Posts tagged ‘John Boehner’

‘Fiscal cliff’ deal: After rush of relief, debt ceiling clash already looms



'Fiscal cliff' deal: After rush of relief, debt ceiling clash already looms (via The Christian Science Monitor)

Just 10 hours before the New York stock exchange opened on Wednesday, the GOP-controlled House passed the Senate's "fiscal cliff" bill, 257-167, marking the first time that Republicans have, effectively, voted to raise income taxes in 20 years. Markets from Tokyo to Wall Street surged at the news that…

Read more…

Talking Point Revived: Republican Claims That 2013 Bush Tax Cut Expiration Is Creating ‘Uncertainty’ | ThinkProgress


falo on Jun 3, 2011 at 3:20 pmBack in 2010, with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts closing in, Republicans were very fond of claiming that the pending expiration was creating vast amounts of “uncertainty” that was holding back the economy. “The number one reason out there why jobs aren’t being created: Uncertainty,” said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). “The message from the election is that the uncertainty connected with the tax rates was a primary issue,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said in late November.The tax deal that was cut in December extended all of the Bush tax cuts for two years. And even though the expiration of the current round of Bush tax cuts is not scheduled until January 2013, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) is already reviving the uncertainty talking point, claiming that businesses aren’t hiring because the cuts might expire two years from now: Some might find comfort in the fact that the December tax relief package prevented an immediate tax hike on job creators organized as pass-throughs who pay their taxes at the individual rate. These employers are primarily small businesses. But that relief will be fleeting as they again face higher taxes in less than two years unless Congress acts. The uncertainty surrounding their future tax rates makes it even harder for them to plan, invest and create jobs.

Talking Point Revived: Republican Claims That 2013 Bush Tax Cut Expiration Is Creating ‘Uncertainty’ | ThinkProgress

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Despite What Boehner Says, Republicans Have Voted To Cut Medicare, Repeatedly


The words “voted to” could come back to haunt House Speaker John Boehner.

In his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters Thursday, Boehner made an unmistakably false claim. “The only people in Washington, DC who have voted to cut Medicare have been the Democrats when they voted to cut $500 billion in Medicare during Obamacare,” he said. Given a chance to walk it back, Boehner’s spokesman did not.

Even if you leave out the key modifier “voted to” this is far from true. Both parties have actually “cut” Medicare many times over the years. Republicans in particular haven’t just voted for cuts, but passed legislation that presidents either signed or vetoed.

That happened repeatedly in the 1990s, as laid out in detail here. In late 1995 and early 1996, it precipitated a government shutdown. In 1997, it resulted in the Balanced Budget Act.

But if you leave the modifier in, this turns into a huge whopper.

Not only did Republicans vote aspirationally to cut Medicare — in both the near and short term, and by huge amounts — in their dead-on-arrival budget this year, they’ve arguably made cutting Medicare a hallmark of what it means to be a Republican.

Here’s a brief, incomplete recap of how that’s played out in recent years.

The House GOP budget — which an overwhelming majority of Republicans in both chambers voted for — would cut Medicare in the near-term by repealing the new health care law. That would re-open the prescription drug donut hole, and rescind new guaranteed wellness benefits for seniors. It would also maintain the health care law’s $500 billion Medicare cuts — principally over-payments to private insurers participating in Medicare advantage.

It would impose much, much larger cuts in the long term. Setting aside the privatization scheme, the government saves money under the plan principally by capping Medicare spending (the value of the subsidies to private insurers) and pegging that cap to inflation — way below the rate of growth of medical costs. That’s a cut no matter how you slice it.

They’ve been at this very plan for some time.

In 2009, 137 or their 178-member minority, including Boehner, voted for the Republican alternative budget, authored by — whom else — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). That budget will sound familiar. It “[p]reserves the current Medicare program for individuals 55 and older. For those under 55, the resolution gradually converts the current Medicare program into one in which Medicare beneficiaries receive a premium support payment — equivalent to 100 percent of the cost of the Medicare benefit — to purchase health coverage from a menu of Medicare-approved plans, similar to options available to members of Congress.”

The plan also reduced the prescription drug benefit for seniors with household incomes over $170,000

Despite the similarities to the current GOP budget, dozens of Republicans defected from this plan, including many members — like Dean Heller (R-NV) and Pete King (R-NY) to name two — who just walked the plank on the 2011 version.

In 2007, a similar story played out when 159 of their 202-member minority, including Boehner, voted for Ryan’s alternative. That version of his plan would have capped Medicare spending and cut it relative to the growth of health care costs, and would have imposed further means testing of the program. It didn’t lay out the precise privatization scheme included in the 2009 and 2011 Republican budgets, but it envisioned “a reform strategy that will advance the transformation of Medicare into a vital and flexible program that can meet its mission without imposing unmanageable burdens on the Nation’s medical community, and its economy.”

Republicans have been at this about as long as there’s been Medicare. But from time to time they make it obvious. In the 1990s, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed a milder version of the current Medicare phase out policy. His version would have preserved traditional Medicare as an option alongside a privatized program, and incentivized seniors to drop out of the government plan. Here’s how he famously described it in a speech to Blue Cross in 1996. “[W]e don’t get rid of it in round one because we don’t think that’s politically smart and we don’t think that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine because we think people are going to voluntarily leave it.”

These votes were mostly about positioning. To the extent that they could succeed, they would have loved to, but the main ideas were to stake out bargaining stance, and draw a distinction between the GOP and the Democrats. But that’s precisely the point: if they had their way — if Congress was a parliament and Boehner was Prime Minister– this is what they would do.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 660 other followers