The high-stakes showdown over Medicare reform

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson's picture

go broke in the year 2024 — five years sooner than was projected just last year.

The millions of Americans who have been counting on Medicare to be a reliable, stable guarantor of affordable healthcare in their senior years should be asking themselves, “Who is responsible for this predicament?” The short answer is “lots of people,” but let’s start by looking in the mirror.

The shameful status of Medicare brings to mind a sequence in the movie “Animal House.” A freshman pledge, Flounder, let some upperclassmen in the fraternity use his brother’s brand-new Lincoln for a road trip. Naturally, the brothers trashed the car. As Flounder wept in regret, the suave, smooth-talking senior, Otter, put his arm around Flounder’s shoulder and explained the facts of life to him: “You [goof]ed up; you trusted us.” (“Goof” replaces the original R-rated verb.)

“We the people” have goofed up big time, trusting a government bureaucracy to oversee our healthcare.

When will we learn that gigantic bureaucracies — undisciplined by the profit-motive and insulated from the normal competitive pressures of the marketplace — are inherently inefficient?

And when will a majority of Americans take a sober look at Uncle Sam’s track record and recognize his chronic incompetence? Consider:

Government meddling, abetted by misregulation and a compliant Federal Reserve, generated the housing bubble/bust that has caused the market value of most Americans’ most valuable asset — their home — to decline, plunging millions into negative equity.

Chronic federal overspending has impelled a weaker currency and higher prices of daily necessities.

The quackery of government stimulus spending has produced anemic economic growth; the usual result when the government share of a country’s GDP dramatically expands.

The government-run Social Security Administration will henceforth operate in permanent deficit — a grotesque malfeasance that would have resulted in the imprisonment of private executives who perpetrated such a swindle.

With a record like this, how could anyone trust government to get it right on healthcare? The big question now is: Why are so many Americans opposed to Congressman Paul Ryan’s attempt to put Medicare on sounder financial footing?

Part of the resistance to fixing Medicare may be simple partisan loyalty — i.e., Republicans are the enemy; oppose everything they propose.

Part of it may be fear of change.

Part of it may be the seductive belief of “the free lunch” and a corresponding belief that Congress simply has to raise taxes on somebody else to obtain necessary funds.

Part of it may be that Americans believe, “We paid for it, so it’s ours.” Well, yes, we’ve been paying for Medicare via payroll deductions for decades, but no, our promised benefits remain unfunded due to government mismanagement. (We [goof]ed up; we trusted them.)

Part of it may be what economists call “short time horizons” — that is, focusing on the short run instead of the long run. Many seniors tend to do this. So do many politicians with their fixation on the next election. In economics, short-time horizons are highly correlated with poverty; in other words, ignoring the long term is why many people are poor.

Many of those on the extreme left oppose reforming Medicare for another reason entirely: they desire a state-run monopoly of healthcare. They prefer a socialized healthcare model. To attain that goal, the left needs to merely block reforms to Medicare. Gridlock and stalemate will assure Medicare’s eventual bankruptcy and therefore its subsequent nationalization (a la Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

Early polls show stiff resistance to Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed Medicare reforms. If the Republicans can sell the public on the need for reform, then Medicare’s solvency may be prolonged. If the public repudiates Ryan’s plan by returning a Democratic majority to the House while re-electing Barack Obama to the White House, then a government takeover of the healthcare industry is all but assured.

The stakes in the next election are enormous. The Medicare reform contest could be the one for all the marbles.

[Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City (Penn.) College.]

PTC Observer
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DM - You

seem to be putting words in my mouth, is this another way that you debate your positions?

I think you should calm down and re-read my posts.

Now if you want to debate something take one point at a time, take a postion and either we agree or we don't.

For example, I don't agree with your notion that it was somehow justified and understandable that blacks of the 1960's sought and welcomed the support of Castro. I have given you my reasons for this already.

Would you like to stick to this point or would you like to make another point....this time without the hyperbole?

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Quote:

For example, I don't agree with your notion that it was somehow justified and understandable that blacks of the 1960's sought and welcomed the support of Castro. I have given you my reasons for this already.

Well Mr. PTCO, maybe if you were among those 'whites' who were sitting on the bus when mobs tried to turn them over or burn them; or sitting at the counters when mobs put hot cigarettes down their backs; or continued to march when the law enforcement officers turned water hoses on them as they peaceably marched for voting rights, etc. - you'd understand that any leader who supported them (white and black citizens) during this time was a welcomed voice. These were American's in the streets and on the buses - and although they welcomed the rhetoric of 'support' - they remained in the confines of the American system to have their grievances addressed - and did not turn to communism. Your reasons are not justified by history or truth. . .only as a way to justify your reason for not supporting equality at that time. That era has passed. Those who try to justify those who screamed and yelled at blacks and whites are now silent. Silence is golden. Try it.

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DM - I don't know

I don’t know you might be surprised by my background in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's right here in the Deep South. I can categorically say that I never sought or welcomed the support of killers either offshore or domestic.

Of course, I wasn’t brought up in some cushy Southern California middle class neighborhood either. I suppose that this background somehow warps one’s perspective on “the end justifies the means” and the support of those that depreciate human life in your world is somehow justified?

I am not sure that we could expect anything different from socialist leanings.

Davids mom
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PTCO

I wouldn't be at all surprised. In fact, many here have already shared what your leanings were/are. Silence is golden.

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DM - I am

I am certain that you would be surprised Mom, certain.

There is something else that is golden mom, The Rule.

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There is something else that is golden mom, The Rule

So follow it! CHECKMATE - game over. Have a nice day.

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DM - Everyday

Everyday, I try to do so, but sometimes when faced with evil thinking it is quite difficult.

