Reader Support News (NAT)
Don't Let Wall Street Billionaires Destroy Social Security
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Under George W. Bush and his fellow "deficit hawks," an overly-expensive Medicare prescription drug program written by the insurance and drug companies was signed into law.
This program, which explicitly prevented the government from negotiating lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry, was not paid for and will end up adding some $400 billion to our national debt over a 10-year period.
Now, having run up huge deficits, our born-again "deficit hawks," on behalf of their billionaire allies, want to cut Social Security to save money. What's wrong with this picture? First, despite Wall Street and right-wing misleading rhetoric, Social Security, which is funded by the payroll tax, has not contributed one nickel to the deficit. Second, the Social Security Trust Fund today, according to the Social Security Administration, has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay 100 percent of all benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 21 years.
Political News (NAT)
Sanders Defends Social Security from Wall Street Attacks
"The American people should not be fooled by the misinformation that will be spread at these ‘grassroots' gatherings backed by some of the most powerful Wall Street, insurance, and corporate CEOs in the country," Sanders said. "The goal of these ‘town meetings' is to convince the people of New Hampshire and the rest of America that the only effective way to address the deficit crisis is to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. Don't believe it!"
Huffington Post (NAT)
Obama, Yes... and Win the House, Too
Stand up for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- and expose all GOP incumbents who have voted to destroy those popular programs.
A large number of House Republicans are on record calling for cuts to Social Security benefits or increases in the retirement age. And many support the kind of privatization of Social Security that Paul Ryan called for in his 2010 Roadmap for America's Future, embraced by most of the House Republican caucus. If Democratic challengers are bold enough to declare opposition to Social Security benefit cuts and attack the idea of privatization, they will find they can put their Republican opponents on the defensive, as these damaging changes to America's most important retirement program are unpopular, even to members of the Tea Party.
LA Times (NAT)
Know the consequences of cutting Medicaid
GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has proposed converting Medicaid from a traditional reimbursement program into a block grant, through which states would get a lump sum from Washington to spend on beneficiaries as they please; this plan was part of the budget passed this year by the GOP House and has been endorsed, at least implicitly, by Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Meanwhile, the governors of six Southern states have announced that they'll be rejecting a sizable expansion of Medicaid written into the 2010 healthcare reform act. They've been empowered to do so by the U.S. Supreme Court, which eliminated the government's ability to enforce the expansion in the same decision in which it upheld the rest of the healthcare act. Five other states are leaning toward nonparticipation but haven't pulled the trigger. Eleven so far, including California, have committed to expansion.
Much of this maneuvering has flown under the radar or been lost in the noise devoted to Medicare reform proposals. But former President Clinton highlighted the issue during his Democratic convention speech last week.
CBS News (NAT)
Are your Social Security taxes a good investment?
(MoneyWatch) Will you get your money's worth from paying your Social Security taxes? If I received a dollar every time I heard a "no" answer to this question, I could retire right now! Unfortunately, many of these "no" answers are based on opinion, not facts and figures.
One authoritative answer comes from the actuaries at Social Security, who recently released a report in which they estimated the real rates of return that various hypothetical workers might receive from the contributions they and their employers pay into Social Security. This comprehensive analysis suggests that the answer to the question is "yes" for the vast majority of workers. Let's take a look.
Associated Press (NAT)
Obama hits Romney with new Medicare study
Jim Kuhnhenn and Matthew Daly
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — President Barack Obama is drawing fresh attention to Medicare in all-important Florida, seizing on an election-year issue that's been more favorable to Democrats.
Campaigning for a second day in a state where older voters and workers approaching retirement hold sway, Obama was expected to highlight a study by a Democratic leaning group that concluded that on average a man or woman retiring at age 65 in 2023 would have to pay $59,500 more for health care over the length of their retirement under Mitt Romney's plan.
The numbers are even higher for younger people who retire later, the study found. A person who qualifies for Medicare in 2030 — today's 48-year-old — would see an increase of $124,600 in Medicare costs over their retirement period.
Washington Post (NAT)
Medicaid as a middle-class entitlement
Is Clinton right to describe Medicaid as a middle-class program? For the adults it serves, not really: Most states cap Medicaid eligibility for parents well below the poverty line. If an adult does not have children, he or she is usually not eligible at all. Only eight states offer Medicaid coverage to single adults.
But if you look at two other populations — children and the elderly — it does indeed serve a middle class demographic.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program, created in 1997, is responsible for bringing Medicaid to middle-class kids Under CHIP, some states cover children up to 300 percent of the poverty line — a $60,520 income for a family of four.
