The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Why does Libby, Montana, get Medicare for All when the rest of us have to settle for ObamaCare? | Corrente

Because Montana is Max Baucus’s home state, that’s why.

After his own constituents in Libby, Mont., became uninsurable by private insurance due to industrial pollution with carcinogens and were unable to get the courts to hold the polluters responsible, [Senator Max] Baucus came to the rescue. He simply tucked a little provision into the massive health reform bill making affected Montanans eligible for — you guessed it — Medicare.

No health insurance exchanges for these hardworking folks. Nothing but the best for Libby. By taking the simple, direct and most efficient route to expanding health-care coverage, Mr. Baucus did the right thing by his constituents. But Baucus made sure that everybody else had to settle for Obamacare.

If there’s anything I hate more than ObamaCare’s horrible system architecture, it’s the way ObamaCare relentlessly creates second-class citizens.

Obama floats major change to Medicare | The Hill

The left is lashing out [?] at a proposal to reform Medicare that President Obama said he would consider as a way to reduce the deficit.

Left-leaning groups and liberal lawmakers say that combining Medicare’s doctor and hospital coverage would saddle beneficiaries with higher costs. The idea has attracted support from leading Republicans, and given Obama’s receptiveness, the policy could receive significant attention in the next round of deficit-reduction talks.

This is exactly what senior advocates fear, and they are launching pre-emptive strikes on Capitol Hill to ensure lawmakers understand the downside.

“There’s a feeling that beneficiaries should be paying more for Medicare, but they already pay a lot out of pocket,” said Diane Lifsey, legislative representative with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

“That’s why we oppose this idea. The proposals are meant to save money, but they just end up costing beneficiaries,” she said.

Combining Medicare’s coverage for hospital and doctor care would unify Parts A and B under a single deductible.

[…] Tricia Neuman, a Medicare expert with the Kaiser Family Foundation, acknowledged that reforming Medicare’s benefit design would serve patients with “truly catastrophic medical expenses” not covered by supplemental insurance. But she predicted that creating a combined Part A/B deductible of $550 would raise costs on about 29 million beneficiaries.

“Recent benefit redesign proposals would provide real help to a small share of the Medicare population, but raise costs for the majority of beneficiaries — many of whom have modest incomes,” Neuman said in prepared testimony.

AARP, the powerful senior lobby, made a similar argument in a Feb. 26 letter to Brady.

“Most [Medicare] beneficiaries already struggle to make ends meet, and are particularly sensitive to the high cost of healthcare and prescription drugs,” wrote AARP senior vice president for government affairs Joyce A. Rogers.

“An examination of Medicare redesign must take into account the economic status of seniors,” she said.

[T]here is a bigger problem with this Obama proposal to cut both Social Security benefits and Medicare funding: Adopting a long-time Republican proposal, it only looks at those programs in isolation, and concludes that they need to be cut. Our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president does not look at the biggest and most wasteful spending in the entire federal budget, which is the military. That bloated white elephant, which this year is sucking up close to $800 billion, not counting the interest on money borrowed to pay for past wars and armaments, could be cut in half or even by three-quarters, and it would still leave the US military budget larger than any other nation’s in the world. The US would be no less safe in that case. In fact, it would be a hell of a lot safer because we would no longer have US troops stationed expensively and provocatively in 1000 foreign locations. Nobody in Congress is talking about slashing military spending and spending the savings on medical care, Social Security, education and other pressing needs. The public needs to demand this. Dave Lindorff, Money for Militarism, not for People: Obama’s Betrayal of Social Security

Obama Does Social Security and Medicare | Rob Urie

Those whose politics begin and end with rolling off the couch every few years to vote could in theory be forgiven for perceiving a yawning chasm between the Republican and Democrat candidates. Marketing firms were paid a lot of money to create that illusion. And Mr. Obama almost certainly has the political calculus correct that the bourgeois commentariat, a/k/a/ ‘the left,’ will whimper in protest for a few days, weeks at most, before falling in line for Hillary or whatever militaristic, corporatist abomination the Democrats put forward in the next Presidential election. Early reports even have liberal pundits sticking with the line Mr. Obama is only posturing with the proposals, despite his near decade prior explaining why he believes Social Security and Medicare must be cut to be ‘saved.’ However, this is truly a ‘let them eat cake’ moment. Mr. Obama’s policies will needlessly, and in economic terms gratuitously, hurt a lot of people—overwhelmingly those who self-identify as the Democrats’ political ‘base.’ And lest there be confusion over the matter, in his first term Mr. Obama fully restored the fortunes of America’s ruling class at several trillion dollars of public expense before proposing these cuts.

