Tag Archives: Social Security

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.
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2018 World Inequality Report: inequality in U.S. is a result of deliberate policy decisions (updated)

Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post reports, U.S. lawmakers are redistributing income from the poor to the rich, according to massive new study:

Back in 1980, the bottom 50 percent of wage-earners in the United States earned about 21 percent of all income in the country — nearly twice as much as the share of income (11 percent) earned by the top 1 percent of Americans.

But today, according to a massive new study on global inequality, those numbers have nearly reversed: The bottom 50 percent take in only 13 percent of the income pie, while the top 1 percent grab over 20 percent of the country’s income.

Since 1980, in other words, the U.S. economy has transferred eight points of national income from the bottom 50 percent to the top 1 percent.

That trend is even more remarkable when you set it against comparable numbers for wealthy nations in Western Europe. There, the bottom 50 percent earn nearly 22 percent of the income in those economies, while the top 1 percent take in just over 12 percent of the money.

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The income situation in Western Europe today, in other words, is similar to how things were in the United States nearly 40 years ago.

The 2018 World Inequality Report, written by a team of leading international economists including Thomas Piketty of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” fame, finds that the rise of income inequality in the United States is “largely due to massive educational inequalities, combined with a tax system that grew less progressive despite a surge in top labor compensation since the 1980s, and in top capital incomes in the 2000s.”

Since the 1970s the price of higher education has skyrocketed, putting the price of tuition out of reach for many low-income students. Over the same time, the tax code became more generous to the wealthiest Americans — the top marginal income-tax rate fell from 70 percent in 1980 to 39.6 percent in 2017, taxes on capital gains fell by more than half from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s, and the estate tax has fallen as well.

Those changes have made it easier for high-income Americans to grab more and more of the income pie in any given year.

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Evil GOP bastard Paul Ryan declares a class war on Americans

Last week I told you about the devil’s bargain that the mythical moderate from Maine, Sen. Susan Collins, made in exchange for her vote on the Senate GOP tax bill. The Senate GOP tax bill is also an assault on health care (excerpt):

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has now scored the bill negotiated by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to stabilize the “Obamacare” market, and it also comes up woefully short. The CBO just released a report that should worry Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski:

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office dealt what should be a crushing blow to the tax bill: The deal that was crafted to win key senators who objected to the bill’s provision that would leave millions uninsured won’t actually stanch the loss in coverage.

With moderates expressing concern over a provision that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate — leaving an estimated 13 million more uninsured by 2027 — Republican leadership hatched a plan to simultaneously pass a bill to stabilize the Obamacare marketplaces, a proposal negotiated by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA).

But this proposal hit a major snag Wednesday when a new CBO report found passing the Alexander-Murray proposal — the centerpiece of which is funding Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies that Trump has threatened to pull — would not in fact help mitigate the coverage losses and premium hikes triggered by repealing the individual mandate.

But wait, there’s more. In making this deal with the devil, Sen. Collins forgot about the other devil with whom she actually needed to negotiate, i.e., the GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin.”

Boy genius says “Deal, what deal? I have no deal with Sen. Collins.”

Steve Benen reports, Paul Ryan wasn’t part of Susan Collins’ tax deal:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) surprised many when she threw her support behind the Republicans’ tax plan on Friday. Among other things, independent estimates showed that the GOP proposal would leave 13 million Americans without health insurance, and that’s ordinarily the sort of thing the Maine Republican would care about.

As part of an explanation, Collins said she’d reached an agreement with party leaders for votes on two other pieces of legislation, which she believes would mitigate the harm done by the GOP tax plan. There are, however, two problems with this, the first being that the proposals Collins has in mind appear inadequate to address the systemic harm done by her party’s proposal.

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After their tax bill, the GOP is coming for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

The Senate Finance Committee late Thursday approved the Senate’s version of the GOP’s “tax cuts for corporations and Plutocrats” bill, after the House passed its version earlier in the day. Senate panel approves GOP tax plan. The panel voted to send the tax plan to the full Senate on a party-line vote of 14-12.

The Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said in a statement “When the Senate returns after Thanksgiving, I will bring this must-pass legislation to the floor for further debate and open consideration.”

