Columbia Journalism Review (NY)
A dart to the AP—and a laurel!
The Associated Press misled its many readers, unfortunately, about what is a Social Security benefit cut and what is not. A piece published August 27, one in a series the AP has been running, purports to break new ground in gauging public sentiment about the government’s largest social program.
In other polls, the AP said, “most of the options for addressing Social Security scored poorly among the public, which helps explain why Congress hasn’t embraced them.” But the AP said its poll, conducted in mid-August, “forced people to make a choice: Raise taxes or cut benefits? Raise the retirement age or cut monthly payments?” The problem? The AP didn’t tell survey responders or its readers that raising the retirement age is a cut, a big one that will result in smaller monthly benefits.
New York Times (NAT)
2 Campaigns Differ Sharply on Medicaid, Seeking Vast Growth or Vast Cuts
The way Mitt Romney and Representative Paul D. Ryan frame it, the debate over social programs that has become a dominant theme of the presidential race is all about the future of Medicare, the government health insurance program for retirees. But the outcome of the election willprobably have a more immediate and profound effect on Medicaid, the joint state-federal program that provides health care to poor and disabled people. Few other issues present a starker difference between the Republican and Democratic tickets. President Obama, through the health care law that was a centerpiece of his domestic agenda, seeks a vast expansion of Medicaid, which currently covers more than 60 million Americans — compared with 50 million in Medicare — and costs the states and the federal government more than $400 billion a year. To fulfill the law’s goal of near-universal coverage, the president envisions adding as many as 17 million people to the rolls by allowing everyone with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty level to enroll, including many childless adults. …
In Ryan's home state, Biden delights in trains, football and taking on Ryan
But the meat of Biden's campaign speech Sunday also offered a new attack on Ryan's claims that President Barack Obama ignored the recommendations of a bipartisan commission he created to address the nation's staggering deficit in 2010.
"What he didn’t tell you is he sat on that commission," Biden said. "He and his House Republican friends that he leads – had they voted with the commission, it would have been voted on but he voted no. He would not let it go to the floor. He walked away!"
Huffington Post (NAT)
Will the Democrats Speak for the People?
Richard (RJ) Eskow
The President still positions himself as someone who can work with elected Republicans, despite their open hostility to everything that might help him, his party, or the vast majority of Americans. He's distancing himself from other Democratic candidates and frustrated he doesn't get more credit for his willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare. If he strikes that pose again in Charlotte, who'll speak for the rest of us? Who'll speak for more than twenty million Americans still looking for work, four years after bankers ruined the economy -- and were rescued to continue their pillaging? Who'll speak for the college grads burdened with debt in a jobless world?
Medicare's political importance goes beyond seniors
Medicare moved to the forefront of the campaign three weeks ago after Romney chose Ryan as his running mate. The "Ryan plan," much of which Republicans incorporated into their party's platform at the convention, would replace Medicare's wide-ranging coverage of health services for the elderly with a voucher program for seniors to buy their own care.
Polls consistently show that Republicans have an edge among seniors, whose defense of Medicare has traditionally made it a politically untouchable issue. Obama and his fellow Democrats hope the Ryan plan will shift some of that support their way.
Party strategists believe even richer spoils could be had among baby boomers. That group, which includes large numbers of the independent middle-class voters Obama needs for re-election, tends to favor Democrats. "Baby boomers are particularly concerned about the stability of their retirement," said U.S. Representative Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "If you're a baby boomer in the middle class, since 2000 you've seen the value of your paycheck decline, the value of your home decline and you've seen your 401(k) diminish and you're worried about your retirement," Israel said. "What's the Romney-Ryan solution? End Medicare."
The Star-Ledger (NJ)
Social Security: one pot divided by three generations
The reason today’s oldest seniors so dread "being a burden to their children" is that’s precisely what many saw happen when they were youngsters. They knew Grandma lived with them because she had to, or Aunt Esther or Uncle James had nowhere else to go.
Neither my parents nor my in-laws have ever needed my financial help. Like most people, that was due to a combination of hard work, good genes, luck and frugality. But part of it was also due to Social Security.