Your fool PTCO,

you have a nice day too! ;-D

Davids mom
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Theories vs. Reality

Why aren't our leaders - and we as citizens - looking at economies that are working today? Governments that are out of money - need to look for revenue; need to look for areas of growth. What some Republicans fear from artificial employment is creating FEAR! The government and/or private business need to put people to work!! We can grow our way out of this market if the private sector will join the government in creating jobs in order to create REVENUE. Some Republicans are saying we've hit rock bottom - and instead of saying let's work together, they appear to protect the rich, eliminate the middle class - and allow the poor to shoulder the pain. God, please let the economy experts use their intelligence and talent and create a plan for Americans to work together to overcome the mistakes that have been made 'adhering' to theories!! People are scared and BROKE! That's the reality. No one is spending, spending spending. There will be no revenue without jobs, jobs, jobs.. . . and moving into the 21st century by investing in new technology.

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DM, you are at least partly right.

But it's not the Republicans who are the problem. They just want less government.

Much good would come from anything that would allow small business to hire help.

Such as lowering minimum wage requirements, no tax withholding or unemployment insurance requirements for at least the first 6 months of employment.

Waiving all local taxes and fees during the first year or two of business.

This would fill vacant rental space and get an income stream started for innumerable people virtually over night.

Davids mom
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BHH

Your ideas are shared by credible experts. But no action. It would seem that could be implemented on a small scale (state government)?

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DM, This probably needs the blessing of Fed. govnt.

for most of these things and that means road blocks and headaches for any local politicians.

Anything accomplished on a federal level takes too many years to do any good.

Locals need to be able to act without federal approval the same way the president can act without congressional consent in emergencies.

Something like a declaration of emergency by the governor for from a 6 month to 2 yr period to take down ALL road blocks to economic growth or stimulus,not only state wide but county by county individually as needed.

Davids mom
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BHH

Thought provoking points.

PTC Observer
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DM - Good feelings

Good feelings don't make for sound economies mom.

I would attempt to teach you about this but I think it is way over your head given your post.

We don't need a "plan" mom, we need free markets and individuals will make the best choices for our economy. The government simply needs to get out of the way. I know this is a concept that is against your socialist instincts and elitist principles.

Davids mom
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PTCO

Do you have any other solution to our complicated mess other than 'free market' - 'less government'? Sigh . . .

PTC Observer
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DM - No

actually that's it, the "complicated mess" is not so complicated if you understand that government is at the root of the mess.

Do you know what a free market is DM? At its core is something called individual freedom.

Davids mom
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Free market; individual freedom; government - I have spent my life involved in actions that gives substance to those phrases. Definitions are not needed - what citizens need to experience are the consequences of the implementation of these 'phrases'. How long have you enjoyed 'individual freedom'? How has 'free market' affected your household? You seem to dismiss the idea that there are citizens who have a valid viewpoint that may differ from yours. Oh well.

PTC Observer
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DM - I don't

doubt that you actually believe what you write here, so that is why I know that you don't believe in such concepts as individual freedom. You believe in the state and its ability to solve problems with our economy and our lives at the expense of individual freedom.

I don't dismiss your viewpoint; I simply don't believe that it is founded upon anything but "tyranny over the minds of men". This position is the antithesis everything that is noble about mankind and contrary to the idea of a republican form of representative government.

Your viewpoint is one to be opposed not dismissed. It is to be revealed for what it is and not ignored.

Your viewpoint is the acceptance of the idea of the individual’s enslavement to the state. This idea will never be accepted by this individual.

Davids mom
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PTCO

Nice sentences. However the content proves you don't have a clue. I fought long snd hard for 'individual freedom'. When you have experienced having your individual freedom taken from you - let's talk. Your understanding of my belief system is totally off base - I accept the idea of the individuals enslavement to the state? Excuse me while I continue to celebrate Juneteenth!!!! LOL.

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DM - The

only clue I have about your beliefs is what you write here.

I assume you believe what you write.

Therefore, I know what you believe and what you are politically.

Davids mom
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LOL -PTCO

Then I'm right. Your comprehension skills are very limited. Let me clarify: I am a Democrat. I am a fiscal conservative. I am a social moderate. I continue to fight for equal rights for women and minorities in this country. (In some instances - the minority is 'white'/ 'male' - and I fight for their rights also.) I am against those who cloud their true intent with phrases such as: Let's Take Our Country Back. I accept the elephant in the room (racism) as a black mark on our wonderful country. I am grateful that I have lived long enough to see the elephant shrink in size. I am grateful that I have lived long enough to live in a city in the 'south' as a free, voting citizen. I am grateful that in my travels I have been led to understand the difference between 'socialism' and 'democracy' in action. China, a communist government, has integrated capitalism with socialism - and is moving ahead. We DO NOT HAVE A SOCIALIST SOCIETY. We are not CUBA. The only danger of us losing our 'rights' as delineated in the Constitution is if we continue to abdicate our responsibility by not voting in EVERY ELECTION.

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DM - You

are correct we are not Cuba but I am sure you wish we were, just like your cousin.

I don’t question your good intentions Mom, I only question your methods.

Davids mom
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we are not Cuba but I am sure you wish we were, just like your cousin.

No one who has been to Cuba and has had the honor of serving their fellow citizens for over 30 years as a public servant in state and federal government wishes we were Cuba. Your intelligence is awesome! LOL

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Sorry DM - I guess

I have you confused with the person that was praising the social equality of Cuba and your support for your cousin's position concerning the Cuban government's health care system and the murderer who put it in place.

That wasn't you right?

