Tag Archive: Medicaid

Apr 13 2017

Death and Taxes

Donald Trump really wants you to die so he can give his billionaire buddies tax cuts. The failure of the Republican lead congress to come up with a plan to kill the Affordable Care Act really put a crimp in that plan. After their bill couldn’t even make it to the House floor, Trump decided …

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Nov 02 2015

Medicaid Gap: A Matter of Life or Death

The presidential election is a year away, the host of HBO’s “Last week Tonight” John Oliver, brought attention to the need for voters to pay attention to local election. Those elections may well be a matter of life or death when it comes to the gap in Medicaid for low income families in states that …

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Dec 11 2013

Add Bank Tellers to Underpaid Workers List

One would think that the person we speak to behind the bullet proof plexiglass at the bank was paid enough to own his/her own home, put food on the table, have a good pension plan and health care insurance. Apparently, that is a myth. In NYC, one in three bank tellers need some form of public assistance and the average pay is only $11.59 per hour, three dollars below what is considered a living wage in big cities where the cost of living is highest. The recent focus has been on Walmart and fast food workers, now we can add bank tellers to the list of the underpaid

Thirty-nine percent of NYC-based bank tellers and their families rely on at least one government assistance program, like Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit or food stamps, which costs the city a total of $112 million per year (pdf), according to the study from the New Day New York Coalition, a group of progressive organizations. Researchers arrived at their findings through government data, as well as interviews with 5,000 bank workers in the New York area, who answered questions about stress, working conditions, pay practices and how the industry has changed since 2008.  [..]

The study’s findings mirror trends nationwide and are yet another sign that the pool of so-called middle-class jobs is shrinking. Nearly one-third of the almost half-million bank tellers in the country rely on public assistance, according to an analysis by the University of California, Berkeley’s Labor Center. The Labor Center’s Ken Jacobs estimates that these employees’ reliance on such programs costs taxpayers nationwide roughly $900 million per year. [..]

Activists have been quick to point out that if companies like Walmart, McDonald’s and now big banks paid their workers more, fewer of them would have to lean on public assistance, saving taxpayers money. More than half of frontline fast food workers rely on government assistance, costing the nation $7 billion, according to an October report. A single Walmart store’s low wages could cost taxpayers $900,000 per year, according to a May report from Senate Democrats.

Dec 01 2013

Anti-capitalist Meetup: “Separate but Equal” Shuts Down Women’s Health Care by TPau

This week has a certain nostalgia for me. I am working the last four shifts in my home, Humboldt County. Nestled between pristine redwoods and dramatic cliffs overlooking the west coast of California, I want to stay here, but cannot. I am feeling the full force of the United States health care crisis. In the four years I have worked here eight of ten obstetricians in the southern half of the county have left, and now I find I am one of them.

Two obstetricians, far apart geographically and serving two different hospitals, are all that is left to serve an area once supporting 10 obstetricians. Both doctors are men over 60, who have a tough future ahead of them. Without outside help there is no way they can see all the patients that will need them. They have to remain within 30 minutes of the hospital and can be told to come to work any time of the day or night. They can never have a moment off, a full night’s sleep, a drink of alcohol to ring in the New Year. Watching a full length movie, or having a nice dinner with the spouse without interruption is a thing of the past. Neither of the remaining doctors can get sick or injured. This is really asking them to be super human and there is no cavalry on their horizon. In fact, if Catholic Health Systems is successful at closing one of the two hospitals, only one physician will remain.

As a young person, I wanted to take my medical skills to a disadvantaged third world nation. Looks like I got my wish – right here in the US. How did we get here?

Oct 28 2013

Seven Seconds to Save the Social Safety Net

7 Reasons to Take 7 Seconds to Save Social Security and Medicare

by Richard (RJ) Eskow, The Huffington Post

A broad coalition of organizations, including the Campaign for America’s Future and Social Security Works, is joining Sen. Bernie Sanders in a petition drive to resist cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. It only takes a few moments to sign; it’s that easy. [..]

The threat is very real, and these cuts could take place with very little warning. On a personal note: I signed. I did it because a lot of people would suffer needlessly by the kind of deal they’re cooking up. I did it because I think it’s wrong to allow the privileged and powerful to overrule the will of the people. And frankly, I did it because I’m scared. This deal could be done before most Americans even see it coming.

It’s fast and easy to sign this petition. It only took me seven seconds. Here are seven reasons why you should. [..]

