How The Capital Created By American Families is Redistributed to Plutocratic Corporations

Add It Up: The Average American Family Pays $6,000 a Year in Subsidies to Big Business

That’s over and above our payments to the big companies for energy and food and housing and health care and all our tech devices. It’s $6,000 that no family would have to pay if we truly lived in a competitive but well-regulated free-market economy.

The $6,000 figure is an average, which means that low-income families are paying less. But it also means that families (households) making over $72,000 are paying more than $6,000 to the corporations.

1. $870 for Direct Subsidies and Grants to Companies

The Cato Institute estimates that the U.S. federal government spends $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. That’s an average of $870 for each one of America’s 115 million families. Cato notes that this includes “cash payments to farmers and research funds to high-tech companies, as well as indirect subsidies, such as funding for overseas promotion of specific U.S. products and industries…It does not include tax preferences or trade restrictions.”

It does include payments to 374 individuals on the plush Upper East Side of New York City, and others who own farms, including Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Ted Turner. Wealthy heir Mark Rockefeller received $342,000 to NOT farm, to allow his Idaho land to return to its natural state.

It also includes fossil fuel subsidies, which could be anywhere from $10 billion to $41 billion per year for research and development. Yet this may be substantially underestimated. The IMF reports U.S. fossil fuel subsidies of $502 billion, which would be almost $4,400 per U.S. family by taking into account “the effects of energy consumption on global warming [and] on public health through the adverse effects on local pollution.” According to Grist, even this is an underestimate.

2. $696 for Business Incentives at the State, County, and City Levels

The subsidies mentioned above are federal subsidies. A New York Times investigation found that states, counties and cities give up over $80 billion each year to companies, with beneficiaries coming from “virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.”

$80 billion a year is $696 for every U.S. family. But the Times notes that “The cost of the awards is certainly far higher.”

3. $722 for Interest Rate Subsidies for Banks

According to the Huffington Post, the “U.S. Government Essentially Gives The Banks 3 Cents Of Every Tax Dollar.” They cite research that calculates a nearly 1 percent benefit to banks when they borrow, through bonds and customer deposits and other liabilities. This amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion, or about $722 from every American family.

The wealthiest five banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs — account for three-quarters of the total subsidy. The Huffington Post article notes that without the taxpayer subsidy, those banks would not make a profit. In other words, “the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.”

4. $350 for Retirement Fund Bank Fees

This was a tough one to calculate. Demos reports that over a lifetime, bank fees can “cost a median-income two-earner family nearly $155,000 and consume nearly one-third of their investment returns.” Fees are well over one percent a year.

However, the Economic Policy Institute notes that the average middle-quintile retirement account is $34,981. A conservative one percent annual management fee translates to about $350 per family. This, again, is an average; many families have no retirement account. But many families pay much more than 1% in annual fees.

5. $1,268 for Overpriced Medications

According to Dean Baker, “government granted patent monopolies raise the price of prescription drugs by close to $270 billion a year compared to the free market price.” This represents an astonishing annual cost of over $2,000 to an average American family.

OECD figures on pharmaceutical expenditures reveal that Americans spend almost twice the OECD average on drugs, an additional $460 per capita. This translates to $1,268 per household.

6. $870 for Corporate Tax Subsidies

We’ve heard a lot about tax avoidance and tax breaks for the super-rich. With regard to corporations alone, the Tax Foundation has concluded that their “special tax provisions” cost taxpayers over $100 billion per year, or $870 per family. Corporate benefits include items such as Graduated Corporate Income, Inventory Property Sales, Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, Accelerated Depreciation, and Deferred taxes.

Once again, it may be even worse. Citizens for Tax Justice cite a Government Accountability Office report that calculated a loss to the Treasury of $181 billion from corporate tax expenditures. That would be almost $1,600 per family.

7. $1,231 for Revenue Losses from Corporate Tax Havens

U.S. PIRG recently reported that the average 2012 taxpayer paid an extra $1,026 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost from offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals. With 138 million taxpayers (1.2 per household), that comes to $1,231 per household.

Much More Than an Insult

Overall, American families are paying an annual $6,000 subsidy to corporations that have doubled their profits and cut their taxes in half in ten years while cutting 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. and adding almost as many jobs overseas.

This is more than an insult. It’s a devastating attack on the livelihoods of tens of millions of American families. And Congress just lets it happen.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License by
Paul Buchheit   

Paul is a bright guy and maybe this time they have some solid numbers, but i generally do not trust any statistics from CATO. They are a Right-leaning libertarian think tank.

Conservatives are going to play the coming fight over the debt ceiling a few ways. One is that it is Obama’s fault for not compromising – and we all know that conservatives define compromise as giving them everything they want or they’ll throw another temper tantrumn. One other angle is that they really do not want a shut0-down, but Democrats are giving them no choice, that would also be a lie since the conservative money machine wants a shut-down, The Money Behind the Shutdown Crisis

Good ammunition in those arguments with Obamascare cons who swear the world is about to end, Obamacare explained. With maps! The curve the ACA was designed to bend is already bending

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A Post About Obamacare Costs and Conservative Religious Zealots

Marina at Twilight wallpaper

Marina at Twilight wallpaper

Jonathan Cohn has another good post on Obamacare and basically deals with what some people see in their crystal balls,  Six Reasons Hipsters Will Bite on Obamacare

You’re a 26-year-old single dude, holding down a pair of part-time jobs tending bar and painting houses, and making about $24,000 a year. Thanks to Obamacare, you can finally get decent health insurance, just like people with full-time jobs at large companies do. But when you go online to check out your options, you see that even the cheapest “bronze” plan, which has high deductibles and co-payments, will cost you about $100 a month. Obamacare’s penalty for carrying no insurance next year is less than one-tenth of that. Do you buy the insurance anyway?

Obamacare critics think it will be a “tough sell,” as Reason’s Peter Suderman puts it. And they make a credible case. To get coverage under Obamacare, many young people will have to pay more than they’d pay for insurance today. That’s because Obamacare prohibits insurers from offering ultra-cheap, bare-bones policies and restricts insurers’ to vary prices based on health status. It’s safe to assume that at least some young, healthy people will look at the numbers, figure Obamacare’s coverage just isn’t worth the price, and pay the penalty instead. A story by Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal last week profiled several young people from Oregon who were contemplating that very option.

The danger here isn’t just that these people will remain uninsured, leaving themselves exposed to crushing medical bills if they get sick or injured. If too many young, healthy people opt not to get insurance, then the insurers would be stuck with beneficiaries who are disproportionately older and sicker.

He notes that opting out the first year is certainly an option if you fall into that group that makes enough money they do not qualify for subsidies and see the premiums as cutting into their take-home pay. There are going to be bigger penalties down the road. he also points out that while those filled with the spirit of Obamacare hysteria think they young people do not need or want health insurance, two large surveys prove them wrong. I would throw in my personal experience. I’ve been to the emergency room a couple of times. Once I was in the hospital for just under 12 hours. The hospital bill, the radiologists bill and my personal doctor’s bill ( she came in once I was admitted) came to about $2 thousand dollars. When the penalty gets up to $625 a year, what are those young people going to choose. Two thousand or more ( I got out relatively cheap as far as emergency room admissions go) or are they going to pay the, say $90 a month ($1,100 to 1,250 a year. If it is employers supplied insurance with a group plan it could be less) for insurance . Look past the oh my goodness Obamacare is sooo expensive scare stories on the Right. Be afraid of the realities of living in the real world – of the ten most common reason for going to the emergency room, the cost ranged from a low of $10,403 to a high of $73,000. So even the $625 sounds like a bad deal when you could end up paying a half year’s pay for a simple back sprain. Cohn again concedes Obamacare and the insurance exchanges are not perfect – hopefully we’ll see some fine tuning like Congress did with medicare over the years, but it does look like most people will be better off.