Davids mom
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PTCO

YOU ARE LIMITED IN YOUR COMPREHENSION SKILLS. Yes, I'm shouting. Castro supported the Black community when they were striving to get 'equal' voting rights/human rights in this country. I welcomed his support, as did many Black citizens of that day. I have been to Cuba. I have cousins who are still in Cuba. CUBA, a socialist/communist country ,has failed its citizens. I have stated this before, and I state it again. I certainly don't want to call you a liar - but you put words into others mouths - must be your lack of comprehension skills and lack of understanding of American history.

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OK Mom

I stand corrected then you aren't that person, just a person that welcomed support from a murderer as do many blacks of that period. That period I suppose is during the 1960’s when Castro was purging his country of opponents and his "supporters" turned a blind eye.

Good for you, bad for those in his political prisons and those no longer with us due to Mr. Castro's firing squads.

I guess it's my lack of comprehension of your duplicity in moral judgment that only someone like you could possibly understand.

Thanks for clarifying your position for us and giving us insight into how you think.

BTW, are your cousins in Cuba members of the Party?

Davids mom
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PTCO

Your lack of understanding of that period of history is amazing. During that time 2000+ 'blacks' were lynched or otherwise murdered in this country by Americans who thought that blacks were less equal or less human. The communists and other enemies of our country saw this as a weakness in our country and supported those who were seeking equality within the American system. Thanks to leaders like King, this problem in our country was solved without a revolution that communists and the enemies of democracy were anxious to support. Castro was an enemy of democracy - and at that time a friend of people of color here and throughout the world. Yes, our family that is still in Cuba, did not escape, and to survive, supported Castro. One member held duo citizenship - he was born in the US. When he returned (to visit in Texas) in the late 50's and early 60's, he could not tolerate the discrimination that existed because of the color of his skin or the language that he spoke. We visited him in 2003, on a LEGAL study tour to study the culture and history of Cuba. Very few Americans could tolerate the living conditions in Havana. With the vestiges of racism still apparent, democracy, as practiced in these United States is still superior to Cuba and/or China. There are people that I associate with today here in Fayette County that I wouldn't have associated with in the 50's or 60's. From what you have written, you may be one of them - and I doubt that we would be comfortable in an association today.

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DM - Maybe

"From what you have written, you may be one of them - and I doubt that we would be comfortable in an association today."

I think you may be right on this, but not because of color Mom but because of political philosophy. You see you are always using race as a foil, as a way to protect your flawed sense of morality. Your use of race is an inescapable desire to manipulate people and bait them into arguments that have nothing to do with the real issue. That issue is individual freedom vs. socialist dogma.

It is impossible to defend socialist dogma mom, because it is based on a dishonest principle. That it is justified to use the power of government to steal someone’s property for the purpose of “equality”.

It is the content of our character mom, not the color of our skin that ultimately counts; it is not your race that I question ... it is your character.

Davids mom
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Principle?

Your 'right' ends where mine begins. You are using 'words' from an era that should be over.
But your selective memory or lack of knowledge keeps jumping out at me and others. There were murderers during the era we are discussing in Cuba and the US. Castro in Cuba and Americans here in the US who proudly claimed membership in certain organizations that felt government was infringing on their rights by forcing them to follow the law and realize that all citizens were subject to the same rights under the law. Your words come very close to the 'principles' of those organizations which would deny me and mine my rights. You have never denied this, in fact in your convoluted way, you have claimed that I'm against the individual rights of citizens of this country - our country. We have expressed our opinion of one another - and I don't think anything either one of us says will change our opinions. You may have the last word, I'm through with you.

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Hyperbole DM

You are good at one thing and that is hyperbole, your accusations are as hollow as your ideas.

Attempting to tie disagreements on philosophy with race is your only refuge in defending your “right” to steal using governmental power and welcoming the support of Castro in your cause. As I said earlier you cannot justify welcoming the support of a mass murderer no matter how noble the cause. To do so, depreciates the cause and makes a mockery of individual rights. You can’t have it both ways mom, murder is murder no matter who does it.

You are through with me, that is fine; however through your postings you reveal the intellectual corruption of your ideas and the dishonesty of your principles. I will always point this out to those on this board, and it is truth that will prevail in our arguments, not hyperbole or race baiting.

Davids mom
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More for PTCO

Everyone who celebrates the Confederacy today deprecates the cause? You are a fool. Everyone who supported Jim Crow deprecates the Constitution? You are limited in your understanding of the human psyche. You can't change history. . .but one should learn from it and allow the lesson to guide them into not repeating the atrocities of the past. Humans survive - and move on. One should try to change the thought and mind-set of man so that these horrors of judgment are not repeated. Fools continue to fight wars to settle disputes. Fools allow hatred of another to guide their actions. Fools allow past hatreds to guide their current thought of right and wrong. Castro was wrong, some Americans were/are wrong. If you have a principle, use it in judging all human action - not just the action you, in your infinite wisdom, deem correct. Americans, English, French, Irish, Germans, Arabs, Asians, etc. have killed humans at one time or another- and continue to do so today. History tells us that some felt/feel their cause was/is just. Some thought the cause was/is unjust. Many are sick and tired of humankind using 'war/murder' to solve their differences. I have shared the thinking of some black Americans of that era - obviously not all American blacks followed Castro's plan of being included in a worldwide revolution against 'oppressors'. I'm sure you can share the thinking of those who felt it was appropriate to lynch, kill, and maim blacks here in the US during that era. (Some must have thought it was OK) It was a philosophy based on 'race' that allowed Americans to take such action. You cannot tell the story of our country and leave out race. The beauty of our story is that there were MANY of the 'white' race who helped/are helping to overcome this sad part of our history. (Segregation/apartheid). When our story is told, this is a very important part of the truth of our history. Today, when the rest of the world sees our soldiers, they see soldiers of all races working together as a team - not a segregated force. When our young people represent us abroad in various 'missions' - they usually see all races represented - even Mormons. I am not 'race-baiting' - but there are those here, like you, who for some reason feel they need to 'hide the truth' of the past instead of celebrate the progress that has been made in a relatively short period of time - especially here in the south. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to show that there is still work to be done in telling 'OUR' story with honesty. Right or wrong, there is a reason for the actions that were taken in the past and the actions that are taken today. As one of the contributors to the discussion has stated – today ‘blacks’ are seen by some as equal – there is a new guy on the block to pick on – the illegal immigrant – who is viewed as Hispanic. Americans use the 'words' freedom and liberty for all that the rest of the world admires - but as far as implementation - we are still a work in progress.

