Sunday, September 30, 2012

Our kids will sacrifice for a GOP plan that is just a bad deal.

 GOP is shedding crocodile tears for our kids .   Republicans are  using   concern for our kids’ future to rationalize all kinds of cuts to programs that already protect them. They do this in the  name of not saddling them with debt.   Gov. Chris Christie of NJ on CBS “Face the Nation”  September 30  tried out a new slogan.  He called for shared sacrifice.  The problem with the GOP plans he supports is the wealthy get the shares and the rest of us get to sacrifice, especially our kids.  Their plans do not add up  to cut the deficit, anyway.
I have two sets of kids: one, our own late 40 early 50 year olds and our grandchildren.  The cuts to programs proposed by the GOP  are to discretionary funds .  They have not provided specific details of program by program cuts  because they just might turn off some supporters .  However, if they were made across the board, it would require extreme cuts to   any federal funding to states for education,  student loans and Pell grants.  How does that help my grandchildren?  
The GOP wants to push our children not yet  55  into a changed Medicare plan that gives them no guarantee that the vouchers or the alternative traditional Medicare will be funded to the extent that it will keep up with the projected increase in health care costs .How does that help my kids?
  By repealing Obamacare and shoving the costs to states to provide any coverage for those with unable to afford premiums to the states they are giving us a plan that is a non starter, given their strapped finances and the GOP Teaparty stranglehold on statehouses and state legislatures. How does that help my kids who may fall on hard times?
What about   anyone with children with pre-existing conditions?   Mitt Romney claims he will require health insurance  for those who already have continuous insurance. That does not help grandchildren with pre-existing conditions or adult  kids  who had insurance but were laid off, or missed a day changing jobs. .  How does this help our kids?
 If they reach a stage in their lives where their health costs and nursing home care costs exceed their assets and they are impoverished, their safety net has been Medicaid. The GOP wants to cut that by 30%.. How does that help our kids?
For these almost seniors, the GOP plans to repeal Obamacare but in so doing, they reopen the prescription donut hole in , costing them in today’s dollars around $600 per year.  The repeal of Obamacare would  take 8 years off the life of Medicare as we know it . Instead, the GOP would voucherize and cap the growth of future federal fund for Medicare, meaning that sometime in the future, co-pays will rise dramatically.  How does that help my kids?
Republicans believe giving 5 trillion dollars in tax cuts to the wealthy,  increasing military spending will stimulate economic growth, while slashing government spending on discretionary spending,   the deficit will be cut. 
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Paul Ryan plan that includes these  proposals  will not decrease the deficit; it will increase it.  Romney has tried to distance himself from Ryan’s plans, but he never detailed how making both liberals and conservatives uneasy.  Repealing Obamacare  as the GOP proposes will not reduce the deficit; it will increase it, too, per the CBO. 
There are other ways to cut the deficit  that are less painful to the next generation and actually work.  Both the Simpson-Bowles Commission came up with one and so did the Obama administration. All Republicans in Congress voted against  both.
So our kids will sacrifice for a GOP plan that will not work to reduce their inherited debt?.  That is no trade off; that’s just a bad deal.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

3 fact checkers agree: Obamacare does not raise taxes on the middle class

A Facebook friend of mine sent me an posting claiming  Obamacare would raised taxes on  the middle class. One fact checker called that “pants on fire”, another agreed with the White House that it does not; the other looks at all of Obama’s tax policies and also claims they do not.   All major  three fact checkers agree:  such claims are not true.

 I went to the Washington Post fact checker, who pointed out that the tax credits and subsidies to the middle class far exceeded taxes. Of course, if you define the middle class as those making over $250,000, you might have a point. Glenn Kessler's conclusion:
"The health law, if it works as the nonpartisan government analysts expect, will provide more tax relief than tax burden for middle-income Americans. The White House chief of staff earns a rare Geppetto Checkmark (true) for his remarks on “This Week.”  (Geppetto means the claim was true)

Claims that Obamacare is the largest tax hikes in history gets the biggest lie Pants on Fire from fact checker at politifact, "The ad calls the health care law "the largest tax increase in history on the middle class." Actually, the law is not the largest tax increase in history, and most of its taxes fall on the wealthy and the health care industry.

Even if all of the taxes in the health care law fell on the middle class -- which they don’t -- the statement still wouldn’t be accurate.

