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Speaker Ryan Has Three Goals: Destroy Social Security, Medicare And The USPS

Paul Ryan (FLIKR CC Starley Shelton)

Paul Ryan (FLIKR CC Starley Shelton)

Koch Brothers darling Multi Millionaire Congressman Paul Ryan is leaping back on to the national stage as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr Ryan was initially hesitant citing family concerns (despite the fact he is an opponent of paid leave for ordinary Americans)  but eventually was swayed by other GOP leaders to take the job. Ryan, who seems fixated on reducing retirement benefits for both the American public and especially federal workers, will have a larger platform to try to make these cuts a reality. Clearly these ideas are unpopular to many but as Paul Krugman brilliantly stated, Ryan is “the best con man they got.”  Republicans are using him to sell their treasure trove of unpopular policies to the apathetic American Public

Ryan was an architect of George Bush’s  failed plan to partially privatize  Social Security in 2005. More recently Ryan has teamed up with Congressman Darrell Issa to push the idea of reducing Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) benefits for Federal Workers. In a letter to the Congressional Budget Office they emphasized that the CBO should consider “different options for reforming FERS, based on changes made in recent years to other large pension plans, both public and private. The report should include, but not limit itself to, adjusting the retirement contributions of federal employees, altering the formula for computing pension benefit payments, and expanding the defined contribution component while reducing the defined benefit component.” This sounds quite ominous for Federal Workers. The intent is crystal clear.

As outlined in The New Yorker Ryan believes the only reason privatization failed in 2005 was because of the way it was marketed.

“The Administration did a bad job of selling it,” he told me. Bush had campaigned on national-security issues, only to pitch Social Security reform after reelection. “And . . . thud,” Ryan said. “You’ve got to prepare the country for these things. You can’t just spring it on them after you win.” The lesson: “Don’t let the engineers run the marketing department.”


Here is where the job of being an elite con man comes into play.

10404189_10153548324976418_913827613849190064_nAfter repeatedly emphasizing he did not want the Speaker’s job he abruptly changed his mind and accepted it. Publicly he worried that “its a job for a empty nester” not a person with young children.  “I cannot and will not give up my family time,” he told reporters before abruptly changing his mind.  Curiously Ryan has been a staunch opponent of paid family leave despite the fact the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not offer paid family leave.  Astonishingly this country ranks last in government supported time off for new parents.

“Paul Ryan is rightly concerned about his job’s impact on his spouse and children,” said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project. “Yet [he] isn’t willing to guarantee that all workers… have the necessary tools to balance their work and family obligations.”FT_13.12.11_parentalLeave

“For workers without paid family leave, taking time off to care for a new baby or a seriously ill loved one can have devastating long-term financial consequences, ranging from racking up credit card debt to raiding savings to bankruptcy,” Dina Bakst, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, told ABC News. “Paid family leave would provide a critical safety net for these working families in their times of need.”

Make no mistake Speaker Ryan will be pushing an agenda that is quite friendly to Multi Millionaires children at the expense of working families.  “My greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up, of some day having my own kids ask me, ‘When the stakes were so high, why didn’t you do all you could? Why didn’t you stand and fight for my future when you had the chance?'” Ryan said to reporters. His children do not have to worry he will make life easier for children of the wealthy at every turn.

Speaker Ryan will try to dismantle the three of most popular parts of the federal government to continue the GOP fixation of shrinking government.

Speaker Ryan accepts millions of dollars from individuals and groups that will profit by turning medicare/medicaid into a voucher scheme and by the privatization of Social Security.  He targets for “reform” include vital government services like the US Postal Service, Social Security Administration, and Medicare/Medicaid all services that benefit ordinary Americans.  The wealthy have no need for a safety net. They want to profit by its demise.

Speaker Ryan will now play the role of con man daily on a national scale. He surely will be selling day for night.  We all must call him out on his continued  hypocrisy before our countries safety net vanishes.  Ryan and his fellow multi millionaire politicians are in politics for the wrong reason. They want to accelerate the wealth of the few at the expense of the many.



