Austerity does not work. Just ask Europe. Privatization doesn't either, it just widens the wealth gap and creates more inequality. In fact, because of budget cuts, “even police protection is more accessible to those with cash.”
The unemployment rate was effectively unchanged at 7.9%, and as is often the case, austerity measures undermined the employment landscape — while America’s private sector added 166,000 jobs in December, the public sector lost 9,000 jobs. Indeed, over the last three months, the nation’s private sector added 624,000 jobs, while 24,000 government jobs were lost.
It’d be easy for Washington to improve the latter number and lower the unemployment rate, but congressional Republicans won’t allow it.
By the way, GOP, you can scratch more talking points off your list, because three-quarters of deficit reduction has been via spending cuts, and we have the slowest spending in decades.
Fired up as once-unimaginable spending cuts start to slice the federal budget, Republicans are launching a new phase in their austerity campaign — resurrecting the party's cost-cutting plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like system for future seniors.
Read that first part again. Republicans are "fired up" over the nation going down the sequester toidy, and they actually believe they have momentum. And by momentum, they mean every poll showing disagreement with their policies:
And Michael Hiltzik wisely asks: Cut Medicare and Social Security? What’s the rush? There's a good reason why Republicans refuse to provide details.
Did I mention that those "future seniors" who Republicans speak of so dismissively may not realize it yet, but they won't like what's coming down the ol' voucher pike?
So what do they do with their imaginary momentum? Clearly, something constructive to get us out of the ditch their party created, right?
Ryan's approach would transform the benefits program into one that would provide a fixed amount of money in a voucher that future seniors could apply to the cost of buying private health insurance or to buying coverage through traditional Medicare.
Again, that "fixed amount of money" is a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of even one medical procedure... which would be covered by Medicare. And how many seniors can or want to switch from Medicare-- a program that works so well and has a proven track record-- to spending a fortune on premiums to Big Insurance which cares nothing about them but cares a whole lot for their damned bottom line?
What part of "This plan has never gotten American support" doesn't Ryan get? Read our lips, Paul: That would shift healthcare costs from the government to seniors.
Ryan's budget proposal is expected to lock in $1.2 trillion in sequestration-linked cuts over the next decade, while also reducing growth in the costs of Medicare and Medicaid — the health program for the poor, disabled and seniors in nursing homes. Other safety net programs, including food stamps and school lunches, also would be targeted.
See how the GOP is changing their ways in order to appeal to more voters? Me neither.
Finally, just for good measure, a couple of L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:
Re “Seniors vs. kids claim is a sham,” Business, Feb. 27
As a senior, I am concerned about my Social Security and Medicare benefits. However, I am also concerned about the future prosperity of my children and grandchildren.
Your writer correctly points out that the chatter about “generational theft” in the debate over national fiscal policy is an intentional distraction. This false proposition that we must choose between spending on seniors' benefits or spending on our children's futures diverts attention from the national economic policies of the last 30 years, which have damaged the economic security of most Americans. These flawed policies caused an immense transfer of wealth to the top 1% while most Americans' incomes stagnated.
We don't need excessive wealth languishing in private hands and corporate slush funds. Our country has enough wealth to serve the needs of all our seniors, our families and our children. We need more of this wealth redirected to serve all Americans.
John D. Kelley
The argument that Social Security is causing a generational rift is just as false as the use of the term “entitlements” to describe both Social Security and Medicare.
The generational theft is a scam created by those who are trying to kill these programs. The truth is that the benefits from these programs may be greater for young people than they are to the old.
Consider this: When Social Security and Medicare pay for the cost of caring for your parents and grandparents (and that is who the old people are), it relieves the young of that obligation. The point is, if those programs do not pick up those costs, who do you think will have to? The children and grandchildren.
Marina Del Rey