Archive for June 4th, 2011


Trust’Em? Part XXIVby digbyOh my my: Republicans are convinced that burnishing the public’s view of their unpopular proposal to overhaul Medicare depends on assuring today’s seniors that they won’t be affected. “The retirees are going to be taken care of; there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it,” House Speaker John Boehner vowed in an interview with CBS last month. The plan’s architect, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has said time and again that the changes wouldn’t affect anybody getting close to retirement. “We propose to not change the benefits for people above the age of 55,” Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, insisted last week. There’s only one problem with the strategy: It’s not true. The policies in the House GOP budget, if enacted, would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing their costs for prescription drugs and probably long-term care. Further, Medicare costs could rise over time if healthier seniors choose to abandon the traditional benefit program.I don’t know if Ryan sketched out his “plan” on the back of an envelope during a plane flight from DC or if he’s just a liar. But either way, it doesn’t appear to be either “serious” or honest.This is why seniors are mistrustful of people “reforming” their program. They paid into it their whole working lives, they desperately need it or they’ll die, and they know that they can’t trust politicians not to lie to them. You’d be skeptical too.It’s not that they trust Democrats more than Republicans, but in this case they probably do. The GOP’s repeated assaults on the program over the years doesn’t lend their claims of trying to “save” it much credibility. When they propose to fundamentally change the program these seniors know exactly what that means..digby 6/03/2011 08:1


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Ira Grupper irag@iglou.comLABOR PAEANS— May 2011Ira Grupper(published by FORsooth, newspaper of Louisville, Kentucky chapter of F.O.R. [Fellowship of Reconciliation] )The Attempt to Crush Public Worker UnionsIn the Great Depression of the 1930’s there were countless people selling apples on the streets to survive, and there were population shifts as workers hustled to try to find work. The poor were getting poorer, and there was the hint of a permanent underclass. And, yes, the rich were getting richer.Since then the profit system has learned to hide some of its disfigurements. We used to view reports from Vietnam, several decades ago, by journalists like Peter Arnett (CNN), and that helped the American people see the horror of our destruction of a largely unarmed people. But today—today reporters are “imbedded,” meaning they sit in a tank, see only the inside, and then regurgitate the U.S. military propaganda. Nor do we see people selling apples in the streets.And then there is the shopping mall. Sbarro, the fast-food pizza chain begun as a simple grocery store in the 1950’s, is now feeling the effect of a growing unemployment in the U.S. It has filed for bankruptcy. In fairness, there are more online shoppers, so mall traffic has slowed. But really, it’s the recession. The Wall Street Journal reports the company lost about $29.3 million during the first nine months of last year. Arrivederci, Sbarro.How do we who sell our labor power for a wage brace ourselves for the whiplash of corporate greed? We form unions—in the private sector, and in the public sector.Come now the Republican corporate shills, governors and legislators in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, and now many more states. They introduce bills to destroy public sector collective bargaining, and workers are again victimized. As Truthout reports: “We have seen this shameless suppression of workers before: when the US Army seized coal mines to bust up a post-World-War II miner strike; when Reagan fired 12,000 PATCO workers, simply for striking; when the second Bush stuffed the ‘Labor Department’ full of corporate cronies and spent his first days in office tossing vital workplace regulations in the trash.”The FightbackThis evening (April 4), here in Louisville, 125 workers and some government officials came out in the pouring rain to a “block party for public workers”. Many unions were represented.Wanda Mitchell Smith (AFSCME—Amer. Federation of State, County & Municipal Workers) spoke eloquently: “When Dr. King went to Memphis (in 1968) he left from Zion Baptist Church here in Louisville (where his brother was pastor)…(This) is a time to be creative. We are one.”Tia Edison, a (union) teacher at Knight Middle School here in Louisville, and a former member of the UAW, let us know that “they want to blame all the teachers (for failing schools)…No Child Left Behind (law) is a farce.”“Come and go with me to that land” was sung with gusto. Originally a civil rights movement song, it now is put into a labor framework.Organized labor, for too long dormant, is on the move. But we must never forget, and I know some labor leaders who read this column will get mad at me, that it was poor and working people who put the Republican governors and state representatives in office in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. Where were the organized education efforts to explain to these workers that if you sleep with a corporate prostitute you are liable to get the economic clap? Well, labor is now awake.Under international law, claims Amnesty International, all workers have a human right to organize and to bargain collectively. “These rights…are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, as well as conventions adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). “As a state party to the ICCPR and a signatory to the ICESCR, the USA has an obligation to respect the human rights under these instruments and treaties.”Part of our fightback must include support for the The Full Employment & Training Act (H.R. 870), recently introduced by Congressman John Conyers. “(It) can counteract massive unemployment and speculative profiteering that keeps widening the gap between the rich and the rest of us.“The law would make the Wall Street speculators behind the economic disaster pony up to create jobs: whether teaching children, making homes energy efficient, caring for the sick or rebuilding neighborhoods.” (Paul Krugman, New York Times, March 18, 2011).Speaking of columnists, nationally known corporate shill, David Broder, recently died. Reports FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting): “Despite (his) non-ideological reputation, he pushed political culture to the right…The notion that Broder’s moderate ‘centrism’ was not an ideology in itself is a common view…and is totally mistaken. Broder expressed a strong point of view on a range of issues. The fact that such views are portrayed as an absence of ideology speaks volumes about the prevailing ideology of the mainstream media.”Which brings us back to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated on April 4, 1968 while rallying garbage workers on strike in Memphis, Tennessee. They were fighting for dignity and a living wage. Four decades later, workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are fighting for dignity and a living wage. Who will be remembered in history: the greedy or the needy? It is in our hands.Contact Ira Grupper: irag@iglou.comHOME ABOUT DONATE JOIN CONTACT US PUBLICATIONS CCDS STATEMENTS EMAIL US