Quote:

through your postings you reveal the intellectual corruption of your ideas and the dishonesty of your principles. I will always point this out to those on this board, and it is truth that will prevail in our arguments, not hyperbole or race baiting

LOL! DITTO!!

PTC Observer
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DM - Top of page

Let's get out of the narrow column.

grizz
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PTC-O

Note how she made no mention of the 1,293 whites that were lynched during the same period.

Davids mom
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1,293 whites lynched?

How many blacks lynched them? Did they have a party during the lynching? Were children brought to participate in the 'fun'? Thanks for sharing.

grizz
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David's Mom

You mean you don't know? Your selective knowledge of history is very telling.

Davids mom
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GRIZZ

I do know - and there are pictures. I've been fortunate enough to have been exposed to all renditions of history - but the pictures speak for themselves. Have you seen them?

PTC Observer
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Grizz - hanging

Historically hanging was the preferred method of execution. The fact is that many blacks were hung as well as many whites by kangaroo courts.

I don't disagree that many blacks were likely executed without merit and some by mobs.

However, the argument that because of past wrongs, it is logical and right to have the support of mass murderers in an effort to stop this practice, is at best intellectually laughable.

Davids mom
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Never Argue With A Woman

Never Argue  with a Woman

One  morning the husband returns after several hours  of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although  not familiar with the lake, the wife  decides  to take the boat out. She motors out a short  distance, anchors, and reads her book. 
Along  comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up  alongside the woman and says, 'Good morning,  Ma'am. What are you doing?'  
Reading  a book,' she replies, (  thinking  ,  'Isn't  that obvious ?  ')  
 You're  in a Restricted  Fishing  Area,' he informs her.   
'I'm  sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm  reading'   
'Yes,  but you have all the equipment. For all I know  you could start at any moment.  I'll have  to take you in and write you up.'
  For  reading a book,' she replies ,    You're  in a Restricted Fishing Area,' he informs her  again,
  'I'm  sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm  reading'
  'Yes,  but you have all the equipment. For all I know  you could start at any moment.  I'll have  to take you in and write you up.'
  'If  you do that, I'll have to charge you with  sexual assault ,' says the woman. 
  'But I  haven't even touched you,' says the game warden. 
 That's  true, but you have all the equipment. For all I  know you could start at any moment.'  'Have  a nice day ma'am,' and he left.
 

 MORAL  : Never  argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she also can think.

Robert W. Morgan
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Good one, DM. Maybe we can apply this to Mr. Transmission

Something along the lines of he was sitting up there as an elected representative of the citizens of Fayette County and he had all the equipment (one vote) to make a difference and he chose not to pull the trigger. What a disgraceful loser. Mr. "the law might not apply to to these projects" Horgan is not going to be very busy at work, I predict.

Davids mom
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RWM

Democracy in action. The vote is a powerful tool in the hands of the 'people'.

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Davids mom

I'm curious; what theories are you speaking of?

roundabout
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cyclist

Couldn't you just tell her that blacks are now equal to everyone else?

The thing to pick on now is Mexicans!

It was Italians, Chinese, Hungarians, and the Irish before that!

The English and the French gave us this attitude.

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roundabout

You better take your meds and soon.

Davids mom
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Roundabout

My comment regarding Cuba was directed to PTCO, not Cyclist.

Davids mom
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Cyclist

We've lived long enough to see the pros and cons of various theories, (Trickle down; Keynesian, Classical, Supply side). I feel that the experts could study what caused the 'cons' in the implementation of certain aspects of these theories and make the necessary corrections so that we don"t continue to make the same mistakes. I believe that continuously stating cliches like 'free market' and not being honest about the consequences of some of the plans for reform and/or elimination of certain programs is politically expedient for some - but solves nothing.

albion
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Imminent change?

Don't hold your breath.

Cyclist
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Baby Boomers and Medicare

Just in case anyone was wondering, each day more than 10,000 become eligible for Medicare (and Social Security). This rate continues for the next 19 years. The current program has enough problems trying to cope with existing subscribers and I suspect that unless changes are made the great social ship will sink under the immense weight.

lion
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Debt Limit and Deficit Question

For several years we have had Federal deficits. And we need to raise the Federal debt limit.

The country has been whipped in hysteria over the debt and deficits. They are the excuses to drasticaally cut domestic spending.

My question is how have the deficits and the national debt impacted your lives?

I cannot think of anything. Interest rates are low, corporate profits soar, and the DOW is above 12,000. Unemployment is still high but cutting Federal spending will just create more jobless--Federal employees, teachers, police, fire fighters etc. Public service jobs are real jobs.

And the claim that we should not pass the debt burden on to our children and grandchildren rings hollow. If conservatives were so concerned about this, they should be willing to raise taxes on us now to spare our children.