Maybe I’m going Godwin here or maybe this is one of those cases where current events and rhetoric mirror history – You can’t be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time, Virginia’s GOP candidate for lieutenant governor E.W. Jackson says,

In a local radio interview this morning, Virginia Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson said the Democratic Party is “anti-God” and that Christians should leave it.

…He continued: “I said it because I believe that the Democrat Party has become an anti-God party, I think it’s an anti-life party, I think it’s an anti-family party. And these are all things I think Christians hold to very dearly.”

Religious zealot who think they are the last word on who is or is not a good Christian is an unfortunate American tradition going back to Cotton Mather and the Salem Witch trials to Jefferson Davis who claimed that God approved of slavery  – [Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.” – Jefferson Davis. And there is this,

“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

Jackson seems to be substituting Democrat where Hitler used the Jews. These are the hallmarks of dangerous zealots. They control the ideological gates of who meets the purity  test of a set of beliefs that exists largely inside their minds. I see and hear conservative Christians and wonder how they so conveniently jettison the Sermon on the Mount. I don’t know that it disqualifies them from being Christians, but it does make one wonder about how they so conveniently ignore one of the most important lessons of the Bible. I’ve listened to Pat Robertson for enough years to know that the Christian Right can rationalize just about anything that serves their agenda. Jackson seems to be kool-aid drinking member of the club.

” In respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man.”

Should a good journalist decide to start ask a dozen RNC convention delegates where Romney stands on women’s reproductive rights, they probably get a half-dozen different answers. This is just another area where Romney has taken just about every policy position. So if you’re a Republican voter, capable of the kind of cognitive discombobulation that conservatives have become infamous for, you just mentally cling to the position you liked the best to justify your vote. Romney campaign denies Romney’s claim that he supports health exception for abortion

Mitt Romney in an interview released by CBS News this afternoon:

My position has been clear throughout this campaign. I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest and the health and life of the mother.

That’s not true—Romney was against all abortion until last Monday, when he decided to support abortion in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life was in danger. But he didn’t support abortion in cases “merely” involving health—that exception was entirely new. Never fear, though, Greg Sargent reports Romneyland has already walked that back.

But there is no shift, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul tells me. She emails:

“Gov. Romney’s position is clear: he opposes abortion except for cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened.”

That means no health exception.

So now the question is which side is telling the truth: Mitt Romney … or his campaign?

And there lingers another important question. In the interview, Romney said that he believed the legality of abortion was a settled issue and shouldn’t be a political topic. “The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years,” he said, “but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

This part of that post, “That’s not true—Romney was against all abortion until last Monday” is true only within the context of the beginning of this election cycle. In the past Romney was pro-choice – How Newly Pro-Life Romney Betrayed a “Dear, Close Family Relative”

Say what you will about the ultra-hardline reproductive politics of Todd Akin and Paul Ryan, but at least those two have always been true believers. Mitt Romney, not so much. As his former strategist Michael Murphy put it in 2005, “He’s been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly.” But Romney’s public transformation from an “unwavering” supporter of Roe v. Wade into a strong backer of the GOP’s all-out assault on women’s reproductive rights isn’t just rank opportunism. To accomplish that extremist makeover, Mitt Romney had to turn his back on a “dear, close family relative” who died 50 years ago of a then-illegal abortion.

If this tragic incident and the story Romney told about it to sell Massachusetts voters on his moderate pro-women’s reproductive rights credentials was not so moving and memorable in its original telling Romney could make the i flip-flopped because of carefully weighing new information. As it is, his sudden conversion and choice of Ryan ( shadow of Todd Akins) as his running mate, makes it all seem like very cynical pandering. If he’ll sell women down the river to win the presidency, he has the kind of morally corrupt world view that does not bode well for good governance. For those who have not already made up their minds who read Romney’s actual agenda, he is a member of the same ideological swamp as Todd Akins (see here, Paul Ryan claims rape is a “method of conception”) and here, Why Mitt Romney Is a Threat to Women’s Health

Gov. Romney would repeal the Affordable Care Act and take no-cost preventive care away from the 20.4 million nonelderly adult women who have already gained access to such care through the Affordable Care Act.

Family planning

Title X is our nation’s family-planning program. Title X clinics provided contraception to 4,683,290 women in 2008, which helped avert an estimated 973,000 unintended pregnancies. That same year there were 5,047,030 women under the age of 20 alone in need of contraceptive services and supplies. Every year Planned Parenthood provides contraception to 2.2 million patients. Contraception accounts for one-third of the services its health centers provide.

This hatred of contraception, which is  a symptom of the conservative campaign against women having dominion over their own bodies and reproductive choices has always created a contradiction for conservatives who say they want fewer abortions. One easy practical way to achieve a lower abortion rate and respect women as having the full rights of citizenship, is to make access to contraception and health care as easy as possible, not as difficult as possible.

Jonathan Chait notes an odd coincidence, Ryan Budget, Constitution Turn Out to Be Same

One of the odder mental pathologies that has emerged over the last few years on the American right is the belief that the Republican Party’s current preferred economic program is the sole legitimate claimant to the tradition of the U.S. Constitution. (“Current” is the key word here — the belief system leans heavily on the unstated premise that policies advocated by the party up until three years ago, like the individual mandate, are wildly unconstitutional.)

Washington Free Beacon editor Matthew Continetti has a column in the Weekly Standard that offers an entertaining window into this form of madness. It begins with broad paeans to liberty and the Founding Fathers and so on. Then Continetti embarks on the task of establishing the vital role played by right-wing economic policy.

[   ]…And so, by the following paragraph, the reader is prepared for a full-on litany:

Here is what independence might look like: A responsible budget would tame the debt by addressing the unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare through a combination of increasing the retirement age, tying benefits to longevity and inflation, and introducing premium support. Medicaid would be block-granted. Its maintenance-of-effort regulations would be liberalized.

Of course! Even a cursory familiarity with the views of the Founding Fathers makes it perfectly clear that they wanted a national old-old pension system to cover those over the age of 67, not 65, and that the federal government should provide health insurance to the elderly only, via subsidizing private insurance vouchers rather than direct reimbursement of medical providers, which they would have regarded as utter tyranny.

As much admirable ideals as one can find in the writings of Founders such as Madison, Jefferson and Adams they provided for a government run by and for white males. Jefferson had regrets about that his entire life, but it was what it was. One of the very first issues to face the new U.S.A. was the Whiskey Rebellion – “in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. Farmers who sold their grain in the form of whiskey had to pay a new tax which they strongly resented. The tax was a part of treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton’s program to pay off the national debt.” The modern conservative movement would be ready for pitchforks, tar and feathers to go after Washington. Not paying taxes has become the highest order of patriotism for the Right. An ideological rigidity not shared by THE Founding Father.

