Dishonest Republicans Look to Gut Social Security and Medicare

Senate Republicans and Tea Party House members held the nation hostage on a debt ceiling bill.  They demanded severe cuts to social programs and refused to raise taxes on the rich in order to continue paying for the out of control spending they did while in the White House.  $15 trillion of debt was run up by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and then George W. Bush and then Republicans in Congress who voted for all that debt refused to pay it when the debt ceiling was reached.  Their failed economic policies and refusals to regulate business resulted in a global financial meltdown which has crashed the economies of countries such as Ireland, Greece and Spain.  

Now they enjoy casting the specter of Greece before us and use it to fear monger over the deficit.  A deficit they created.  The difference between America and Greece is that we can afford to pay our debt.  Greece cannot.  It isn’t comparing apples and apples.

The agreement to extend the debt ceiling was reached by setting a fiscal armageddon date:  January 1, 2013 when across the board cuts would usher in an era of austerity.  Austerity has yet to work anywhere and actually depresses economies.  Republicans are ready and willing to throw our recovering economy back into depression in order to gut entitlement programs.  They see this as their opportunity to finally gut your Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  These are programs which are the most successful in our history.  Republicans however, are hell bent, as they’ve been for decades, to end them.

Heaven help us have successful programs for the poor, elderly, disabled and orphans.  Before Social Security half of all senior citizens lived in poverty.  That has been the real success of the program.  Our elderly, disabled citizens and orphans have been able to live with some self sufficiency and dignity due to SS.  It adds not one red cent to the deficit and should have nothing to do with deficit reduction negotiations.  The only reason it is is because Republicans see an opportunity to gut and/or end the program.

We can actually expand Social Security benefits and extend its solvency for 75 years by lifting the income cap upon which payroll taxes are collected.  People who earn millions and billions per year pay FICA taxes on only the first $110,000 of that income.  Therefore you pay a higher tax rate than they do.

Republicans ran this year on the issue of Medicare by scaring senior citizens that they’d protect it against President Obama’s cuts.  While ballots continue being counted from the election Senate Republicans such as Lindsey Graham are already using extortion to gut Medicare and Social Security.  They also used the threat of Democratic cutting in 2010 then voted in the House to replace it with a privatized voucher system.

40% of senior citizens, according to exit polls, voted for the Romney/Ryan ticket dedicated to gutting both Social Security and Medicare.  They did so because the GOP lied about the issue.  This is no excuse for not being an informed voter.  There is no defense against willful brainwashing.  Still, with the electoral college not yet even meeting to be on television demanding cuts to entitlement programs is shameful.

Grover Norquist’s anti-American anti-tax pledge is shameful because it forces Senators and Congress members to violate their oaths of office.  It forces them to put partisan ideology ahead of the country.  John McCain’s “Country First” slogan was a fraud.  Any candidate who signs the Norquist tax pledge is unfit to serve.

Medicare is in financial trouble long term because our private health care system s broken.  Medicare isn’t the problem:  private health insurance is driving costs upwards.  A single payer Medicare for All system fixes everything.  Both programs need expansion, not gutting.

This entire “fiscal cliff” discussion is a failure.  The deficit isn’t the problem, a lack of jobs is what is issue #1.  Putting people back to work will eliminate the deficit by raising income tax collections.  The deficit was caused by three main factors, all Republican failures:  the Bush tax cuts for the rich, two wars which weren’t paid for and the economic collapse.  We can fix things by allowing the tax cuts to expire, ending the wars and following proven economic recovery models.  There is no need to gut entitlement programs.

They aren’t “entitlement” programs anyway.  You’ve paid into both for as long as you’ve worked.  You’re invested in Social Security and Medicare, you’ve worked for them.  The rich aren’t entitled to tax cuts or wars for which the poor fight and die.  They aren’t entitled to an unregulated, chaotic, boom and bust capitalistic economy.  Now those ARE entitlements.

Republicans cannot be trusted with your financial security.  If you voted Republican then perhaps you deserve to lose your Social Security and Medicare.  Even extreme Tea Party members won’t give up their benefits.  I’ve been at their events with a small BBQ grill and signs saying I’d burn their Medicare and Social Security cards and none of them would do so.  Let’s take their benefits away since they’re hell bent on destroying the programs.  One solution is obvious:  if you’re a registered Republican you don’t get Social Security or Medicare.

