Archive for Medicare

Social Security and Medicare: "Distinctly good news"


keep government out of medicare, social security

My favorite columnist at the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik (scroll), has written another excellent piece, this time covering the "no-bad-news day" for Social Security and the "distinctly good news" about Medicare. Sorry, GOP. I know I'm rubbing it in after my post about all those upbeat economic news reports that broke today, but hey, a blogger's gotta do what a blogger's gotta do.

Republicans *coughPAULRYANcough* are just dying to privatize us all into oblivion, which would mean cutting earned benefits for those who rely on them. Way to appeal to voters, GOP. It's a good thing we have Michael Hiltzik around to deliver a more even-handed (read: accurate) approach to informing us about the current state of both Social Security and Medicare.

Take it away, Michael:

"[T]he news is essentially that there is no news" in the reports, as Kathy Ruffing of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a leading expert on Social Security, said during a conference call Monday on the Social Security report.

The trustees still estimate that the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2033 -- same as its estimate last year. The range of estimates -- for these things can never be exact -- places the date at some time between 2029 and 2041. Even then, the trustees say, there will still be enough money coming in to the program each year to pay 77% of currently scheduled benefits. And the trustees do, however, suggest that their best-case scenario for economic growth and other demographic and economic factors is brighter this year than it looked in 2013.

As of now, Social Security is in surplus (by $32 billion last year), and is expected to remain so on an annual basis at least through 2019.

Hiltzik goes on to say that the B Word (bankrupt) is more like the BS Word. His exact phrasing was, anyone who challenges the facts has "given up his or her right to be taken seriously as a policy expert." Are you listening, Wannabe President Ryan?

Now how about Medicare? Is there good news there, too? And if so, would it possibly have anything to do with the O Word (Obamacare)? Don't be silly! Oh wait:

As for Medicare, there's distinctly good news. The continuing drop in healthcare expenses has made Medicare healthier -- the estimated date of its trust fund's depletion has been moved out by four years, to 2030. If you're keeping track, that date has been moved off by a total of 13 years since enactment of the Affordable Care Act.

neener nanner tv

Hiltzik also includes a few warnings, so please link over to read the entire column.

He concludes by rightfully calling out Congress for taking a five-week break just when we need them to "pay attention." He's clearly as miffed at them as we are. One can almost hear him throwing his head back and screaming, "Enough!"

Or as I like to call it, the F G Word (Gaaa!).

Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow


"We Can Kill You Now Or We Can Kill You Later," Rick Perry



Remember those old Fram auto filter TV ads -- "you can pay me now or you can pay me later?" Well, there's a bit of that philosophy in Gov. Rick Perry's latest goofball thinking.

Today Texas Republican Governor Rick "Oops" Perry is about to make another "Oops." He's going to commit an estimated $12 million a month to send the National Guard to his state's southern border. The question is why? What are they supposed to do? Will they take positions on the borderlines and mow down with their high powered rifles every man, woman and child who approaches the Texas border from Mexico?

The truth is that these immigrants are not sneaking over the border. They're crossing the border and immediately turning themselves in. They're actually seeking out border patrols and surrendering. They're announcing "Here I am. Please take me. Please!"

The unaccompanied kids are the big Republican talking point as they're protected more than the adults who cross into the US without proper documentation. This is thanks to a bill the Republican President, G.W. Bush signed into law in 2008. To be balanced and fair, most Democrats voted for this bill as well.

So should Texas, a state that's refused the Medicare expansion for its own poor yet legal residents, order body bags for the refugee children the National Guard is going to shoot? Of course not, because the Guard is not going to shoot anyone. What they are going to do is become a political charade. They will be armed baby sitters, child wranglers and guardians for the safety and welfare of the poor kids trying to escape death and torture in their own countries. They aren't coming here for holiday. They're flocking to America for safety and for their lives.

Rick Perry gunImage:

Point a gun at a kid who's made the harrowing, dangerous thousand-plus mile journey to America, threatening them that they'll be shot if they cross our border or be shot and killed after a thousand mile journey returning back home and there's no choice. They'll take the executioner's bullet right here and right now. That sure will make an interesting political election poster for Gov. Perry -- piles of dead kids on his border. Maybe he'll even stand in a big game hunter's pose with one leg up, resting it on a pile of dead children. Don't put anything past Tricky Rick.

