Category Archives: Poverty

Medicare is Not an “Entitlement.” It’s an “Earned Benefit.”

Social Security and Medicare

The GOP likes to portray Social Security and Medicare as undeserved handouts.

As I read about the current GOP attacks on Social Security and Medicare, they are referred to as “entitlements.” This clever word choice by Republicans suggests that the programs are welfare — a free handout to undeserving, lazy people.

What you call something makes a big difference. It’s a way to frame the discussion so that it leads to a pre-determined outcome.

Social Security and Medicare are “earned benefits.” I have paid into both programs every day of my working life. Anybody who has made it to age 65 has paid taxes to support both programs. I have worked for 50 years and resent the notion that these programs are freebies or giveaways.

Attack on Social Security

Social Security was enacted in 1935, when the lifetime savings of millions of people had been wiped out. It supports 59 million Americans over age 66. Social security is not going broke — it is projected to deliver full guaranteed benefits until at least 2037.

Well into the 1950s, Republicans tried to repeal Social Security. They continue to attack this earned benefit in Trump’s 2018 budget proposal by cutting Social Security by $72 billion. This includes explicit cuts to Supplemental Security Income programs and Social Security Disability Insurance programs, both managed by the Social Security Administration.
Continue reading

Smoke ’em If You Got ’em: #AZLeg Considers 15 Marijuana Bills

medical marijuanaFive Arizona Legislators have proposed 15 different bills to regulate … or deregulate… the use of cannabis in Arizona, and there could be more.

Senator David Farnsworth and Rep. Vince Leach want more regulation of small businesses in the cannabis industry and increased law enforcement against citizens who use a plant that never killed anyone. (The specter of the Nanny State rises again in the text of these regulation bills.)

Reps. Mark Cadenas and Pamela Powers Hannley (me) want decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana and want to make medical marijuana cards more affordable.

Senator Sonny Borrelli is bringing back industrial hemp bill, which passed with flying colors in 2017, only to be vetoed by Governor Ducey.

Two of Leach’s bills will be heard in committee this week– HB2064 in Commerce and HB2067 in Health. Details on all 15 below.

Continue reading

Poor children are pawns to be used by Paul Ryan in shutdown politics

Evil GOP bastard House Speaker Paul Ryan has a plan to avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday. He intends to use poor children covered under the CHIP program as pawns and to attach the long-delayed CHIP program renewal — something which should have already been approved as a stand alone bill — to a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to entice enough votes to pass the short-term spending bill and kick the can down the road again into February.

POLITICO reports, House Republicans coalesce behind plan to avert shutdown:

House Republicans on Tuesday night appeared to coalesce around a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown Friday — even as conservatives threatened to oppose it and a bitter fight continued over the fate of more than 700,000 Dreamers.

Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled a plan at a House GOP Conference meeting to fund the government through Feb. 16, and numerous rank-and-file members quickly endorsed it despite their frustration with another short-term patch. To further sweeten the pot, the Wisconsin Republican’s bill also includes a delay of several Obamacare taxes and a six-year extension of a popular health care program for children.

“It’s a good strategic position because not only does it offer CHIP [funding] for six years … but you also have a medical device tax delay as well as the Cadillac tax delay,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.), referring to some of the taxes that would be delayed. “I think it puts Democrats in a very difficult position of having to vote against that in the House or in the Senate.”

House GOP leaders will whip the bill Wednesday before a possible Thursday vote. If the funding measure passes the House, senior Republican sources in both chambers expect the measure to clear the Senate.

House GOP leaders, however, still have some work to do: House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said many of his conservative members oppose the plan, dismissing the tax delays as a “gimmick” that won’t necessarily help leaders find 218 votes for passage.

After the GOP Conference meeting, the House Freedom Caucus met and did not take a position on the stopgap bill. But Meadows expressed skepticism leadership’s plan would pass in its current form with just Republican votes.