1. Republicans are still demanding “entitlement cuts.”

[..]

2. Some of these cuts are in the President’s budget.

[..]

3. The “chained CPI” is a deep cut to Social Security benefits.

[..]

4. The chained CPI isn’t fair, either.

[..]

5. The cuts to Medicaid and Medicare are both inhumane and cumbersome.

[..]

6. Millennials are already getting a raw deal. This would make it worse.

[..]

7. In a democracy, the people — not corporations are billionaires — are supposed to decide.

Take Action: Defend Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

Stand with Senator Bernie Sanders and our coalition partners in demanding, “No grand bargain in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.”

Bernie is serving on the Budget Conference Committee which will be negotiating a new federal budget over the next few months — and where a deal could be struck to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

As the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, Bernie is fighting every day to protect our earned benefits. Stand with Senator Bernie Sanders and a diverse coalition of thousands of fellow progressives now and demand that Congress and the President oppose any grand bargain which cuts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Add your name today!

He’s right, depending on how fast you can type and press enter, just seven seconds. So it for yourself and future generations.

Oct 18 2013

No, Harry, Not Even For Revenue Increases

In an interview with Huffington Post after the “cease fire” bill that postponed the latest manufactured debt ceiling/government funding crisis was passed and signed, Senate Majority Leader HArry Reid (D-NV) said this:

“I would like to suggest that maybe the Republicans aren’t too happy with next year’s sequestration. Who does it hurt, non-defense? I get an extra billion dollars this year compared to [last] year. Defense? They lose $23 billion,” Reid said, referring to the Pentagon. “So I would think there should be some people among the Republicans in the House and Senate who would say we should take a look at that.” [..]

Reid also said that he would make sure to protect Social Security against attempts to trade cuts for sequestration relief, calling such a bargain “a stupid trade.”

“That’s no trade. We are going to affect entitlements so we can increase defense spending? Don’t check me for a vote there. I’m not interested in that,” he said.

“It is the most successful social program in the history of the world. The program is not about to go broke, so take it easy on Social Security,” Reid said.

OK. That’s reassuring until he kept talking:

If Republicans want to trim Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, Reid said, they’d have to give on tax revenue in exchange. Asked specifically if the deal must be revenue for entitlements, he said: “Yes, and we call it mandatories.”

No, Harry, not even for revenue increases. Cuts to the social safety net of millions of Americans is NOT a bargaining chip to raise taxes.

Dec 11 2012

The Debt Ceiling Myth & the Platinum Coin

US Mint Platinum CoinOnce again the Republicans in Congress are threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling in order to get concessions from the Obama administration. Those concessions would involve severe cuts and changes to the social safety net that our most vulnerable citizens rely on to stay out of poverty but would not solve the so-called problem of the US debt obligations and deficit spending. We’ve been down this road before and it resulted in the extension of the Bush tax cuts and an increase in the deficit.

This could all be rendered irrelevant quite easily and very legally by the minting of one or more platinum coins in denominations determined by the Treasury Secretary. Here’s the law, 31 USC § 5112 – Denominations, specifications, and design of coins:

§ 5112. Denominations, specifications, and design of coins

(a) The Secretary of the Treasury may mint and issue only the following coins: [..]

(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

Those coins would be deposited with the Federal Reserve and used to make good on the obligated debt of the United States.  This is a legitimate option  for President Barack Obama and the argument has been made that it may be his duty to order the minting of Trillion Dollar Platinum Coins  to protect the US from failing to pay its obligations. Here is the explanation of what a trillion dollar coin does from blogger letsgetitdone at Correntewire:

If the Mint coins money in denominations appropriate for commonplace retail transactions than the coins involved can be exchanged among parties as needed. But what happens if the Mint coins platinum money with face values in the trillions of dollars? Then that money can’t be used for exchange as a practical matter, because there are no buyers who will accept the trillion dollar coins in exchange. So, if the Treasury wants to use such coins to fill the public purse with money it can later spend on debt repayment or Congressional deficit appropriations, it must transform high face value coins into divisible money; i.e. reserves in its Fed spending account. [..]

In the case of $One Trillion proof platinum coin, the profits are its face value minus a few thousand dollars. So that amount would be “swept” into the Treasury General Account (TGA), which is the account used by Treasury to perform Government spending.

