Three Lies and a Truth: On Taxes and MediScare

A couple of timely debunkers for you today.

First up, here are the three big lies about taxation in America:

Lie Number 1) Poor people don’t pay taxes.

Lie number 2) The U.S. suffers from high taxes.

Lie number 3) U.S. corporations are over-taxed.

And here’s the truth of the matter, courtesy of Andrew Leonard at Salon.

Next, what about all those critics (Clearly NM among them) of Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare by turning it into a voucher program.

Poll after poll shows that the Ryan Medicare Plan is a loser.

The response from Ryan Plan proponents is that the critics are simply engaging in “scare tactics” — which they are branding as “Mediscare.”

Why does Mediscare work? Because, according to Matthew Ygleisas, the consequences of privatizing Medicare are scary:

…the key consequence of privatization would be a steep increase in the per unit cost of health care services. Medicare is able to use its semi-monopsony status to drive down prices. If privatized the cost of treating the typical 65 year-old would increase by around 40 percent. Paul Ryan’s version of privatization then “saves” a tiny bit of money for the taxpayer by simply paying a much smaller share of the now much-higher bill. Then he promises to save large sums of money over the long term by ensuring that the share of the higher bill that the government covers will shrink drastically over time. This shrinkage in the value of the government health care coupon either won’t occur (in which case all privatization will do is increase costs) or else it will occur (in which case over 100% of the savings will come from people going without health care services they need) and in either case the consequences are scary.

Some hard truths indeed for New Mexicans under the age of 55 who would be “covered” by the Ryan Medicare plan.

Ryan Plan: What’s so bad about raising Medicare eligibility age?

Plenty, it would seem.

For those of you that have been tracking the federal budget debate, The New Republic blog has an interesting post that examines this largely overlooked component of the Ryan Budget.

Jonathan Cohn writes,

So just to sum up: Raising the age at which Americans become eligible for Medicare, or whatever program Republicans put in its place, would make health insurance more expensive for businesses, workers, and their employees, all while leaving one-fifth of future 65- and 66-year-olds with too little insurance or none at all. And oh, by the way, this is all part of a Republican budget that enacts huge tax breaks for the wealthy. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to get grumpy about that.

Perhaps we should start calling this the “Oh By The Way Budget.”

Work Till You Die! – April 28

by Terry Schleder, NM Alliance for Retired Americans

Ever wonder why the Tea Party cries crocodile tears over the national debt while campaigning against the actual saving of money?  Perhaps it’s because the distraction has worked.

Progressive social programs that made the American Middle Class happen – Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid – are officially up for grabs, having been scapegoated since the 80’s (openly), and maybe earlier. (Disclaimer: I get nauseous when I research it any further back than my entire voting life.)

Tax Day came and went this year, but its theatrical backdrop of a budget “discussion” in DC rings hollow across the US in state capitols where middle class public employees are finally refusing to play the scapegoat. This pushback against the uber-rich puppeteers of the past four decades rocks, but is it enough to save our community programs?

In this particular time of crises, when States are feeling the abandonment of federal responsibility like a downhill-rolling M1 Abrams tank, is it also possible for Progressives to envision and protect a caring, strong government that enables us to keep our promises to a healthy middle class?

Some folks think so, so they’re hoping we all show up for the National Day of Action to save our community programs.

Work Till You Die!” actions in NM and across the US will happen on Thursday, April 28.  We’ll tell our lawmakers that we’re fighting back for strong community programs that strengthen the middle class.  Join the NM Alliance for Retired Americans , Ole NM and others as we thank our Congressional champions of middle class security and hold others accountable for abandoning us.

Thurs., April 28 – ABQ & Las Cruces – “Work Till You Die!” events

12 Noon – In Downtown ABQ in front of the SSA office on 5th & Lead

12 Noon – In Las Cruces Rally in front of Rep. Steve Pearce’s office.

Fortunately, it looks like some folks are, indeed, coming out of the fog of distraction to question the radical policies that do little more than preserve CEO vacations in the Cayman Islands.

In fact, there’s even reason to believe people in New Mexico are smelling a rat. This year’s Tea Party Tax Day protest was half the size of their same shindig last year.

And instead of encountering 30 rag-tag Raging Grannies and Retiree activists from our beleaguered public worker unions, the ABQ Tea Party this year faced hundreds who came out to protest corporate welfare.

Hell, even some young conservatives are starting to question the within their own hypocrisy.

Now if we can just get them to realize that – despite WI Rep. Paul Ryan’s awesome muscles – his budget plan will tank their Social Security & Medicare, maybe we’ll make some progress.

Terry is NM Field Staff for the NM Alliance for Retired Americans. He’s worked in public health policy, research and advocacy for too long in NM and a couple big cities. He holds an MPH degree from UNM but thinks his working class background taught him stuff, too.

Verde Interesting: Pearced Earmarks and Medicare Cuts

Today Politico came out with an interesting story on the controversy roiling around NM Congressman Steve Pearce’s failed attempt earlier this month to obtain an earmark that would have benefited some Texas-based land developers who happen to be his campaign contributors. Earmarks are supposed to be verboten under the new House rules. However, Pearce contended it wasn’t an earmark. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, along with a majority of the House, disagreed.

In other news:

Last week Pearce voted in favor of a budget plan that, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would result in major reductions in Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

In the case of Medicare, the plan ultimately would shift increased costs to seniors, who would see their premiums go up, leaving them on their own to negotiate with health insurance companies.  And as for Medicaid, the states would end up on the hook, and be unlikely to cover, the big federal cuts.

It’s important to note that the Pearce-backed Medicare and Medicaid reductions will be needed to help pay for more tax benefits for the rich. The plan calls for making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and then reducing the rate for the top tax bracket even further.

So, if this budget plan ever does become law, perhaps the folks at Verde Realty will come out okay in the end.