Our Common Good

Trying to convince the public to cut America’s best-loved and most successful program requires a lot of creativity and persistence. Social Security is fiscally fit, prudently managed and does not add to the deficit because by law it must be completely detached from the federal operating budget. Obviously, it is needed more than ever in a time of increasing job insecurity and disappearing pensions. It helps our economy thrive and boosts the productivity of working Americans. And yet the sharks are in a frenzy to shred it in the upcoming “fiscal cliff” discussions.

The most popular red herring Social Security hustlers have unleashed into the waters of public discourse has grown into such a massive whale of a lie that liberals frequently subscribe to it. The idea goes like this: We need to somehow “fix” Social Security because people are living longer – “fix” in this context being code for “cut.” Two groups stand to benefit in the short-term from such a scheme: the greedy rich, who do not want to pay their share in taxes, and financiers, who want to move towards privatizing retirement accounts so they can collect fees. As for the masses of hard-working people who have rightfully earned their retirement, the only “fix” is the fix they will be in if already modest benefits are further reduced.

Here are five clear reasons why the life expectancy argument is nonsensical, counterproductive and based on a pack of lies. [must read]

I worked extremely hard… I take credit for the work. But I received a free education. I received free health care… I’m unapologetic about saying this,” she added. “I had pneumonia when my daughter was under one year old. If we hadn’t had free health care in this country, God only knows what would have happened to either of us. I am proud of having done what I’ve done. Very proud. But. I do take issue – and this does go to the heart of this book, which is why I have to say it—with anyone who truly feels it’s a 100 percent down to them.
divineirony:

Government Spends More on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare Programs.
About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.
Before we look at the details, a heartfelt plea from the Save the CEO’s Charitable Trust:
There’s so much suffering in the world. It can all get pretty overwhelming sometimes. Consider, for a moment the sorrow in the eyes of a CEO who’s just found out that his end-of-year bonus is only going to be a paltry $2.3 million.
“It felt like a slap in the face. Imagine what it would feel like just before Christmas to find out that you’re going to be forced to scrape by on your standard $8.4 million compensation package alone. Imagine what is was like to have to look into my daughter’s face and tell her that I couldn’t afford to both buy her a dollar sign shaped island and hire someone to chew her food from now on, too. To put her in that situation of having to choose… She’s only a child for God’s sake.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to federal subsidies from taxpayers like you, CEO’s like G. Allen Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland was able to take home almost $14 million in executive compensation last year. But he’s one of the lucky ones. There are still corporations out there that actually have to provide goods and services to their consumers in order to survive. They need your help.
For just $93 billion a year the federal government is able to provide a better life for these CEO’s and their families. That’s less than the cost of 240 million cups of coffee a day. Won’t you help a needy corporation today?
(Full article with all the details)

divineirony:

Government Spends More on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare Programs.

About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.

Before we look at the details, a heartfelt plea from the Save the CEO’s Charitable Trust:

There’s so much suffering in the world. It can all get pretty overwhelming sometimes. Consider, for a moment the sorrow in the eyes of a CEO who’s just found out that his end-of-year bonus is only going to be a paltry $2.3 million.

“It felt like a slap in the face. Imagine what it would feel like just before Christmas to find out that you’re going to be forced to scrape by on your standard $8.4 million compensation package alone. Imagine what is was like to have to look into my daughter’s face and tell her that I couldn’t afford to both buy her a dollar sign shaped island and hire someone to chew her food from now on, too. To put her in that situation of having to choose… She’s only a child for God’s sake.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to federal subsidies from taxpayers like you, CEO’s like G. Allen Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland was able to take home almost $14 million in executive compensation last year. But he’s one of the lucky ones. There are still corporations out there that actually have to provide goods and services to their consumers in order to survive. They need your help.

For just $93 billion a year the federal government is able to provide a better life for these CEO’s and their families. That’s less than the cost of 240 million cups of coffee a day. Won’t you help a needy corporation today?

(Full article with all the details)

underthemountainbunker:

image: Bob Cesca

Republicans in six House of Representatives committees next week will dust off their past proposals for reducing the deficit as they try to replace some of the automatic spending cuts set to take place in January.

Under a directive in the House-passed budget plan from Congressman Paul Ryan, the panels have just two weeks to come up with $18.45 billion in savings for fiscal 2013 and a net $261 billion over 10 years.

