Monday, June 18, 2018

There's Working Class Solidarity-- And There's Also Betrayal


Working class candidates often point to their roots when they talk about why they can be trusted to represent the interests of working families. The best examples this cycle have been Randy Bryce (D-WI), Kaniela Ing (D-HI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Jared Golden (D-ME), Tom Guild (D-OK) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Class has been integral to all of their campaigns-- both as  motivationally and in terms of goals. People in Queens and the Bronx are hearing her inspiring message which is bring hope to communities that have been largely ignored by an incumbent congressman who has nothing to do with the people he's supposed to be representing. Today Alexandria told me

Goal Thermometer"I was born to a working class family. At a very early age, I learned the injustice of a zip code determining your destiny. When I was four years old, my parents realized that the public school options in my area were severely lacking and we of course had no money for private schools. So my entire family-- my parents, my aunts, my uncles, my family in Puerto Rico-- chipped in to let my parents put a down payment on a small home 40 minutes north of the Bronx. This 40 minute drive shaped my world view at a very young age. I saw how just 40 minutes changed the opportunities I had versus what my cousins had in the Bronx. Those 40 minutes gave me the opportunity to go to college, get a job at Ted Kennedy's office, and have some economic opportunity. But in 2008, I also learned just how fragile economic opportunities are for working families like mine. At the same time the stock market crashed, my father passed away. I saw how even though my family had spent 20 years trying to build up some wealth, it could get wiped away in an instant because we didn't have a wealthy community or family to fall back on. We had no safety net. For the next few years, my mother had to go back to driving buses and cleaning and I started taking double shifts at night waitressing and bartending-- it was a fight to keep our home. We hear about an America where if you work hard and do everything right, you can make it, but the reality now is that unless you are born to the right family in the right zip code, the chances of making it with hard work are becoming slim to none. We need to change that."
But this isn't always the case. Paul Ryan wasn't exactly working class. His family was somewhat well-to do. His father was an attorney but at 16 years old Ryan found his 55 year old father dead in their home of a heart attack. From the time of his father's death until his 18th birthday, Ryan received Social Security survivors benefits, which were saved for his college education. In that period he worked at McDonald's operating a grill. He has spent his entire political career trying to pull up the ladder behind him that allowed him to prosper after his father's death. A devotee of Ayn Rand, Ryan doesn't believe in the kind of government help that allowed him to go to college. In that way, he differs fundamentally with Bryce, Ing, Tlaib, Golden, Guild and Ocasio-Cortez.

Below is a TV ad for Tom Guild. who has a primary a week from tomorrow and who has a very different approach from Paul Ryan's. He told me this morning that "As a small child our family survived mainly on government commodities, a precursor of the food stamp or SNAP program. My brother Robert and I would surely have starved and perished were it not for this godsend to our family that was existing well below the poverty level. Since this government program literally sustained our lives, I will fight for today’s poor children (and adults) and make sure that they are not nutritionally deprived, and don’t needlessly perish from this earth."

Over the weekend, Politico reported the GOP has given up-- at least for now-- on their goal of destroying Medicare. "Republicans on Capitol Hill," they reported, "are giving up on what might be their last best chance to overhaul Medicare, just as they’re losing their leading champion on the issue, House Speaker Paul Ryan. The quiet surrender on a subject that’s energized GOP fiscal hawks for the better part of a decade comes as new projections show Medicare’s trust fund in its worst shape since the recession, partly because of Republicans’ other chief obsession: their sweeping tax cuts."

That’s left conservatives unsure how to agitate for a politically unpopular Medicare overhaul-- one that President Donald Trump detests-- and raises new questions about who will take up the entitlement reform mantle as Ryan heads for the exits.

“It takes two houses of Congress and a president to want to do that,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), lamenting the party’s apathy over Medicare. “No matter who’s been in the House or who’s been speaker, we have not been able to get entitlement reform done.”
"Reform" might be lowering the age of Medicare to 55 or including treatment of eyes, ears and teeth, for example... extending it to all Americans is the goal for progressives. But when Republicans talk about "entitlement reform," it doesn't mean improving it; it means abolishing it, iultimately through privatization. That's what Blunt wants and what Ryan wants. The public doesn't.
[T]he GOP’s sweeping tax cuts will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, slowing the flow of money into Medicare and putting the health care program on increasingly unstable financial ground, the report from Medicare’s trustees predicts. The decision to also repeal Obamacare’s deeply unpopular Medicare cost-containment panel, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, will put additional strain on Medicare’s finances, the trustees said. Medicare’s hospital trust fund is now projected to go broke by 2026, three years earlier than projected.