The faux official hand wringing over Social Security is a result of the bi-partisan (‘Washington’) consensus that produced the trajectory of catastrophic public policy over the last forty years. Radically skewed income distribution, the result of public policy, has seen lower and middle-income wages stagnate with all economic gains delivered up to a tiny plutocracy. This has lowered the proportion of total income paid into Social Security because above the current $113,700 cap income is excluded from contribution to the program. Raising the cap would have some effect in reducing expected future shortfalls but would reframe the social insurance nature of the program because payments are also capped. The real solution—where the real money is, lies in shifting economic gains back toward lower and middle class wages. Doing this would raise the proportion of income paid into Social Security. And this leaves aside the fact the Federal Reserve created several trillion dollars ‘out of thin air’ to restore the fortunes of a dysfunctional financial system and its beneficiaries in the plutocracy and could more productively do so to fund the nation’s social insurance programs. In short, the ‘crisis’ facing Social Security and Medicare is one of skewed income distribution resulting from bad public policy and is readily solvable without cutting benefits.

To the argument proposed tax increases on the rich balance ‘sacrifice’ across economic classes, what makes Mr. Obama’s self-imposed wage cut so ludicrous is how radically it understates the degree to which a large and growing proportion of the population has been economically marginalized. It also frames income distribution as an outcome of ‘natural’ processes from which returning some proportion for the benefit of the common weal through taxes is ‘sacrifice.’ (The rich benefit from public expenditure in far greater proportion than the rest of us). About one-third of retirees exist entirely on Social Security payments that are already at bare subsistence levels. These payments constitute the bulk of monthly income for two out of three retirees. Cutting benefits for people who lack other options for obtaining income isn’t ‘sacrifice,’ shared or otherwise—it is immiseration. And Social Security belongs to those who paid into the program throughout their working lives—it is only through radically anti-democratic governance Mr. Obama and Congressional Republicans have say in the matter. [++]

Obama’s New Budget: Why He’ll Cut Social Security & Medicare | Jack Rasmus

Having agreed to decouple tax cuts on January 1 and having been outmaneuvered on March 1 and March 27, and with Teapublicans signaling there will be debt ceiling crisis in May, Obama has been stripped of all his leverage points in bargaining. He has no ‘stick’, only more ‘carrots’ to offer and his opposition knows it. Obama has left only the option to offer even more social security, medicare and Medicaid cuts. And throughout March he has continued to do so unilaterally once again. Not just offering once again to cut COLA adjustments for social security but to suggest his willingness to confront big cuts—in the $600 to $700 billion range—for medicare and social security and more for Medicaid. Even more specific reductions will be forthcoming in weeks to come.

But Obama has planned all along to cut social security and Medicare. He made that clear in his signing of the Bush tax cuts deal on January 2, 2013, during which he stated: “Medicare is the Main Cause of Deficits”. And again, in his February State of the Union address, Obama publicly noted he ‘liked the Simpson-Bowles’ recommendations concerning Medicare cuts.

And what are the Simpson-Bowles recommendations for Medicare cuts?

A new $550 a year deductible for Parts A and B of Medicare and provide only 80% coverage for Part A instead of the current 100% (which would require another $150-$300 a month in private insurance to cover the remaining 20%, much like Part B now). That together amounts to another $195-$350 taken out of monthly social security checks to cover, when the average for social security benefit payments is only $1100 a month today. In other words, Medicare benefits will not be cut. Its just that if seniors want to maintain current levels of benefits they’ll have to pay even more for them. Alternatively, they can choose to have fewer benefits and not pay more. It’s all about rationing health care, just as Obamacare for those under 65 is essentially about rationing—as were Bush’s proposals to expand health savings accounts (HSAs) and Bill Clinton’s health maintenance organization (HMOs) solution.

