USA Today (NAT)
Roundup: Skip gimmicks, focus on richest paying fair share
Sen. Bernie Sanders
If you do not believe that the budget should be balanced on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor, skip the bus tour that David Walker and my good friend Ross Perot asked your readers to hop on ("Column: The national debt, our $10 million-a-minute problem").
This tour is funded almost entirely by Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson, who has pledged to spend $1 billion of his fortune on a campaign to cut Social Security and other vitally important programs while slashing tax rates for the wealthy and large corporations.
Nightly Business (NAT)
Video: Sen. Simpson on why Paul Ryan Voted "No" on Simpson-Bowles
Simpson: Erskine and I went to see them, I think the day after the vote . . . (Rep. Jeb) Hensarling, very bright guy, third in the leadership over there—Camp—the head of Ways and Means—and Ryan, head of Budget. And I said to them—Erskine usually has to grab my arm—I do rant a little. I said, look, I want to tell you something. If you guys voted against this because of Grover Norquist, I have lost all respect for everyone of you forever. They just listened to me finally rant and then they said, “No, Al, here’s the deal. If you take away—which is what our plan did—we hit everybody. Don’t forget and we took care of the most vulnerable poeple in society. Not only in Social Security, but in SSI and Food stamps. Don’t forget. Read what we did before people rant. But anyway, he said we believe by getting rid of the employer deduction for the employee health care premiums, the employers are just going to look around and panic and take all of their employers into Obamacare or whatever care you want to call it, and bloat that system further. That was a good enough answer for me, because there was truth in that.
New York Times (NAT)
Medicare Voucher Costs
As a former chief executive and actuary of an insurance company that once sold both individual and group health insurance, I am particularly mystified by the effort to push Medicare participants into the individual health insurance market. I thought that we wanted to reduce — or at least control — the cost of health insurance, but individual health insurance is by far the most expensive alternative.
Depending on the size of the vouchers, the government itself may save money, but the entire system will pay more. Someone has to pay for the costs of individual underwriting, marketing and so on, and those expenses will fall on the elderly themselves.
No kaboom from Paul Ryan Medicare bomb
Edward-Isaac Dovere and David Nather
Democrats thought Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal would shift the focus away from Mitt Romney, terrify the elderly and take places like Florida and other key states off the table. That’s not happening. Not yet, anyway. Polls and interviews show that for now, Romney’s selection of Ryan hasn’t fundamentally shifted the dynamics of a deadlocked race. The polls leave no question that huge numbers of people oppose the core of Ryan’s plan. But they show something else too: Democrats haven’t yet been able to turn that opposition into a way to take down the Romney-Ryan ticket. They’ve still got time, with millions of dollars in TV ads, three presidential debates and a vice presidential debate to chip away at Ryan. And the economy is still the most important issue for voters — so important that some voters who don’t like the Ryan Medicare plan may vote for Romney anyway because they like him better on the economy, pollsters say.
Toledo Free Press (OH)
Strickland: Romney, Ryan offer poor plans for Medicare, Social Security
The three also talked about Romney/Ryan’s plan to partially privatize Social Security. The plan encourages those younger than 55 to divert half their Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts. This leaves their retirement funds vulnerable to the stock market, Strickland said.
“[Seniors have] spent years and years earning their benefits and worked too hard to see them cut,” Bates said. McNamara told the seniors, “We owe you a debt of gratitude. You worked your entire lives to make this country great.” Strickland briefly addressed possible cuts to Pell grants and the potential doubling of interest rates. “It would hurt our students and their ability to afford an education,” he said. At the end of Bates’ and McNamara’s talks, Strickland returned the podium to talk about a news segment he’d seen earlier that day, featuring two Romney supporters arguing in favor of upping the retirement age. “I thought to myself, those fellows look pretty comfortable,” Strickland said. “They are so cut off from the lives you and I and most of the people live.” After the speeches, Barbara Baumgartner of Perrysburg said she was worried for how these program cuts would affect her children, who are in their 40s.
Raise Social Security cap level on taxing wages
Each of the AP’s articles has pointed out that the Social Security tax is applied to the first $110,000 of a worker’s wages. Why don’t we simply raise or eliminate that cap?
Many “think tanks” have calculated the effects of raising the cap to various levels or eliminating it outright, yet politicians continue to focus on the specter of reduced benefits or raising the qualifying age again (which, by the way, is also reduced benefits).
There are two parts to the program: Revenue and benefits. Why does everyone seem to focus on the benefits? A change to the revenue stream can be just as effective. Even if this change would not totally fix the shortfall, it would at least push back the predicted doomsday in 2033.
San Francisco Gate (CA)
Public worker pension changes unveiled
Marisa Lagos and Wyatt Buchanan
Sacramento -- Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers announced a plan Tuesday to restrict pension benefits for new public employees by limiting annual payouts, raising the retirement age and forcing workers to split the cost of retirement benefits with taxpayers.
Starting next year, most newly hired public workers would be eligible for retirement with full benefits at age 62 instead of the current 55. Local police and firefighters hired on or after Jan. 1 would be eligible for full benefits at age 57, while currently employed public safety workers would still be able to retire with full benefits at age 50.
While the changes fall short of what Brown proposed last year, the governor said they "require sacrifice from public employees and represent a significant step forward."
"These reforms make fundamental changes that rein in costs and help to ensure that our public retirement system is sustainable for the long term," he said in a written statement.