Congress Pushes Budget Deal To Avoid Shutdown, Delays Sequester, And Partially Preserve Social Security

Today the White House and congressional leadership announced a budget agreement that sets government funding levels for two years and extends the nation’s borrowing limit through 2017. The agreement provides the defense and domestic discretionary budgets with equal relief from mandatory spending cuts.

“This budget agreement provides a balanced approach to funding the federal government over the next two years,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “I’m very encouraged that leadership in Congress and the White House were able to find a bipartisan compromise that lifts the debt ceiling and provides much needed relief from across the board budget cuts known as sequestration. More blind budget cutting would be disastrous for New Hampshire families and our state’s economy. It’s my hope that Congress can quickly approve this legislation and avoid any last-minute brinkmanship that could threaten the full faith and credit of the United States.”

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. praised the deal as it relieved workers from the fear of another government shutdown and forced unpaid furloughs. 

“This budget deal is an exceedingly rare example of what can be accomplished when elected leaders put aside their partisan bickering and govern in a responsible way that benefits working families.

The bipartisan budget deal announced by congressional leaders and the White House would suspend sequestration for the next two years and provide much-needed increases in military and domestic spending.

Federal workers have endured $159 billion in cuts under the guise of fiscal restraint, and our members were united in opposing any budget that would target them for additional sacrifice.

The budget also is good news for federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System, who will no longer be facing a 53% increase in their premiums under Medicare Part B.

Federal employees are relieved that they will no longer be facing the threat of another government shutdown or unpaid furloughs. We urge the Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act altogether so that these manufactured crises will no longer occur.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka appeared to be more relieved than joyful over the deal.

“Congressional leaders and the President successfully eluded the traps set by a conservative faction in Congress who have tried to hold our economy hostage to achieve their radical agenda.

The full faith and credit of the United States will be preserved as we pay our bills on time – preventing brinksmanship over the debt until 2017.

Tight budget caps on defense and non-defense spending will be eased, restoring funding for vital programs and stimulating the economy. While it fails to provide Medicare beneficiaries with full relief from higher costs, it reduces a spike in deductibles for everyone and avoids a sharp increase in premiums for many. It ensures that 11 million Americans on Social Security Disability Insurance continue to receive full benefits through 2022. It avoids across-the-board benefit cuts of nearly 20 percent starting in 2016. 

While it does not offer long-term solutions for these problems, it provides relief without yielding to the conservatives’ extreme “entitlement reform” approaches that would have done real harm.

Now that we have again kept our country from going over the edge, we hope lawmakers will work on a raising wages agenda that can bring better lives to working families.”

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans was pleased that Congress avoided massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare and vowed to continue pushing for a more accurate way to calculate the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly. 

“Movement to prevent a default and avert a government shutdown is welcome news for all Americans, but the deal is not perfect.

The Alliance for Retired Americans is relieved that this budget deal would protect millions of seniors from significant increases to their Medicare Part B deductibles while preventing a 20% cut to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in 2016.

The reallocation between the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and SSDI trust funds would prevent a massive cut in benefits for the disabled. The transfer would not impact the long-term solvency of Social Security.

We would have preferred no increase to Medicare Part B premiums; however, limiting the increases of those who are not ‘held harmless’ is a step in the right direction. In early October, Virginia Alliance President Ron Thompson of Ivor, Virginia spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference on how the increase would financially harm him. Over the last two weeks more than 30,000 Alliance members contacted their Members of Congress saying that a 52% premium hike was unfair and unwarranted. Our voices were heard.

While it appears a crisis has been averted, we have not improved retirement security for our nation’s seniors by expanding their earned Social Security benefits. We will continue to fight to make that a reality by urging Congress to implement a more accurate way to calculate cost-of-living adjustments: the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).”