...The trustees' report, which was overseen by Cabinet officials, projected the GOP tax cuts would reduce the income taxes people pay on Social Security benefits, part of which are funneled toward Medicare. The tax law’s repeal of the Obamacare penalty for not having insurance will drive up the uninsured rate, increasing Medicare payments for uncompensated care, the report said.

Medicare’s chief actuary, Paul Spitalnic, said lower-than-expected tax returns explained the “vast majority” of this year’s funding shortfall. The trustees found that payroll and income taxes simply aren’t enough to cover Medicare’s large budget gap, partly as a result of the GOP’s tax law. The results, Spitalnic said, are “largely a revenue story.”

The report also delivered grim news for Social Security: For the first time since 1982, the program is expected to spend more than it raises in revenue and collects in interest.

...Republican leaders have shown little appetite for tackling Medicare since taking full control of Washington last year. Though Ryan himself said a Medicare overhaul would be a priority for 2018, Republican leaders have abandoned the idea ahead of a midterm election that could determine control of Congress.

Neither chamber has firm plans to pass a budget blueprint this year, and some conservatives now fear GOP leaders may skip it entirely, leaving a big question mark about the GOP’s fiscal agenda.

...During the Obama administration, House Republicans approved belt-tightening budgets that would transform Medicare into a so-called premium support model giving beneficiaries a set amount to spend either on traditional Medicare coverage or private insurance plans. Critics contend the plan, dubbed Medicare privatization, would leave enrollees with higher costs and worse coverage. Other Republicans have supported raising Medicare’s eligibility age.

Democrats, who in the past have eagerly campaigned against the GOP‘s Medicare plans, claim Republicans have shed their concerns about fiscal restraint in pursuit of tax cuts.

“When Republicans want to cut taxes but don’t want to contain health care spending, they are yanking Medicare three years closer to insolvency,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee.

GOP leaders, though, insist they haven’t taken their eye off entitlements. They just need a bit more time at the drawing board.

“It’s still a huge thing,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said. “The question is, how do we address this thing?”
Alan Grayson grew up in a tenement in the Bronx and worked his way through college by cleaning bathrooms. He gave up his Orlando congressional seat to run for the Senate. He's seeking to win back his House seat now, currently in the hands of a do-nothing conservative New Dem. While Grayson was in the House he did the opposite of Ryan, working hard to perfect and try to persuade his colleagues to expand Medicare and Social Security, cut or eliminate taxes on working people and retirees, raise the minimum wage, provide paid sick leave and vacations to everyone, stop foreign military intervention, protect our privacy, block corporate "free trade" giveaways and make public college free-- among other things. This is the TV ad he's running in Orlando right now:

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At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Nazis wanted to gash SSI and medicare, they don't need paul ryan... they just needed a third term for obamanation ($hillbillary would do nicely), which would have been Reagan's 10th. Obamanation had offered these cuts along with other mechanisms to slowly bleed those in need of sustenance, but john boner could not accept. I don't know if he was terrified of voters or maybe he's a sloppy, sentimental drunk. We all know he was in the bag most of the time.

Boner's gone and his reticence to kill poor and elderly people does not exist in anyone else in either caucus' leadershit.

As obamanation's or Clinton's third, the democraps would eagerly vote to kill people... simply because it's their team "winning". Remember Clinton's welfare dessication as additional proof.

As I keep pointing out, the likes of Bryce, even if sincere, will still be irrelevant with that same leadershit in place tyrannically dictating what gets done and what gets ignored.

2009 was only 9 years ago. Am I the only one who remembers?

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The true date to remember is 11/5/2008, which is the day that obamanation revealed the "moderate 1985 Reagan Republican" hiding beneath that relatively liberal candidate who had just won election the night before.

So much for the party in Grant Park celebrating the end of Republican rule!

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Grant Park crowd was perhaps the biggest gathering of hapless morons in history.

They were euphoric that one of "theirs" was finally in power.. and hopeful for what that might mean after 400 years of being ground to dust under the crackers' boots.

And then he named rahm, Daschle, holder and others to his team. Everyone who had the slightest idea of what that meant immediately had to feel like... "oh shit.. not this again"..

so... what did we do about it? We RE-elected that piece of shit.

At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you mean "we", 12:50? I didn't vote for him either time.


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