So Much Social Security/Medicare News – So Little Space

2012-02-17T12:37:00+00:00February 17th, 2012|Budget, entitlement reform, Max Richtman, Medicare, Social Security|

First off, Congress has predictably chosen politics over policy and extended the payroll tax cut.It?s no secret?there is no such thing as a temporary tax cut in Washington. Once the diversion of Social Security payroll taxes was renamed a ?middle class tax cut?, election year politics for both parties killed any hope of reversing this flawed stimulus approach.America?s seniors, disabled, survivors, and their families are fearful, and rightfully so, of Washington using their Social Security contributions as the nation?s piggy bank, and they will demand that Congress let this latest extension expire at the end of the year.Senator Tom Harkin made an eloquent floor statement last night summing up why this is such a flawed policy:Our President/CEO, Max Richtman also wrote an Oped that appeared in the Baltimore Sun today detailing why politicians, of both parties, need to wake up to the reality that Social Security and Medicare will play a vital role in this election–and the typical “campaign-speak” we’ve seen so far on what candidates plan for these vital programs in the future, really won’t cut it for voters this election cycle. Here’s just a sample of his comments:

Historically, the Democratic Party has been the party of Social Security and Medicare, and for decades its support among seniors and the middle class reflected that. However, that was then. The erosion of senior support for Democratic candidates has been steady, with Democrats winning seniors’ support by just 7 points in 1996 and losing it by 21 points in 2010, according to our polling. The party that created Social Security and Medicare has lost the confidence of many of those Americans who understand, firsthand, the value of these vital programs and who want elected leaders who will fight to strengthen them.Democrats are losing this battle because, simply put, some of them have signaled they are willing to bargain away earned benefits to pay for Washington’s economic mistakes. Democrats have an opportunity in this year’s election to regain lost ground by drawing a clear line in the sand in defense of the core American values of hard work, fairness and compassion embodied in our nation’s most successful programs. Will they take that stand?Over the years, some conservatives have also successfully co-opted the debate by promising Americans they’ll “preserve” and “strengthen” these vital programs ? while actually proposing benefit cuts, Social Security private accounts or vouchers for seniors in Medicare. We don’t have to destroy these programs to “save” them, yet that’s exactly the strategy wrapped in campaign-speak by candidates like Mitt Romney, who promised Florida seniors he’d “never go after Medicare.” Mr. Romney supports proposals like House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan, which turns Medicare into a voucher program, destroying traditional Medicare as we know it and sending the bill to seniors. American voters expect more than the double-speak offered by political candidates who say “reform” when they mean “cut” and “preserve” when they mean “privatize.”Our nation’s leaders have an opportunity to regain the confidence of American voters by saying what they mean and meaning what they say in a full-throated defense against attacks on America’s social safety net. It’s a simple argument for fairness and economic reason. Voters are tired of false choices in which benefits for middle-class Americans are traded away in closed-door deals to protect tax breaks millionaires don’t need. America’s seniors want Washington to get its fiscal house in order, but they also know cutting benefits to those still struggling with skyrocketing health care costs, diminished home values, unemployment, decimated savings and a shaky economy is not shared sacrifice. While some in Washington continue to argue we can’t afford Social Security and Medicare, we can’t afford to lose these financial stabilization programs. Social Security alone provides $696 billion to our national economy each year through earned benefits provided to 54 million retirees, disabled workers, survivors and children. It’s fiscal folly to cut the very programs keeping millions of average Americans afloat while tax breaks for the wealthy, according to the National Priorities Project, drain $11.6 million from the Treasury every hour.

Lastly, Richard Eskow has a terrific post at Huffington Post today describing the GOP’s latest Medicare privatization pitch in the Senate. Here’s an excerpt but we really recommend you read the entire piece here:

There’s a new “Medicare” proposal — sorta. It’s really the same old bait-and-switch we’ve seen a dozen times. Still, you gotta hand it to ’em: Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Burr have taken the usual right-wing think-tank-designed buzzwords, deceptive packaging, and sleights of hand to new heights.These foundation-forged assaults on the middle class may be old, battered ideas that have been debunked a dozen times, but still they just won’t die. Like the old Terminators, they keep coming back with the same mission: Must. Kill. Medicare.Coburn and Burr don’t even pretend to show how their anti-Medicare plan – excuse me, “choice” plan — will save money. They just say this:We do not yet have a concrete, specific amount of “savings” outlined, but we believe our proposal could save between $200 billion and $500 billion over a decade.Well, I do not yet have a concrete, specific schedule, but I believe that “monkeys” will fly out of my butt any moment now, and that there will be somewhere between two hundred and eight hundred of these aeronautical primates by the time the process concludes.Burr and Coburn want you to believe that they can raise the Medicare eligibility age, make you pay more in premiums, turn your health care over to the same insurers that are bankrupting you before you’re sixty-five (if you’re lucky enough to have insurance) — and that somehow you’ll save money!