Financial Times (NAT)
Obama was right not to embrace Bowles-Simpson
Sir, Contrary to what you state in your editorial, “Obama’s chance to take high ground” (September 4), Bowles-Simpson is not the solution to US economic ills. President Barack Obama was correct in not embracing it. Bowles-Simpson is the document of two very wealthy rightwingers, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, and it expresses their point of view. Bowles-Simpson is a prescription for downsizing government while lowering the marginal tax rate, cutting corporation taxes, Medicare, Medicaid and cost of living adjustments for social security.
Bowles-Simpson would only hurt middle class
Tom Pagliara’s op-ed on Sept. 6 embracing Bowles-Simpson as the solution to our economic woes is very selective on the facts. What Pagliara is recommending would decimate the middle class, and set back economic growth for decades to come.
First off, there isn’t actually a Bowles-Simpson; the plan under that name is so regressive it didn’t even have the votes to pass out of the deficit commission. What Pagliara fails to note is that Bowles-Simpson raises the retirement age, cuts Social Security benefits, increases out-of-pocket costs for Medicare, eliminates deductions for mortgage interest and health-care benefits, eliminates subsidized student loans, and raises taxes on the bottom 80 percent of families, while cutting taxes for the top 20 percent. And that’s just the beginning. It represents a large upward shift of wealth from the middle class.
Muskogee Phoenix (OK)
AARP collecting ideas on social programs
— Representatives of AARP want the opinions of anyone with concerns about the future of Social Security and Medicare. “We knew it would be a big issue for Congress soon after the presidential election. And feedback we’ve received from our members tell us they want to be heard,” said Cheryl Matheis, AARP’s senior vice president for policy.
AARP has put together a website and questionnaire. It’s also set up a way to get in touch with legislators and the presidential nominees.
Newburyport Daily News (MA)
Grave problems with Ryan voucher plan
Republicans want to gut the Medicaid health care for the poor, children, seniors in nursing homes, and the lower middle class with block grants to the states — and let the states pay for them. The problem being that many states are on the verge of bankruptcy and making severe budget cuts that have negative effects on their citizens.
The Social Security system is also under attack. When President Bush advocated the idea of privatizing Social Security, the public at large rejected it — good thing they did, because shortly after that the stock market crashed — retirement money—gone! Our national debt is a serious problem that has to be dealt with, but not off the backs of the poor, children, disabled, seniors and middle class of lower incomes.
Letter: We can't afford Romney-Ryan plan
Neither the Ryan nor the Romney budget brings down the deficit, the plans do destroy Medicare and Social Security next.
GOP must end obstruction and delay
Sen. Harry Reid
Yet ever since Barack Obama took office, Republicans have done little but obstruct and delay. The Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, made his plans clear when he declared that his “single most important” goal was defeating the president — not creating jobs or helping the middle class.
Republicans have mounted filibuster after filibuster against legislation they opposed for reasons of politics — not substance. Since Democrats took control of the Senate in 2006, Republicans have mounted 380 filibusters. This far exceeds anything we’ve seen before in the Senate. By comparison, in Lyndon B. Johnson’s six years as Senate majority leader, he faced just one filibuster.
New York Times (NAT)
Revenge of the Three-Legged Stool
Another day, another Romney whopper. Now he says that he’ll keep the good parts of Obamacare, in particular coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, while scrapping the rest. You can’t do that – and Romney knows very well that you can’t do that, because the logic that went into Romneycare in Massachusetts is the same as the logic behind Obamacare.
Suppose you want to guarantee that insurance is available to people with pre-existing conditions. Well, you can establish community rating, requiring that insurance companies make the same policies available to everyone. But if you stop there, you know what will happen: healthy people will opt out, leaving behind a high-risk, high-cost pool.
Talking Points Memo (NAT)
Romney: Sorry, No Preexisting Conditions Guarantee Unless You’re Already Insured
Details of Romney’s plan are scant. For months he has sought to paint himself as supportive of helping people with preexisting conditions. But he’s caught in a predicament: enacting a robust guarantee would require maintaining other major market-driven provisions in the Affordable Care Act in order to be financially viable — which is unacceptable to the Republican base. But supporting a weaker policy would invariably leave many sick Americans out in the cold.
The Republican nominee’s remarks Sunday served to position him favorably on the issue, but his campaign’s clarification to reporters later affirmed that he still supports the scaled-back policy he unveiled earlier this summer. “So let’s say someone has been continuously insured and they develop a serious condition,” Romney explained on the campaign trail in June. “And let’s say they lose their job or they change jobs, they move and they go to a new place. I don’t want them to be denied insurance because they’ve got some preexisting condition.”
Forecast for GOP Senate takeover: More clouds
Even Republicans are saying it: The GOP Senate takeover they all thought was almost a sure thing a year ago now looks like a coin flip at best.
POLITICO surveyed more than a dozen top Republican strategists last week to gauge the party’s outlook for the upper chamber coming out of the conventions and into the election home stretch. None called the task impossible, but most said the path to the Senate majority is much narrower than even a few months ago.