The Texas boob governor has no plan other than trying to drum up publicity with this stunt. And for what? He's got zero chance at the GOP presidential nomination. And he's not running for re-election.

The answer, to the surprise of few, is ignorance. The governor's ignorance. He simply lacks a comprehensive and humanitarian plan. And instead of helping out the people of his state by accepting Medicare help for constituents, he's robbing them of tight money the Texans really need for more important matters.

Texas leads the nation in uninsured citizens. Medicare would take millions of uninsured and cover them, allowing hospitals to receive much needed funds to stay open. That $12 million per month could greatly raise the living conditions in the state. Perry is robbing his state's coffers of tight cash they need for so many other pressing issues -- for the unemployed, the uninsured, infrastructure, public safety, education, etc.

So Texas is about to burn $12 million a month while Gov. Nero Perry fiddles. Perry has a dream. It's just a dream. It's to move from soon-to-be ex-governor of Texas to larger pastures -- the White House. Well there's about as much chance of that happening as Michelle Bachmann winning a Nobel Prize in science. But while he wastes his state's money on a political fantasy, the good people of the Lone Star State starve and can't afford medical care which could save lives. Instead, in Rick's fantasy world, he's ordering the armed National Guard to his borders to keep kids out.

What's next for this moron? Bear traps, sarin gas and land mines?


Sen. Grassley's Staff Gets Nabbed In His Own Investigation


The SEC lawsuit alleges that the House staffer, Brian Sutter, spoke with a lobbyist -- identified by the Journal as Mark Hayes - - who happens to be a former aide to Grassley -- on the day of the leak.

Oopsy. Looks like Grassley not only found his leaker, the dude worked for him. Now Grassley may have to recuse himself from the hearings because he himself might be called as a witness, or even more concerning, as a part of the insider trading conspiracy scandal itself.



Don't let Paul Ryan near your money


Paul Ryan ugh this guy

He's ba-a-ack. Yes, Paul Ryan and his "budget" (quotes required, because it's not a budget, it's a redundantly cruel joke) have returned to make the 99% miserable as it caters to the top 1%.

In his Los Angeles Times column, the brilliant Michael Hiltzik takes Paul Ryan and his Very Serious Plan apart. He rips into Privatize Ryan's latest attempt to screw the middle class and the poor by cutting government programs, killing Medicare and Social Security, and thumbing his nose at everyone who knew better than to vote for him and his "severely conservative" running mate.

Read our lips, Paul: Austerity doesn't work.


What's the definition of insanity again? Oh yeah:

insanity doing same thing over different results

Hiltzik also manages to get a word or two in about GW Bush's squandering of the Clinton surpluses on tax breaks for the wealthy and how he spent borrowed funds on wars without bothering to raise income taxes.

Take it away, Michael:

There should be a rule--or even a law--that politicians who propose "fixes" to Social Security should at least show they know something about the program. By that standard, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., would flunk. [...]

But the trust fund is still growing, because Social Security's income streams--the payroll tax, interest on its bonds, and revenues from income taxation of benefits--still are sufficient to cover current benefits, and then some. [...]

As I've written before, when you hear people like Paul Ryan talk as though the country can't afford to pay back the money by redeeming the bonds in the trust fund, what you're hearing is the sound of the wealthy preparing to stiff the working class. [...]

[I]f Ryan has his way, yes, the money will be stolen. It's up to you and me to make sure that doesn't happen. So, to put all these pieces together, there's no "dubious government accounting" involved here--the dubious accounting is all Ryan's. [...]

The most important factor is the one that people like Ryan want you to forget: The money in the Social Security trust fund came directly or indirectly from the payroll taxes paid by millions of American workers--100% of it. It was paid by workers in the trust that the government would pay it back. Paul Ryan is hinting, pretty strongly, that he doesn't want to pay it back. 

So why would you trust him? 

Exactly. Why would anyone trust this guy? Especially after the abysmal response to his previous Kill Medicare/Social Security proposals.

paul ryan really really bad screen grab

Please read Hiltzik's entire piece here.