Tag Archives: Social Security

Paul Ryan plots his final battle in the GOP’s war on the poor

The GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin” who is leaving Congress at the end of his term — Dude, pack the moving van, I’ll come drive your shit back to Janesville for you this weekend! — is plotting his final battle in the GOP’s war on the poor. This evil GOP bastard can’t leave soon enough.

Politico reports, House GOP budget sets up massive safety net cuts, Obamacare repeal bid:

House Republican budget writers debuted an ambitious deficit-reduction plan Tuesday that would force GOP committees to cut at least $302 billion over a decade and potentially lay the groundwork for another repeal vote on Obamacare.

The GOP’s sweeping budget plan is the first step toward a filibuster-proof bill [under budget reconciliation rules] that could result in real reductions to popular programs like federal student aid or low-income family block grants.

It could also deliver on conservatives’ decades-old promise to rein in entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

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Trump’s ‘trickle down’ tax cuts weaken the Medicare Trust Fund

President Donald Trump’s “trickle down” tax cuts for corporations and wealthy plutocrats is not meeting the GOP’s fiscal projections, and is now weakening the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. This is what happens to Medicare when you cut taxes but not spending:

On Tuesday, we learned what happens when Republicans trying to rein in government tackle the tax side of the equation but not the spending side.

The result: a Medicare program that is projected to run out of money just eight years from now, in 2026.

The latest annual report on the financial situation of Medicare’s hospital program (and Social Security), released yesterday by the programs’ trustees, led Democrats to slam the tax overhaul Republicans pushed through Congress mainly on their own last year.

That tax measure’s income tax cuts — combined with reduced payroll tax collections because of lowered wages last year — are the two main reasons for the worsening financial outlook for the part of Medicare that reimburses hospitals for caring for seniors and the disabled, per the report.

And there’s something else, too. The tax bill also ends the Affordable Care Act’s penalty for lacking health insurance (aka individual mandate). So hospitals will see more uninsured patients as some Americans presumably drop their coverage, in turn requiring the Medicare program to pay more for such uncompensated care, a senior government official told my colleague Amy Goldstein and other reporters yesterday.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan, the ‘zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,’ announces his retirement

I must admit that I am conflicted about today’s news.

Part of me wants to do my happy dance over the GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, House Speaker Paul Ryan, announcing that he will not seek reelection. This guy has been the media’s biggest darling and intellectual fraud of the past two decades.

But by quitting he deprives me of the sweet joy of seeing him defeated and humiliated, as he was in 2012 as the vice presidential nominee of Willard “Mittens” Romney. Vice President Joe Biden destroyed him in the VP debate. I want the catharsis of seeing Ryan defeated and humiliated because this insufferable asshole so richly deserves it. Good riddance.

On an eventful day such as this, it is time to check in with one of Paul Ryan’s harshest critics with which to celebrate, Charles Pierce at Esquire. Paul Ryan Will Retire as the Biggest Fake in American Politics:

It’s probably too much to hope that Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, will dedicate his retirement to public service the way that his immediate predecessor has.

Acreage Holdings (“Acreage”) (www.acreageholdings.com), one of the nation’s largest, multi-state actively-managed cannabis corporations, announced the appointments of former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner and former Governor of the State of Massachusetts Bill Weld to its Board of Advisors.

Instead, he’s going back to Janesville to be the Dad he’s always wanted to be, home to his 5,786-foot Georgian mansion on Courthouse Hill, and its 13 rooms, six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, the little house on the Wisconsin prairie that Ryan was able to afford because he married money, the one that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Paul Ryan has somehow amassed a fortune of between four and seven million dollars without holding any job except “Congressman” for the past 20 years.

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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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