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Daily Kos: Reports of Medicare’s demise are (still) greatly exaggerated

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), June 2, 2011: “Medicare is going bankrupt,” he said. “I don’t like that. No one likes that. But that’s the truth, and anyone who tells you that Medicare is not going bankrupt is not being truthful with you or the American public.”So you’ve heard that a few thousand times in the past several months, from countless Republicans and more Villagers (those Very Serious People) than you could get in one room for a cocktail party (their natural habitat). And if you’ve been around as long as I have, it should sound very familiar: Chicago Tribune July 2, 1969: The Medicare hospital trust fund faces bankruptcy by 1976 and taxes must either be raised or benefits reduced the senate finance committee was told today. New York Times July 7, 1981: Medicare payroll taxes already imposed by Congress, including two increases scheduled for 1985 and 1986, will only be able to keep the hospital insurance system solvent for eight to 10 more years, three Cabinet officers informed Congress. Even under the Reagan Administration’s highly optimistic economic projections, the fund will be bankrupt before 2000, the three said. Washington Post,March 6, 1983: Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici warned the nation’s governors the other day, “Medicare can be bankrupt in 2 1/2 years,” unless some way is found to put the brakes on its burgeoning costs. Chicago Tribune: June 25, 1983: Medicare is in danger of bankruptcy as early as 1986, the system’s trustees declared Friday. Chicago Tribune, March 10 1984: To avert Medicare’s expected insolvency, a federal advisory council proposed Friday raising the eligibility age to 67, taxing employer paid health insurance benefits and boosting the tax on alcohol and tobacco… the Congressional Budget Office said Medicare may be insolvent in 1989 New York Times, January 20, 1985: In the last few years, when it appeared that the Medicare trust fund would run out of money in 1987-89… But the need seemed less urgent after the Congressional Budget Office issued new estimates last September indicating that the Medicare trust fund would not go bankrupt until 1994. Chicago Tribune February 6, 1985: Medicare is still expected to go bankrupt in 1991, and a new flood of red tape is not helping America’s hospitals. New York Times, March 27, 1985: Reagan Administration officials said tonight that new projections showed the Medicare trust fund would not go bankrupt until late in 1990’s. Chicago Tribune, Nov. 17 1985: Last spring, the government estimated that the Medicare trust fund would run out of money by 1998. Given less optimistic assumptions about the economy, it could happen as soon as 1992 Washington Post, April 1, 1986: The Medicare hospital insurance program faces bankruptcy by 1996, two years earlier than projected last year. Chicago Tribune, June 29, 1986: Dr. Jerald Schenken of Omaha, an AMA trustee, said the doctors have worked for more than two years on formulating the plan, because they fear the current Medicare system will go bankrupt by the end of the century. New York Times, May 22, 1988: Reflecting the view of the Reagan Administration, Dr. William L. Roper, the head of the Federal Medicare and Medicaid agency, said, ”With the Medicare Trust Fund expected to go insolvent shortly after 2000, it is hard for us to sign on for a major expansion of the Medicare program beyond the catastrophic care bill.” New York Times, January 22, 1989: The fund that pays all Government reimbursement for hospital care of Medicare patients is projected to become insolvent in the next decade or so. Washington Post May 4, 1990: Control of health costs is considered by many experts to be the number one health problem in the United States. Such costs are expected to bankrupt Medicare by the year 2003. Washington Post December 13, 1994: The trust fund that finances Medicare is projected to become insolvent in the year 2001 Los Angeles Times May 31, 1995: For weeks, Republicans have been talking about a report that warns that Medicare is in danger of going bankrupt in the year 2002. Chicago Tribune April 25, 1997: Medicare trustees said Thursday that the program providing health care to more than 38 million senior citizens is still headed for bankruptcy in 2001. Chicago Tribune, January 7, 1999: [The National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare] was created in 1997 to deal with Medicare’s projected bankruptcy in 2008.Just for a bit of perspective.

Daily Kos: Reports of Medicare’s demise are (still) greatly exaggerated

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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

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Netflix Sharing Will Be A Crime? Fight Back: | Demand Progress

The recording industry just came up with yet another way to throw its customers in prison. Tennessee is enacting a law to make it illegal to share passwords for “entertainment subscription services” like Netflix and Rhapsody. From the Associated Press:State lawmakers in country music’s capital have passed a groundbreaking measure that would make it a crime to use a friend’s login – even with permission – to listen to songs or watch movies from services such as Netflix or Rhapsody.This isn’t just an effort led by overzealous local lawmakers, and it won’t stop at Tennessee’s borders. The Recording Industry Association of America is behind the bill, and they’re pushing it across the country.The bill, which has been signed by Gov. Bill Haslam and takes effect July 1, was pushed by recording industry officials….They hope other states will follow.There are countless ways for these services to address their concerns without threatening to lock people up. Will you urge your state lawmakers to oppose similar legislation in your state? Just sign on at right to send them this note, under your name and email:TO MY STATE LEGISLATORS: The recording industry is trying to pass laws that would have people thrown in prison up for sharing their own passwords to services like Netflix. There are countless ways for these services to address their concerns without threatening to put people in prison. I urge you to oppose any legislation that would make it a crime for me to share a password with my friends.Just fill out the form at right to automatically email your state lawmakers.Here’s an AP article on the just-passed Tennessee legislation.[fb] If you’re already on Faceb

Netflix Sharing Will Be A Crime? Fight Back: | Demand Progress

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