In his typical bargaining approach of ‘let’s make a unilateral offer and see what the Teapublicans do’, in recent weeks Obama has again unilaterally offered to reduce social security COLA increases that will take more than $230 billion out of the pockets of seniors. He has also proposed to introduce a means test for the wealthy, which Teapublicans will begin to extend down to the middle class. As for Medicare, watch for the Simpson-Bowles recommendations in some form to appear, likely scaled in over time. If not in the budget itself, then surely in negotiations that follow. Readers should also note that Obama last week announced higher payments to medicare health providers, while simultaneously planning in his budget cuts for seniors. But Medicare ‘cuts’ will not be mandated benefit reductions. Instead, seniors will have to pay more for the benefits they have, or opt for lower benefit coverage. Social Security Disability recipients will be also significantly impacted by the forthcoming proposals. And Republican state governors will be permitted to reduce their spending in part on Medicaid. And of course, almost certainly there will be the changes to social security: reduction of cost of living adjustments, means testing, and a raising of the eligibility age at least to 67 and later possibly even higher.

With only $1.2 more to cut in deficit spending to reach the Simpson-Bowles $4 trillion target, and Obama offering again his $600-$700 billion enticement in entitlement spending cuts, a deal is closer than ever before. Watch therefore for the full $600 billion in social security, medicare, and Medicaid to take effect, the effective date of the changes to be ‘backloaded’ in later years of the decade and certainly not before the next midterm elections in 2014.

Expect defense spending cuts of no more than half the $500 billion proposed in the sequester, and nearly all of which will be from withdrawals from middle east (Afghanistan, Iraq) operations and not equipment spending. After 2014, most will be recouped as defense spending on naval and air force equipment and operations will ‘ramp up’ for the shift of US military focus to the pacific. The Army brass had its land wars in Asia; now it’s the turn of Navy and Air Force in the pacific.

That leaves only a ‘token’ tax revenue increase of about $200 billion over the coming decade, or a paltry $20 billion a year, which will come in difficult to estimate phony tax ‘loophole’ closings. Major cuts in corporate taxes later in 2013 will not be included or ‘calculated’ in the grand bargain $4 trillion deal. In addition to big cuts in the top corporate tax rate, look for multinational corporations’ tax breaks and tax forgiveness on the $1.4 trillion they are presently sheltering in offshore subsidiaries as well. And of course small-medium business will be thrown yet another tax cut bone to buy into the deal. In exchange, the middle class will pay more in terms of limits on deductions and exemptions.

In retrospect over the past three years, and especially since November 2012 elections, the ‘grand bargain’ looks less like a bargain and more like a ‘grand collusion’ between the various parties—Teapublican, Big Corporate, Obama, and the pro-corporate wing of Democrats in Congress that have had a stranglehold on the Democratic party since the late 1980s.

This is not the Democratic Party of your grandfather that agreed to introduce Social Security in the 1930s and that proposed Medicare in the 1960s. This is the Democratic Party, and the Democratic President, that has agreed with Republicans and Corporate America to begin the repealing in stages of these very same programs—programs that are not ‘entitlements’ but are in fact ‘deferred wages’ earned by Americans over the decades that are now being ‘concession bargained’ away without any say or input. Not content with concessions from those workers still in the labor force, capitalist policymakers are intent on concessions on social wages now coming due in the form of social security and medicare benefits.

It’s not a grand bargain; it’s a charade and a ‘grand collusion’ from the very beginning from Simpson-Bowles to the present. [++]

Who Will Save Social Security and Medicare? | Shamus Cooke

Before Social Security and Medicare existed, the elderly were either completely dependent on their children or were left to beg in the streets. These programs thus remain sacred to the vast majority of Americans. They allow the elderly dignity and independence instead of poverty and insecurity.

