Posts Tagged ‘Medicare’

Bernie Sanders and Corporate Taxes
Last week, US Senator Bernie Sanders took to the floor of the senate with a giant poster of a Donald Trump tweet. Sanders challenged the president elect to stand by his promise of no cuts to social security payments, medicare or medicaid. Polls show most US citizens are against cutting back on these programs.

The US could easily expand these programs by simply placing a tariff on goods manufactured abroad by US corporations and then exported to the USA, something Trump also promised to do, and then earmarking those tariff dollars toward Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In the case of social security, there are many more options for expanding social security benefits, which have been deliberately made to languish behind the growth of real inflation. If you earn more than $118,500 per year, you don’t pay social security tax on any income earnings above that number. Simply eliminating this artificial cap would allow the government to significantly raise payments to beneficiaries for decades to come.

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From Arthur Stamolis of Citizen’s Trade Campaign

Hi everyone:

Congratulations on yesterday’s impressive victory! In case you missed it, the House voted to block Fast Track from moving forward — a huge win for Main Street over Wall Street, and a testament to your years of strategic organizing. Thank you!

Unfortunately, the offshorers, the polluters, the lobbyists and the profiteers haven’t given up quite yet, so we’ve got more work to do — and we need to get to back to work fast.

Here’s how Friday’s win went down: the House separated the Fast Track bill passed by the Senate into two parts. First was a vote on an inadequately-funded and exclusionary Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program for displaced workers. Then was a vote on the Fast Track process itself. Both parts needed to pass for the bill to pass. You can see how Reps voted on TAA  here and how they voted on the Fast Track process here. Bottom line: when TAA was voted down, the entire Fast Track bill was sunk.

After the vote, Speaker Boehner called for a re-vote on TAA. That vote is supposed to happen within two legislative days, so it’ll either be on Monday or Tuesday (although the Speaker may be able to find ways to extend that if he wants). Voting on Monday starts at noon Eastern, so that’s the earliest the re-vote could occur.

It’s critical that we are profusely THANKING those who voted against TAA and Fast Track and urging them to do so again. We also need to keep respectfully trying with those who voted for TAA, but against Fast Track — urging them to vote against TAA next week. (No-holds-barred with those politicians who voted for both.)

Unfortunately, there is still some confusion about the proposed TAA program even among our allies, and you’d better believe the White House, Republican leadership and others are working overtime this weekend to increase that confusion.

Here’s what you need to know about TAA. Normally, we’re all for it. It’s an important lifeline that provides job retraining benefits to people whose careers are shipped abroad as a result of bad U.S. trade policy. But nobody in their right mind would ever argue that a job retraining program is a smart trade-off for rubber-stamping massive trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will offshore jobs, drive down wages and more. That’s what a vote for TAA next week is. It’s a vote for Fast Tracking the TPP. The current TAA proposal is a cynical ploy that needs to be stopped.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the TAA program being offered isn’t even a strong one. It excludes public sector workers whose jobs are offshored and it is significantly under-funded. The $700 million in Medicare cuts made to pay for it may be partially addressed, assuming the Senate goes along, but even if that is fixed, another $250 million in cuts to a Medicare kidney dialysis program and a whole lot of political liability are still in there.

The good news is that Republican leadership and the White House face a heavy lift to win on TAA next week, as we destroyed the measure in a 126 – 302 vote on Friday. That said, the President wants this BAD. Speaker Boehner wants this BAD. We need to keep pushing so that we win that vote, and that we win whatever sorry plan Team TPP comes up with next to try to squeeze Fast Track through this month.

They know the clock is ticking on the TPP, and they’re going to keep trying — at least for a while. We are winning. Here’s what we need to keep it going:

* If you represent an organization, please make sure to call any Reps who voted against Fast Track and the TAA this weekend and early on Monday to thank them and urge them to do so again.

* If you haven’t yet, please send a personal email now thanking or spanking your representative for their votes on Friday.

* Take a moment to look up your your Reps Twitter and Facebook accounts, and spend a couple moments on social media today urging them to vote against Fast Track and the cynical TAA ploy next week.

Be ready for any rapid-response action requests that come early next week. Again, we could see new voting as soon as Monday.

Together, we’re going to keeping riding this wave of success. Thank you again for everything you’ve done to get us this far.