Had there been no Social Security, it’s possible many of their generation would’ve eventually turned to their children for support.
When they didn’t, it meant my generation’s resources went untapped. So we benefited hugely from their Social Security. And as a result, so did our kids.
New York Times (NAT)
The Medicare Killers
Paul Ryan’s speech Wednesday night may have accomplished one good thing: It finally may have dispelled the myth that he is a Serious, Honest Conservative. Indeed, Mr. Ryan’s brazen dishonesty left even his critics breathless.
Some of his fibs were trivial but telling, like his suggestion that President Obama is responsible for a closed auto plant in his hometown, even though the plant closed before Mr. Obama took office. Others were infuriating, like his sanctimonious declaration that “the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” This from a man proposing savage cuts in Medicaid, which would cause tens of millions of vulnerable Americans to lose health coverage.
And Mr. Ryan — who has proposed $4.3 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, versus only about $1.7 trillion in specific spending cuts — is still posing as a deficit hawk. But Mr. Ryan’s big lie — and, yes, it deserves that designation — was his claim that “a Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare.” Actually, it would kill the program.
The Anniston Star (AL)
Mark D. Voorhest
Social Security and Medicare are entitlements that politicians want to reform. I have been collecting a paycheck for more than 38 years and I have seen a deduction every week for both of these entitlements. As an employer, I have been matching these items each week, as well. So I think most would agree that after paying into programs for your entire working career that, yes, you are entitled to the benefits. The following are the real “entitlements” we should be discussing:1. Congressmen who get a guaranteed pension after five years in Congress. Why not just Social Security? 2. Congressmen who have “Cadillac” health-care plans for life, while voting against any type of health-care reform.
Ann Arbor (MI)
Social safety net: Who needs it?
As a sociologist, I was curious about the nature of the incarcerations. What offenses were common? Small stuff, the docent said; mostly public drunkenness or disorderly conduct. But then she added the surprise.
In the wintertime, local farmers would send their daughters to live in the jail for the duration of the season. There wasn’t enough food on the farm to feed them. Because the jailor was obliged to house and feed them, the young women would be warm, fed, and protected. “There wasn’t a social safety net back then,” the docent said, “like we have now.”
Beaumont Enterprise (TX)
LETTERS: Medicare, Social Security are sound
On Aug. 19, Senior Policy Analyst Brenda Sulick of the National Committee to Preserve Medicare, a non-partisan group of Democrats, Republicans and independents, appeared on C-SPAN to discuss the future of Medicare and Social Security.
The gist for her report contradicts Republican assertions that Medicare and Social Security are both on the verge of collapse. In reality, Social Security is solvent and capable of paying current benefits through the year 2033, while Medicare is capable of paying current benefits through the year 2024. Modest adjustments are needed to extend the ability of both programs to pay similar levels of benefits many more years into the future. All that is needed is the will of Congress, particularly Republicans and Tea Party members, to do what is right for the American people.
It is a bald-faced lie that $750 billion will be taken from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act, also known, disparagingly to some, as Obamacare. President Obama has said he is proud to have the program called Obamacare because he does care for the poor.
TC Palm (FL)
Letter: No thanks to proposals that award wealthy, put elderly on tighter budgets
I thank my mother who worked till the age of 76 and paid Social Security since 1937, which in turn helped to pay for my Social Security benefits. Mercier apparently forgets his grandparents, who didn't have Social Security or Medicare and had to worked till they died or had to depend on their children for support.
Policy Mic (Blog)
Romney Speech at RNC Was Vague Because Polls Show Most Americans Hate His Positions
The second reason Romney avoided going into any real detail about his “excellent” ideas is because vast swaths of the American public want nothing to do with them. Romney’s aides are no doubt well-aware that the more specific they get about his plans for the country, the less viable he becomes as a candidate. Although he isn’t harping on them now, in the past Romney has called for the privatization of Social Security and Medicare, a la his running mate’s “Path to Prosperity,” an amazingly transparent scheme to finance tax cuts for wealthy Americans by gutting social programs that benefit mostly middle and lower class Americans.