Attacking these programs has always been political suicide for the assailant; not even the smoothest talking politician would squirm into an aggressive stance.

But now the gloves are off. Obama and the Democrats are aligning with Republicans to strike the first major blows against Social Security and Medicare. This long hidden agenda is finally in full view of the public. The decades-long political agreement to save these programs is dead, and the foundation of American politics is shifting beneath everyone’s feet.

The New York Times reports:

“President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget…”

Many liberals are scratching their heads in astonishment, asking “How could this happen?”

The truth is that every liberal and labor leader knew this was in the works for years; they just kept their mouths shut in the hope that Obama could successfully push the blame entirely on the Republicans.

Throughout the summer of 2011 Obama worked with Republicans in the first attempt at a ‘Grand Bargain’ that included cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The Washington Post published an article entitled “Obama’sEvolution” about that summer:

“…the major elements of a [Grand] bargain seemed to be falling into place: $1.2 trillion in [national programs] agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living increases [cuts] for Social Security recipients [cuts by dollar inflation], nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings [cuts] achieved in part by raising the eligibility age [of Medicare]. And $800 billion in new taxes.”

Labor and liberal leaders kept quiet about this so they could push their members to vote for Obama in 2012. They also kept quite in the fall of 2011 when Obama released his budget proposal that included hundreds of billions of dollars worth of cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

But hiding the most recent betrayal was next to impossible, and every liberal group is now suddenly “shocked” to see Obama officially and publicly on record to pursue the cuts.

The most craven of the liberal groups will continue to spew rotten rhetoric that only blames Republicans for the cuts while making excuses for Obama’s behavior, claiming that he merely buckled under intense Republican pressure and felt the need to “compromise.”

But it’s all nonsense. [++]

Crashing the Two-Party System | Dave Lindorff

Protecting, guaranteeing and improving Social Security provides long-term security to workers who then no longer have to stay in exploitive jobs simply to save for their old age. The same goes for lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 0. Nothing makes it more difficult for workers to adopt a militant stand in organizing a labor union or going on strike against intransigent management than the fear of losing a family’s health benefits. This is the whole reason that American companies have, seemingly against their own interests in reducing labor costs, consistently opposed a state-run health care system such as the one in Canada. Employers are happy to have the leverage they get by being able to withhold health benefits from strikers or union activists.

Making sure everyone has access to quality health care insures that the quality of that care stays high. Just check out the health care quality in countries like Sweden, Finland, Germany, Canada or France, where everyone has access to the same doctors and hospitals. The quality, and the outcomes, are higher than in the US, where the poor get shoddy, late and often criminally inadequate healthcare in crumbling facilities, while the wealthy get state-of-the-art care at absurdly high prices, with much of the money being wasted on marketing and amenities having nothing to do with actual care and treatment.

Besides getting millions of Americans to refocus on their common interests, such a single-issue party and movement would also inevitably lead to a mass collective rejection of the military industrial complex, with its $1.3-trillion annual expenditure on wars and war preparation. Any attempt to provide adequate funding for retirees, the disabled and for health care for all would inevitably have to confront, head-on, this massive waste of tax dollars and to see it for what it is: a vast transfer of national wealth to giant corporations and the people who own and run them, and away from human needs.

Now It’s Official: Obama Sells Catfood Futures, Um, Social Security and Medicare Cuts | Yves Smith

"President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise with Republicans and revive prospects for a long-term deficit-reduction deal, administration officials say …

Besides the tax increases that most Republicans continue to oppose, Mr. Obama’s budget will propose a new inflation formula that would have the effect of reducing cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits, though with financial protections for low-income and very old beneficiaries, administration officials said. The idea, known as chained C.P.I., has infuriated some Democrats and advocacy groups to Mr. Obama’s left, and they have already mobilized in opposition … .”New York Times, 4/5/2013