In solidarity,

Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director

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From the Economic Policy Institute:

This week, the U.S. House is scheduled to vote on a repeal of the federal estate tax. A tax which only effects the top 0.2 percent of households and provides a meaningful check on the growing concentration of wealth in the United States.

Today, the top 1 percent own 42 percent of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 90 percent own just 23 percent. The estate tax, on average, levies a 16.6 percent tax on wealth being passed down from one generation to the next, but only effects estates worth more than $5.4 million for individuals or $10.9 million for married couples. (It should be pointed out that eliminating the tax will also increase income inequality in the USA and political corruption as well, since the 1 percent will have more money to corrupt are already extremely corrupt government.)

Repeal of the estate tax would result in a $3 million average tax cut to the wealthiest 0.2 percent of households and a $269 billion tax revenue shortfall for the federal government over 10 years. To put these figures in perspective, this $269 billion could help pay for the $164 billion federal highway and mass transit trust funds shortfall, President Obama’s $75 billion proposal to provide publicly-funded preschool to low- and moderate-income children, and the president’s $60 billion proposal to provide free community college to nine million students.

In one form or another the estate tax has been around since 1797 and in its current form in our laws since 1916. It was most recently amended in 2001 as part of the Bush tax cuts and again in 2012, lowering the top tax rate from 55% to 40% and raising the estate tax exemption from $675,000 to $5.4 million, greatly narrowing the scope of the tax.

At a time when Congress is slashing the federal budget to the tune of $5 trillion and making devastating cuts to programs such as food stamps, education, Medicare and Medicaid, college aid, job training, medical research and rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, Congress should be looking for ways to generate new income, not cut existing taxable income for the very wealthy.

It should also be pointed out that the principal recipients of government handouts in one form or another are the 1 percent. They steal this money via bribery in one form or another via government subsidies, military spending, forced federal public school testing, keeping the minimum wage artificially low, food stamps for employees of corporations which subsidizes their profits that go to the rich, and many of these corporations are enjoying record profits year after year.

Let congress know you that you are opposed to another welfare program for the rich. Join the Economic Policy Institute by clicking the link below and signing the petition.

Stand with the EPI Policy Center and urge Congress to reject the repeal of the estate tax, which only benefits the top 0.2 percent and ultimately hurts millions of American families through cuts to critical services. Economic Policy Institute

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Corrupt to the core: The US Government and Both Political Parties

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The truth is that we pay more for services from private companies than we do from government. The Social Security Administration has a less than 1 percent overhead cost. Medicare is less than three percent. Virtually all the health insurance companies have overheads of 20-30 percent. For all of its so-called inefficiencies, such as $10,000 toilet seats, the US military is far more cost effective than Halliburton or any other corporation that provides mercenaries for the US government.

The politicians of the corrupt US government love using mercenaries because they’re called “contractors,” as if these rifle wielding private soldiers are building houses. The corrupt US propaganda machine, erroneously called the news media, go along with this scam. In this way, US military casualties are limited in their quest for oil and other profits on behalf of US based corporations, which sponsor and corrupt the politicians of the US government, such as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden.

In the meantime, Halliburton’s stock price rises with a steady stream of taxpayer money for massively overpriced employees and CEOs. That’s the game; redistributing income to keep stock prices higher.

The US stock and bond markets would have collapses to nothingness back in 2008 had it not been for these kinds of scams perpetrated on the US public.

Check out the link below for more on these income transfers and government and corporate corruption.


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In his recent budget proposal, President Obama proposed using something called a “Chained CPI” to calculate cost of living increases for Social Security recipients. This would understate the way the federal government currently understates inflation on which it bases cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for retirees.

Republicans are quite happy with the president’s proposal since it massively redistributes income from senior citizens on fixed incomes to the 1 percent. See How Corporations Create Profits: inflation, tax-breaks, and-free-trade. Many Democrats are opposed to this scam, but, of course, some corporate Democrats back the president on this issue, even if they won’t publicly say so.

The way the government measures inflation has been changed twenty times since 1982, and each change has made the official inflation rate smaller (See graph below). The losers are the 99 percent, especially Social Security recipients, and the winners are the price fixers and price hikers, whose price collusion is largely hidden by an understated inflation rate. Check out the link above for an explanation.

“Chained CPI is shorthand for the “Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.” It’s an inflation measure that essentially ties tax rates and entitlement spending to the rise in prices over time.