News & Notes June 13, 2012

I have yet to receive an explanation or apology for being summarily dismissed from a Pennsylvania Democratic Party meeting again Saturday.  Until I get an apology I will discontinue covering the campaigns of Democratic candidates.  This includes Barack Obama’s re-election.  It is a violation of the DNC charter to close Party meetings and this is three times it has happened in a short period.  My Campaign 2012 columns will cease until the DNC responds.

Tom Corbett’s poll numbers continue sinking like a stone.  Pennsylvanians now support him by only 36%.  This was before the Shell Oil giveaway which would hire 30,000 teachers.  What’s more important, 30,000 teachers or one more dirty energy plant?

Commerce Secretary John Bryson has taken a leave of absence after seizures caused him to be involved in hit and run accidents recently.  

A Navy drone crashed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  President Obama is now using these unmanned planes to spy on us at home.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, closet queen, has broken with Grover Norquist.  As more and more cracks dent the adolescent idea of no new revenues ever his Americans For Tax Reform loses power.

Of course Tea Party extremists like Keith Rothfus are still stupid enough to put extreme politics ahead of the public welfare.  He has signed Norquists idiotic pledge along with others from Club For Growth (Pat Toomey’s organization) and the American Family Business Institute.  He’d rather you pay taxes than people like Alice Walton who is worth $21 billion.

American servicewomen are being raped in alarming numbers.  Even more alarming is the fact that not much is done to those who assault them and abortions for pregnancies resulting from sexual assaults is not readily available.  Sen. Jean Shaheen is proposing a bill guaranteeing abortion coverage for women service members who are raped.  Will Pat Toomey and Bob Casey step forward and protect our fighting women?  Will our Teapublicans in the House also do so?

North Dakota rejected a very radical law which could have restored slavery.  The religious freedom law would have allowed anyone in that deeply red state to disobey any law based on their religious beliefs.  Since the Bible condones slavery…

Arizona also had an election yesterday replacing Congresswoman Gabby Giffords with her former staffer Ron Barber.  Hers was a swing district so this could be a harbinger for the fall.  Of course Wisconsin also could be if you’re into reading political tea leaves.

Cuts to higher education didn’t begin with Tom Corbett though he has taken them to unprecedented levels..  Pennsylvania’s share of operating expenses for our state related universities has been declining for decades.  Toxic Tom’s actions have accelerated the decline dramatically.  We now have the distinction of having the top two most expensive in state tuitions in the country for state related universities.  Penn State is first and Pitt second.  This is a dubious and shameful distinction.

On Thursday the President will make an address at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland if you’re in that area.  He was in Philadelphia last night for a fundraiser at The Franklin Institute.  It was a pool reporter situation so I didn’t have access.  Tom Fitzgerald of The Inquirer was the pool reporter.  Supporters paid up to $40,000 for the privilege of meeting the President.

The Department of Energy has awarded grants to Air Products and Chemicals of Allentown and Lyondell Chemicals of Newtown Square.  13 projects received a total of $54 million to increase energy efficiency.

Citizens of the 8th Congressional District are giving Mike Fitzpatrick fits over recent news he gave federal earmarks to a campaign contributor.  This is called “pay to play.”  Another name for it is corruption.

Constituent Ginny Hoffman of Levittown said it’s time that elected officials get their priorities straight and help people who actually need it. Hoffman attempted to ask Congressman Fitzpatrick about his recent legislation benefiting his donors.

“When I open the newspaper I see that he is giving out a lot of pork to his donors instead of helping middle class people. I tried to tell him to help us, the people that are losing our homes and our jobs, instead of his wealthy donors. But I was blocked by his staff before I could ask my question,” she said.

The Reagan Revolution Endgame

Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President on January 20, 1981.  At the time our national debt was $907 billion.  Under George W. Bush doubled the debt in his eight years in office which wasn’t easy because his father and Reagan had multiplied it several times in just twelve years.  GW Bush left Barack Obama with a federal budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for a single year.   Stop and think about that for a moment.  In the entire history of the country, from the Revolutionary war (we borrowed money to finance our independence) until January 1981 America had amassed a total debt of $907 billion.  Bush exceeded it on a single federal budget year.  The total amount of debt contributed by George W. Bush in eight years was $4,901,104,747,205.59, not counting the $1.3 trillion Obama inherited from his final budget.