Paul Buchheit does the math. We could go the radical conservative route and punish the working poor and middle-class with more taxes, higher retirement ages for benefits, take away health care from low-income women, sell off all the national parks to the Koch brothers or we could get people like Sheldon Abelson to pay their fair share of taxes – Taxes Avoided by the Rich Could Pay Off the Deficit

2. Corporate tax avoidance is between $250 billion and $500 billion.

There are numerous examples of tax avoidance by the big companies, but the most outrageous fact may be that corporations decided to drastically cut their tax rates after the start of the recession. After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, they’ve paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes. Worse yet, it’s a $500 billion shortfall from the 35% statutory corporate tax rate.

3. Tax haven losses range from $337 billion to $500 billion.

The Tax Justice Network estimated in 2011 that $337 billion is lost to the U.S. every year in tax haven abuse. It’s probably more. A recent report placed total hidden offshore assets at somewhere between $21 trillion and $32 trillion. Using the lesser $21 trillion figure, and considering that about 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals are Americans, and factoring in an annual 6% stock market gain based on historical records, the tax loss comes to $500 billion.

Conservative sugar-daddy Adelson is a good example of the wacky and yes, deeply un-American priorities of the far Right – GOP Casino Baron Sheldon Adelson Pledges $500,000 To Buy A Single House Seat

Sheldon Adelson, the multi-billionaire casino mogul who already spent at least $5 million to help keep Republicans in control of the House next year, reportedly pledged $500,000 to just one House candidate, New Jersey Republican candidate Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

While half-a-million dollars sure sounds like a lot of money, it is chump change to Mr. Adelson. The casino czar’s net worth is just shy of $25 billion, or more than the gross domestic product of nearly two dozen nations put together. Indeed, Adelson is so rich that if he decided to give half a million dollars to every single Republican nominee for every House and Senate seat in the country, and to do so every single election cycle until his vast fortune ran out, he would have enough money to fund the GOP’s election machine for the next 186 years:

GOP Casino Baron Sheldon larger graphic

Conservative billionaires are happy to spend millions buying politicians and election rather than pay less than that on their fair share of taxes. Adelson has given about $9.9 million to the pro Romney PAC Restore Our Future, you know so he can get Paul Ryan’s proposed tax cuts. Does having extreme amounts f money rot the brain? Exxon Mobil paid $138 million in lobbying expenditures on a ten-year period. In 2009 they paid zero taxes and got a tax rebate of $156 million. It is paying more in lobbying than it is on taxes. Bank of America employees contributed $11 million to federal political campaigns from 2001 to 2010. They paid  $24 million for lobbying during the same period. BoA pocketed $4.4 billion in profits in 2010 while receiving a tax refund of $1.9 billion. According to Romney, Ryan, the Republican party and every radical conservative web site corporate America has such a terrible tax burden they cannot afford to hire workers. Maybe they could hire more workers if they paid less to lobbyists.

Marble statue of three suffragists by Adelaide Johnson in the Capitol crypt, Washington, D.C.

Subjects:
Anthony, Susan B.–(Susan Brownell),–1820-1906
Mott, Lucretia,–1793-1880
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady,–1815-1902

The first picket line – College day in the picket line. 1917 Feb. Women protesting for the right to vote.

“The more women at work the sooner we win! Women are needed also as […] See your local U.S. Employment Service.” WW II era poster from the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943. Office of War Information. Bureau of Public Inquiries. 1943.

Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony.

Frederick Douglass was an antislavery advocate, but he was also an advocate for the right of women to vote,

Born into slavery in 1817 or 1818, Frederick Douglass (1817?-1895) became one of the most outspoken advocates of abolition and women’s rights in the 19th century. Believing that “Right is of no sex, truth is of no color,” Douglass urged an immediate end to slavery and supported Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and other women’s rights activists in their crusade for woman suffrage.

“In respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man. We go farther, and express our conviction that all political rights which it is expedient for man to exercise, it is equally so for women. All that distinguishes man as an intelligent and accountable being, is equally true of woman; and if that government is only just which governs by the free consent of the governed, there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise, or a hand in making and administering the laws of the land. Our doctrine is, that “Right is of no sex.” ( Douglass speech to the First Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY. 1848)

 

Lemon Tea Splash wallpaper – Both Statistics and Humanity Have a Liberal Bias

summer, splash

Lemon Tea Splash wallpaper. The official beverage of the South.

 

I tend to like my statistics. For some reason they seem to have a liberal bias. Republicans have developed some systematic denials when to comes to facts and statistics. Some of that requires some mental tin-foil. If the facts are not in their favor they argue some supposedly grand principle – that is not what the Founders would do. Few Americans would return to the so-called “original intent”. Most of what we think of as democratic republic – the egalitarian spirit and most the freedoms we cherish would disappear. If the original intent, or their interpretation of it does not work, they also argue from studies they pay for that reach conclusions they like. Conservatives are also adept at taking anecdotal evidence, sometimes hearsay or just something someone told them once and turning that into justification for their stands on public policy that affect millions of Americans. Conservatives have ruined or are trying to ruin the real life narrative. One big example, going on four years now, individual Republicans swear their gun rights are threatened even as gun sales have been a boom industry. I can leave the house now and be back in forty-five minutes with enough guns and ammo for a small army. There are some real stories of real people suffering real hardship. Like statistics and facts, the real stories, the real anecdotes of hardship caused by conservatives are true. Something Wicked This Way Comes

A few days ago, while awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on the Obama health-care law, I called a few doctor friends around the country. I asked them if they could tell me about current patients whose health had been affected by a lack of insurance.

“This falls under the ‘too numerous to count’ section,” a New Jersey internist said. A vascular surgeon in Indianapolis told me about a man in his fifties who’d had a large abdominal aortic aneurysm. Doctors knew for months that it was in danger of rupturing, but, since he wasn’t insured, his local private hospital wouldn’t fix it. Finally, it indeed began to rupture. Rupture is an often fatal development, but the man—in pain, with the blood flow to his legs gone— made it to an emergency room. Then the hospital put him in an ambulance to Indiana University, arguing the patient’s condition was “too complex.” My friend got him through, but he’s very lucky to be alive.

Another friend, an oncologist in Marietta, Ohio, told me about three women in their forties and fifties he was treating for advanced cervical cancer. A pap smear would have caught their cancers far sooner. But since they didn’t have insurance, their cancers were only recognized when they caused profuse bleeding. Now they required radiation and chemotherapy if they were to have a chance of surviving.

A colleague practicing family medicine in Las Vegas told me about his clinic’s cleaning lady, who came to him in desperation about her uninsured husband. He had a painful rectal fistula—a chronically draining infection. Surgery could cure the condition, but hospitals required him to pay for the procedure in advance, and, as unskilled laborers, the couple didn’t remotely have the money. He’d lived in misery for nine months so far. The couple had nowhere to turn. Neither did the doctor.

The litany of misery was as terrible as it was routine. An internist in my Ohio home town put me on the phone with an uninsured fifty-five-year-old tanning-salon owner who’d had a heart attack. She was now unable to pay the bills either for the cardiac stent that saved her or for the medications that she needs to prevent a second heart attack. Outside Philadelphia, there was a home-care nurse who’d lost her job when she developed partial paralysis as a result of a rare autoimmune complication from the flu shot that her employers required her to get. Then she lost the insurance that paid for the medications that had been reversing the condition.

Tens of millions of Americans don’t have access to basic care for prevention and treatment of illness. For decades, there’s been wide support for universal health care. Finally, with the passage of Obamacare, two years ago, we did something about it.

