Archive for senior citizens

Social Security and Medicare: "Distinctly good news"

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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

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Right Action, Wrong Reason - Gun Nuttiness Again In Texas

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Stephen Stern

Tragedy befell the city of Hearne, Texas, recently. A 93-year-old woman was gunned down by Officer Stephen Stern of the Hearne Police. And now the people of the small town want this cop's badge. They want him fired and the Mayor is leading the charge.

According to DailyMail:

'There's no justification. Any police officer would know not to kill a 93-year-old fragile woman when they could have backed off,' said William Foster, 64, a retired professor in Hearne. 'She was no threat to him.'

'That lady should be living today. She should not have died like she did,' Embra [another mourner] said.

Damn, when you hear it that way, it sure sounds like the cop used awful judgement. If that was all there was to the story, perhaps we'd agree. But it's best we hear all the details before we pass judgement.

It seems this all happened after Officer Stephen Stem responded to a 911 call about a disturbance involving a woman and a gun. When Stem arrived on scene, the 93-year-old woman was wildly brandishing her gun and refused to put it down. She aimed at the officer and he fired.

Now comes the public outrage. But is it because of this woman's age, or because the officer could have possibly found another way to diffuse the situation? The officer was responding to the 911 call. It came in because of a reported dangerous disturbance and a gun. Officer Stern fired three times, hitting the woman twice and grazing her with the third shot. Was this the right course of action? Did he use justifiable force? Well consider this. If this woman had fired, that bullet would have left the gun with the same lethal velocity.

Then what if the senior-aged woman had fired first and the cop was dead, would there be such a public outcry? Would the neighbors and friends of the late Pearlie Golden be lamenting the loss of this cop because he didn't shoot Ms. Golden when he had the chance? I doubt it. It seems the victim in this case isn't the 93-year-old woman. And it's not the cop either. It's the system that lets people loose with guns.

Yes, this is a plea, a call to sanity. It's a shout out for gun control. This result is what carrying and brandishing a gun can get you into. This woman should still be alive, all things considered. But she's not. And the reason why? Not because the cop shot her. It's because she was waving a gun. If she didn't have a gun, I very much doubt she would have been hurt, let alone killed. And there would be no reason for this story.

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Must-Read: Personal debt that enriches Wall St. -- NOT national debt -- is greatest threat to retirees

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must read

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

Whenever the elected political tools of the oligarchs trash Social Security, they tout 401(k)-type accounts and voluntary retirement savings programs. [...]

...WP article is entitled, "Most Americans accumulating debt faster than they’re saving for retirement":

A majority of Americans with 401(k)-type savings accounts are accumulating debt faster than they are setting aside money for retirement, further undermining the nation’s troubled system for old-age saving, a new report has found....

[...]

So the problem facing even non-Social Security dependent retirees (who have earned their checks by paying into the fund) is due to personal debt not national debt. What people owe money on are non-government expenses such as college, housing, cars, credit cards, etc.  This is private indebtedness that is contributing to a looming personal retirement shortfall of funds.

Ironically, Social Security is one of the few programs that is keeping most seniors from economic impoverishment, as meager as the average monthly check is.  [...]

Since the Reagan era, wages have been relatively stagnant in the United States as debt has risen.  It is indeed this growing personal (again not national) debt that has been a primary source of profit for the banks too big to fail.  Persons who owe large amounts of money are paying off interest at often exorbitant sums (think credit cards) while in many cases barely scratching away at principal.  This is all easy money for banks that are paying out literally .01 % on savings accounts. [...]

So, let this WP article be a mini-lesson on what the oligarchy and their minions on the Hill, such as Paul Ryan, have been up to. Since the Reagan era, they have been promoting policies that increase personal debt while stagnating wages (except for themselves, of course).  In turn, a likely majority of the 99% has to go into debt and borrow money at high interest rates, while those who save receive virtually no interest on their savings.  This, in turn (except for Social Security) limits what they can save for retirement.

Then the financial titans sponsor think tanks and give campaign contributions to blame "entitlements" for all the personal indebtedness which has fueled their profitsSo, if a "grand bargain" of Social Security and Medicare cuts are enacted, the elderly become indebted and poorer, while the Wall Street barons make even a greater profit from increased borrowing as the national debt is lowered in the name of "austerity" (without revenue increases in the form of higher progressive taxes on the rich).

Please read the entire post here.

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VIDEO-- Dear GOP: What part of "Mommy, I'm hungry" don't you understand?

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gop spending farm bill v obamacare, stimulus

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ed Schultz was rightfully enraged by GOP bills that put farms before families, as you can see in the video above. Typically hypocritical, Republicans sweartogod they're changing, but then they continue on their merry, self-serving, greedy way.

Today Michael Hiltzik covered the same topic in depth. Here are some excerpts from his Los Angeles Times column, but please read the whole thing. Michael hits on a lot of important points:

In the name of cutting $20 billion from the food stamp program over 10 years, the House bill would throw almost 2 million recipients off the food stamp rolls, as estimated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Most of them are seniors or members of low-income working families with children. More than 200,000 children would lose their eligibility for free school meals. By LaMalfa's estimate, these are "modest changes" aimed at reform, but of course he and his family don't have to worry about being on the edge of destitution. (The Senate version would cut only $4 billion, which is why it's not favored in the House.)

LaMalfa's words reflected a familiar theme in congressional debate, which is that the recipients of payouts like farm subsidies are honest, hardworking folks while those getting food stamps (or other low-income relief) should be grateful at the help they get and shut up otherwise. [...]

The question for Rep. LaMalfa and his fellow food stamp hackers on the agriculture committee is: Why is it important for government to skip out on aid for families, but pony up for farmers like him?

Michael Hiltzik's column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. Reach him at mhiltzik@latimes.com, read past columns at latimes.com/hiltzik, check out facebook.com/hiltzik and follow @hiltzikm on Twitter.

outreach my ass reach out inclusive

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