Expected targets for cuts include food stamps, farm subsidies and crop insurance, federal employee pensions and health care. A repeal of President Barack Obama’s health reform law would prevent new coverage expenses from occurring from 2014.

The proposed cuts, like the Ryan budget that prescribes them, have little chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But they will live on as campaign talking-points for both parties as November elections approach.

They also could complicate the annual passage of spending bills needed to keep the government running - raising the risk of a shutdown just weeks before the election.

Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin chairs the House Budget Committee and is also a follower of the philosophy of Ayn Rand. As he put it, “ I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand” which is why he requires staffers to read Atlas Shrugged. Normally we don’t think of Republican members of congress as super-concerned with the poor, and we especially don’t think of Republican members of congress who are also committed Randians to be super-concerned with the poor. And, indeed, Ryan’s priorities as revealed in both last year’s version of his budget proposal and this year’s new one are to keep taxes low and military spending high. Obviously to do that you need to ax programs aimed at benefitting poor people.

But one of Ryan’s oddest ticks is that along with a passion for reducing spending on programs that benefit poor people and a passion for programs that benefit Ayn Rand, he loves to talk about his devotion to the safety net! This pops up a couple of times in an op-ed he wrote for today’s Wall Street Journal, most egregiously here:

Like last year, our budget delivers real spending discipline. It does this not through indiscriminate cuts that endanger our military, but by ending the epidemic of crony politics and government overreach that has weakened confidence in the nation’s institutions and its economy. And it strengthens the safety net by returning power to the states, which are in the best position to tailor assistance to their specific populations.

What Ryan is talking about here is Medicaid which offers health care coverage to the poor, to the disabled, and to an important class of elderly people. Currently the money for Medicaid comes from both the states and the federal government. States have to meet a lot of minimum coverage standards and get federal financial assistance for doing so, and in addition states have the option of securing additional federal monies for additional coverage if they’re willing to kick in extra money of their own. Because health care is proejcted to grow more expensive over the next fifty years, the cost of this program is projected to go up substantially. One way of preventing that from happening is to just refuse to pony up the money, and make Medicaid beneficiaries get by with less health care. And that’s what Ryan’s plan does. On the one hand, it excuses states from their minimum coverage responsibilities. On the other hand, it reduces the amount of money that’s available to give people coverage. Which is all about what you’d expect from a tax cutting Ayn Rand fan. Keep the money in the hands of the job creators who earned it rather than handing it out to the moochers and looters looking for a little free medicine.

But please God almighty can we avoid referring to this as a measure that “strengthens the safety net” by empowering states to “tailor assistance to their specific populations”? Ryan doesn’t like taxing the wealthy to give resources to the poor and disabled, so he proposes to give fewer resources to the poor and disabled.

underthemountainbunker:

…
Why Medicaid Is Hard To Cut - The biggest share of the pie, or the greatest percentage of Medicaid money, is spent on the blind and disabled. It’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to cut care from that group. The next largest share of Medicaid goes to the elderly. Yes, even after they get Medicare, the very poor among those age 65 or older also get Medicaid. We call them dual-eligibles. Does anyone think that we’re going to cut from seniors after the 2010 elections? Unlikely. Should we cut from kids in foster care? Or perhaps “BCCA Women”, or women who are getting breast or cervical cancer assistance. No?

And if they manage to do away with abortion - or make it so difficult to get more don’t really have access - then those slices for children and foster care will grow a lot faster.

underthemountainbunker:

Why Medicaid Is Hard To Cut - The biggest share of the pie, or the greatest percentage of Medicaid money, is spent on the blind and disabled. It’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to cut care from that group. The next largest share of Medicaid goes to the elderly. Yes, even after they get Medicare, the very poor among those age 65 or older also get Medicaid. We call them dual-eligibles. Does anyone think that we’re going to cut from seniors after the 2010 elections? Unlikely. Should we cut from kids in foster care? Or perhaps “BCCA Women”, or women who are getting breast or cervical cancer assistance. No?

And if they manage to do away with abortion - or make it so difficult to get more don’t really have access - then those slices for children and foster care will grow a lot faster.

Republicans are proposing radical changes under the popular guise of a so-called balanced-budget amendment. However, their proposed amendment is “balanced” in name only. In reality, it is a cynical attempt to rig the Constitution to favor the Republican approach to reducing the deficit.

It would write into the Constitution two mechanisms that stack the deck in favor of reducing the deficit by slashing critical investments and shredding the social safety net, while protecting special interest tax loopholes.