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Lion, another point of view

Lion, another point of view on the debt and deficits

There are only three ways I know to reduce debt for a family, business, or country that has been borrowed out to the maximum. Increase revenues, spending reductions, and growth.

If the US debt and deficits crisis is so dire and immediate we would use all three methods to correct the problem, would we not?

The reason we are not doing all three is because the Republican Party is more interested in the political goal of retaking the White House than working on the debt and deficits issue. Party first, county second!

The Republican Party has taken Growth and Revenues off the negotiating table. They are refusing to raise the debt limit and holding it like a knife at the throat of our seniors to accomplish the ultimate Republican goals to kill Medicare and Social Security. IMHO the threat to our children and grandchildren is very real.

Have a nice Fathers Day.

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Gort - Hard Choices

Gort you are right, it will take a combination of taxes and smaller government to begin to solve the debt crisis. However, raising the debt limit prolongs the agony that will surely come.

The crisis in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and other socialist states in Europe will have a profound impact on us here in the US. As these states begin to default, as they will, the financial interconnections will cause a banking collapse that has never been seen in modern times. An international collapse will first dry up available currency domestically, no one will be able to get their hands on money, and secondly the money you do have will be “revalued” to reflect it true worth. This will be done based on what the country owes to other nations. Thus the current US dollar could lose up to 75% of its current value. Other may happen too, just like in Greece we could have riots in the streets as government cuts back on services, employees, and pensions in a desperate attempt to balance budgets and pay the only the interest on debt, not the principle. The principle will remain for other generations to pay off.

Thus, it is up to us to begin this process. The Republicans want to take a meat cleaver to the situation and the Democrats want to keep things just the way they are. Neither approach is the right way. We must begin to send signals to the rest of the world that we are serious about controlling our spending and our debt dependence or we will face calamity. It WILL happen Gort, just as it has in the past but this time it will be our civilization that could collapse not just the international banking system.

It’s the proportion that everyone needs to argue about not the need. I propose for every $10 cut in real actual government spending, we have $1 increase in taxes. We must begin to rebuild our wealth and we can't do this by taxing our way out of this hole. We need to acknowledge that it is our government that is digging the hole and we are willing to just let it continue. That's the problem.

Gort
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PTC_0, am I reading you

PTC_0, am I reading you correctly? Are you suggesting not raising the debt limit on purpose as a lever to force change? That sounds too much like a child purposely breaking his toys with the expectation he will get new ones to play with. I can’t see anything good coming out of that.

I don’t even pretend to know what the correct ratio is for spending cuts vs. tax increases but I do know it is a shared responsibility and it should not be done at the expense of one segment of the population that is mostly getting by on fixed incomes.

PS. I still blame the Republican’s for not negotiating in good faith. 8 - )

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Gort - I suppose

I suppose that raising the debt limit is a lot like trying to kick cocaine, you know it's best if you can just stop, but you can't.

If you have spent your life working for the government, it is going to be very difficult for you in the future. Pensions, salaries, holidays will all be at significant risk. That is the risk of working for an entity that essentially lives off the productive class.

There won't be any "shared responsibilty" and it will be done at the expense of government workers. Look to Greece, France, and Spain to see what's ahead. You actually don't need to go that far, just look at Madison, Wisc. That my dear Gort is how the world works and you can argue until you drop dead but it won't change the fact that government doesn't create wealth, it only consumes it.

Sorry pal but that's the facts of life.

Gort
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PTC_0, I don’t know anything

PTC_0, I don’t know anything about cocaine addition but I do know you either pay your debts or you don’t.

Government employee, who me? Nope, other than a couple of hitches in the service I’ve always worked in private industry. BHH got more to worry about than I do. I wonder if they come after his Fire Fighters pension if he would change his tune, eh? 8 - )

I’m glad you brought up Madison WI, it reinforces how disingenuous the Republicans are. During the midterms they ran a jobs platform and did well. As soon as they took office they passed tax cuts creating a budget shortfall and then went union busting.

The similar thing happened in the federal mid-terms. The Republicans ran on a jobs platform, now that they are in office they go after Medicare and nothing on jobs.

The Republicans have used “the end of the world is coming” scare tactics so often I don’t believe anything they say.

BTW, I know you’re not a Republican. 8 - )

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Gort, anything is possible but

I don't think Dekalb County will go out of existence before it completes it's obligation to me.

The pension fund there is very well funded and managed.

The commissioners know that if it starts to sink then they have to fund it directly from their budget so it stays in pretty good shape.

My state pension is funded by fire insurance policies and I am not worried that anyone will stop buying fire insurance.

I have paid all I have to into SSI for the rest of my life.

And still intend to collect whatever benefits are available at whatever age I'm eligible.

I still have other income and potential for more from other sources if needed.

Right now I prefer the Republican views over the Democrats but that can change if they do.

Gort
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BHH, what you say I'm sure is

BHH, what you say I'm sure is true but according to your own creed, that still makes you a parasite of county government and a hypocrite in the first degree. 8 - )

That isn’t my point of view of course, from my point of view you already earned the benefit and now you are collecting the benefits you are entitled too.

Tell me, how would you feel if the county did find it necessary to cut your pension by say one third?

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Parasite? Gort,I don't think so.

I feel I'm being compensated for the service I have provided as agreed in good faith.

I have said before that I support the union professionally but privately am against higher taxes and unreasonable demands.

Sometimes seems to be catch 22.

I maintain support of the union as a retired member for the protection they could afford me if the county starts to attack my pension and I would fight tooth and nail to prevent any reduction in benefits for those of us who've earned our due.