Congress Votes Tomorrow On Everything That Will Happen For The Rest Of Obama’s Presidency

Congress West Front Late last night, House GOP leadership announced a compromise bill that will (temporarily) end all the Congress-created crises by setting the federal budget and suspending the debt limit through the end of the Obama presidency.

The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow (Wednesday). A draft of the bill is available here.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Right Wing:

  1. It doesn’t try to force through the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  2. It doesn’t try to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
  3. It doesn’t try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  4. It doesn’t try to voucherize Medicare.
  5. It doesn’t try to privatize Social Security.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Working Class:

  1. It doesn’t rein in corporate giveaways to stockholders, such as dividends and buybacks. (Trillions of dollars that corporations could have used to create jobs, pay fair wages and make long-term investments.)
  2. It doesn’t end the tax preference for unearned income. (Most investment income is still taxed at about half the rate of wage income.) Ending this tax preference could end the budget deficit.
  3. It doesn’t eliminate the Social Security wage cap (which would strengthen Social Security, long-term).
  4. It doesn’t raise the minimum wage.
  5. In its current form, it doesn’t do much to reverse previous cuts to Food Stamps, veterans benefits, and other safety-net programs. It doesn’t mention the 2.1 million American workers who are long-term unemployed… or the 1-in-five American children who are living in poverty.

What it does do:

  1. It loosens the Sequester budget restrictions, both for defense and non-defense spending – and it also increases an off-budget military spending account.
  2. It completely rewrites the procedures governing IRS audits of business partnerships. (Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that part of the bill was written by somebody’s lobbyist.)
  3. It diverts some Social Security tax revenue into the Social Security Disability Trust Fund, and *privacy alert* it also creates a new information clearinghouse (presumably, to be used to detect fraud).
  4. It reduces payments to some Medicare providers and regulates the increase in Medicare supplement policy premiums.
  5. It renames the small House rotunda… in honor of the House Freedom Caucus.

It does some other things. Please take the time to read through the bill yourself – and encourage your Congressional representatives to do the same. Contact information for those representatives is available here.


Having watched this impossibly deadlocked Congress — and its impossibly intransigent Right Wing

Personally, if this “grand compromise” happens, I don’t expect anything else to get through this Congress until President Obama leaves office.  (Remember, GOP extremists have been working to “submarine his presidency” since the very first day of his first term.)

Even After 50 Years Of Success, Politicians Are Still Trying To Destroy Medicare


President Johnson signs Medicare into law. Image by the LBJ Library

Today, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare, a critical lifeline for America’s seniors that is working. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that program will be solvent through 2030.

“Fourteen percent of Americans are over the age of 65. Thanks to Medicare, they have a high quality of life in retirement without sacrificing their standard of living or burdening their loved ones with medical bills,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Medicare is a success story. It’s improved and strengthened families, the U.S. health care system and the lives of older Americans and the disabled. We’re encouraging our retiree members to speak out to make sure that it is preserved for future generations.”

“Current and future retirees must be wary of those politicians who are seeking radical changes that would make it harder for seniors and disabled Americans to see a doctor or fill a prescription,” said Fiesta. “Telling our stories about the difference Medicare has made in families’ lives is important.”

But, just last week, we had a new reminder that Medicare, despite it’s success, is under attack by Republicans. Here in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush admitted that he wanted to “phase out” Medicare for future seniors. He even doubled down on his position after being challenged by a frustrated senior in Gorham (video here).

Jane Lang, Vice President of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans confronted Jeb Bush at a town hall meeting in Gorham, NH shortly after he announced his plans to “phase out Medicare.”

After the event, Lang and the NH Alliance for Retired Americans posted a statement:

“Medicare was created 50 years ago this month to ensure that older Americans, who are most in need of health care services, would not have to choose between a hospital stay and keeping a roof over their head.”

“Since then, all Americans have contributed to Medicare with the assumption that it would be there for them when they reached retirement age.”

“We will fight against any attempt to take away our earned health care benefits and make sure that older Americans know who is on our side, and who is not.”

Jeb Bush isn’t the only Republican that wants to end Medicare as we know it. Several, including Kelly Ayotte, tried to pass the Ryan budget, which would end the program as we know it, while at the same time increasing out-of-pocket costs for seniors.

Ayotte has voted three times for the Ryan Budget that would turn Medicare into a voucher program, which could rob over 450,000 seniors and soon-to-be seniors across New Hampshire of the benefits they’ve rightfully earned. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Every GOP presidential candidate wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has helped to strengthen Medicare’s solvency for the future, while also saving seniors billions in prescription drug costs.

“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Medicare as a successful program that hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters rely on for health care, it’s important to see what the Republican nominees for President have in store. Jeb Bush’s comments last week just adds another chapter to the long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it. New Hampshire simply can’t afford Jeb Bush’s ideas to phase out Medicare,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.


Stand Up for Workers at Voters First Forum

Pro-Worker Visibility at NH Voters First Forum

This coming Monday, August 3rd, the New Hampshire Union Leader will be hosting the first Republican Primary (debate) Forum.  All the major players in the GOP Primary are scheduled to attend including Governor Scott Walker, Governor John Kasich, Governor Chris Christie, Senator Rand Paul, Governor Jeb Bush, and the list goes on.  Reportedly there could be as many as 16 candidates on the stage for this forum on Aug. 3rd, just days before the big official Fox News debate.

We want to show that in New Hampshire, workers matter! Many of these politicians are trying to make their career by attacking working families.  Slashing our rights, stealing our pensions, and gutting the programs we have paid into all of our lives.

Come join us for a pro-worker visibility and tell the world that attacking working families is not the road to the White House.

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New Hampshire AFL-CIO members and community allies will join the gathering of pro-labor & progressive voices outside the New Hampshire Union Leader Voters First Forum at St. Anselm College on Monday, August 3. The forum will feature comments by 14 GOP presidential primary candidates, including anti-worker Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Monday, August 3, 2015 | 5:30pm

St. Anselm College, Manchester NH

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Retirees Mark Medicare’s Golden Anniversary with More Than 120 Events Coast to Coast

Alliance For Retired Americans

(Washington, DC) — Recognizing the essential role that Medicare has played in helping older Americans live healthier, longer and more financially secure lives, members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are pulling out all the stops to host nearly 120 events to celebrate and educate the public about the importance and necessity of the program on its 50th birthday on July 30.

Events are happening over the next two weeks from Hawaii to Florida and Maine to California ranging from teach-ins and rallies, to birthday parties with music and policy discussions with members of Congress. For example, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary will perform at an event in Cohoe, New York on July 30. Rallies are planned in Oakland and Los Angeles and at the State Capitol building in Hartford. Smaller events are planned at local gathering spots in Cincinnati and numerous senior centers in other states.

In addition, members of the Alliance will join House and Senate leaders on Capitol Hill on July 29. A list of locations is available here and at www.medicare50th.org/events.

“Fourteen percent of Americans are over the age of 65.Thanks to Medicare, they have a high quality of life in retirement without sacrificing their standard of living or burdening their loved ones with medical bills,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Medicare is a success story. It’s improved and strengthened families, the U.S. health care system and the lives of older Americans and the disabled. We’re encouraging our retiree members to speak out to make sure that it is preserved for future generations.”

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that a strong majority of Americans and Medicare beneficiaries believe it is an important program and favor keeping it intact. Despite this bipartisan public support, Republicans in Congress have introducced dozens of bills that would reduce services and increase costs for beneficiaries, and the leading Republican presidential candidates have all signaled that they want to cut and/or change the fundamental nature of this earned benefit.

“Current and future retirees must be wary of those politicians who are seeking radical changes that would make it harder for seniors and disabled Americans to see a doctor or fill a prescription,” said Fiesta. “Telling our stories about the difference Medicare has made in families’ lives is important.”