A very good way to look at high value platinum coins is that they are legal instruments for the Treasury to use the unlimited “out of thin air” reserve creation authority of the Fed to fill the public spending purse, the TGA, for public purposes. In effect, platinum coin seigniorage involves the Treasury commandeering the power of the Fed to create reserves and place them in the TGA, perhaps, depending on what the Treasury chooses to do, in the many Trillions of dollars.

The coin’s value is not limited to one trillion dollars, according to the law, the Treasury Secretary sets the value. Letsgetitdone makes the argument for a $60 trillion coin that would be a political game changer:

{..} because it institutionalizes the idea that there is a distinction between appropriations, the Congressional mandate to spend particular amounts on particular goods and services, and the capability to spend the mandated accounts by having the funds (electronic credits) in the public purse (the TGA). In a fiat currency system, the capability always exists if the legislature provides for it under the Constitution, as it has under current platinum coin seigniorage legislation.

But the value of the $60 T coin, and the profits derived from it, is that it is a concrete reminder of the Government’s continuing ability to buy whatever it needs to meet public purposes, and its continuing ability to harness the authority of the Central Bank to create reserves to support the needs of fiscal policy. It demonstrates very clearly that the Government cannot run out of money, and that the claim that it can is not a valid reason for rejecting spending that is in accordance with public purpose.

So, please keep in mind the distinction between the capability to spend more than government collects in taxes, and the appropriations that mandate such spending. The capability is what’s in the public purse, and it is unlimited as long as the Government doesn’t constrain itself from creating credits in its own accounts. With coin seigniorage its capability could be and should be publicly demonstrated by minting the $60 T coin, and getting the profits from depositing it at the Fed transferred to the Treasury General Account (TGA).

On the other hand, Congressional appropriations, not the size or contents of the purse, but whether the purse strings are open or not, determines what will be spent, and what will simply sit in the purse for use at a later time. So there is a very important distinction between the purse and the purse strings. The President can legally use coin seigniorage to fill the purse, but only Congress can open the purse strings through its appropriations.

Is there anything congress could do to stop the president from issuing a coin like that? No, there isn’t. Could they impeach him? Well they could try, but I doubt they would get 67 votes in the Democratic held Senate. Nor would impeachment of a president who rescued the economy be very popular with the public.

Last year during the last budget hostage situation, Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale Law School, wrote this:

Like Congress, the president is bound by Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that “(t)he validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law . . . shall not be questioned.” Section 4 was passed after the Civil War because the framers worried that former Southern rebels returning to Congress would hold the federal debt hostage to extract political concessions on Reconstruction. Section 5 gives Congress the power to enforce the 14th Amendment’s provisions. This does not mean, however, that these provisions do not apply to the president; otherwise, he could violate the 14th Amendment at will.

Section 4 requires the president not to put the validity of the public debt into question. If the debt ceiling is not raised in time, there will not be enough incoming revenues to pay for all of the government’s bills as they come due. Therefore he has a constitutional obligation to prioritize incoming revenues to pay the public debt: interest on government bonds and any other “vested” obligations. [..]

An angry Congress may respond by impeaching the president. However, if the president’s actions end the government shutdown, stabilize the markets and prevent an economic catastrophe, this reduces the chances that he will be impeached by the House. (After all, he saved the country.) Perhaps more important, the chances that he will be convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, which has a Democratic majority, are virtually zero.

Since Pres. Obama is no longer faced with reelection and the Republicans in the House are again threatening to default on its obligations without deep cuts to the social safety net and protect the 1% from tax hikes, there is no reason for the President not to mint that coin.

These are the articles by letgetitdone that were referenced and are all well worth reading:

Coin Seigniorage: A Legal Alternative and Maybe the President’s Duty

Beyond Debt/Deficit Politics: The $60 Trillion Plan for Ending Federal Borrowing and Paying Off the National Debt

Origin and Early History of Platinum Coin Seigniorage In the Blogosphere

What Does The Trillion Dollar Coin Do?

The Trillion Dollar Coin Is A Conservative Meme

Dec 05 2012

No, This Fiscal Scam Won’t Be Different Than 2011. Stop Deluding Yourselves

Of course that can be easy to do with corporate media hacks parading around as “journalists” basically working to preserve the corrupt machine they feed off of. They’re feeding people revisionist nonsense about the so called fiscal cliff; nonsense like how because of the President was reelected he has more leverage this time. As if Democrats ever use leverage after they win elections like how they kept funding the Iraq war in 2006 after their opposition to the war gave them those mid term victories. Nancy Pelosi also took impeachment of the war criminal GWB off the table so future war crimes could be committed.