The county has reduced benefits and increased contributions for more recent hires, so the pension is not as appealing as it once was but the pay is better now.

And that's a pretty good thing in these hard times.

The pension improved during my years of service and I think it can and will do better for the new hires in the future.

I'm certainly not in favor of cutting benefits to anyone who has come to rely on them but they can be reduced for new participants in the federal systems as long as enough advance notice is provided.

I have come to grips with the possibility that I may never draw any benefits from SSI or medicare/medicaid. I certainly want them, but I'm not banking on them.

Gort
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BHH, well like I said

BHH, well like I said earlier, I too think you already earned your Fire Fighters pension. So, you’re a union man too! I can certainly understand your Catch-22 predicament.

On the rest of it, I’ll give you this much, you’re an optimist but you didn’t answer my question. Let me ask again and make it a little tougher.

Tell me how would you feel if the county did find it necessary to cut your pension, by say one third, at the same time they lowered the property tax on homes valued over 300K?

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Gort, I thought

I answered that question with this;

"I maintain support of the union as a retired member for the protection they could afford me if the county starts to attack my pension and I would fight tooth and nail to prevent any reduction in benefits for those of us who've earned our due."

That's how I would feel. Like fighting.

And the taxes on a house I own in Dekalb have been reduced by 2 thirds this coming year. It's not a 300,000 dollar house but it's paid for and this reduction feels real good to me.

Dekalb county's pension plan's policy is to maintain a solvency of 10 years at any given time. It sometimes falls slightly short of that goal but it is extremely solvent.

My information has indicated that firefighters in this country on average live 10 yrs or less after retirement. But thank God that seem to be changing, since I'm beginning my seventh year of retirement. (I'm hoping for about 30 more yrs.)

Dekalb's past research has shown that the pension only benefits public safety personnel as the other employees seldom stay long enough to collect a pension. That may have changed recently but I am unaware of any studies since my retirement.

Gort
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BHH, I ‘m glad to hear a

BHH, I ‘m glad to hear a union man still got a little fight left. If you plan on living as long as you hope, (about 30 years,) I recommend you use what fight you got left to insure Social Security and Medicare are still available when you reach the age to qualify.

BTW, how did Dekalb County reduce taxes by two thirds this coming year?

BHH
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Gort, I don't have any fear about SSI or medicare.

If it's there fine and if it's not fine. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Every county is required to reappraise property (I think yearly) to keep taxable value in line with the market.

I don't think that everyone got a lower appraisal. It must be sporadic and not county wide.

I think they have over valued my property for years and this depression finally caught up to them. So they had no choice but to give it a more realistic appraisal.

One problem with tax appraised value is it begins to be based on replacement cost like an insurance appraisal instead of actual sales of similar properties as time goes by and more revenue is desired by government officials.

And if not for the union Dekalb firefighters would still be fighting fire with welder's gloves, rain coats & hip boots, and antiquated breathing apparatus. Not to mention riding in open cab vehicles that absolutely will not stop on an emergency run.

The consent decree would have become law and the promotional system would have fallen completely apart in the 1980s. And by this time, in my opinion, not one caucasian man would be working there.

Frankly I think as a result of union efforts Dekalb fire is as good a model as you can find for racial harmony in any modern fire service even though there is still a separate black fire fighters' union there. And that's fine too.

Unions are not all completely bad. They, like government, go corrupt when left unchecked.

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Gort - I didn't

mean that you were employed by the government or that I thought you were.

My point was that economics will always fall on the side of reality, not some trumped up vision of the state on the way things should be.

Like I have said before, the Republicans and the Democrats are cut from the same cloth.

BTW - I am not a conservative either.

Gort
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PTC_0, I don’t mind answering

PTC_0, I don’t mind answering a reasonable question, I thought you were fishing around to see what made me tick. 8 - )

I don’t know if my idea about economics is any different than yours. I believe economics is influenced by social, political, and economic events.

Take the Wisconsin example:

Political - There was no budget problem until the Republicans made the tax cuts.

Social - The reason the Republicans gave the tax cuts was because the people that helped them buy the elections have a philosophy of always demanding tax cuts.

Economic - The way the Republicans balanced the budget was on the backs of state employees because they had less to lose by going after state employees then disappointing their political benefactors.

BTW, I know you march to the beat of a different drummer. The fault is mine. Let’s just say sometimes I can’t tell the difference in the tone of the notes, eh? 8 - )

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PtcOb: Another great post!

You're really on a roll this weekend with your insights and I 100% agree.

Happy Father's Day to you and all the Dads out there!

PTC Observer
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Nuk_1 - Thanks

Sorry for all the typos on it, but when I get going too fast I mess up.

You have a good Father's day too.

PTC Observer
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Lion - Debt & Deficits

Lion this is a very good observation on your part and I would like to attempt to answer your question. Historically we have had a number of national debt crises and some have been resolved by revolutions including the second American Revolution of 1787 in which creditors reorganized the nation under a stronger central government and having that new government take on the debt of the states, thus insuring repayment using new powers of taxation.

Sovereign debt is as real as individual debt; it is a government’s claim that it will repay its debt with interest. In fact, taken to its lowest common denominator it is the individuals of the debtor country making a commitment to citizens of another country. So, WE are saying that WE will repay our debt to other countries that lend us money, plus interest.

Now, just like individuals countries can’t grow their debt beyond their ability to repay it, or other countries will simply stop lending and demand their money immediately. So what is a debtor country to do? Well it can pay the interest, increase taxes to do this, or it can decrease government expenditures to free up cash, or it can inflate the debt with specie currency, or finally it can default.

