Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ryan's Better Way May Be Better For Wealthy People Who Hate Paying Their Fair Share Of Taxes, But It's Devastating For Seniors


Paul Ryan's political raison d'ĂȘtre has been clear since he was first elected to Congress-- slashing the New Deal and subsequent social insurance policies to ribbons. That's what he got from reading Ayn Rand's books when he was just a little right-wing nut in high school. Now he's a big right-wing nut in the House of Representatives and every year-- without fail-- he comes up with new ways of packaging and marketing his never-changing austerity goals.

Last week, when he presented his plan to kill Obamacare, he, somewhat predictably threw in a proposal to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare by two years, to age 67, in the hopes that enough people will die in those two years that taxes on his wealthy supporters can be further reduced.

I know from personal experience-- having been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 65-- what that means to people on Social Security. My treatments cost well over $2 million. The way Republicans want to change the insurance system, that means, in effect, I wouldn't have been treated and instead of writing this post about Paul Ryan today, I'd be dead or dying, despite having paid substantial taxes for half a century. (Well, in the early part of my career, the taxes I paid we're very substantial but I made up for that in later years when I did very well and paid large sums.)

Ryan, who survived a prematurely dead father because of Social Security, is now positively obsessed with lowering the meager standard of living of Social Security recipients. There are no Republicans running for Congress who don't back Ryan's "Better Way" proposals to diminish social insurance for the elderly. Extremists may be celebrating it, but even Republicans who try to pass themselves off as "mainstream," want to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits and regularly vote for Ryan's annual plans to do just that.

Our old friend, Carol Shea-Porter, running in New Hampshire's first district to win back her seat from teabagger Frank Guinta also comes at this from a personal experience, the way most Americans do. "I grew up in a three generation household, she told us. "My wonderful parents sheltered and cared for my great uncle and my grandmother in their old age. Medicare was essential to my dad's uncle and my mom's mother because they both had medical problems. If Congress had raised the eligibility age then, nobody else could have covered their bills. Paul Ryan knows that. Frank Guinta knows that. They have very cruel agendas, but delaying medical care to those who have no way to earn enough to pay without Medicare is despicable."

The progressive Democrat running in PA-07 in the Philly suburbs is Mary Ellen Balchunis. Her opponent, Rep Pat Meehan is one of those fake "moderates" the media always looks to to save the day, though they are only interested in saving their only careers. Last night Mary Ellen told us that Meehan claims to have "supported the Background Check bill, knowing full well the Republicans would not be calling it for a vote. If he were serious about the bill, he would call for a discharge petition to get a vote on the floor. He has just told Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Laws that the events of Orlando did not change his mind;  and he would not support a ban on assault weapons. (Meehan has received two A ratings from the NRA; and he is the fourth highest recipient in PA Congressional delegation of NRA money.) He is no different on Medicare and Social Security. His rhetoric does not match his action. The Republican party put out literature saying that Congressman Meehan would never vote to privatize Medicare and Social Security; but every chance that Meehan has gotten, he has voted to privitize both. We actually filed a complaint with the FEC. Of course, it did not go anywhere. Meehan has gotten booed at a senior center when he announced that he wanted to increase the retirement age. He told the audience that it would not apply to them, but they told him that they care what happens to their children and grandchildren too. When there was a vote that gave a tax break to the less than 1%, Meehan voted to give them another break. He is no moderate.

Speaker Paul Ryan was chair of the House and Ways Committee before becoming Speaker. You don't get put on the Ways and Means Committee if you are a moderate; Congressman Meehan was appointed the the House and Ways Committee. Meehan can sell himself how ever he wants, but when he gets the opportunity to help the elderly over the wealthy, money wins."

Alina Valdes is the official canddiate of the Democratic Party taking on Mario Diaz-Balart, a South Florida old line reactionary posing, from time to time, as a mainstream politician. He isn't. And because Alina is a medical doctor, we were eager to hear her take on what Ryan, Diaz-Balart and the rets of the Republicans are hoping to do to the system. A berniecrat, she's an avid advocate for expanding the New Deal programs and adamantly opposes cutting them:
As a country, we have traditionally expanded benefits for our seniors, our poor, and our disabled but lately, it has seemed that this Republican-controlled Congress is more concerned about entitlements for the wealthy and corporate welfare. They continue to cut programs that feed the hungry and help shelter and clothe the working poor, who are trying hard to maintain low wage jobs just to pay their bills. As a consequence, we have a high rate of poverty, including about 40% of our children, while income inequality continues to increase as the wealthy are rewarded with tax breaks and loopholes. In order to attempt to balance the budget, the Republican hard-line has been to cut benefits to seniors, who are barely getting by on their Social Security. This same Congress also wants to cut the ability of seniors to qualify or use their Medicare benefits by increasing the age to qualify for both programs and adding higher copays and deductibles so their health insurance corporate friends benefit with even higher profits at the expense of the elderly and sick. My Republican opponent in Florida's CD-25 supports and votes for these cuts that will adversely affect a large majority of the middle class and poor, the same people who he is supposed to represent and who have worked their entire lives to reach retirement only to find that they need to continue to work low level jobs to stay alive and make sure that they manage to stay healthy. There is no more security in growing old anymore as benefits are cut time and time again while the cost of living continues to rise. The Republican solution to getting sick is to hurry up and die, especially with people living longer because of technological advances. They mean to deny people who are not fortunate enough to be well-endowed financially these very same advances by cutting their earned benefits so they do just that.

As a physician who has worked my entire life with these very populations the Republicans are trying to undermine, I have seen for myself and heard many stories of people struggling to provide for their families while staying healthy since any illness is catastrophic for themselves and their families. In the homeless shelter clinic, I am seeing more and more seniors unable to maintain an abode or buy nutritious food so they end up on the streets homeless and hungry. This is not the future that I want to see or live in. We can increase benefits for our seniors by cutting corporate welfare and having the wealthy pay their fair share into the system they have benefitted from but now seem to be taking advantage of with the laws this Republican-controlled Congress continues to pass. Everyone deserves a fair chance at living with dignity and decency and it is time that these corporate-controlled shills are fired by the people for not doing their jobs. It is time to elect new faces with fresh minds who will truly work hard to make lives better for everyone and one of those people is me.
Paul Clements, running in southwest Michigan for the seat occupied by fake-moderate Fred Upton, summed it up well. "This November Americans face a choice. Will economic insecurity continue to increase for most Americans? Will access to health care be reduced? And will the super-rich who have gained so spectacularly in recent decades see their taxes cut even further? Or will we return to the New Deal trajectory to an economy that supports the life and liberty of all Americans? Yet another Paul Ryan budget plan, supported once again by my opponent Fred Upton, would take us further down the path of insecurity for most and ever greater wealth for the few. It is basic to American democracy that we support dignity for our seniors. In Congress I will work to strengthen Social Security and expand health benefits for the elderly."

Let's help make sure Ryan's dystopian vision is never enacted, by replacing stooges of his like Guinta, Meehan, Diaz-Balart and Upton with committed progressives Carol Shea-Porter, Mary Ellen Balchunis, Alina Valdes and Paul Clements. You can find all four of them at this thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(Meehan) told the audience that it would not apply to them, but they told him that they care what happens to their children and grandchildren too." The fact that ordinary people, including most Republicans, care about their relatives and even strangers always mystifies Republican politicians. They can't understand why "it won't apply to you" doesn't answer the question because they are sociopaths.


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