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.

Timothy McVeigh, Robert DePugh and the Civil War Pre-Enacters of 2010 (Part 1)

Today, we mark the fifteenth anniversary of worst act of domestic terrorism in American history, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City by a racist, anti-government fanatic named Timothy McVeigh. The death toll was 168 men, women and children with hundreds more maimed and wounded.

Is there a New Mexico connection?

Hold that thought for a moment. We’ll get back to it.
But first here’s quick pop quiz.   Which one of these icons of the tea party movement — Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann – was responsible for the following urgent call to action:

Our nation has reached a point of no return… Today the chains of slavery lay lightly on our people but with every passing day the chains become stronger and the American people are more tightly bound. We must either break these chains soon while they are yet weak or else we must face an uncertain future, frightful to behold.

…the legal government of the United States has been taken over by the foreign ideology of a socialist bureaucracy. The enemies of liberty have preferred to describe this as ‘political change.’

If we are to win this desperate battle in the short time available we must use every possible weapon at our disposal.

It’s a trick question. The answer is “none of the above.”  Of course, if you substitute “hopey- changey thing” for “political change” then it veers toward Palinism, if not Palinspeak.

No, the author of this rhetoric of extreme national emergency, the kind of thing we can hear daily on the Fox News Channel or KKOB radio in Albuquerque, was Robert Bolivar DePugh.

Continue reading

Domenici’s remarks on the deficit in context

Former Senator Pete Domenici today released a few soundbytes to go along with a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s report on federal deficits titled “Drowning in Red Ink“:

“The fiscal health of our nation is at stake. We can no longer continue on the present path of unprecedented deficits and debt. Without dramatic changes in fiscal policy, America will find itself far weaker in the world, economically and strategically.”

Whether or not Domenici is right, I suppose, depends on your definition of “economic and strategic” strength. Consider the facts. Pete Domenici voted ‘yes’ on the following:

If, broadly defined, “economic and strategic strength” means billions of dollars of entitlements for prescription drug companies, massive tax breaks for the very same companies who created the insane boom and subsequent crash in real estate prices which would ultimately send our economy into recession, and more money for an unwinnable and politically intractable war, then Senator Domenici is quite right.

If, however, this is not the case, then we can simply let the numbers speak for themselves:

(via Thinkprogress)

(via Thinkprogress)

Odds and Ends: Conservative Crackup Continues and the Pushback Against Health Care Reform Falsehoods

Conservative elites getting nervous?

Rick Perlstein (author of Nixonland) examines the deepening fault lines in  the conservative movement – and the alarming resurgence of the violent fringe in Beyond the Palin:

For decades it has remained a Republican article of faith: white, lower-middle-class, “heartland” masses, fundamentally socially conservative, were an inexhaustible electoral resource… But beneath the surface, some Republicans have been chafing at the ideological wages of right-wing populism…

The elite conservative fears that the temptation to woo working-class voters will, you know, shade into policies that actually advantage the working class. That fear surfaced recently when Rush Limbaugh—whom (David) Frum himself has singled out as one of the dangerous populists dragging the Republicans down—dismissed those who criticized the AIG bonuses as “peasants with their pitchforks” who must be silenced for the sake of conservative orthodoxy…

At least in the past, those who wished to represent their movement as cosmopolitan and urbane could simply point to William F. Buckley as the right’s most prominent spokesman. Now Buckley is gone, and the most prominent spokesmen—the Limbaughs and O’Reillys and Becks—can be heard mouthing attitudes once confined to the violent fringe. For the second time in three months, Fox heavily promoted anti-administration “tea party” events this past Fourth of July—rallies in praise of secession and the Articles of Confederation, at which speakers “joked” about a coup against the communist Muslim Barack Obama like the one against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras.

It’s well worth the read.

This week in the health care reform fight

This week Barb Wold of Democracy for New Mexico tangled with health care reform opponents in an online forum hosted by the Albuquerque Journal.

State Senator Dede Feldman recalls how opponents of Medicare in the 1960s denounced it as “socialism” and how states like New Mexico have been struggling to address the health care crisis (link).

In the face of the blitz of anti-health care reform TV ads telling horror stories about the Canadian health care, system Jonathan Cohn counters with the facts.

And some of today’s opponents of health care reform believe that America would be better off if Medicare had never been enacted.  Here at Clearly NM, we’ve kicked off a discussion forum on that very topic.

Have a good weekend.