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GOP’s Debt Ceiling Fight Is About Bringing Down Obama

Impeach  him.

Not the president. Barack Obama is holding a huge  global and domestic crisis in his hand. To use a Washington metaphor,  he’s dangerously close to being left “holding the bag” on the  Treasury debt ceiling limit. He keeps talking sweet reason about  the art of compromise to Republicans in Congress—not a language they speak.   Obama played golf with the House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican who  drones on about “small business” every chance he gets. Obama is  not getting traction or making friends with Boehner because he does  not grasp the conversation about the debt limit is not about the debt limit. It’s about taking his presidency down—this week—even if it hurts the  United States of America, which it will. A small price to pay for this  tea-drinking crowd of 87 GOP House freshmen which turned the chamber upside  down six months ago.

“This is no way to run the greatest country on  earth,” Obama  declared in a belated speech, sounding a call to arms around  the  country, last night. That in itself says so much—he’s right, but  he’s  the man who’s elected by the people—not John Boehner who was elected by a  small-town  slice of Ohio—to run the country! Everything was  calculated to leave  Obama in the lurch—by Boehner, House Majority  Leader Eric Cantor of the old  Confederate capital, Richmond, Va. and at  least one other mastermind. The  conspiracy has succeeded flawlessly so  far. They separated Obama from his  own party in Congress; in his  dealings with only Republicans he went way  beyond Bill Clinton’s  “triangulation” strategy. Obama made  allies feel like they were shut  out of the deal-making room when he  offered concessions that cut at the  heart of the Democratic Party‘s proud  history on social programs dating  to the New Deal.

The GOP—and I mean the George W. Bush years and the  current crop  of Senate Republicans, too—has a new deal for you, too. It’s  called  the New Steal. It goes like this: we’ll take all the peace and   prosperity of the Clinton tax code years up until 2000 and then squander  it on  a couple unwinnable wars of choice—and by the way, make rich  people pay less  into the Treasury than they did during those golden  years. They might start one  of those illusory “small businesses.”

The reason President Clinton was acquitted at his  impeachment trial  in the Senate for a fling with Monica Lewinsky was because he  built  bonds of loyalty, teamwork and camaraderie with Democrats in both houses   of Congress. Not one of them came forward on the floor to speak  against him,  except pious Sen. Joe Lieberman, who suggested a censure. He  was utterly alone in  his opportunistic little ploy. Clinton’s true  friends all stood by him in the  Senate—because he was their  president.

Obama, a bit of a loner, needs more bosom buddies  among lawmakers.  In a crisis, you find out who your friends are. The one  who could have  steered him straight, sailing into the wind, was the late great   senator, Edward M. Kennedy. When Kennedy got his Irish up and roared on   the floor, he scared the forest. Obama does not scare the Republican  jungle.

Let’s impeach Rush Limbaugh as the master of public  dis-coarse. He’s  the real reason we have so many angry white men in office who  are  plotting against the president. He’s writing the back-story of this   debt drama, consulting closely with House Republican leaders step by  step.  I believe it even if I can’t see it because he did the same thing  in  1994, in cahoots with Newt Gingrich, who recruited a new House  Republican  freshman class to take over the House. Yes, I saw Rush with  my own eyes  getting all the glory as class mascot at a fancy dinner at  Camden Yards in  Baltimore for the new Republican victors that enabled  Gingrich to become speaker. The government shutdowns and showdowns  against President Clinton  resulted—remember?

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, July 26, 2011

July 26, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Politics, President Obama, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Small Businesses, Taxes, Teaparty, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Medicare Saves Money: Ensuring Health Care At A Cost The Nation Can Afford

Every once in a while a politician comes up with an idea that’s so bad, so wrongheaded, that you’re almost grateful. For really bad ideas can help illustrate the extent to which policy discourse has gone off the rails.

And so it was with Senator Joseph Lieberman’s proposal, released last week, to raise the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67.

Like Republicans who want to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with (grossly inadequate) insurance vouchers, Mr. Lieberman describes his proposal as a way to save Medicare. It wouldn’t actually do that. But more to the point, our goal shouldn’t be to “save Medicare,” whatever that means. It should be to ensure that Americans get the health care they need, at a cost the nation can afford.

And here’s what you need to know: Medicare actually saves money — a lot of money — compared with relying on private insurance companies. And this in turn means that pushing people out of Medicare, in addition to depriving many Americans of needed care, would almost surely end up increasing total health care costs.

The idea of Medicare as a money-saving program may seem hard to grasp. After all, hasn’t Medicare spending risen dramatically over time? Yes, it has: adjusting for overall inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400 percent from 1969 to 2009.

But inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700 percent over the same period. So while it’s true that Medicare has done an inadequate job of controlling costs, the private sector has done much worse. And if we deny Medicare to 65- and 66-year-olds, we’ll be forcing them to get private insurance — if they can — that will cost much more than it would have cost to provide the same coverage through Medicare.

By the way, we have direct evidence about the higher costs of private insurance via the Medicare Advantage program, which allows Medicare beneficiaries to get their coverage through the private sector. This was supposed to save money; in fact, the program costs taxpayers substantially more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

And then there’s the international evidence. The United States has the most privatized health care system in the advanced world; it also has, by far, the most expensive care, without gaining any clear advantage in quality for all that spending. Health is one area in which the public sector consistently does a better job than the private sector at controlling costs.

Indeed, as the economist (and former Reagan adviser) Bruce Bartlett points out, high U.S. private spending on health care, compared with spending in other advanced countries, just about wipes out any benefit we might receive from our relatively low tax burden. So where’s the gain from pushing seniors out of an admittedly expensive system, Medicare, into even more expensive private health insurance?

Wait, it gets worse. Not every 65- or 66-year-old denied Medicare would be able to get private coverage — in fact, many would find themselves uninsured. So what would these seniors do?

Well, as the health economists Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll document, right now Americans in their early 60s without health insurance routinely delay needed care, only to become very expensive Medicare recipients once they reach 65. This pattern would be even stronger and more destructive if Medicare eligibility were delayed. As a result, Mr. Frakt and Mr. Carroll suggest, Medicare spending might actually go up, not down, under Mr. Lieberman’s proposal.

O.K., the obvious question: If Medicare is so much better than private insurance, why didn’t the Affordable Care Act simply extend Medicare to cover everyone? The answer, of course, was interest-group politics: realistically, given the insurance industry’s power, Medicare for all wasn’t going to pass, so advocates of universal coverage, myself included, were willing to settle for half a loaf. But the fact that it seemed politically necessary to accept a second-best solution for younger Americans is no reason to start dismantling the superior system we already have for those 65 and over.

Now, none of what I have said should be taken as a reason to be complacent about rising health care costs. Both Medicare and private insurance will be unsustainable unless there are major cost-control efforts — the kind of efforts that are actually in the Affordable Care Act, and which Republicans demagogued with cries of “death panels.”

The point, however, is that privatizing health insurance for seniors, which is what Mr. Lieberman is in effect proposing — and which is the essence of the G.O.P. plan — hurts rather than helps the cause of cost control. If we really want to hold down costs, we should be seeking to offer Medicare-type programs to as many Americans as possible.

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, June 12, 2011

June 13, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Congress, Conservatives, Consumers, Economy, GOP, Government, Health Care, Health Care Costs, Health Reform, Ideologues, Ideology, Insurance Companies, Lawmakers, Medicare, Politics, Public Health, Republicans, Right Wing, Seniors, Single Payer, Under Insured, Uninsured | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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