State Journal (WV)
Studies find older Americans hesitant to embrace Medicare changes
As Congress debates possible changes to Medicare and Social Security, one Pew study found that the demographic most reliant on those programs are resistant to change.
An Aug. 13 Pew Research Center for the People and the Press study found that older Americans continue to hesitate embracing proposed changes to the entitlement programs more than a year after the changes were proposed. A Pew study from last summer found that those aged 65 and older had a negative reaction to Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to reshape Medicare into a voucher system. Ryan is now the GOP's vice presidential pick. Fifty-one percent of older Americans opposed the plan when asked last May and 25 percent favored the plan. People under the age of 50 were far more likely to support Ryan's plan than people older than 50, the study found.
24/7 Wall Street (Blog)
Half of Americans Die Broke
New research from MIT indicates that nearly half of Americans die with essentially no financial assets. About 46% of U.S. senior citizens hold less than $10,000 in assets at the time of their deaths according to the study.
Of these people, most depend on Social Security as their sole means of support and thus have no ability to meet even relatively mild financial shocks. An unplanned medical expense not covered by Medicare, for example, could capsize the financial lifeboat these people occupy.
North Carolina moves in CNN Electoral Map
(CNN) – CNN Monday turned the important battleground state of North Carolina from "lean Romney" to true "toss up" on its Electoral Map, following the release of a new CNN/Time Magazine/ORC International poll that indicated the race for the state's 15 electoral votes was a dead heat. The move by CNN comes one week before the Democratic convention kicks off in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kaiser Health News (NAT)
Paul Ryan On Health Care
On Medicare and aging, Ryan:
Proposed revamping Medicare to, among other things, change it from a defined benefit to a premium-support program. Starting in 2023, Ryan’s budget would give future Medicare beneficiaries (those currently younger than 55) a set amount – a voucher -- to purchase either a private health plan or the traditional government-administered program. His proposal also would increase the eligibility age from 65 to 67.
In 2011, teamed up with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., for Medicare overhaul plan: Guaranteed Choices To Strengthen Medicare And Health Security For All.
In 2003, voted in favor of Medicare Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of
The Hill (DC)
Republican faithful excited for Paul Ryan's convention address
TAMPA, Fla. — Republicans attending their party’s national convention are brimming with excitement for Rep. Paul Ryan’s address on Wednesday.Anticipation is high that the Wisconsin lawmaker, picked by Mitt Romney as his running mate, will energize the GOP faithful just as much as Sarah Palin — but without the drawbacks.
Tampa Bay Times (FL)
GOP needs an alternative to health reform
Call it Mitt's Mantra. As soon as he moves into the White House, Mitt Romney promises, he will demand that Congress repeal the health care reform law that is President Barack Obama's signature achievement. Far less clear is how Romney and Republicans in Congress would replace the Affordable Care Act. That is a critical question for Florida, which has nearly 4 million uninsured residents and has failed to develop its own solution.Florida's hospitals were on the hook last year for $2.8 billion in uncompensated care. Tampa General Hospital spent more than $60 million on uncompensated care, while St. Petersburg's Bayfront Medical Center spent $34.7 million. Whatever one thinks of the Affordable Care Act, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will bring health coverage to 30 million people while reducing the federal deficit by $109 billion over 10 years. That's true even if some states like Florida decline to expand Medicaid to cover all adults under 133 percent of the federal poverty line. Where the law needs more work is in controlling costs, an essential ingredient in health care reform and an opportunity for Republicans to do better.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Four days after Romney put you on the ticket, you began parroting his Medicare shtick. You protested that Obama’s $700 billion savings in the future growth of Medicare payments to providers—a spending reduction that any sensible conservative president would have sought, and that you had previously included in your budget plan—would “lead to fewer services for seniors.” You depicted a horror scenario: “a $3,600 cut in benefits for current seniors. Nearly one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business.” You assured seniors that the Romney-Ryan agenda for Medicare “does not affect your benefits.” And you promised future retirees “guaranteed affordability” of health care. In short, you adopted every tactic in the liberal playbook. You framed a reduced rate of growth as a draconian cut. You inflated the likely impact of the reduction. You denounced any loss of services as unacceptable. You promised not to touch seniors’ benefits. And you reaffirmed a fiscally unsustainable guarantee. By my count, you’ve now done this in at least six speeches and rallies. Every day, you’re reinforcing the culture of entitlement and making it harder to rein in retirement programs.
Washington Post (NAT)
The Obama administration has cut taxes
In his convention speech, Ohio Gov. John Kasich highlighted his tax cuts as one reason his state is recovering while the broader economy languishes. Fair enough, I guess. But the implicit contrast with President Obama doesn’t make a lot of sense. Obama has, after all, cut taxes since coming into office.
As Dylan Matthews has written, the Obama administration has passed three major bills affecting the taxes people paid over the last four years. The stimulus, which included $289.6 billion in tax cuts; the 2010 tax deal, which included more than $800 billion in tax cuts; and the payroll tax deal, which extended the payroll tax cut and a handful of other policies through 2012. They also passed the Affordable Care Act, which included lots of tax cuts to help poorer people buy insurance and lots of tax increases to help pay for the tax cuts, but those changes don’t really take effect for a few years yet.
For these reasons — and because the economy tanked — tax receipts have hovered around their lowest level since the Eisenhower era. Here’s the graph: