Republicans Admit They Will Cripple Economy if Medicare is Not Demolished

Anyone who thought that special election in New York where a Democrat took a strongly red district would give conservatives a clue about messing with Medicare underestimate the density of the wing-nut skull. Anyone who thought that the massive volume of data that showed the Ryan budget plan was too radical, gutted Medicare, put the burden of sacrifice on the middle-class, screwed over every American under the age of 55 – underestimates Republican mendacity and their depth of allegiance to undoing every progressive reform made since the Great Depression. You know you’re in for a renewed assault when media puppets like the Wall St Journal run editorials by deeply serious analysts, speaking in oh so grave tones say crap like this, Conservatives Now See No Difference Between RyanCare And ObamaCare Cuts

Thomas Saving and John Goodman have written an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal in which they pretend that Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Medicare cuts are almost identical to the reductions Democrats enacted through the Affordable Care Act:

In light of the heated rhetoric of recent days, it is worth noting that for everyone over the age of 55, there is no difference between the amount of money the House Republicans voted to spend on Medicare and the amount that the Democrats who support the health-reform law voted to spend. Even for younger people, the amounts are virtually identical with GDP indexing. ( My Note: Yea those under 55, half the country, hardly count. They’re still scrambling to make ends meet or find a job after benefiting from the Republican economic management project from 2000-2008)

    The law’s spending path depends on making providers pay for all the future Medicare shortfalls. But since no one can force health-care providers to show up for work, short of a health-care provider draft this reform ultimately cannot succeed. The House Republican path, on the other hand, would make a sum of money available to each senior to choose among competing private plans—much the way Medicare Advantage provides insurance today for about one out of every four Medicare beneficiaries.

Saving and Goodman surely understand that there are different ways to cut Medicare spending, and they also know that the Ryan budget actually maintains many of the ACA’s productivity cuts to providers. The distinction is worth reiterating: the ACA reduced annual increases in payments to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies and other institutions to spur productivity and cut overpayments to private insurers that are not delivering value for Medicare dollars. They used that money to expand coverage to 32 million Americans — many of whom were receiving uncompensated care at these institutions — to extend the life of the Medicare program and invest in new demonstration projects that aim to encourage providers to deliver quality care more efficiently.

The Ryan budget, on the other hand, tries to change the behavior of consumers (not providers) by shifting more of the costs of coverage from the federal government to the individual. Republicans believe that individuals who go out and purchase coverage on their own will use less care (spend less money on health care) and create a more dynamic and competitive health care market. The problem with this approach is that there is no credible research showing that forcing individuals to be more cost conscious will significantly lower national health care spending or that the “savings from competition would be large enough to offset the massive reduction in funding.”

Ryan plan increases costs to seniors

As crazy as the new tactic is – saying that the Ryan plan is indistinguishable from the Affordable Care Act/ ObamaCare is ridiculous, but it does work with people who get their information about health care reform and the federal budget from Fox News and right-wing web sites. False information gives them some cover for their own wacky beliefs – See some smart dudes in the WSJ wrote it out and it validates what I believe so that makes it true. It doesn’t even matter that one’s life experience should tell them differently. Say you are healthy and do not need immediate medical attention. You do have time to doctor shop ( my doctor is not taking new patients. Not an unusual situation), clinic shop or hospital shop, but as we all should know it is not like shopping for the cheapest laptop that meets your specifications. Doctor shopping is not been shown to lower medical costs, where as shopping for cheap prices on products does put downward pressure on prices. Ratchet things up to where there is an imminent need for health care and your options go down even further. Just Because Rep. Paul Ryan(R-WI) Keeps Saying It…

To get why this “market solution” can’t work, you have to understand a bit about how Ryan’s plan changes Medicare.  As is by now pretty widely appreciated, including by many in his own party, the plan ends guaranteed health care coverage for seniors and replaces it with a voucher for them to shop for insurance on the street.

Importantly, the value of those vouchers start well below where they need to be to enable seniors to afford coverage comparable to Medicare today (in fact, beneficiaries costs would have to double), and their value falls increasing behind coverage costs over time.

Suppose you send me to the grocery store to buy you a gallon of milk.  Milk costs $3.50 a gallon but you give me $2.  I spend the whole day “denying business to inefficient providers”—i.e., grocers who all charge more than that—and at the end of the day, bring you back a pint.

Now, instead of milk, where I’ve got the information I need to be a smart shopper, suppose you give me the same under-priced voucher but ask me to bring you back a plan for treating that strange pain you’ve been experiencing on your left side on humid days.

There’s no “denying business to inefficient providers” in the Ryan plan because there’s no market discipline that average folks with incomplete information armed with an inadequate voucher can enforce on a private health insurance market that’s…well, different.

I’ll deal with the other part of Rep. Ryan’s misleadingly mendacious medical mantra manana.  Check this out in the meantime if you’re so inclined.

The intralink also points out another scare point the Right is using as push back in this go-round of putting more lipstick on Ryan’s pig,

First, the Republican plan has nothing to say about providers, like hospitals or physicians. It’s a plan for insurance reform under Medicare, not a plan for provider organization or payment reform. Second, the ACA has nothing in it to deny care to seniors. In fact, Medicare is not permitted to do anything of the sort.