The Alliance has created a special website www.medicare50th.org which highlights a few Medicare stories from our members, provides information about anniversary events, and allows visitors to share their experiences with Medicare. It also includes an interactive timeline that highlights key dates in the history of the program.

“Affordable health care for seniors took years to make a reality and would not have happened without committed, grassroots activism. Today’s Alliance members do not take these earned benefits for granted and will continue to speak out to ensure that Medicare remains strong for our children, and for our grandchildren.

Jeb Bush Enrages Granite Staters With Talk Of “Phasing Out” Medicare

Granite Staters Respond to Jeb Bush’s New Plan to “Phase Out” Medicare 

Speaking at an Americans for Prosperity event yesterday, Jeb Bush enraged people when he said “we need to figure out a way to phase out” Medicare for future enrollees.

If you did not see the video, here it is.

Jeb Bush has been outspoken trying to woo his party base with talks of “phasing out” Medicare and raising the retirement age on Social Security.  He also told the Union Leader that people should work more hours.  In Jeb’s world we are all going to work 70 hours a week until we die because seniors will not have access to Medicare and will be force to survive on the bread crumbs that Social Security will provide after Jeb forces through his cuts.

Granite Staters spoke out against Jeb Bush’s comments today saying he is “declaring war on seniors.”

Ray Buckley, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair had this to say about Jeb Bush’s plan to phase out Medicare: 

“In fact the numbers prove that the Affordable Care Act has strengthened medicare’s outlook for decades for come. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, out of pocket costs for preventative services have been eliminated for 183,000 granite state medicare beneficiaries and nearly 19,000 Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries have been phased out of the donut hole coverage gap.  

“This is just the latest chapter in a long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it. And Jeb Bush just made it crystal clear. 

“For half a century, Medicare has remained a critical part of the safety net for our Senior citizens as a sacred promise that we must uphold for future generations. As of 2012, there were 231,000 granite staters that would rely on medicare for health coverage. New Hampshire can’t afford Jeb Bush’s ideas to phase out Medicare and neither can the rest of the country.

“Bush also said last night that he thinks phasing out Medicare will be a quote-unquote “winning argument.” I’m happy to take that bet. Not here in the Granite State.”

A true Granite Stater, Lenore Patton of Hampton, New Hampshire is clearly unhappy with Jeb Bush’s plan:

“I am frustrated that Jeb wants to phase out Medicare. I thought this fight was over when President Obama was elected and our country rejected the Romney-Ryan plan to privatize Medicare. 

Seniors like me have worked hard their whole lives, supported their families, given back to their communities. It’s clear Jeb Bush doesn’t get it. Calling for phasing out Medicare and repealing the Affordable Care Act, which has saved seniors money, is not what we need… 

“Throughout his career Jeb has only fought for the wealthiest – giving them tax breaks that shifted the burden to the middle class. This is no different. 

“Jeb Bush’s plan to phase out Medicare isn’t going to help the middle class, it’ll just put them farther and farther behind. Bush, once again, is looking out for himself and others like him – a way to put more in their pockets – instead of working to help people from falling into poverty. That is something we just can’t stand for.”

The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans have been an outspoken advocate for protecting the social net for seniors and preserving Medicare and Social Security for future generations.

Jane Lange, Vice President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans released the following statement:  

“Jeb Bush has declared war on seniors.”

“By going after their earned Medicare benefits, he is putting our health and economic well-being at risk.”

“Medicare was created 50 years ago this month to ensure that older Americans, who are most in need of health care services, would not have to choose between a hospital stay and keeping a roof over their head.”

“Since then, all Americans have contributed to Medicare with the assumption that it would be there for them when they reached retirement age.”

“We will fight against any attempt to take away our earned health care benefits and make sure that older Americans know who is on our side, and who is not.”

Considering that seniors are the highest demographic of active voters, I think it was unwise to tell them you would like to steal their Medicare.