All of the people mentioned in this article would be helped by the Obama/Democrat expansion of Medicaid – part of the Affordable Care Act. Many Republican governors and legislators are already against it. Like the occasional conservative arguments their objections have a slight tint of truth. They claim that if they accept a few years down the road the states will be on the hook for that 10% gap – requiring budget cuts in education. The obvious problem with that excuse is provided by two conservative governors – Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida. In the middle of a recession they cut back public sector jobs – claiming they could not afford them. But both governors passed huge corporate tax breaks – when corporate profits are as strong as ever. They could just increase corporate state taxes to something reasonable – between tax breaks and subsides many corporations do not pay any taxes. Another consequence of rejecting the Medicaid expansion is that charity hospitals and any hospital that takes poor and uninsured in emergencies will be stuck with the bill. Someone – usually everyone who has insurance – is left with the tab. Ever heard of a game called Three-card Monte or three-card carney. It’s been shown in a lot of movies and TV shows. It’s a kind of confidence game in where the mark, is tricked into betting a sum of money, on the assumption that they can find the money card among three face-down playing cards. Republicans do that with money and costs. They always seem to find the money to justify more tax cuts, tax incentives and other giveaways ( corporate welfare). Yet a cleaning lady and her husband, nope, no help for the working poor. How come we have working poor anyway, isn’t our free market system perfect. A system where anyone that works can provide for their essential needs. Apparently it’s not perfect. Until it is maybe its time for less obsequious behavior towards the well off and a little for humanity for the struggling. Related to the games Republicans are playing with the poor and Medicaid – 89,000 Children in Pennsylvania Lose Medicaid.

Another conservative trope is that the U.S. provides such a luxurious safety net it encourages people not to work. The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America’s Middle Class, They had good, stable jobs – until the recession hit. Now they’re living out of their cars in parking lots.

The next thing welfare applicants must do is disclose every possession and conceivable source of income they have. “I can’t tell you how many people come to my office and say, ‘I couldn’t get food stamps because my car is worth too much,'” Kapp tells me. “OK, you have a car. But you’ve lost everything – your house, your job, your pride – and all you have left is that car and all of your belongings in it. And they say, ‘You still have too much. Lose it all.’ You have to have nothing, when you already have nothing.”

Janis Adkins hadn’t been back in Santa Barbara long before she needed to apply for government assistance. She had never asked for aid before. At the California Department of Social Services, she filled out the form for emergency food stamps.

“I didn’t wear my best clothes, but I wore a light blouse and jeans, and I guess I was just a little too dressed up,” she recalls. “Because the woman just looked at me and said, ‘Are you in a crisis? Your application says you’re in a crisis.’ I said, ‘I’m living in a van and I don’t have a job. I have a little bit of money, but it’s going to go fast.’ The woman said, ‘You have $500. You’re not in a crisis if you have $500.’ She said anything more than $50 was too much.”

It is a shame that we cannot force all the conservative Republicans who think they have all the answers  – the right-wing pundits, the conservative bloggers and their commenters, Republican politicians and members of the wing-nut welfare circuit like Sarah Palin and Victor Davis Hanson to trade places with some of the people in that investigative piece for a couple of months. WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. recently wrote a column asking the heck happened to the average Republican’s sense of community and responsibility. I wonder if they have completely lost the ability to empathize with others. It seems they cannot honestly evaluate events outside their own experience and worse than that is they cannot honestly evaluate themselves and their lives. Every Republican I know has not gotten through life without some bad luck and some help. Yet most of them still have this distorted view of themselves as totally self-contained and self-sufficient cyborgs. One of the reason that facts, statistics and real life narratives do not get through to them is not because of politics it is because of something fundamental flaw in how they’re wired makes them incapable of connecting with humanity.

John Roberts Fails to Dictate Another Presidential Outcome, John Yoo Cries. Yoo is a poster child for Republican cognitive dissonance and their lack of humility. having never been right about anything. feeling that the torture policies of the Bush administration did not pose a threat to any of our captured troops. Yoo the great legal scholar who say there is no difference between the powers of a Medieval king and those of the President – which conservatives were fine with until Obama became president keeps trying to convince the public he is not a total loon. Of course Yoo and all the conservative bloggers linking to him believe that the SCOTUS ruling in favor of the ACA makes us, according to one blogger, “We are now subjects, no longer citizens.” These same legal experts and now claim to live in a totalitarian state of Health Care Reform had no objections with the SCOTUS selecting Bush to be president in 2000, making it legal for billionaires to buy elections or doing away with habeas corpus.  The CIA FactBook still lists Canada and Great Britain as liberal democracies and they both have public health care systems. I have yet to see any protesters in those countries asking the government to take their health care away so they can be “free”.

John Coltrane – Blue train

Republicans Set to Save America From Healthy Children, History, The Recovery Act And Teens That Tweet

The only thing I don’t like about this article – Cutting kids’ healthcare will grow the deficit – by David Sirota is he uses the old saying that Republicans are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. That is true, but Republican attacks on children’s health care is typical of the conservative movement’s lack of appreciation for and lack of understanding of value.

In the name of curtailing deficits, politicians across the country are hacking away at programs that aim to make children healthier. In Congress, for example, House Republicans are spearheading a budget that eviscerates funding for food assistance and effectively defunds the wildly successful Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Similarly, from Texas to California, state lawmakers are chopping children’s health programs in the face of budget shortfalls. In all these initiatives, the rhetorical leitmotif is “fiscal responsibility.”

Like clockwork, this has set off the now-standard ideological debate over values, with liberals arguing that it’s immoral to deny healthcare to today’s kids and conservatives countering that it’s even more immoral to saddle the next generation with debt. But as highlighted by a new National Bureau of Economic Research report, both sides are ignoring the most important non-ideological fact: Any so-called deficit reduction plan that cuts child health programs is almost certain to increase deficits.

The NBER study compared British and American illness rates, controlling for both demographic differences and risk factors like smoking and drinking. It found that a) we have “much higher” childhood illness rates than our English counterparts, b) “the transmission rates of higher rates of childhood illnesses into poor health in [adults is] higher in America compared to England” and therefore, c) “the origins of poorer adult health among older Americans compared to the English traces back right into the childhood years.”

In other words, America’s broken private healthcare system allows kids’ medical afflictions to become far worse in adulthood than they become in England — a nation with a government-sponsored universal healthcare system.

When I say value that is not to be confused with values( Republicans have values they just happen to be abhorrent values). They frequently think of ways to cut imminent costs. We can all do that. We could all sell our cars tomorrow, end our phone plans and wear nothing but t-shirts from the thrift store. Those things will safe a lot in the short term. In the long term making such cuts might endanger our jobs, alienate our friends and family, and keep us from working in white collar jobs that require a dress code. This is the answer to Republicans if one assumes they are sincere about cost cutting. They are to the extent they want to cut anything Democrats are in favor of. A review of Republican history and the deficit – their political and economic resume says they are not sincere about the deficit and are consistently two faced about spending. Of our last five presidents three were Republican and they are responsible for 90% of the deficit. These are the same people who thought it gloriously patriotic to send over 4,000 Americans to their deaths over non-existent WMD. If lying Americans to their deaths doesn’t make them break a sweat then certainly lying about the economy and their plans for same is just another day in lalaland.