For flagrant disregard of the facts, we rate this statement Pants on Fire!"

Description: more from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, This makes 3 major fact checkers in concurrence that Obamacare does not raise taxes on the middle class, though this particular fact checker discusses a much broader question.

Claims that Obamacare is the largest tax hikes in history gets the biggest lie Pants on Fire from fact checker at politifact, "The ad calls the health care law "the largest tax increase in history on the middle class." Actually, the law is not the largest tax increase in history, and most of its taxes fall on the wealthy and the health care industry.

Even if all of the taxes in the health care law fell on the middle class -- which they don’t -- the statement still wouldn’t be accurate."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Racism and ignorance in this presidential season

 Appearing in the print edition  of the Sky Hi Daily News today was a letter to the editor from a local reader who bemoaned all of those on the public dole, 69% increase on food stamps, and some unemployment figures...among other complaints about Obama.  I always thought there was a racist element among those who opposed Obama. Newt Gingrich coined Obama as the "foodstamp President", widely interpreted as  a dog whistle to the Southern Whites in a coded message that black welfare queens were the prime abusers of food stamps..   The post on my   blog  a few days ago regarding the hanging chair  hung by a rope over a tree limb shows that racism is present even in Loveland, Colorado. However, this letter to the editor that appeared along side my column concluded with "America showed how far we have come by voting in a black president. Now let's do what's best for the country and our children and vote him out".   The reference to "black" was not included in the rest of the body of the letter other than in unemployment statistics and no attempt to show causal relationship of welfare increasing to anything, much less the recession.  The "black president" reference was hardly a coded message ; it was just obviously an indication of the state of mind of the Grand County, Colorado writer.. This is without a doubt the dark side of parts of the electorate who oppose Obama's re-election. 
The bemoaners of  the blackness of food stamp recipients are also ignorant.  More whites receive food stamps than blacks, with each category comprising less than 25% of the total.
From a 2010 study by the US Department of Agriculture,  here are the statistics. 

Profile of recipients of food stamps  2010 USDA report
In fiscal year 2010, 46 percent of all SNAP participants were nonelderly adults, and 8 percent
were elderly. About 62 percent of nonelderly adults were women, as were 66 percent of elderly
adults. Forty-seven percent of all participants were children, similar to the number of participating
children in fiscal year 2009. About 66 percent of the children were school-age
Race and Hispanic Status
Household Head  Percent of total food Stamp recipients
  White, not Hispanic 24.0
  African American, not Hispanics,23.2
  Hispanic, Any Race 15.2
  Nonparticipating Household Head 17.9
Rest “other” categories

Romney insults even his supporters

The real Romney revealed himself  with   comments  at a private  fundraiser in Florida in May. I was not surprised.   I have heard  similar  opinions expressed  since  the 1950's, but  in 2012 it is an insult to many, and it  once again dramatized Romney’s disconnect with the reality of the  lives today of  most Americans.
His comments:“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax... my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives…”(Text source: the Washington Post fact checker blog)
A question to everyone  on Medicare and social security, or whose parents can find health and nursing home care because of  Medicaid when they outlived their assets :  Did you take personal responsibility and care for your lives? Since most of the recipients of Medicaid and food stamps are kids and elderly, are they even able to  take responsibility for their care?  Did you participate or benefit from these programs  because you felt you were a victim? Or did you participate because your income and savings would not sustain you or your family?
Romney deceptively limited  his figures to income taxes.  According to the Congressional Budget Office  all but 10% pay federal taxes in some form, including  payroll taxes and contributions toward   Medicare and Social Security.
So who do not pay income taxes?  Per senior fellows in the Brookings and Urban Institutes writing in the Washington Post: “About half of these households don’t pay federal income tax simply because their incomes are low. More than one-fifth are retirees who benefit from tax breaks for seniors, including an exemption for most Social Security benefits. And another one-seventh are working families with children whose income tax liability is eliminated because of the child tax credit… or the child and dependent care credit. Together, these three groups of taxpayers account for almost 90 percent of the households that pay no federal income tax.”
With these comments Romney brought additional  attention to  his disconnect with the real life of most Americans. His perspective  is stuck in a 1950’s  mind set  when   we could cover  medical bills in chickens  or even pay out of pocket; the medicine practiced then was unencumbered by expensive life extending   modern technology..  Dad could earn enough money for mom to stay home and take care of their aging parents and provide child care.  The poor stayed poor, they  could not go to college, and they were stuck in an underclass until in the 60’s they exploded when they could not take it anymore. .
 To backpeddle, Romney changed his tune.  Now he says he cares about the 100’%, but his and Paul Ryan’s    plans are not where his mouth is: They propose to cut Medicaid by 30%, Pell grants, Head Start,and  food stamps. Catholic Bishops have called these  plans to cut the poor’s safety net immoral. The plan to “save”  Medicare would,  privatize  part  and   eliminate the  guarantee the federal contribution will cover future costs..
To reduce the deficit is indeed an  important goal, but the Romney and Ryan plans are not the only way to do it.  Plans similar to the Simpson Bowles recommendations would inflict less pain on safety net programs and  maintain Medicare as we know it. Many alternatives are discussed at