If you can’t parse the truth out of the WSJ doublespeak, Senate Conservative Leadership could not make the Right’s animosity toward Medicare any plainer, Mitch McConnell(R-KY): I Won’t Agree To Raise The Debt Limit Without Medicare Cuts

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says substantial Medicare cuts must be part of a spending and deficit cut package to get his support to raise the debt limit.

In a Capitol briefing with reporters Friday, McConnell declared affirmatively that unspecified Medicare cuts are on the table in bipartisan debt limit negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden, and he expects they’ll be part of the final deal. But in response to a question from TPM, he went further than he has in the past in laying down a marker on that issue. Medicare cuts must be part of that deal to get his support, he says — even if negotiators manage to find trillions of dollars in savings elsewhere, even if his other priorities are met.

“To get my vote, for me, it’s going to take short term [cuts, via spending caps]… Both medium and long-term, entitlements.,” McConnell said. “Medicare will be part of the solution.”

To clarify, I asked “[I]f [the Biden group] comes up with big cuts, trillions of dollars worth of cuts, but without substantially addressing Medicare, it won’t get your vote?”

“Correct,” McConnell said.

Republicans Holding the Economy Hostage

Seniors, the disabled, children and every American who has seen how free market apparatchiks can screw over hard working Americans that try to play by the rules, dismantling the Medicare part of the social safety net is only the tip of the bloody spear, Republican Medicare proposal erodes Social Security

Forty Republican Senators and 235 Republican House members have voted not just to eliminate Medicare, eviscerate Medicaid, and give the wealthy and corporations even bigger tax breaks. They’ve also gone on record in support of eroding Social Security benefits.

That’s analysis from Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. Even though the Republican plan doesn’t directly cut Social Security, the increased costs to seniors for Medicare would continuously erode the value of Social Security benefits, and by 2014, “19 years after the Medicare voucher begins—an average worker’s Social Security benefit is estimated to be worth less than their Medicare costs.”

Anyone thinking they will be able to pay for the Republican cuts to Medicare with their Social Security needs to disabuse themselves of that fallback.

Everyone probably knows from high school what anecdotal evidence is, “The expression anecdotal evidence refers both to evidence that is factually unreliable, as well as evidence that may be true but cherry-picked or otherwise unrepresentative of typical cases.” I don’t have strict rules of debate for my personal conversations and anecdotes can be funny, if not informative, but they are not a basis for public policy or for informed punditry. A Dr. Helen, a right-wing “forensics psychologist” managed to get her PhD without understanding that anecdotal evidence is for, at most, water cooler debates, A QUICK ONE WHILE SHE’S AWRY

If you find yourself checking your Blackberry even at the seaside show trial, though, here’s an easy layup for you and for me — Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser:

Why are there “Now Hiring” signs in front of so many businesses these days when so many people are complaining about not finding a job? Everywhere I go in Knoxville, there are generic “Now Hiring” signs from the hotels to the car dealerships to the stores at the mall.

Probably means they’re hiring, just like the “Men” and “Women” signs on the bathrooms mean one bathroom is for men and the other is for women.

I find it puzzling because if businesses were really that desperate to hire, so much so that they are all putting up signs, why are so many people saying they are having trouble finding work?

Similarly, people keep talking about all these sick people in America who need health care, but I was just over on the West Side bike path and most of those people looked very healthy. It just doesn’t add up.

DMOP, her curiosity piqued, goes into some of these businesses and asks them about the signs — oh just kidding, she does nothing of the kind.

Dr Helen believes in signs

Other versions of Dr. Helen’s thinking include: Someone once saw some whites kids beat up an old man, which means that all white folks are violent and mean. Someone once did business with a Protestant who cheated them so obviously all Protestants are crooks. Did she get her degree from one of those correspondence schools that advertise on matchbook covers.

A lot of the right-wing blogs like to gloat over the Obama presidency not being as transparent as promised. It is not as much of an improvement as I’d like, but certainly an improvement over the Bush administration. Republicans do not really care about making our democratic republic more transparent, they only use it as a club to take unprincipled swings with, Anti Disclosure Bills in House and Senate

New bills in the House and Senate are aimed at blocking a new Executive Order before it’s ever signed.

The bill would, among other things:

• Prohibit a federal agency from collecting the political information of contractors and their employees as part of any type of request for proposal in anticipation of any type of contract;

House leadership has concluded, for partisan political reasons, that President Obama’s draft executive order, which would require contractors to publicly disclose their political spending, is an attempt to politicize contracts. If Obama had wanted to extort campaign money from contractors, though, a public disclosure system would be the worst way to do it.

There’s one appropriate way that Congress could keep the President’s draft Executive Order from ever being signed: pass a new law requiring disclosure for the recent flood of dark money into our elections. But since Senate Republicans rebuffed all efforts to require disclosure for who is funding our elections, President Obama has apparently decided to pursue the only options available to him.

As was made abundantly clear in the recent Oversight Committee hearing on the draft EO, the disclosures wouldn’t be used to determine which bidder gets a contract.

The rhetoric against this EO often paints the disclosure as not being public, and acts like the standard isn’t fair. Public disclosure of campaign finance information protects our elections and our public policy, and the standard the EO would create applies evenly to all contractors, be they unions, or anyone else, despite widespread claims to the contrary.

If a company wants to do business with the government, and profit from the public purse, is it really to much to ask to understand how they’re trying to influence the process? Obviously not. That’s why Americans hate secret spending in our elections, and care about how money is affecting our politics.

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