Who is dimmer Sarah Palin or her groupies? Palin’s fans rewrite wiki history of Paul Revere. In order to make Palin’s bungled history look like fact, her toadies are using her quote as the source. Not Paul Revere’s actual retelling of what happened. No “British” were warned. When Revere was caught by the British he got a little braggadocio and warned or taunted the British with talk about getting their comeuppance one day. Palin apologists are trying to claim that was what she was talking about. Nice try.

Tea Bag Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida Accepts Federal Stimulus Money He said Was Evil He Would Never Take

When asked why he didn’t veto the stimulus money, Scott reverted to his standard talking point — bashing the federal government. But when pressed by the Miami Herald reporter, Scott said he went through every line of the budget and considered each through the lens of job creation. “That’s the filter I used,” he said. “So if the stimulus money helps creates jobs, then it’s okay?” the reporter replied. Scott immediately reversed himself and denounced stimulus money again, saying, “I think it’s a mistake. It’s taxpayer money and we have to watch how we spend all that money.” “But you okayed it,” the reporter pointed out.

Scott’s staffer then stepped in to try to end the interview. Scott walked away hedging about how he would need more detail about which lines the reporter was talking about, again contradicting himself by suggesting he didn’t know which lines of the budget contained stimulus money.

Good concise article about Elizabeth Warren – The Warren Court

Given the intensely partisan nature of Washington these days, the demonization of Warren and the C.F.P.B. is all too predictable. But it’s profoundly misguided, because Warren is far from the anti-capitalist radical that her critics (and some of her supporters) suppose. Indeed, an empowered C.F.P.B. could actually be a boon to business.

The core principle of Warren’s work is also a cornerstone of economic theory: well-informed consumers make for vigorous competition and efficient markets. That idea is embodied in the design of the new agency, which focusses on improving the information that consumers get from banks and other financial institutions, so that they can do the kind of comparison shopping that makes the markets for other consumer products work so well. As things stand, many Americans are ill informed about financial products. The typical mortgage or credit-card agreement features page after page of legalese—what bankers call “mice type”—in which the numbers that really matter are obscured by a welter of irrelevant data. There’s plenty of misinformation, too: surveys find that a sizable percentage of mortgage borrowers believe that their lenders are legally obliged to offer them the best possible rate.

Liberals don’t like to go to far Right sites, but they are informative in their own limited way. Day after day the article writers, bloggers and commenters are half crazed with the absurd idea that Democrats and progressives are radical socialist leftists. I have actually never meant a real live socialist, much less a Democrat or progressive that subscribed to socialism. On the contrary most of them want a something like a real capitalist society. One that is not rigged. One that is fair to consumers, investors, home owners and consumers. That conservatives think the corrupt plutocracy we have now is capitalism is a lot like the delusions Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann have about U.S. history.

This right-wing writer shares the Right’s common allergy to even the most basic fact checking and contradicts himself,WEINER’S TALE UNRAVELING

But according to data provided exclusively to The Daily from TweetCongress.org, a nonprofit website that captures each member of Congress’s Twitter feeds in real time, the shot seen round the world was transmitted using TweetDeck — a popular Adobe desktop application that links up with social networking sites. A review of Weiner’s Twitter stream from May 27, the day of the crotch pic, shows that Weiner had been posting only from TweetDeck — one of many ways to post messages to Twitter — that entire night.

Chet Wisniewski, a senior security adviser at security software company SophosLabs, said the TweetDeck stamp “does make it more plausible that it did come from him.”

Weiner used TweetDeck frequently, but he often also posted from the Web directly or from his BlackBerry. A widely circulated explanation for how Weiner’s Twitter account could have been hacked by email would also seem to be incompatible with the fact that the message in question originated on TweetDeck. If email had been used, the message probably would have originated via the photosharing site Yfrog, where the infamous picture was posted.

Notice something obvious. The lies just never stop, do they? – A journal called The Daily has reconstituted a false argument first offered by The Mighty Seixon in order to “debunk” what I said about the Yfrog exploit.

Let’s knock this one down quickly, shall we?

I revealed in this blog — long before the Daily published its “exclusively” provided “data” — that Weiner used TweetDeck that night. But so what?

The poor schlub writing for the Daily — his name is Daniel Libit — doesn’t understand that Seixon’s entire “TweetDeck” argument was based on the presupposition that the congressman used TweetDeck or some similar app EVERY SINGLE TIME. Thus, he never established a Yfrog account.

Yet even the Daily stipulates that this was not the case.

So there goes the argument. Poof.

Furthermore, TweetDeck and similar apps (such as the divinely-named Twitterberry) always append an identifying signature: “via TweetDeck” and “via Twitterberry.” Something like that. Weiner’s previous photos didn’t have that data. They were labelled “via Yfrog” and “via Twitter.”

Let’s take it a step further. Suppose Weiner had used TweetDeck and nothing but TweetDeck during his entire career as a twitterer. Again: So what?

TweetDeck automatically establishes a Yfrog account for you. When you try to send a pic, it even flashes a message: “Sending via Yfrog.” Don’t take my word for it. Download the app for yourself and try it out.

I downloaded TweetDeck and had one of my fictional creations send a pic to another. “Chalice153” had never set up a Yfrog account — and yet one was set up for her. Here it is. (That’s Angela, my model. Pretty, isn’t she?) That account was open to the very same exploit which I pointed out in my post. ( My note: you can see Joseph’s experiment at the link on his post.)

Than there is the other very obvious problem – the photo that ended up on Congressman Weiner’s Twitter stream has no metadata. This is a run down of all the Conservative bloggers who have latched on to this story like mindless blood sucking leeches – Rightbloggers E*aculate Over the Women of Weinergate. Imagine one of really bad college freshman sex comedies – the straight to $5 dollar DVD variety. That is about the level of discourse you’ll find.

TBogg has a write up of Patterico’s Pontifications ( who reportedly has a job on the public payroll as a DA in California) long post which consist mostly of some teenage girls tweeting back and forth about Congressman Weiner. PP actually thinks he has broken open some kind of wild hijinks. Like A Dog With A B*ner

Now, Patterico his own bad self is working the Weiner beat and he could have spent a lovely Southern California day with his wife and kids doing stuff in the sunshine. But, no. Because he can’t let this penis go, he spent the day creating timelines and using his mad Google skillz (with which we have personal experience) and reading between the lines and possibly even checking the kerning on notes passed amongst  some tweens who think Anthony Weiner is Bieberiffic.

So lets say you’re accused of murder. PP presents as evidence a string of Twitter feds of people talking about you. Ah ha, proof you’re guilty, take the accused to the electric chair forthwith. Andrew Breitbart is also mentioned in the PP post as having some new breaking story which alleged that Rep. Weiner traded inappropriate photos with another woman. He’s off to a bad start – they traded photos? Last i heard consenting adults can do stuff like that. I’ve gone over there and checked several times and so far all he has is a pic of Rep. Weiner holding up a sign that says “me” – fully dressed.