The government currently uses a different inflation measure to calculate Social Security benefits, applying the CPI-W, or “Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers” to its formula.

Using Chained CPI instead of CPI-W would slow the rate of growth for entitlement benefits and cause people to enter higher tax brackets more quickly — because the income parameters for each bracket would rise more slowly.

Chained CPI would reduce entitlement benefits by about 0.3 percentage points per year. That’s a small amount, but it results in big savings for the government over time. On the other hand, the relatively minute cuts can build up for recipients.”

That doesn’t seem like much, but a senior receiving $1000 a month in Social Security payments today would lose $48.53 five years later if a Chained CPI is used. Worst yet, you can tell from the graph above that the real inflation rate is understated by 5 to 10 percent per year. After five years, using the real inflation rate, the real spending power of that $1000 drops to a range of $595 to $765. Then on top of that, using the Chained CPI, seniors would lose another $48.53, which means their real spending power would drop to a range of $547 to $617. That’s why so many seniors are living in poverty.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that “…19.9 million (48 percent) of America’s seniors are economically vulnerable—meaning they are either in poverty or just one bad economic shock away from significant material hardship. This share rises to 63.5 percent among elderly blacks and 70.1 percent among elderly Hispanics. For these seniors, and even for those with greater means, Social Security and Medicare are the bedrock of their financial security. As illustrated in the infographic accompanying the report (which is below), an additional 3.5 million seniors would become economically vulnerable if medical out-of-pocket expenses doubled (under proposed changes to Medicare).”

“After working hard their entire lives, millions of our elderly are struggling to pay for basic needs like food, medicine, and housing, even with Social Security and Medicare,” said report coauthor Elise Gould.

“Almost half of seniors are either in poverty or close to it,” added coauthor David Cooper. “We shouldn’t be cutting the benefits that are barely adequate as is, effectively legislating more of them into poverty.”

But that is precisely what President Obama is proposing, which is something congressional Republicans are overjoyed with. Think about this. The average senior citizen survives on less than $20,000 a year, with $15,000 coming from Social Security.

Now the president and Republicans want to reduce that miniscule figure even more. And think about this. If inflation was measured the way it was in 1980 to provide raises for Social Security recipients, that $1000 a month example I used above would be in the range of $1276 to $1610. These are the kind of Social Security raises seniors would need to keep up with our corporate driven, income redistributing, price increases. Obama knows this. So do the Republicans.

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Despite such terminology as “fiscal cliff” and “debt ceiling,” the great debate taking place in Washington now has relatively little to do with financial issues. It’s all about economic winners and losers in American society, about Wall Street and Big Money, and how they’ve gotten control of both political parties. Senator Bernie Sanders says “It is all about the soul of America.”

In the following article by Senator Sanders, he doesn’t mention corruption, he simply implies it. Big Oil, Big Money, these are the phrases he uses. But Big Oil and Big Money have to have bought something with their money. They’ve purchased politicians, with political contributions, with personal favors, such as lobbying jobs after they’re finished raping and pillaging the middle class on behalf of Wall Street. You know who I’m talking about: Ron Wyden, Orrin Hatch, John Boehner, Barack Obama, and so many others. Corruption is rampant in the US government.

The Senator writes, “In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and more inequality than at any time period since 1928. The top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the financial wealth of the nation, while, incredibly, the bottom 60 percent own only 2.3 percent. One family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. In terms of income distribution in 2010, the last study done on this issue, the top 1 percent earned 93 percent of all new income while the bottom 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent.

Despite the reality that the rich are becoming much richer while the middle class collapses and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, the Republicans and their billionaire backers want more, more, and more. The class warfare continues.

My Republican colleagues say that the deficits are a spending problem, not a revenue problem. What these deficit-hawk hypocrites won’t talk about is their spending. They won’t discuss what they did to dig the country into this $1 trillion deep deficit hole. They waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for them. They gave away huge tax breaks for the rich. They squandered taxpayer dollars on the pharmaceutical industry by making it illegal for Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices. They also rescinded financial regulations that enabled Wall Street to operate like a gambling casino, leading to a severe recession that eroded tax revenue and left more than 14 percent of American workers unemployed or underemployed.