And then in 2008 after winning an unprecedented majority in both Houses of Congress, higher than at anytime leading up to that point on the GOP’s end, we were told we didn’t have a mandate for progressive polices despite the fact that the right’s neoconservative Laissez-faire ideology had been fully discredited.

The Mandate Manipulation Machine Enters Stage Right

As I predicted a while back, the Partisan-Industrial Complex in Washington, D.C. has deployed its quadrennial Mandate Manipulation Machine to make sure that the 65 million Americans who voted for Barack Obama remember that America giving more than 340 electoral votes to an African American billed as a Islamic Marxist terrorist means there is no mandate for real change in this, a country obviously more conservative than ever.

A cursory glance at the newspapers today shows the media teeming with stories quoting incoming Obama administration officials, Democratic Party leaders and spokespeople for corporate front groups insisting that actually, no real change can be made, and what small-bore changes can happen, will have to happen in the very distant future, not soon. My favorite was the one-two punch from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean. Upon hearing of his bigger senate majority, Reid said on Tuesday, “This is not a mandate for a political party or an ideology.

And of course we now know that was Democrats’ way of telling us they would waste the crisis that elected them, keep TBTF, not prosecute anyone who caused the crash, dump the EFCA, enact Dolecare instead of a public option or Medicare Buy In, and go half ass on all qualitative legislation. This is what actually led up to the mid term losses in 2010. And keep in mind this 2012 election victory doesn’t even compare to the victory in 2008.

And yet they tell us we will see a new reinvigorated President and Congress. They tell us they are confident this time. They tell us that this time Democrats know they have a mandate for progress so things will be different than when the debt ceiling debacle made fools of them all. No, this is actually what the White House is telling us; the same thing as after the 2008 election victory now in 2012.

Axelrod: Talk of mandate ‘foolish, generally untrue’

Obama senior campaign adviser David Axelrod downplayed talk of an election mandate on the “fiscal cliff” on Thursday.

Axelrod said presidents always talk after an election about a mandate, but he called such talk “foolish.” President Obama and congressional Republicans are bracing for talks on tax hikes and spending cuts that are now set to be implemented in January.

“Everyone’s going to have to come to the table in the spirit of getting things done, but on this issue of particularly the fiscal cliff – presidents always say, ‘I have a mandate’; that’s a foolish word and generally untrue,” Axelrod told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday.

Dec 03 2012

The Great American Scam: “The Fiscal Cliff”

This interview with economist James K. Galbraith, by Paul Jay of Real News Network about why the “fical cliff” is a scam, was posted at naked capitalism in two parts by Yves Smith and Lambert Strether.

This is a very good, high level interview of Jamie Galbraith by Paul Jay of Real News Network. It explains how the fiscal cliff scare was created and why Obama and the Republicans are united in fomenting a false sense of urgency. This is the sort of piece I’d suggest sharing with friends and relatives who’ve been unable to miss the news coverage and want to get up to speed.

Lambert made note of this passage:

[GALBRAITH:] If, for example, [incompr.] suggestion which has been in the news, you raise the eligibility age for Medicare, then what you’re doing is privatizing it in part. What you’re saying is that people who have employer-based insurance or other forms of private insurance have to hang on to that when they’re 66 and into, say, 67 [incompr.] they hit the age when they can shrug it off and get onto Medicare. That’s privatization. That’s what it is. And I think that should also be off the table.

Six Reasons the “Fiscal Cliff” is a Scam: A Mechanism for Rolling Back Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

by James K. Galbraith at Global Research

Stripped to essentials, the fiscal cliff is a device constructed to force a rollback of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as the price of avoiding tax increases and disruptive cuts in federal civilian programs and in the military.  It was policy-making by hostage-taking, timed for the lame duck session, a contrived crisis, the plain idea now unfolding was to force a stampede.

In the nature of stampedes arguments become confused; panic flows from fear, when multiple forces – economic and political in this instance – all appear to push the same way.  It is therefore useful to sort through those forces, breaking them down into separate questions, and to ask whether any of them justify the voices of doom. [..]