So, what has the US government decided to do? It has decided to inflate the currency, along with the FED’s help. This is a little complicated but deals with the Quantity Theory of Money, look it up. You are correct that the Dow is above 12,000 but QE1 & QE2 inflated the money supply making “real” assets inflate against a weaker currency. The EURO and commodity based currencies are up against the dollar. The Chinese are facing a crisis caused by our depreciated dollar, making our imported goods significantly more expensive. This includes oil and other commodities along with all other imported products including food and clothes. Domestic producers would rather export and collect payment in stronger currencies, thus making these goods more expensive at home as supplies dwindle.

Nations can go bankrupt Lion and it's pretty simple math really, when you borrow more than you can possibly payback then you must default. Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5yxFtTwDcc&feature=related

We are on our way to default globally Lion, not just here in the USA.

Taxing the rich won't work either, read this: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/taxing-the-rich-wont-work/ It is impossible to raise enough money through taxation to pay our debts.

Inflation is here now, even though the government is attempting to convince you otherwise, and it is going to get considerably worse in the coming years. Because of the Quantity Theory of Money, we can't help but inflate our debt repayments. This will make the quality of our life in the US much, much poorer. The often used claim that we are spending our children's future is correct, they will suffer with a much poorer country. Their work taxed more as the country tries to live up to the obligations taken on by past generations.

I think Jefferson said it best, when he said: “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution taking from the Federal Government their power of borrowing.”

Have a good father’s day.

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PTCO

Nicely done!!!! I suspect the other side will squeal and rant aimlessly but the bottom line is that there are consequences of not controlling one's budget and currency.

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Cyclist, which "other side"?
Quote:

I suspect the other side will squeal and rant aimlessly but the bottom line is that there are consequences of not controlling one's budget and currency.

That is not the side that I am on, and I am well known to be left of center. I say yes to controlled spending and yes to controlling the endless sense of entitlement that pervades our culture from top to bottom and left to right. Having grown up on a working farm and being in the construction business for decades I could add a lot about how damm lazy the vast majority of the US populace really is but I don't want to hurt too many feelings. I see a possibility of a new currency being created by the people who are now young, and just let us present and future old fools go sleep in the wrecked bed that we made.

Cyclist
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carbon

I'm referring to the side that believes......well believes that the "guv" has an endless supply of money.

BTW, hello from the beach.

NUK_1
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PTCOb: Great work!

That says it all right there.

Observerofu
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Well said sir.

****applause****

BHH
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PTOCO, excellent responce.

NUK and Observer same here.

Cyclist
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Lion and the impact.
lion wrote:

My question is how have the deficits and the national debt impacted your lives?

Actually your question should read "how have deficits and the national debt impact our lives"?

To begin with annual deficits are covered either through borrowing money or - through the magic of the printing press - more money is created. Borrowing money has a cost called "interest" and is no different then the interest you pay on borrowing money. The problem is the interest the government is paying to borrow money is adding up and crowding out other federal programs such as Social Security or Medicare. The other issue is that as the US continues to borrow more money our credit worthiness can diminish. When this happens it costs even more to borrow which of course is added to the growing annual deficit and again muscling in with other budget items. Of course those expenses that are carried over from year-to-year is the national debt which is now almost 98% of the GDP. This means that the US almost owes more than all the goods and services produced in the US.

Now for the printing press effect; as the money supply grows the value of dollar decreases which means more and more dollars are needed to purchase goods. This plays havoc on everyone included those drawing from the government such as Social Security. It should also be observed that the "guv" - as a consumer of goods - is also feeling the pinch and the impact of "inflation" is seen crowding out other budget items. The bottom line is that our standard of living decreases.

lion wrote:

We should not pass the debt burden on to our children and grandchildren rings hollow. If conservatives were so concerned about this, they should be willing to raise taxes on us now to spare our children.

Which is why the “repubs” are trying to get Obama and the Progressive/Liberals to cut the budget. IMO I think we will see an eleventh hour debt ceiling increase, real movement on reducing the budget (including Obama Care going forward) and then perhaps some tax increases as witnessed by the recent ethanol vote.

BHH
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Oh yes, Cyclist.

Change is eminent.

The entitlement bubble is busting.

Cyclist
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You know BHH.....

what thoroughly peeves me is that we have people like dear old 'Auntie Zeituni' that is drawing public aid and says that she is entitled to it.

PTC Observer
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Entitlement Society - Cyclist

Our entitlement society is brought to you by public officials wishing to make a living off their fellow citizens.

In a democracy, special interests control your earnings you are a slave to their needs and wants.

Just that simple, so don't blame it on dear old "Auntie" she's just a necessary pawn in the political elites' need to keep power over your wallet.

Cyclist
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I know PTCO....

We as a nation have lost our sense of direction.

roundabout
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Cyclist: "sense of direction"

When one speaks of "sense of direction," that implies that you mean "your" sense of direction. Or, maybe my "sense of direction?"

My thinking on the problem is not about direction, but about mimmicking heritage---not interested in improvement or even progressing steadily.

An example: a person quits a job, say in accounting, to get a master's degree in night school in Psychology! Then they go into the real estate business selling foreclosed homes and also buying homes to "flip" after cleaning them---with 120% short asset borowed money of course.
She becomes pregnant and realizes that she has no insurance to take care of the doctor bills and pre-natal treatments. Father skipped.
Now her family could pay those bills if they all chipped in, but they tell her to let the County pay the bills.
Food stamps and welfare are also to be requested even though they could eat at home.
The kid when born and in school will then pick up the same attitude about learning logic and dependency!

These kind of citizens will never take your "direction," due to being taught a different method.

"It takes a village to raise a child."

PTC Observer
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Gort - clear mind?