Update: I don’t agree with everything Jack Shafer says in this article. For one most bloggers never said that Brietbart hacked Weiner’s Twitter account, but that Breitbart relayed what was unsubstantiated material as a fact. Shafer does nail a lot of what Weiner defenders are feeling about now, Anthony Weiner’s Semantic Satiation

Weiner owes me no apology for his serial lies because I understand that that’s what politicians do when they’re cornered by their fibs or unseemly behavior. I’m not even sore with him for scapegoating the press over a problem of his own making. That, too, goes with the territory. Nor am I outraged that he went onto national television to attempt to cover up his lies, telling Rachel Maddow that he wasn’t “trying to be evasive” and he just didn’t “know” whether the Tweeted drawers photo was of him. For me, when the mass of lies equals the mass of apologies, the whole package congeals into some new sociopathic form for which there is yet no name. (Weinerite, perhaps?) That he was caught lying about his personal life, and not about public policy, doesn’t really matter to me. By demonstrating that he’s as good a liar as he is an apologizer, Weiner tells us everything we need to know about him.

I’m less judgmental about the “sin” that Weiner confessed to this afternoon, of sexting his junk or his chest shots to six women over three years. If you’re as old as Weiner (46) and have never done something naughty but still legal, you’re probably immune to the power of human desire, have no sense of fantasy, and have been living in a locked veal cage in a convent basement. You don’t have to be a libertine to not care about a politician’s kinks, as long as those kinks don’t get in the way of his job.

Within that torrential cascade of apologies he could or should have included his wife and family. At this point Rep. Weiner has shown more class and humility than John Ensign (R-NV), Tom Coburn (R-OK) who helped Ensign with the cover-up and David Vitter(R-LA).

Lemon Water wallpaper – Keeping Score and Ending America as We Know It

Lemon Water wallpaper

Richard (RJ) Eskow makes some good points in between in some exasperation and exaggeration, Why Progressives Keep On Losing and the Right Keeps On Winning

Congratulations! The “grand compromise” will cut nearly thirty nine billion dollars in needed government spending, which proves how “serious” everyone is about reducing the deficit. The grand compromisers could have cancelled the next ten years of tax subsidies for oil companies and cut the deficit by forty billion, but apparently that’s not how serious people do things.

Eskow points up another facet to the debate leading up to the budget compromise ( keep in mind the Senate still has to vote on the budget and some of the riders being hailed as a partial victory for cheerleaders of the Scarlet Letter school of cultural values may change). Besides subsides for oil, we have subsides for coal and natural gas. We have subsidies for big agri-corporations (62% of farmers do not receive subsides). While I support aid to Israel, it was established in 1948 and to date has been the single largest beneficiary of US foreign aid. Most of Israels’ current aid in in the form of military aid – the Obama administration has approved about $9.9 billion in aid for FY 2011. American Progress reviewed a report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report on government waste. Note that no where in the report does it say attacking the reproductive health of women or making the nation’s air/water more toxic will be big money savers, Report Identifies $15 Billion to $20 Billion in Government Cost-Saving

*Realign the Defense Department’s military medical command structures: $281 million to $460 million annually
*Eliminate duplicative tax breaks for ethanol production: $5.7 billion annually
*Reduce farm payment programs: $800 million over 10 years; $5 billion annually
*Revise essential air service program: $20 million annually
*Improve management of federal oil and gas resources: $1.75 billion over 10 years
*Dispose of unneeded federal real property: $3 billion by the end of FY 2012
*Increase TSA baggage screening systems: $470 million over five years
*Clarify availability of customs fee collections: One-time savings of $640 million
*Improve Social Security data on pensions from noncovered earnings: $2.4 billion to $2.9 billion over 10 years

One area that is tricky is elimination of  “duplicate services”. What seems like duplicate services from a distance might not be on close examination. Considering the short sightedness or intractibility of the right-wing conservative mindset is not surprise that a Republican rider to eliminate funding for extra IRS agents was part of the budget compromise. One area where we all would have benefitted by making sure taxes were properly collected,

GAO also believes we can save by eliminating duplicative tax breaks and improving the IRS’s ability to collect taxes already owed to the government. Specifically, the report recommends the United States can enhance revenue collections by:

*Improving debt collection. The IRS recovered only $6 billion of $129 billion in tax debts in 2008 using written notices. Tax debts not recovered through inexpensive written notices must be collected through more expensive phone or in-person methods.
*Improving outreach to reduce revenue losses due to overstated real estate tax deduction. Nine million taxpayers overstated their federal deductions for local real estate taxes in 2001 by an average of $85. This resulted in a $2.5 billion loss.
*Improving tax compliance of self-employed owners of unincorporated businesses. The IRS estimates that $68 billion of the $345 billion gross tax gap can be attributed to underreporting by sole proprietors.
*Identifying businesses not filing tax returns. The IRS can save by using third-party data to find businesses not filing required tax returns.
*Improving tax compliance of S corporations. Sixty-eight percent of S corporations misreport net income. The IRS estimates that $85 billion in taxable income is not correctly reported as a result.
*Strengthening enforcement of tax evasion. Creating an agencywide strategy to enforce tax evasion can help close the tax gap.

Between ending unproductive and sometimes egregiously wasteful subsides, and collecting revenue even the compromise was doable without causing any major pain to the middle-class and working poor. here all I am doing is playing by the game Republicans, many Democrats and certainly the vast majority of the media have created – that we do have a monstrous out of control nation destroying debt which leaves us no choice but to make drastic budget cuts.  There is no out of control spending. The Bush and now Obama tax cuts costs $2.5 trillion over the years 2001-2010 – which includes interests on the debt – that is something Republicans, tea smokers and Obama share responsibility for the years 2010 and beyond. So there is no reason to listen to the twisted attempts by the Right to dump the entire debt into Obama’s lap. That is just the Right’s general tendency to not act like responsible grown-ups.

While the multitude of Republican governors and conservative state legislators latest rounds of attacks on the rights of women to have autonomy over their own bodies is would be a higher priority in comparison to defunding subsidies for women’s health care in the DC area, that also, is another grossly out of whack conservative priority and point of hypocrisy on the moral principles, Ignore this Mr. President. You already ignore me.

As for banning the District from using its own tax dollars to help poor people pay for a legal procedure, how is that any different than what the Supreme Court just allowed Arizona to do in allowing tax credits for religious schools?  So in other words, tax expenditures are okay if they fund things the right-wing wants, but somehow all money is tainted if in any way it goes to something rightwingers do not want –  even if a majority of the residents of the jurisdiction support that tax expenditure.

If the Right knows how to manage money, if the Right has its Constitutional ducks in a row, if the Right believes in pure unadulterated meritocracy – then why are the rest of us subsidizing thier private indoctrination centers.

That said, the blogger at that link has most of what happened during the health care debate wrong. We could have a replay where Obama pounds the table and goes medieval on Republicans and there still were not enough votes for a public option or a Medicare buy-in for younger workers.

The more time people have to go over Paul Ryan’s Road map to gutting Medicare and fiscal disaster, the more they find the numbers do not add up, Ryan Budget Plan Produces Far Less Real Deficit Cutting than Reported – Plan’s $4.3 Trillion in Program Cuts, Offset by $4.2 Trillion in Tax Cuts, Yield Just $155 Billion in Deficit Reduction

That means that, despite proposing $4.3 trillion in what would be the most severe and wrenching budget cuts in U.S. history — two-thirds of which would come from programs for people of low or moderate incomes — the plan barely reduces deficits at all over the next decade. That’s because his budget cuts are offset by $4.2 trillion in tax cuts that would go disproportionately to those at the top. In essence, at least for the next decade, this plan is far less a blueprint for addressing deficits and far more a proposal to redistribute large amounts of resources from those at the bottom to those at the top.