In short, Members of Congress: if you can, just pass the President’s bill on middle-class taxes, and, if you can, eliminate the domestic sequester. Then, please go home.  Enjoy the holidays. Come back in January prepared to extend unemployment insurance, to phase out the payroll tax holiday gradually, to restore stable funding to necessary programs and to start dealing with our real problems:  jobs, foreclosures, infrastructure and climate change.

Aug 16 2012

How to Kill Grandma and Grandpa Faster; or, Paul Ryan’s Gonads

In April of 2011, Rollingstone‘s contributing editor Matt Taibbi wrote a piece about Paul Ryan and budget proposal titled, Tax Cuts for the Rich on the Backs of the Middle Class; or, Paul Ryan has Balls

I heartily laughed at Matt’s description of Paul Ryan:

Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.

You have to admit that is scathingly accurate.

I thought of my own Tea Party House “Rat”, Michael Grimm. Grimm a former FBI agent and freshman representative from New York’s newly redrawn 11th who is currently the target of a federal grand jury investigation into the fundraising for his 2010 campaign. He fits Matt’s description to a tee.

Although Grimm is not a member of the Tea Party Caucus, he has voted lock step with them. When Grimm voted for Ryan’s first budget plan which called for a fix voucher and cuts to Medicaid that that would hurt the poor and elderly, Staten Island Tea Partiers were vocally upset with him. But I can almost guarantee they will give him a second chance to screw them, and everyone else, come November.

Back to Matt’s article. With his wry wit, he goes on to describe Ryan’s goal to reduce taxes for the wealthiest by asking seniors to cut back on their health care in order to pay for those tax breaks. That takes balls.

Never mind that each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.

The problem, of course, is that to actually make significant cuts in what is left of the “welfare state,” one has to cut Medicare and Medicaid, programs overwhelmingly patronized by white people, and particularly white seniors. So when the time comes to actually pull the trigger on the proposed reductions, the whippersnappers are quietly removed from the stage and life goes on as usual, i.e. with massive deficit spending on defense, upper-class tax cuts, bailouts, corporate subsidies, and big handouts to Pharma and the insurance industries.

This is a political game that gets played out in the media over and over again, and everyone in Washington knows how it works. Which is why it’s nauseating (but not surprising) to see so many commentators falling over themselves with praise for Ryan’s “bold” budget proposal, which is supposedly a ballsy piece of politics because it proposes backdoor cuts in Medicare and Medicaid by redounding their appropriations to the states and to block grants. Ryan is being praised for thusly taking on seniors, a traditionally untouchable political demographic .

Medicaid cuts that would deeply effect the elderly are never discussed by the media, even now with Ryan the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee:

While the Republican vice-presidential candidate is careful to avoid touching Medicare benefits for anyone at or near retirement, his budget would impose immediate cuts to Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor that funds nursing-home care and other benefits for 6 million U.S. seniors. [..]

The proposed Medicaid changes are often overlooked amid the debate over Ryan’s Medicare plan, which has taken center stage in the presidential contest since the Wisconsin congressman was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate on Aug. 11. It’s politically important because those 65 and older are a crucial voting bloc. [..]

Health-care policy specialists say it’s politically easier to cut Medicaid because most voters don’t understand it. [..]

Many middle-income Americans who may be unfamiliar with Medicaid end up relying on the program in their old age because they exhaust their assets. Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care so they turn to Medicaid, which does. [..].

Without Medicaid, current and future Medicare recipients would be in deep financial trouble, as would nursing homes and hospitals that would be under obligation to treat them even if they lack coverage. Ryan’s budget would do this just to give the top 2% another tax cut that wouldn’t even be covered by the cuts.

In his last paragraph, Matt say this about Ryan and his budget:

The absurd thing is that Ryan’s act isn’t even politically courageous. It’s canny calculation, but courage it is not. It would be courageous if Ryan were, say, the president of the United States, and leaning on that budget with his full might. But Ryan is proposing a budget he knows would have no chance of passing in the Senate. He is simply playing out a part, a non-candidate for the presidency pushing a rhetorical flank for an out-of-power party leading into a presidential campaign year. If the budget is a hit with the public, the 2012 Republican candidate can run on it. If it isn’t, the Republican candidate can triangulate Ryan’s ass back into the obscurity from whence it came, and be done with him.

All Paul Ryan has are his “balls” because he certainly doesn’t have a heart or a conscience.

So much for obscurity. Little did Matt know.  

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