You say your mind is clear and it is open, your nose is also getting a little longer too pal. ;-D

Social programs will be denied to our children and our grandchildren by the laws of economics Gort, not because the Republican do anything. They won't, but they do talk a good game to get elected don't they?

Happy Fathers' Day, hope you enjoy time with your family.

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GORT;PTCO;LION;CY and others
Quote:

IMO I think we will see an eleventh hour debt ceiling increase, real movement on reducing the budget (including Obama Care going forward) and then perhaps some tax increases as witnessed by the recent ethanol vote.

. . how I wish that this discussion was being held in the halls of leadership in this country - and our representatives were actually looking at our condition and seeking long-term solutions to our problems. . . instead of gaining 'points' for the next election. Cy seems to have a feel for what SHOULD happen. We'll see.

Gort
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PTC_0, "Et tu, Brute?"

8 - )

Other than the long nose, how am I doing?

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...

I feel like Howard Roark and Medicare is my Fountainhead!

8 - )

I hope you have a great weekend and Fathers Day as well.

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Obama couldn’t run a lemonade stand

NUGENT: Obama couldn’t run a lemonade stand

President Obama’s economic and social engineering has been a flop, a disaster. The economy continues to sputter, gag and hemorrhage; unemployment and underemployment are getting worse, not better; housing prices continue to plummet; the dollar’s value is shrinking; and our debt is suffocating any hopes of a long-term economic recovery. Keep the Titanic on course, captain.

Couldn't have stated it better myself.

lion
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Medicare reform and Hendrickson's column

Cong.Ryan and conservatives talk about "reforming' Medicare. Do not believe them because they lie. Their goal is to abolish Medicare. The extreme and irresponsible right wing of the Republican Party has always opposed Medicare and now controls the GOP. To them ideological purity is more important than health care for our citizens.

Mike King
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lion

"Cong.Ryan and conservatives talk about "reforming' Medicare. Do not believe them because they lie."

Pretty serious allegation. Would you possess the ability to substantiate it?

roundabout
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Yes Mike, I can answer that

Reform has a meaning: Private enterprise to furnish it.

You would have to go to the doctor and hospital that your particular private insurance company took on the last time they negotiated the coverage. May be a new one next year----in Alabama.

If they went broke they would want bailed out by the government so that the old guys would have some insurance!

Same with Social Security and Medicaid.

Even the Military retired health insurance would go up for bids.

Pensions so.

Capitalism won't win this horrible thing!

Why is it that there are no thinkers anymore as to consequences?

Mike King
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Bonker$

You may be able to answer my challenge to lion, but you didn't. Reread the quote and give it a try, but before you do allow me to suggest you take your medication. We don't need another acid flashback, now do we?

Gort
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King, republican’s are great

King, republican’s are great at saying one thing to get elected and doing another when they get into office. The mid-terms were all about “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” but the Republican led house haven’t passed a single piece of legislation in that area. Instead they come out with the Ryan Budget plan that will move more and more retired people from the ranks of the middle class into poverty.

If the Republicans are successful with this first step to kill Medicare can you offer proof they won’t come back later and ask for more and more as time goes by? I don’t think you can and that's proof enough for me.

Mike King
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Gort

The same can be said about democrats prior to being elected, but that's national politics.
I'm sure you realize that the single most significant hurdle to job creation (private sector) is unchecked federal spending, which has caused an addiction to borrowing against the sweat of our grand kids. Can you name one thing your side has done toward that end?

Gort
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Mike King, most people are

Mike King, most people are willing to throw up their hands, blame both sides, and accept the.., “that’s national politics,” argument, but not me.

The single most significant hurdle to job creation in the private sector was the Republican Party refusing to deal in good faith on any issue for over 10 years. The addiction to borrowing in earnest started at the same time. Now its time to start paying the bills and the Republican’s insist it be done on the backs of seniors and future seniors.

Seniors of the future will need Medicare for the same reason current seniors need Medicare now. Accepting the Ryan Plan means you have already sold out our children.

When our children reach the age to qualify for Medicare they will get vouchers instead. The vouchers will not cover the cost of insurance. As time goes by, more and more will move from the middle class to the poor because of the high cost of insurance and medical procedures. If you think this won’t impact the life of your grandchildren then perhaps you should think about it again.

BHH
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You can't stop change.

"As time goes by, more and more will move from the middle class to the poor because of the high cost of insurance and medical procedures."

As time goes by and things don't work out, they change.

This is the only prediction you and I can accurately make about the future, "as time goes by".

Observerofu
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Simple question

Can we keep spending in perpetuity?
If you think so. Where is the money coming from?

btw- The goal for "our" kids is to NOT have to rely on Government for assistance. As long as Government confiscates wealth for the purpose of re-distribution then we will see that reliance grow. However if there is to be a future Government must stop spending money that we don't have.

lion
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Medicare and the Middle Class

The middle class relies on Medicare and Social Security.

Most Americans in their early 60's look forward to when they turn 65 and are eligible for Medicare. Then their health care will not be dependent on private health insurance companies with their outragous annual premium increases. At 65 they will not have to worry about pre-existing conditions. The Federal Government administered Medicare is a blessing for them.

Why would the Republicans want to destroy the Medicare program? Extreme right wing Republicans have hated Medicare (and Social Security) from its inception as some type of "socialism." And now those extremists control the GOP.

Responsible Republicans and Democrats could work togther to ensure the continued success of Medicare. That might require some tax increase. Their efforts would be blocked by the ideological right wing Republicans who can not tolerate any type of tax increase. No tax increases ever is a religious article of faith for them.

It is time for Republicans to ignore the Tea Party extremists and support the American middle class.

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