Now, despite the deficits their policies helped to create and despite the enormous suffering which exists in our society, the Republicans want to cut Social Security, veterans’ programs, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition programs, and virtually every program which benefits low- and moderate-income Americans. They choose to turn their backs on the economic reality facing a significant part of our population: high unemployment, reduced wages, 50 million without health insurance, college graduates saddled with enormous student debt and elderly people living in desperation. And they have tried to slam the door on any further discussion about how to raise revenue by ending tax loopholes and unfair tax breaks.

Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who say the revenue debate is over don’t want you to consider these facts:

• Federal revenue today, at 15.8 percent of GDP, is lower today than it was 60 years ago. During the last year of the Clinton administration, when we had a significant federal surplus, federal revenue was 20.6 percent of GDP.

• Today corporate profits are at an all-time high, while corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is near a record low.

• In 2011, corporate revenue as a percentage of GDP was just 1.2 percent — lower than any other major country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Norway, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Iceland.

• In 2011, corporations paid just 12 percent of their profits in taxes, the lowest since 1972.

• In 2005, one out of four large corporations paid no income taxes at all while they collected $1.1 trillion in revenue over that one-year period.

We know where the Republicans are coming from. What about the Democrats? Will President Obama fulfill his campaign pledge to “protect the middle class” or will he surrender to right-wing blackmail? Will Democrats in the House and Senate stand with the vast majority of our citizens and such organizations as AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the AFL-CIO, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and every other veterans’ organization in the fight against cuts to Social Security and veterans’ programs, or will they agree to a disastrous corporate-backed “chained CPI” concept which makes major benefit cuts to those programs and raises taxes on low-income workers?

The simple truth is there are relatively easy ways to deal with the deficit crisis — without attacking the elderly, the children the sick or the poor.

For example, we have got to eliminate loopholes in the tax code that allow large corporations and the wealthy to avoid more than $100 billion in taxes every year by setting up offshore tax shelters in places like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas. This situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is now the “home” to more than 18,000 corporations.

Further, we must also end tax breaks for companies shipping American jobs overseas. Today, the United State government continues to reward companies that move American manufacturing jobs abroad, despite the fact that millions of American jobs have been outsourced to China, Mexico, and other low wage countries over the past decade. The Joint Committee on Taxation (the official revenue scorekeeper in Congress) has estimated that we could raise more than $582 billion in revenue over the next decade by eliminating these offshore tax loopholes.

We must also recognize that Wall Street recklessness caused the economic crisis, and it has a responsibility to reduce the deficit. Establishing a 0.03 percent Wall Street speculation fee, similar to what we had from 1914-1966, would dampen the dangerous level of speculation and gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the productive economy and reduce the deficit by more than $350 billion over 10 years.

We are entering a pivotal moment in the modern history of our country. Do the elected officials in Washington stand with ordinary Americans — working families, children, the elderly, the poor — or will the extraordinary power of billionaire campaign contributors and Big Money prevail? The American people, by the millions, must send Congress the answer to that question.”

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As of March 4 2013, Wall Street President Barack Hussein Obama was talking to Republicans about cutting Social Security payments to your grandparents in order to preserve Big Oil‘s $52 billion annual federal entitlement program, and also of finding ways of making the affluent richer by pretending to do things he has no intention of doing. He’s also negotiating to reduce Medicare.

As the president knows, the Social Security Trust Fund has a surplus of $2.7 trillion that collects $120 billion a year in interest. Obviously, this program doesn’t contribute to the deficit at all. So why is Wall Street’s current president negotiating to cut what minimal payments the elderly receive from the program that they paid into?

Supposedly, the president is also negotiating raising taxes on the already rich, the top five percent, but like a good Wall Street Republican in disguise, which is the same as saying he’s a corporate Democrat, the president will most likely either cave in to Republican demands for no tax increases on the rich, or perhaps he will negotiate to ensure that enough tax loopholes exist in any agreement, that the rich pay no more in taxes that they do now, or more than likely, they’ll pay less. It’ll be good theater, no doubt.

Obama supports the Bowles-Simpson proposal as a means to reduce the deficit. Erskine Bowles is a member of the Board of Directors of Wall Street investment bank Morgan Stanley. Simpson is a former GOP senator from Wyoming and a big time supporter of Wall Street. That tells you all you need to know.

In other words, the president may be looking to redistribute income from your grandparents on their fixed incomes to the top 1 percent as a way of cutting the federal deficit. By the way, Republicans like this income redistribution scam since they play this game all the time.

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Paul Ryan Care

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