percent – significantly lower than the 25 percent forked over through payroll deductions by individual workers earning between $34,500 and $83,600 a year.

That resulted from deliberate policy changes. Beginning with Ronald Reagan, country club conservatives cut taxes for the wealthy, while at the same time ending routine minimum wage increases and undermining the bargaining rights of labor.

The changes were made by increasingly wealthy politicians increasingly influenced by lobbyists. For example, 60 percent of the freshmen in the U.S. Senate and 40 percent in the U.S. House are millionaires. By contrast, only 1 percent of Americans are worth more than $1 million.

Compounding that is corporate influence, which worsened last year when the U.S. Supreme Court enabled corporations to donate unlimited money in secret. The upshot is corporations like General Electric, spending millions to lobby and paying zero in federal income taxes. GE spent $200 million to lobby for loopholes in the federal income tax code over the past decade, made $26 billion in American profits over the past five years, and not only paid absolutely no federal income taxes, but got itself a $4.1 billion rebate from the IRS.

That is far from an anomaly. Two out of every three U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. And the situation hasn’t improved since then. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has written repeatedly about tax avoidance by the likes of Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, Wall Street banks that former President George W. Bush handed hundreds of billions in bail out dollars.

Bank of America got a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, even though it made $4.4 billion. Goldman paid only 1.1 percent in federal income taxes on its $2.3 billion in profits. New York Times reporter David Kocieniewski wrote in his story about GE that such tax dodging by corporations has resulted in a significant decline in federal revenue from corporations – from 30 percent in the 1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.

Tax avoidance is a virtuous cycle for greedy corporations and the wealthy. They pay less in taxes, then have more money to lobby politicians to lower their taxes. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that lawmakers are hiring lobbyists right from their K Street firms to write legislation. And Congress’ new right wingers are increasing this trend. Since they took office in January, nearly half of the 150 former lobbyists working in top policy jobs in Congress were hired.

For workers, however, it’s a vicious cycle. They’re forced to pay the taxes shirked by greedy corporations and the insatiable wealthy. And they’re forced to suffer service cut backs.

Right now, right wingers are trying to cut $51.5 billion from the federal budget – demanding elimination of programs essential to the middle class and poor such as subsidies for home heating for the impoverished. But if the wealthy paid their share, say hedge fund manager John Paulson who earned $2.4 million an hour in 2010 – then those cuts would be unnecessary because the federal government would have an extra $69.5 billion in revenue.

Forty-three years ago on April 4 Martin Luther King was assassinated after standing up for the right of public sector workers in Memphis, Tenn. to negotiate for better lives.

In his last speech, Rev. King said God had allowed him to go to the mountaintop where he’d looked over and seen the Promised Land. “I may not get there with you,” he cautioned, “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land.”

Greedy corporations and the wealthy have made it to the mountain top. And they’re shoving American workers down the hillside to ensure the Promised Land is reserved only for the richest.
Who is the greedy corporatist's best friend? More often than not, the working class and middle-class viewers and fans of Fox, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. These enablers are happy to lose ground. These enablers are happy to be wage slaves with no rights. These conservative enablers do not seem to care if they can't afford health care or send their kids to college. They find it easier to stay in the comfort zone of the bug eyed crazy myths feed to them by the far Right.