There is no more pretense possible. As we’ve warned for some time, Obama is eager to put a notch on his belt by being the President that rolled back the New Deal programs that helped create broad-based middle-class prosperity and dignity. He’s cast himself as an adult inflicting discipline on profligate Americans. But in reality, the profligacy was most concentrated among elite financiers who used leverage on leverage vehicles to stoke liquidity that led to worldwide underpricing of risk. They paid themselves record bonuses in the years immediately preceding the crisis, and then in a grotesque display of ingratitude, did so again in 2009, able to do so only thanks to massive taxpayer support, alphabet-soup special borrowing programs, and the tax on savers known as ZIRP. And the direct result of their looting exercise that produced the crisis was the explosion in government deficits, due to a collapse in tax revenues and a rise in payments under countercyclical programs such as unemployment insurance and food stamps.

But are the real perps the object of Obama’s disciplinary impulses? No. He seems spectacularly unwilling to take on anyone even remotely approaching his size (as if a President should be cowed by senior banker bullies like Jamie Dimon). The President’s failure to reprimand the financial CEOs who dissed him by refusing to attend his address on the first year anniversary of Lehman was a tacit acknowledgement that they were really in the driver’s seat.

Keep in mind what is happening here. We are not in the realm of Obama kayfabe, where he pretends that those big bad Republicans forced him to do what he wanted to do all along. This is Obama’s budget offer, not the result of pretend hard fought battles over positions that are at most 10 degrees apart.

[…]

I assume Obama’s flacks understand full well what an extreme porcine maquillage exercise “in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise” is. We now have the absurd spectacle of Paul Ryan’s budget being to the left of Obama’s on the issue of Social Security and Medicare.

Read more

That time when we fought poverty and won | Matt Bruenig

The standard conservative response to poverty is to shrug. The standard liberal response to poverty is to talk about education, education, and then after that some more about education. The range from shrugging to rambling about education is apparently the Overton window for talking about poverty. Anything outside that range is totally shut out of the conversation. I do not see much hope in moving conservatives off of their total apathy on the issue of poverty, but part of me holds out hope that liberals might move. Although they are currently on the wrong track, they at least seem to think poverty is a bad thing, which is a good start.
Of course, thinking poverty is a bad thing will only get you so far when you cannot be pried away from the wrong solutions that you have fixated on. And that happens to be the case for the education-obsessed liberals. As I wrote before, the biggest enemies of poverty reduction are those who think like Education Secretary Arne Duncan:


“What I fundamentally believe — and what the president believes,” Duncan told me, “is that the only way to end poverty is through education.“


Interestingly, it is not even clear that education is a way to end poverty. Since 1973, the percentage of the population with a college degree has increased from 12.6% to 30.4%, and the percentage of the population with a high school degree has increased from 59.8% to 87.6%. Meanwhile, the poverty rate has never been lower than it was in 1973. So how much more education do you suppose we need to knock out poverty? Somehow 40 straight years of educational attainment gains have not caused any drop in poverty rates. It is not just poverty of course: in this same 40 straight years of educational attainment gains, the average market income of the bottom 90% of households hasn’t risen either.
Oddly, Duncan and those like him are not just saying education is a way to end poverty or that education is the best way to end poverty. No, they are saying that education is the only way way to end poverty. Whatever you think about education as a possible way to end poverty, you are undeniably and inarguably wrong to say that it is the only way to do so.
I present to you the massive drop in the elderly poverty rate from 1967 to 2000 (see chart above).
Between 1960 and 1995, the elderly poverty rate dropped from a whopping 35 percent to just 10 percent. Ten percent is not an acceptable amount of poverty of course, but no one would argue that it is not a huge improvement. So how did we manage to do this as a society? The graph kind of gives it away: we sent old people checks through the Social Security program. It turns out that when you have more money, you are less likely to be poor. Believe it or not, this counts as radically outside-of-the-box thinking in our present political climate.
So Arne Duncan is wrong. The Education Reformers are wrong. The Teach for America robots are wrong. It is simply not true that education is the only way to end poverty. And saying that it is to get more money from the Walton Family for your education reform non-profit is viciously stupid.
Additionally, focusing only on education to reduce or eliminate poverty is extraordinarily cruel. It says right from the start that if you are past the point where more education is practical, your poverty will not end. Sorry moms and dads of the world who are simply not in a position to get a degree: I hope the afterlife treats you better.
This focus is also cruel because it claims that the poverty children face is impossible to remedy for as many as 18-22 years. Sorry poor children of America (which by the way is more than 1 in 5 children): if you play your cards right, maybe you will be out of poverty after you get out of college. With the modern life expectancy at 78 years of age, that’s only 28% of your life that we will force you to live in poverty prior to you having even a chance of getting out of it.
We fought poverty once without increasing the education of a single person, and it was super effective. We fought poverty once by giving people cash, and we eliminated 71% of the poverty that was targeted. There is no mystery here, and it pains me to watch those with the microphones pretend that this is some sort of deeply complicated thing. If you want to make poor people not poor, you give them more money, ideally taken from the rich.

That time when we fought poverty and won | Matt Bruenig

The standard conservative response to poverty is to shrug. The standard liberal response to poverty is to talk about education, education, and then after that some more about education. The range from shrugging to rambling about education is apparently the Overton window for talking about poverty. Anything outside that range is totally shut out of the conversation. I do not see much hope in moving conservatives off of their total apathy on the issue of poverty, but part of me holds out hope that liberals might move. Although they are currently on the wrong track, they at least seem to think poverty is a bad thing, which is a good start.

Of course, thinking poverty is a bad thing will only get you so far when you cannot be pried away from the wrong solutions that you have fixated on. And that happens to be the case for the education-obsessed liberals. As I wrote before, the biggest enemies of poverty reduction are those who think like Education Secretary Arne Duncan:

“What I fundamentally believe — and what the president believes,” Duncan told me, “is that the only way to end poverty is through education.

Interestingly, it is not even clear that education is a way to end poverty. Since 1973, the percentage of the population with a college degree has increased from 12.6% to 30.4%, and the percentage of the population with a high school degree has increased from 59.8% to 87.6%. Meanwhile, the poverty rate has never been lower than it was in 1973. So how much more education do you suppose we need to knock out poverty? Somehow 40 straight years of educational attainment gains have not caused any drop in poverty rates. It is not just poverty of course: in this same 40 straight years of educational attainment gains, the average market income of the bottom 90% of households hasn’t risen either.

Oddly, Duncan and those like him are not just saying education is a way to end poverty or that education is the best way to end poverty. No, they are saying that education is the only way way to end poverty. Whatever you think about education as a possible way to end poverty, you are undeniably and inarguably wrong to say that it is the only way to do so.

I present to you the massive drop in the elderly poverty rate from 1967 to 2000 (see chart above).

Between 1960 and 1995, the elderly poverty rate dropped from a whopping 35 percent to just 10 percent. Ten percent is not an acceptable amount of poverty of course, but no one would argue that it is not a huge improvement. So how did we manage to do this as a society? The graph kind of gives it away: we sent old people checks through the Social Security program. It turns out that when you have more money, you are less likely to be poor. Believe it or not, this counts as radically outside-of-the-box thinking in our present political climate.

So Arne Duncan is wrong. The Education Reformers are wrong. The Teach for America robots are wrong. It is simply not true that education is the only way to end poverty. And saying that it is to get more money from the Walton Family for your education reform non-profit is viciously stupid.

Additionally, focusing only on education to reduce or eliminate poverty is extraordinarily cruel. It says right from the start that if you are past the point where more education is practical, your poverty will not end. Sorry moms and dads of the world who are simply not in a position to get a degree: I hope the afterlife treats you better.

This focus is also cruel because it claims that the poverty children face is impossible to remedy for as many as 18-22 years. Sorry poor children of America (which by the way is more than 1 in 5 children): if you play your cards right, maybe you will be out of poverty after you get out of college. With the modern life expectancy at 78 years of age, that’s only 28% of your life that we will force you to live in poverty prior to you having even a chance of getting out of it.