Now we find ourselves enmired in a national discussion about the debt, a discussion led by the very people who put us in this mess.  Once upon a time conservatives were fiscal conservatives.  They hated debt and the national debt when Reagan took office was a national shame to them.  I remember this because I grew up in a very conservative household.  My father was a member of the John Birch Society and he was always railing against the spendthrift Democrats who put the country into debt.  All of the Republican candidates they worked for swore to reduce the debt.  This was one of their key mantras.  Then Ronald Reagan was elected and it all changed.  What happened?

It was called the Reagan Revolution and it was a clever plan.  What we’re witnessing right now is the endgame.  Here’s how it happened…

David Stockman was Reagan’s Budget Director.  The geniuses (and this really is genius) was to begin bankrupting the country.  By creating massive federal budget deficits gradually more and more of the budget would be consumed with the cost of paying for the debt.  When America runs a deficit we borrow money by issuing U.S. Treasury bonds upon which taxpayers pay interest to investors.  Over the years as deficits accumulated and interest compounded more and more of the budget was eaten up by interest payments making less and less available for government programs.

Conservatives hate government and despise government programs unless they are defense or tax cuts for the rich.  Much of the deficit over the past thirty years was created by such tax cuts.  Reagan also skyrocketed defense spending, something we witnessed again under Bush 43.  By drastically cutting revenues while increasing spending (good spending in their eyes) we began driving huge deficits.  Stockman was known to mention that this, indeed, was the the plan.

At some point the nation would collapse under the debt burden and government programs would have to be cut.   Guess what is happening as I write this?  Republicans in Congress are holding the country hostage to massive spending cuts.  John Boehner, Speaker of the House, is now threatening to put the country into default if trillions of dollars of federal spending are not cut.  There is only one way to cut trillions from the federal budget:  eliminate Social Security and Medicare.

Conservatives have been trying to cut these two programs since they were first introduced.  The Reagan Revolution was designed to make it happen.  By slowly “starving the beast” they’d collapse government until it was so small they “could drown it in a bathtub” as Grover Norquist was fond of saying.  We’re now in that tub and it isn’t comfortable.

Though on paper Social Security appears to be a huge government program (and it is) it doesn’t contribute anything to the federal deficit.  Thisis because it was set up entirely separate from all other federal spending and pays for itself.  Projected deficits as Baby Boomers retire can be paid for simply by eliminating the cap on taxable earnings.  Billionaires pay only on the first $106,000 of their multi billion earnings per year.  Because of this fact Republicans are bent on ending the program for seniors, disabled people and orphans.  

How do you drive the elderly, the disabled and orphans into abject poverty and live politically to tell about it?  The Reagan Revolution was the answer.  Bankrupt the nation until there would be no other choice.  Of course there is a choice and it is called The People’s Budget.  We can repeal the massive tax cuts for the rich, end the costly wars and revive the economy.  Cutting Defense spending to a sane amount is yet another key part of the strategy.  In spite of all the spending cuts conservatives have actually increased defense spending.

This has been a major cog in the plan.  Reagan began a series of military interventions, Panama, Grenada and elsewhere.  His budgets kept increasing Pentagon budgets in response to these “threats.”  The specter of the Soviet Union was a key until he literally bankrupted that corrupt empire.  George W. Bush and his father used full fledged wars to justify their increases in defense spending.

It was all part of the Reagan Revolution.  Now we’re at the endgame and these same people are insisting we must slash federal spending and end critically needed programs to pay off the debt they created.  It was sheer genius.

Are we going to fall for it?  All you see in the major media is how we have to cut spending.  Corporations of course own all the major media outlets.  That was yet another cog in the plan.  Republicans allowed media consolidation so now only a handful of giant companies control what we see and hear.  You are seeing and hearing anything about The People’s Budget.  Ask them why?

Ironically David Stockman has now come out against the tax cuts for the rich.

Do you want to see Social Security dismantled?  Do you want your children having to support you in your retirement?  Do you want to have to move in with them?  What if you don’t have children?  Do you want to spend whatever years left to you living on the street?

Do you want an end to Medicare?  How would you obtain private health insurance when you’re 65?  The Ryan Privatization Plan means you’d receive a voucher good for about 50% of the cost of such coverage assuming you’d qualify medically.  How many senior citizens could pass a health exam?  Every year your voucher would cover less of your costs.

This is the endgame of the Reagan Revolution.  Republicans know only a Democratic President, politically, can end these programs.  They are trying to box Barack Obama into a corner so he’d have to do so.  The expiration of the debt limit provides that opportunity.  Facing an economic calamity they are blackmailing the White House into eliminating Social Security and Medicare.  Don’t let it happen.