Kelly Ayotte Votes Against New Hampshire’s Best Interests In Budget

Senator Kelly Ayotte 2 (Gage Skidmore)

Senator Kelly Ayotte at CPAC in 2013 (Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR)

As the Senate wrapped up a slew of budget amendment votes Kelly Ayotte’s priorities were on full display, and now she has to begin the difficult work of trying to explain her indefensible votes to her constituents back home.

Below is just a sampling of where Kelly Ayotte voted against New Hampshire’s best interests:

  • Voted against an amendment to prevent companies from getting tax benefits for shipping jobs overseas. Over 106,000 jobs in New Hampshire are at risk of being outsourced
  • Opposed an amendment to adopt the Paycheck Fairness Act to give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • Voted against measures to protect Social Security against privatization and benefit cuts and prevent Medicare from being turned into a voucher program
  • Voted against an amendment that would let young people refinance their student loans, which would help 129,000 borrowers in New Hampshire, and against restoring cuts to the Pell Grant program
  • Opposed a measure to provide two free years of community college by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes

Kelly Ayotte’s priorities are clear, and New Hampshire students, seniors families and workers don’t make the list.

“If anyone wasn’t clear about how extreme Kelly Ayotte truly is, they don’t need to look any further than her votes on this budget against New Hampshire students, seniors, families and workers,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “New Hampshire voters deserve better than Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to stand up for their best interests and they’ll hold her accountable in 2016.”

These are not the priorities of New Hampshire working families.  These are the priorities of the rich, elite 1% who want to take more from the hard working middle class and refuse to pay their fair share.

“From voting to protect tax benefits for companies that outsource jobs to opposing a measure that would let young people refinance their student loans, Kelly Ayotte proved once again that her focus in Washington is looking out for her special interest allies and not the best interests of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

This budget will not help Granite State families, it will only hurt them.  Slashing social programs that low income families rely on, reducing benefits to seniors who are already struggling to pay their bills on a fixed income, and gives more tax breaks to wealthy corporations who skirt paying their fair share in taxes.

It is obvious that Senator Ayotte is more interested in following her out of touch party leadership than doing what is right for New Hampshire families.  She is also setting herself up nicely for a potential GOP Vice President nomination, building a hefty war chest and voting right down party lines.

Kuster Statement on Passage of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement regarding the passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Actof 2015, which would end the threat of harmful cuts to Medicare reimbursements and prevent millions of children from losing access to health insurance:


“Since taking office, I’ve made fighting to protect Medicare one of my top priorities. Today, I was proud to join an overwhelming majority of members from both sides of the aisle in passing legislation to replace the broken Sustainable Growth Rate formula – which threatened to prevent many Granite State seniors from continuing to see their own doctors – with a new model that protects access to care for our seniors, ensures cost-savings, and most importantly, helps support the sustainability of Medicare for generations to come. 


“This bill also included important measures to protect the Granite State’s most vulnerable: it will extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years and prevent millions of children from losing access to health care, expand funding for Community Health Centers (CHC), and protect vital assistance for low-income seniors.


“This is not a perfect bill, and I will continue to fight for a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But this legislation will help protect access to medical care for older Americans and shore up Medicare for future generations, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to improve this bill and see it signed into law.”

Leo W Gerard: The GOP Has Money To Kill

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (FLIKR CC Peter Stevens)

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (FLIKR CC Peter Stevens)

By Leo W Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers

Shock and awe describes the budgets issued last week by Republicans in the House and Senate. The shock is that the GOP never stops trying to destroy beloved programs like Medicare. Awe inspiring is their audacity in describing their killing plans as moral.

When the House released its budget last Tuesday, Georgia Republican Rep. Rob Woodall said, “A budget is a moral document; it talks about where your values are.” His chamber’s spending plan shows that Republicans highly value war and place no value on health care for America’s elderly, working poor and young adults.