We fought poverty once without increasing the education of a single person, and it was super effective. We fought poverty once by giving people cash, and we eliminated 71% of the poverty that was targeted. There is no mystery here, and it pains me to watch those with the microphones pretend that this is some sort of deeply complicated thing. If you want to make poor people not poor, you give them more money, ideally taken from the rich.

mediamattersforamerica:

As health care costs are on the steady rise, it’s clear that if right-wing media want to talk about America’s “spending problem,” they cannot ignore the fact that private sector insurance actually worsens our country’s debt.
Experts say “we spend twice as much per person on health care as other advanced countries, but we have worse health outcomes, including a lower life expectancy.” (Center for Economic and Policy Research) 
This is particularly important as we look at Medicare and Medicaid health care costs. Nearly all health care services are provided by the private sector for these programs. 
So, the next time your conservative friend wants to complain about the deficit, assure them that high private health care costs are coming right out of American taxpayers’ pockets.

mediamattersforamerica:

As health care costs are on the steady rise, it’s clear that if right-wing media want to talk about America’s “spending problem,” they cannot ignore the fact that private sector insurance actually worsens our country’s debt.

Experts say “we spend twice as much per person on health care as other advanced countries, but we have worse health outcomes, including a lower life expectancy.” (Center for Economic and Policy Research) 

This is particularly important as we look at Medicare and Medicaid health care costs. Nearly all health care services are provided by the private sector for these programs. 

So, the next time your conservative friend wants to complain about the deficit, assure them that high private health care costs are coming right out of American taxpayers’ pockets.

[It] is worth noting that our broken health care system can impose a serious burden on the economy. We already pay more than twice as much per person for our health care as do people in any other wealthy country with little to show for it in terms of outcomes. If the gap rises to a factor of three or four to one as some projections show, then it will impose a serious problem for the budget and the economy. However the answer is to fix our health care system, not to get angry at people for growing old. Dean Baker, Fareed Zakaria is Unhappy That “The American Left” Chooses Arithmetic Over Peter Peterson

Throwing Supporters Under The Bus – It’s Easy If You’re A D.C. Insider | Steve Hynd

You really should click on over to AmericaBlog to read Gaius Publius on what the DC insiderers have decided is a great deal for everyone they care about: Obama’s fiscal cliff frame: “Let’s each kill one of our own”.

Politico discusses the Klein-described deal, and in the process, confirms that this is where the discussion is being had. Politico’s first sentence (my emphasis):

The script for a fiscal cliff deal was always supposed to be simple: Democrats would win on taxes. Republicans would win on entitlements.

It’s that simple. Politico is DC insider-central on this stuff, especially when they offer throw-away assumptions like the one above. The rest of the article details how small a deal Republicans are getting — the knife cut Obama delivers to Medicare may be mainly symbolic. Fair enough. On the taxes side, the compromise tax-cut agreement may also be symbolic. …

Again, the skeleton of the Obama-Boehner bargain is a mutually-agreed betrayal — “You kill one of yours, and I’ll kill one of mine.” It’s a mutual “Et tu, brute?” moment.

GP also reminds readers that  ”Obamacare is privatized medical care. It forces citizens to buy medical insurance from private insurers — like United Health Care, for example — instead of offering single payer government insurance, or even a public option to compete with private insurers.” So anyone from the DC insiderer set that tells you not to worry, the less affluent affected by any cuts to Medicare will get folded into the ACA, is advocating privatizing a public healthcare plan. Don’t be fooled by their three card monte spin, it’s just more of the same old.

This is the dirty little elephant in the middle of the room that no one talks about. Because of the high demand for jobs right now, older employees are being shoved [or] phased out earlier. Beginning at around age 50 to 55, jobs become scarce for older workers, leaving them with a 10-15 year gap before they become eligible for Social Security and Medicare. That means they’re living on their savings, home equity, or odd jobs just to scratch their way to the social safety net. Moving that football means leaving them on the hook for 2 extra years, not only for living expenses, but also covering their health insurance, whether or not [it’s] subsidized [by Obamacare]. Listen Up, White House! Take Medicare Eligibility Age Off The Table NOW. | Crooks and Liars