Mark Steyn, for those who have probably never heard of, is one of the Right’s biggest flame throwers and a perennial welfare queen. Where most people show humility and regret over their ignorance, Steyn shows his like a monkey at the zoo shows his ass and flings poop at by-passers. Ending America as We Know It. The Democrats’ solution to the problem is to deny there is one.

Ending Medicare as we know it? Say it ain’t so! Medicare, we hardly knew ye! It’s an open question whether Americans will fall for one more chorus of the same old song from Baucus, Harkin, Podesta, and the other members of America’s wrinkliest boy band. But, if this is the level on which the feckless patronizing spendaholics of the permanent governing class want to conduct the debate, bring it on:

Paul Ryan’s plan would “end Medicare as we know it.”

The Democrats’ “plan” — business as usual — will end America as we know it.

Literally, as Representative Wasserman-Schultz would say. One way or another, Medicare as we know it is going to end. So, if you think an unsustainable 1960s welfare program is as permanent a feature as the earth and sky, you’re in for a shock. It’s just a question of whether, after the shock, what’s left looks like Japan or looks like Haiti.

My comrade Jonah Goldberg compares America’s present situation to that of a plane with one engine out belching smoke. But, if anything, he understates the crisis. Air America doesn’t need a busted engine, because it’s pre-programmed to crash. Our biggest problem is Medicare and other “entitlements”: They’re the automatic pilot of Big Government. Whoever’s in the captain’s seat makes no difference: The flight is pre-programmed to hit the iceberg, if you’ll forgive me switching mass-transit metaphors in mid-stream.

Let’s start out on a positive note and acknowledge that he is correct – Jonah Goldberg is his “comrade” in proto-fascist doublespeak. Other than that the typical Bizarro World view embraced by those to whom the word accountability in part of some foreign language cipher which they could not understand if they moved their brain from their sphincter muscle to their fat heads. Medicare and Social Security are insurance programs. We have them because we live in a free market system. That system has some great positive qualities, but it is not perfect. From 1900 to 1927 the USA had 10 recessions. Some mild and some severe. As is usually the case the working and middle-class paid the price. This was before Social Security brought millions of elderly Americans out of poverty. Between 1927 and the present we have had 14 recessions – which includes The Great Depression and the Great Recession. Seeing that the financial powers that be, regardless of how or how much they are regulated always find a way to screw over the average American and Washington’s long history of reacting rather than being proactive in protecting us all from the excesses of the nations; centers of financial power, we as a nation – the adults anyway, decided the least we could do is provide a thin safety net. One of the reasons we have not had the extreme wide-spread hunger and homelessness of th early 20th century or massive street demonstrations is because of that safety net. Part of which is the insurance program Steyn (The National Review) describes as “welfare”. Medicare is a program that working Americans contribute to, exactly like the legendary family rainy day fund. Medicare is not the cause of the federal budget crisis. Lack of revenue (Partly because of the extended tax cuts of the Bush era. Partly because of corporations using loopholes to avoid paying any taxes) , the Great Recession caused by conservative economic policies and lack of regulatory enforcement and high unemployment ( which also means less revenue). Just as President Obama and many progressives are willing to trade a cut in corporate tax rates for closing some of the loopholes and a corporate minimum tax, I would be willing to trade-off some of Medicare if the Right will create the perfect market economy. Everyone who works forty hours a week gets a living wage, a good portable health care plan and a guaranteed retirement fund. Thus far so one seems to be able to do that. We’ve had 24 bad to severe economic down turns in the last 110 years. Every time we fix the system, radical conservatives either tear the regulations down, do not enforce it or water down new regulation with the help of people like the Koch brothers, the ironically named Freedom Works and their myriad astroturf lobbying groups. Steyn, The National Review and the right-wing bloggers who linked approvingly to Steyn’s deluge of misinformation, spin and lies wants everyone to believe that some how the free market system will do a sudden about-face and poor children, the disabled and seniors can rely on their fantasy market perfection to take care of them. Ending Medicare would be a death sentence for millions of Americans. With knowledge of the free market’s system hit and miss record who wants to gamble their and their family’s life on the Right’s fantasy version of  what is really “Ending America as We Know It”.

“Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance”  William Gaddis

Ryan and Bachmann Lied Like Jackals and Medicare Actuary Contradicts Own Report

Build Something Architecture wallpaper

Rep. Paul Road Map Ryan((R-WI) delivered the conservative response to President Obama’s SOTU as did Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). First, let’s look at Ryan, who Republicans still refer to as their budget wunderkin, even though they largely ignored his radical economic road map. Ryan made a huge issue out of the deficits, but from 2001 to present he has supported the slash and burn tax and revenue policies of the Bush administration. Ryan ( Bush’s) economic policies have made the deficit about $3 trillion dollars than they would be if Ryan or a cadre of Washington conservatives really cared about fiscal responsibility. Ryan is also supposed to be one of conservatism’s young lions ( he has described himself as such), the future of the Republican Partay. The new Republicans have the same malignant disabilities of the old Republicans, they’d fall on their faces, be exposed as the morally and intellectually vacant husks they are with the Big Lies as a crutch. Fact Checking Rep. Ryan’s State Of The Union Response

RYAN: The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies – an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus. All of this new government spending was sold as ‘investment.’ Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.

“Failed Stimulus?” When President Obama Took Office The Economy Was Shedding Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs Per Month…

The Economy Shed Almost 8 Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Could Affect The Economy.

[   ]….PolitiFact: Counting Stimulus Spending In 2010 Is “A Nifty Accounting Maneuver.” In a November 2010 fact check of Rep. Ryan’s “84 percent” claim, PolitiFact.com wrote:

Barely TrueOutside experts that PolitiFact Wisconsin spoke with quibble a bit about the annual budget figures Ryan uses, but the numbers are not really in dispute. And they do show a big jump — from $434 billion in 2008 to $537 billion in 2010.

But that’s a 24 percent increase, not the 84 percent claimed by Ryan and his colleagues.

Where would conservative critters like Ryan be without lying. Either looking for honest work or on the wing-nut welfare circuit spoon-feeding pabulum to the rubes. Despite reports just a couple of years ago that supply-side(voodoo) economics were dead, Ryan is a reminder that conservatives memes are like zombies. America’s economy crashes, largely due to conservative economic policies and it is all the fault of poor people and George Soros. Conservatism is not so much a political movement as a religious cult. Taxes, health care reform, jobs , the deficit… there was nothing in Ryan’s SOTU response that was not informed by incoherent fantasies.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) delivered her own response, ostensibly on behalf of the tea baggers. There was some objection to Bachmann delivering her own response. In her defense if she wanted to have a response and a network was willing to carry it than good for her. Too bad that the House’s own Progressive caucus did not take advantage and push CNN for time to reply to her speech. Anyway, Bachmann has never been known for her level of accuracy or honorable behavior. She is a blind ideologue and her fans love her for it. She has no compunctions about lying what so ever, Fact Checking Rep. Bachmann

BACHMANN: Unfortunately, the President’s strategy for recovery was to spend a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus program, fueled by borrowed money.[…] Not only did that plan fail to deliver, but within three months the national jobless rate spiked to 9.4 percent. And sadly, it hasn’t been lower for 20 straight months. While the government grew, we lost more than 2 million jobs. Let me show you a chart. Here are unemployment rates over the past ten years. In October 2001, our national unemployment rate was at 5.3 percent. In 2008 it was at 6.6 percent. But, just eight months after President Obama promised lower unemployment, that rate spiked to a staggering 10.1 percent.