Well, this is going to make for some heated discussions at Thanksgiving dinner when your drunk uncle shows up wearing his MAGA hat and Trump T-shirt. Here’s some information that you can use to try to properly educate your ignorant drunk uncle.

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post explains, The GOP tax plan is moving forward. It’s a big scam on Trump’s base.

If you’re one of those white working-class voters who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency and gave Republicans total control of Washington, the GOP has a message for you: Sucker!

Today the House [passed] its version of a tax reform bill, and if and when the Senate passes its version, the two will be combined in a final bill that will most likely wind up becoming law. We already knew that the House version would raise taxes on tens of millions of Americans — about 36 million, according to figures from the Joint Committee on Taxation, whose job it is to analyze tax bills before they’re voted on. Now we’re learning more about the Senate version:

The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official nonpartisan analysts.

President Trump and Republican lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for hard-working Americans, but the JCT report casts serious doubt on that claim. Tax hikes for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there. By the year 2027, Americans earning $30,000 to $75,000 a year would also be forced to pay more in taxes even though people earning over $100,000 continue to get substantial tax cuts.

Everyone always knew Republicans were going to cut taxes for the wealthy. They’re Republicans; that’s what they do. But it’s a genuine surprise to see them raising taxes on people with more modest incomes. Why isn’t this being angrily decried by all those conservatives who believe that tax increases are a crime against humanity? Could it possibly be that they don’t really care about the middle class as much as they say? Was the whole point of this exercise to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and if regular people have to pay more so those at the top can pay less, then that’s fine with them? Say it isn’t so!

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‘Trumpcare’ failure, and more to follow

Well resisters, last night two unlikely Tea-Publicans, Mike Lee (UT) and Jerry Moran (KS), announced their opposition to evil GOP bastard Mitch McConnell’s abominable Senate bill to repeal and replace “Obamacare” with  a mean-spirited “Trumpcare.” Health Care Overhaul Collapses as Two Republican Senators Defect:

Two more Republican senators declared on Monday night that they would oppose the Senate Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, killing, for now, a seven-year-old promise to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

The announcement by the senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, left their leaders at least two votes short of the number needed to begin debate on their bill to dismantle the health law. Two other Republican senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, had already said they would not support a procedural step to begin debate.

With four solid votes against the bill, Republican leaders now have two options.

They can try to rewrite it in a way that can secure 50 Republican votes, a seeming impossibility at this point, given the complaints by the defecting senators. Or they can work with Democrats on a narrower measure to fix the flaws in the Affordable Care Act that both parties acknowledge.

WRONG! Tea-Publicans will do what they always do: retaliate out of spite and vindictiveness, and continue to sabotage “Obamacare”:

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, conceded Monday night that “the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.” He outlined plans to vote now on a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with it taking effect later. That has almost no chance to pass, however, since it could leave millions without insurance and leave insurance markets in turmoil.

A “clean” repeal effort was rejected in January for a “repeal and replace” plan because Tea-Publicans did not have the votes for a clean repeal then; it is far less likely they have the votes now. (Of course, our Rep. Martha McSally is at the ready to lead the GOP over the insanity cliff with her battle cry of “Let’s get this fucking thing done!“)

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Trump to take health insurance hostage – by sabotaging ‘Obamacare’ – unless he gets his way

When I posted about this the other day, Obamacare subsides to continue while House v. Price remains in limbo, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post was so hopeful that he wrote In the battle over Obamacare’s future, Trump just blinked. Bigly.

That was then, this is now.

Just two days later Greg Sargent now writes, Trump has a strange new plan to threaten Democrats. It’s a sick joke.

President Trump likes headlines that portray him as a man of action, so he’s probably pleased with the barrage of Thursday headlines about his latest move on health care. ABC News, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and many others all inform us that Trump is “threatening” to sabotage the Affordable Care Act to force Democrats to make a deal with him on its future. “Threaten” is a verb that is laden with action, purpose, and intimations of concealed leverage and power. Awesome!

Americans whose health, and for some whose life, depends upon Obamacare health insurance are a mere afterthought, they are simply collateral damage in “the art of the deal.” People must die so “Dear Leader” can claim his “victory.”

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