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Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
LIKE PALESTINIANS IN PEACE TALKS, NON-RICH AMERICANS HAVE TOO LITTLE REPRESENTATION:
On the Chopping Block: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
Major media reporting promotes cuts as well as politicians from both parties.
Monday, 13 December 2010
Future liabilities mask today's soundness if current programs are properly administered. That's omitted from hyped scare tactics to convince future recipients to make unjustifiable sacrifices.
Planned is death by a thousand cuts—aka "creeping normalcy," defined as a way to make major changes seem normal if they happen slowly and incrementally, like boiling a frog unaware it's dinner until cooked.
Social Security and Medicare are dinner. Yet both are insurance, not welfare, programs funded by (worker-employer) payroll tax deductions. They're contractual federal obligations to eligible recipients who qualify. You'd never know it the way both programs are publicly discussed, explaining everything but the truth. More on that below.
On August 14, 1935, the Social Security Act became law, known as the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program (OASDI). It provides retirement, disability, survivorship, and death benefits. It's still America's most effective poverty reduction program that's worked remarkably well since inception. It exists to provide secure inflation-adjusted retirement or disability income, unlike risking personal savings to create private wealth that may end up losing it.
Despite bogus claims, it's not going bankrupt. When properly administered, it's sound and secure, needing only modest adjustments at times to assure it.
On July 30, 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Social Security Amendments of 1965, which introduced the Medicare program, enrolling Harry and Bess Truman as its first recipients.
Medicare.gov calls it "the nation's largest health insurance program," covering 40 million Americans. It's a "Health Insurance program for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant)."
America's aristocracy wants Medicare and Social Security ended, citing the nation's burgeoning debt and enormous unfunded liabilities for both programs. The web site usdebtclock.org lists them as follows:
Total: nearly $113 trillion plus the National Debt.
Most important is that future liabilities mask today's soundness that can stay that way if current programs are properly administered. That's omitted from hyped scare tactics to convince future recipients to make unjustifiable sacrifices. Like them or not, they're coming, major media reports promoting the idea as well as politicians from both parties.
On August 9, 2010, for example, a New York Times editorial headlined, "The Latest on Medicare and Social Security," saying:
A May 13, 2009 Wall Street Journal report headlined "Social Security, Medicare Face Insolvency Sooner," saying:
Medicare "will be depleted by 2017," Social Security by "2037." In fact, neither program is endangered as explained above. Yet the report continues:
False, but don't expect major media reports to explain or side with recipients about programs too important to be weakened or lost.
Yet in his January State of the Union address, Obama announced plans to "freeze government spending for three years," starting in 2011, saying he'd form a bipartisan fiscal commission to cut the deficit and tackle entitlements by imposed austerity at a time massive stimulus is needed.
Called the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCFRF), it's co-chaired by two deficit hawks, former Senator Alan Simpson (R. WY) and Erskine Bowles, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff. They headed an 18-member team, stacked with like-minded members, elitists knowing their futures are secure.
Their mandate: slash Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social spending, continuing a decades long process of transferring wealth to America's super-rich. On November 10, they issued their proposal, which an earlier article addressed.
Among other recommendations were:
A second Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) commission co-chaired by former Senator Pete Domenici (R. NM) and Alice Rivlin, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, issued its own proposal called "Restoring America's Future."
Its recommendations include:
An earlier article providing more details, including on Obama's planned austerity.
Nancy Altman is co-director of Social Security Works, an "American coalition (representing over 50 million Americans) united around the simple proposition, Strengthen Social Security...Don't Cut It."
Its seven principles include:
In short, Social Security (Medicare and Medicaid) should be strengthened to provide greater, not lower, future benefits.
Obama's Destructive Payroll Tax Holiday
The proposed 2% worker earnings cut for one year is a stealth indefinite extension scheme to drain hundreds of billions from the Social Security Trust Fund. Doing so will irreparably weaken its ability to pay future benefits, the idea being to destroy the program altogether, perhaps first by privatizing it.
Social Security Works explained how the tax holiday "could unravel" the whole system as follows:
Social Security Works concluded, saying:
According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), one way is by extending the 2009 Making Work Pay Tax Credit, adding much more stimulus than a payroll tax holiday. It gives workers a refundable tax credit, increasing the size of the paychecks. At 6.2% of earned income, it provides maximum $400 for working individuals, $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.
A payroll tax holiday is a bad idea any time, besides doing little to stimulate economic growth. "The most efficient way to boost consumer spending is to put money into the hands of people who will spend it quickly rather than save it." It's most effective when given to low and middle-income workers, not high-end ones who'll save, not spend, their windfall.
Besides killing Social Security, that's the whole idea, of course, transferring more wealth to the rich, what Republicans and Democrats endorse, including Obama.
In contrast, the Making Work Pay Tax Credit poses no threat to Social Security. The payroll tax holiday may destroy it. Republicans signing on as a concession masks their real intent, the same one they've had since Social Security's enactment, a program they strongly opposed as well as Medicare in 1965. Now both parties oppose them.
A Final Comment
Obama's payroll tax holiday will drive a stake into Social Security's heart, or as Hall of Fame former baseball announcer Bob Prince used to call Pittsburgh Pirate home runs: "Kiss it goodbye." Fans cheered. Deathly silence will greet Obama's proposal once recipients know they've been scammed. Republicans and Democrats plan it unless an aroused public stops them.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on December 13, 2010.