Rate of Job Growth - Bush/Republican Years Versus Obama

Not only devoid of any fact, but a blatant hypocrisy. Republicans cut taxes and spent like mad men for eight years. They put that debt on the Chinese credit card. V.P. Cheney famously said deficits don’t matter. Suddenly deficits, much of which are a result of policies Bachmann supported, are a threat. In addition to lying and the hypocrisy is the utter lack of any genuine core convictions. If we assume that Bachmann and Ryan honestly believe the bull they shovel out for mass consumption they don’t have mental acuity of a tree stump.

Right-wing conservative bloggers have seized on this news, Medicare official doubts health care law savings

Two of the central promises of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law are unlikely to be fulfilled, Medicare’s independent economic expert told Congress on Wednesday.

The landmark legislation probably won’t hold costs down, and it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it, Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Budget Committee. His office is responsible for independent long-range cost estimates.

Foster’s assessment came a day after Obama in his State of the Union message told lawmakers that he’s open to improvements in the law, but unwilling to rehash the health care debate of the past two years. Republicans want to repeal the landmark legislation that provides coverage to more than 30 million people now uninsured, but lack the votes.

Foster was asked by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., for a simple true or false response on two of the main assertions made by supporters of the law: that it will bring down unsustainable medical costs and will let people keep their current health insurance if they like it.

On the costs issue, “I would say false, more so than true,” Foster responded.

As for people getting to keep their coverage, “not true in all cases.”

Writing at the Washington Post – a paper conservatives still claim is a ho bed of liberal bias – Jennifer Rubins cites this actuary’s testimony and Road map Ryan as the smoking gun that the entire Affordable Care Act is a shame. Jen, as is the habit of those afflicted with conservatism does not do details or research,

Rep. Paul Ryan 1, ObamaCare 0
By Jennifer Rubin

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) held an important hearing on ObamaCare, showing just how important is the process for educating the public, and thereby setting defenders of ObamaCare back on their heels.

Rubin also throws in some testimony from someone at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Which happens to be a right-wing front group who thinks Paul Ryan walks on water. Since Jen likes to keep score, lets add that up. Two right-wing conservatives testifying to a Committee chaired by right-wing ideologues, plus one actuary equals the Right 1, Obama O. Republicans cannot get even single digit arithmetic right without spinning it. The Medicare actuary may have some points to make about Medicare and cost containment, but as is usually the case it is not as simple as the Right would like everyone to believe. First, Foster ( the actuary) say that costs for some Medicare recipients will go up because we’re doing away with Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage was supplemental insurance the government was subsidizing. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars. Is it now the Ryan and Republican position that the government should rescue this costly government entitlement? We all know that it is not. So complaints about Medicare Advantage are solely for the sake of scoring political points and slices away a large part of Foster’s “concern” that medicare recipient benefits are going down. Those on Medicare who want supplemental insurance can still buy it in what Republicans should be passingly familiar with – the open market. Foster’s larger point about savings is debatable. Why would I say that. Because a report by his office in September of last year – well after the Affordable care Act was passed said so, The Office of the Actuary in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services – National Health Expenditure Projections 2009-2019 (September 2010)(pdf)

Provisions of the Affordable Care Act are projected to result in a lower average annual Medicare spending growth rate for 2012 through 2019 (6.2 percent), 1.3 percentage points lower than pre-reform estimates. The relatively lower projected Medicare expenditure growth rate reflects reduced annual payment updates for most Medicare services, substantial reductions to managed care plan payments, and the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

I have not had time to study this entire report also put out by the Medicare actuary’s office, but it does contain this paragraph in the reading I’ve gotten to –2010 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BOARDS OF TRUSTEES OF THE FEDERAL HOSPITAL INSURANCE AND FEDERAL SUPPLEMENTARY MEDICAL INSURANCE TRUST FUNDS(pdf)

The financial projections shown for the Medicare program in this report represent a substantial, but very uncertain, improvement over those in recent years as a result of the far-reaching provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010). Compared to the projections in last year’s annual report, projected Medicare costs as a percentage of GDP are 12 percent lower in 2019, 20 percent lower in 2030, and 43 percent lower in 2080. The legislation postpones the estimated date of exhaustion for the HI trust fund from 2017 in last year’s report to 2029. At 0.66 percent of taxable payroll, the long-range actuarial deficit for HI is only one-sixth of its prior level. Projected long-range expenditures for SMI Part B are also substantially lower than before, while Part D expenditures are slightly lower.

It is important to note, however, that the substantially improved results for HI and SMI Part B depend in part on the long-range feasibility of lower increases in Medicare payment rates to most categories of health care providers, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Moreover, in the context of today’s health care system, these adjustments would probably not be viable indefinitely into the future.

WaPo’s right-wing columnist sees slam-dunk, ObamaCare will never work. Cooler heads might read this report and conclude there is likely some necessary tweaking ahead. That is kind of subtle thinking. Thinking not blinded by Obama Derangement Syndrome. No surprise that progressive thinkers took up this very issue almost two years ago. Lin Nichols makes the kind of obvious observation that flies over the head of the right-wing dogmatists. COSTS: The Price of Pessimism — What the CMS Actuaries Missed

Small growth in National Health Expenditures is a good deal.  The CMS actuaries estimate that after all is said and done, national health spending will claim 0.3 percent more of GDP in 2019 than under current baseline trajectories.  They come to this conclusion despite being pessimistic about behavioral responses to delivery system reforms and despite assuming we will be covering 34 million more Americans by that time.  In other words, even analysts who are pessimistic about savings assert that we can just about pay for covering most of the uninsured out of savings from elsewhere in the health system.  Even a little more success than they project (far less than the percentage they were wrong about the Medicare Drug Benefit) and we will be covering the uninsured at lower cost than we would have spent without reform.

In sum, there are some fine analysts at OACT, and Rick Foster and his team serve our nation well as actuaries of the Medicare program.  When it comes to knowledge of the delivery system and the under-65 population, however, they are perhaps less up to speed than McKinsey or CBO.  People should not get hung up on their judgments about the potential for delivery system change.  People should notice, however, that they estimate the savings provisions in the House legislation will generate $20 billion more over 10 years than CBO estimates.  This is their area of relative expertise.  Predicting behavioral responses, of hospital CEOs or of uninsured individuals, is not.

All future costs should be in the context of where we were headed without some kind of reform – something conservatives had plenty of opportunity to do during the Bush era and during the health care reform debate. As the generally conservative and often times overly cautious Kaiser Foundation noted,

Health care costs have been rising for several years. Expenditures in the United States on health care surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and over eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980. Stemming this growth has become a major policy priority, as the government, employers, and consumers increasingly struggle to keep up with health care costs. [1]

In 2008, U.S. health care spending was about $7,681 per resident and accounted for 16.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this is among the highest of all industrialized countries. Total health care expenditures grew at an annual rate of 4.4 percent in 2008, a slower rate than recent years, yet still outpacing inflation and the growth in national income. Absent reform, there is general agreement that health costs are likely to continue to rise in the foreseeable future.

What has been and continues to be the conservative answer to millions of uninsured Americans and spiraling health care costs, to act like Jennifer Rubin and throw peanuts from the gallery. They have no ideas and no solutions, so spin and hysteria is their standard response.