 The above is a version that appeared in today's Sky Hi Daily News

Monday, September 24, 2012

Romney's plan to cover the uninsured: emergency room?

Mitt Romney’s specific plan for taking care of those without health insurance?
Scott Pelley to Mitt Romney on insuring the uninsured, 60 minutes, September 23, 2012
“SCOTT PELLEY: Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don’t have it today?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance, people — we — if someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care”.
Romney should know better.  That’s why he invented the health care system in Massachusetts; it was a very expensive way to go.

The cost shift of expensive ER care to the Hospital goes , not to the State, but to the already insured and to the federal government’s programs for Medicare and Medicaid.  It is why we in the US pay 2 and a half times per person for health care than in other industrialized countries. The shift, the cost absorbed by the already insured ads up to $1000 per family per year , and also accounts to the shortening of the life of Medicare since it increases the general cost of health care,  the services of which are reflected in the costs of Medicare.    That is why the Simpson Bowles Debt Reduction Commission concluded that the cost of Medicare and Medicaid would be reduced if Obamacare was retained and the repealing Obamacare would add to the deficit and Obamacare would reduce it.

A person who treats the ER as their primary care physician does not get any  checkups, too, or preventative care..  For major illness, usually the patient arrives at the ER very sick and ends up having the most expensive care because of the   seriousness of their advanced condition…hospitalization, surgery and end of life treatment.  It is no wonder that the US has one of the worst death rates in the industrialized world.  Those who have insurance get good care; those who do not are more likely to die younger.  The result is a very bad average.  

We hear the GOP accusing Obamacare  taking $716 billion out of Medicare.  The inference is that the cuts go into thin air or benefits are reduced.  Wrong.  About $250 billion is ending the subsidy to private insurers for Medicare Advantage which, strangely enough, is continuing without the subsidy. The private insurers were being paid 17% more to administer Medicare than what the government could do itself….and it resulted in no advantage to senior care and the insurers got the only advantage.

From an article written by Sarah Kliff in the Washington Post, 8/14/22: “ By 2010, the average Medicare Advantage per-patient cost was 117 percent of regular fee-for-service. The Affordable Care Act gives those private plans a haircut and tethers reimbursement levels to the quality of care administered, and patient satisfaction.
The Medicare Advantage cut gets the most attention, but it only accounts for about a third of the Affordable Care Act’s spending reduction. Another big chunk comes from the hospitals. The health law changed how Medicare calculates what they get reimbursed for various services, slightly lowering their rates over time. Hospitals agreed to these cuts because they knew, at the same time, they would likely see an influx of paying patients with the Affordable Care Act’s insurance expansion.
The rest of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts are a lot smaller. Reductions to Medicare’s Disproportionate Share Payments — extra funds doled out the hospitals that see more uninsured patients — account for 5 percent in savings. Lower payments to home health providers make up another 8.8 percent. ….It’s worth noting that there’s one area these cuts don’t touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to…”

That $716 in savings is reflected in Medicare’s future costs and improvements to the Medicare system.   The result: seniors will save on the average of $600  the a year since the  Medicare donut hole for prescription drugs will be covered by Obamacare, Medicare’s life is extended 8 years,  and the deficit problem will get some relief. Repealing Obamacare would eliminate all of these savings, reinstate the donut hole ,  eliminate the savings to the system, and continue providing the uninsured with very expensive health care.
(Sources for much of this can be found at the Kaiser Family Foundation web site and at; Much of this also is a repeat of my prior blog postings with sources documented then)