Based on the number of ‘no’ and undecided votes, there is not enough votes for a Republican-only bill,” he said.

Continue reading

The GOP’s war on the poor: Medicaid work requirements

Now that Tea-Publicans have accomplished their one goal of passing their “tax cuts for corporations and plutocrats” bill, this year their attention will turn to punishing the poor for being poor, those damn “takers”!

The GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” wants to fulfill his life-long dream of dismantling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the so-called “entitlement” programs, more accurately the “social contract” programs for which people paid taxes into during their working years on the premise that it will be there for them in their retirement years.

But with the Senate down to a bare 51-49 GOP majority, the Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Mitch McConnell, says Entitlement reform is not on 2018 Senate agenda despite what House Speaker Paul Ryan and senior Trump administration officials say. It’s Ryan vs. McConnell on entitlement reform. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s dream of dismantling the nation’s entitlement programs in 2018 has run into a harsh reality: His own party isn’t on board.

Nevertheless, Tea-Publicans are going to chip away at the social contract programs this year. In a break from longstanding legal precedent, last week the Trump Administration Says States May Impose Work Requirements for Medicaid:

The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would allow states to impose work requirements in Medicaid, a major policy shift that moves toward fulfilling a conservative vision for one of the nation’s largest social insurance programs for low-income people.

Federal officials said they would support state efforts to require able-bodied adults to work or participate in other “community engagement activities” as a condition of eligibility for Medicaid.

Continue reading

December jobs report disappoints, a market correction is on the horizon

If you were hoping to see the U.S. job market end 2017 on an encouraging note you were disappointed today. And no, it was not due to extreme winter weather (that is going to be noted in January’s jobs report).

Steve Benen has the December jobs report. Job growth slows to a six-year low in Trump’s first year:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the economy added 148,000 jobs in December, which is down a fair amount from the previous two months, and falls short of expectations. That said, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, which is very low.

DecemberJobs

The revisions from the previous two months were mixed, with October’s totals revised down and November’s totals revised up. Combined, they pointed to a net loss of 9,000 jobs, which adds to the discouraging nature of today’s report.

Providing some additional context, now that we have data for all of the previous calendar year, we can note that the U.S. added 1.84 million jobs in 2011, 2.19 million jobs in 2012, 2.33 million in 2013, 3.11 million in 2014, 2.74 million in 2015, 2.24 million in 2016, and 2.05 million in 2017.

Or put another way, while Donald Trump’s first year as president has been pretty good overall for job creation, Americans nevertheless saw the slowest job growth in six years. (Note, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will revise the 2017 data once more, making the available figures preliminary.)

Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.

DecemberPrivate

Continue reading

Suffer the children: GOP campaign donors get their tax cut, no help for poor children on CHIP

The New York Times reports, With Children’s Health Program Running Dry, Parents Beg Congress: ‘Do the Right Thing’ (as reported in the previous post, Tea-Publicans will laugh at your begging for your children’s lives):

With more and more states running out of money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, parents took their case to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, pleading with Congress to provide money before their sons and daughters lose health care and coverage.

But the program, known as CHIP, which insures nearly nine million children, took a back seat as lawmakers raced to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut. CHIP’s fate, it appears, is now caught up in a messy fight over an end-of-the-year deal on spending that must be struck by Friday to avert a government shutdown.

“CHIP is being used as a pawn in larger debates and negotiations,” Linda Nablo, the chief deputy director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, said Tuesday in an interview. “It has fallen victim to the dysfunction and partisanship in Congress. And we are getting very close to the point where some children will also be victims.”

Congress has known since April 2015 that funds for the popular children’s insurance program — created and sustained for two decades with bipartisan support — would expire this year at the end of September. The Senate Finance Committee approved a five-year extension of funding for the program in early October, but did not specify how to pay for it — and Republicans insist that it must be paid for (unlike tax cuts for corporations and wealthy plutocrats which is being financed by debt).

Continue reading