New York Times (NAT)
Rosie Ruiz Republicans
Remember Rosie Ruiz? In 1980 she was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon — except it turned out that she hadn’t actually run most of the race, that she sneaked onto the course around a mile from the end. Ever since, she has symbolized a particular kind of fraud, in which people claim credit for achieving things they have not, in fact, achieved.
And these days Paul Ryan is the Rosie Ruiz of American politics.
Joe Biden takes aim at ‘Vouchercare’
Seung Min Kim
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Wading into Paul Ryan territory, Vice President Joe Biden delivered a blistering critique of the GOP vice presidential nominee’s Medicare proposal and warned that the Republican ticket would turn the health care system for seniors into “Vouchercare.”
As he campaigned in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin on Sunday, Biden hammered Ryan and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for endorsing a Medicare proposal that would give seniors subsidies to purchase private health care plans. Biden, echoing a common Democratic attack, accused Republicans of wanting to “end the guarantee of Medicare.”
New York Daily News (NY)
Yes, Paul Ryan lied, and yes, it matters
Ryan said that Obama’s "first order of economic business" was health-care reform. This is quite obviously not true. The derided stimulus bill passed within a few weeks of Obama taking office, health care a year later. Of course, Ryan’s claim that Obamacare "put the federal government in charge of health care" is an oft-repeated charge that is also a lie. The ACA brings more regulation into the health care marketplace; this is true. But it doesn’t put the federal government in charge of health care. In fact, for the areas of the health care system that actually are the charge of the federal government (Medicare and Medicaid), Ryan claims he wants to protect and strengthen them. In addition, Ryan has also asserted that Obamacare raises taxes on "millions of small businesses." This is pants on fire untrue. In most cases, Obamacare provides small business with a tax cut.
On Medicare, Ryan’s assertion that the President took "$716 billion" and “funneled [it] out of Medicare” is belied by the fact that many of the cuts to Medicare went back into the program, for example filling the so-called "donut hole" in Medicare Part D. It also ignores the fact that Ryan supported the exact same reductions before he conveniently changed his mind, though in his case the savings would have primarily funded tax cuts primarily benefiting the wealthy. Moreover, Ryan’s argument that these cuts mean an "obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed" is simply not true. In fact, the reductions in Medicare spending (while it may seem counter-intuitive) strengthen the program’s long-term solvency for 8 additional years – from 2016 to 2024.
Pelosi blasts Ryan Medicare plan at convention
“We’re going to reject the Ryan plan, which is a transparent trick to end Medicare,” Pelosi said during a gathering over breakfast. “It’s just plain wrong to privatize, voucherize and end Medicare as we know it. So it's just plain wrong to give insurance companies …more, charge seniors more, more than $6,000 a year. It’s wrong, it’s morally wrong, it’s economically wrong.”
New York Times (NAT)
Ryan’s Budget Proposal Is Pitting G.O.P. Troops Against Top of the Ticket
TAMPA, Fla. — Even as Mitt Romney and Representative Paul D. Ryan exhort Republicans to embrace their proposed Medicare changes and spending cuts, the party’s rank and file is growing less enthusiastic about the fight than the top of the ticket.
Republican lawmakers and candidates are distancing themselves from the Ryan budget plan, which helped make the proposed changes a national issue. Republicans say the party now belongs to the more senior — and historically more malleable — member of the ticket, Mr. Romney, and not Mr. Ryan, the younger conservative firebrand who has become the subject of repeated Democratic criticism.
Fosters Daily Democrat (NH)
Medicare, Social Security need frank talk
U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta
First, I want you to know this: I'm committed to making sure there will be no changes for anyone who is currently receiving Social Security and/or Medicare benefits, or for those who are nearing retirement age. I'm dedicated to making sure seniors will continue receiving the benefits they were promised.
CBS Local (PA)
Jenkintown Social Security Office Closing; Congresswoman Appeals Decision
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – The Social Security Administration says it will close its Jenkintown field office at the end of this month (September 28th), leaving residents of Eastern Montgomery County without a local office, but at least one local lawmaker is hoping to get the decision reversed.