The opposite of win-win, the GOP budgets are kill-kill. Despite the GOP’s successful demand in 2011 for spending caps, Republicans now want more money for the military. War kills, as too many families of troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan know. By contrast, Republicans gouge domestic spending, condemning Americans to die unnecessarily from untreated disease. The GOP intends to revoke the health insurance of tens of millions by repealing the Affordable Care Act, voucherizing Medicare and slashing Medicaid. The Republican plans mandate overtime for the Grim Reaper.


Shock and awe was the euphemism the military used as it launched war in Iraq. The focus on fireworks obscured death and dismemberment on the ground. Republicans try the same gimmick with their 10-year budgets. They employ perky language to conceal the casualties they would cause.

The House GOP called its document “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America.” Republicans see strength only in a fat military, not in healthy Americans. The House and Senate Republicans evade the sequester spending caps by giving an additional$38 billion to the military through a war account not subject to limits.

The euphemism House Republicans use to distract attention from the $150 billion they cut from Medicare is “premium care.” It’s a scheme to give less to seniors newly qualifying for Medicare. They’d voucherize Medicare for new qualifiers and call it “premium,” even though Americans have loudly protested and Congress has soundly rejected the scam every time Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin proposed it in the past.

What “premium care” really means is underfunded vouchers. Republicans cut money from Medicare then give seniors “vouchers” to buy their own health insurance on the open market. Americans know those cheap vouchers won’t cover the full cost, forcing seniors to pay thousands they don’t have each year for their doctors’ visits, arthritis medications and flu shots.  It’s really “premium uncare,” and Senate Republicans know that, so they didn’t propose it. They simply cut $430 billion from Medicare.

Enacted into law, the “premium uncare” scam would cost lives. As seniors delayed seeing doctors and scrimped on their diabetes and high blood pressure medication to save money, some would die. Sending grandma to an early grave is a price House Republicans are willing to pay.

Both the House and Senate Republican budgets would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That would cancel the health insurance of millions who got coverage through the ACA Medicaid expansion adopted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. It would cancel the health insurance of more than 16.4 million Americans who got covered through the exchanges and other ACA measures.  Altogether, the Obama administration estimates that the ACA repeal and broader Medicaid cuts proposed in the Republican budgets will deny health insurance to 37 million.

The ACA decreased the percentage of Americans without health insurance to 13.2.  Republicans, who offer no plan at all to replace the insurance they intend to seize, would increase the percentage of Americans without coverage back up to 20, where it was before the ACA.

Everyone would be affected. Without the ACA, insurers would once again be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes. They’d once again be able to cap benefits so that sickly newborns and victims of recurring cancers would lose coverage. Insurers would dump the young adults that the ACA now covers under their parents’ plans to age 26.

More than 9,800 Americans would die unnecessarily each year if they could not get insurance through the Affordable Care Act. That’s the estimate that multiple public health scholars and the American Public Health Association provided to the U.S. Supreme Court as it considers overturning part of the law.  Other estimates of needless deaths are much higher.

The House and Senate GOP budgets also brutalize Medicaid funding, then turn the program over to the states to administer. After slashing $913 billion, the House GOP describes dumping the program on the states like this: “Our budget realigns the relationship the federal government has with states and local communities by respecting and restoring the principle of federalism.”

House Republicans “respect” the right of impoverished old and disabled people to try to survive without Medicaid insurance by eliminating funding for it. The Senate GOP was less “respectful,” slashing funding for Medicaid by only $400 billion and retaining coverage for low-income elderly and disabled people.

While asserting their budgeting morality, Republicans fail to mention that their “balanced” spending plans are propped up by $2 trillion in revenue from ACA taxesthat the GOP intends to repeal along with the ACA.  The GOP would use the money that it will magically receive from repealed health care taxes to pay for an additional $38 billion in military weapons in their magically balanced budgets.

The Republican budgets embody their values: they want tax dollars to kill, not heal.

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