Archive for the ‘medicare’ Category

GOP Overreach

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

It’s crystal clear that Tennesseans have soundly rejected the extremist GOP agenda rammed through the state legislature this year.

A new, statewide Vanderbilt University poll found that support for the Republican-led state legislature has “plummeted 20 percentage points since January.

The GOP honeymoon is over and Tennesseans are riled up like never before over lawmakers stripping teachers of their right to collectively bargain for smaller class sizes, school supplies, and text books while cutting millions from public and higher education budgets.

Attacking teachers and our public schools is outrageous!  Please contribute $5 or more to help us fight back.  A generous Democrat will match your gifit dollar-for-dollar making your donation go twice as far.

Teachers and public education weren’t the only targets of the GOP.

Since January we have seen a systematic assault on Tennessee values:

  • IGNORED JOBS CRISIS. In 2010, Republicans campaigned on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs. Less than one year later, the majority party buried its head in the sand and ignored the crisis facing 300,000 Tennesseans looking for work. And since the GOP took charge, Tennessee’s unemployment rate has climbed to nearly 10 percent.
  • LAVISH RAISES. Gov. Bill Haslam made cuts to important health programs while handing out more than $250,000 worth of raises to his top cronies, all of whom already made six-figure salaries. One commissioner even got a 32% raise — in his first week on the job!
  • PROTECTED PREJUDICE. The GOP gave into the radical right-wing of its party, bowing to demands to overturn Metro-Nashville Council’s CANDO ordinance that required businesses with city contracts to employ non-discrimination hiring policies.

Click here for a more complete look at damage done by Republicans this year.

In short Republicans junked their promise to strengthen the state economy and create jobs in favor of ideological pet projects that harm our families and the least among us.

This poll shows that Tennesseans regret giving Republicans a chance behind the wheel and have quickly become sick of their reckless driving.

Tennesseans are not interested in political retaliation against teachers, they want good schools for their children.

Tennesseans are not interested in the anti-woman demands of the far right, they want to make sure their mothers, sisters and babies are healthy and well cared for.

Tennesseans are not interested in protecting reckless corporations from the damage they do, they want to protect victims and hold corporations responsible for their actions.

Republicans have given us no reason to think they will come to their senses in 2012. Last month Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey bragged on Facebook:

“This year was just an appetizer. Next year, and in the years to come, you will see the main course.”

Whatever Ramsey has in mind, you can rest assured it won’t be good for Tennessee.

If you want to stop the GOP’s radical agenda and put Tennessee on a  path to a thriving economy where prosperity is shared by all, a path where a good education is available to every student, regardless of their circumstance, a path where government serves the people and is not beholden to moneyed special interest then stand with us.

Your gift of $5 or more will be matched dollar-for-dollar, doubling your effort to take back our state for working and middle class Tennesseans.

We can win this fight, but we can’t do it without your support.

 

‘If China Calls, Let it Go to Voicemail’

Monday, June 6th, 2011

“Congress has rejected raising the debt ceiling, so if China calls, let it go to voicemail.” - Stephen Colbert

“odd political theater”

“just for show”

 

U.S. Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott Desjarlias, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn and Stephen Fincher all voted for a budget that raises America’s debt 60% but voted against raising the debt limit.

FACT: Republican Votes Against Raising Debt Ceiling “JUST FOR SHOW.” Tenn. Republicans are happily playing politics with the full faith and credit of the United States. Republicans urged the defeat of their own measure, while Democrats — who not long ago were seeking just such a vote to raise the debt ceiling without attaching spending cuts — assailed Republicans for bringing it up, saying its certain defeat might unnerve the financial markets. Just in case, Republican leaders scheduled the vote for after the stock market’s close, and in the preceding days called Wall Street executives to assure them that the vote was just for show, to show Mr. Obama that he would have to make concessions in budget negotiations if a debt-limit increase is to pass Congress. [New York Times,
6/1/11]


FACT: PAUL RYAN BUDGET WOULD INCREASE U.S. DEBT 60% (& DESTROY MEDICARE). The Paul Ryan Budget that U.S. Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott Desjarlias, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn and Stephen Fincher voted for, would raise the debt limit over 60%. Republicans are holding the debt ceiling hostage by claiming that “Washington must begin living within its means.” However, the Paul Ryan budget, supported by every Tennessee Republican U.S. Representative, would increase the national debt (61.5%) from $14.3 trillion today to more than $23.1 trillion by 2021. [Los Angeles Times, 4/15/11]

 

NOT RAISING THE DEBT LIMIT WOULD BE ‘CATASTROPHIC’

JP Morgan Chase CEO: Raising The Debt Ceiling “It’s A Moral Obligation.” “The U.S. Treasury will officially hit its credit limit around May 16 for the 10th time in 10 years. If House Republicans prolong the fight over raising the debt ceiling past that date, government officials and Wall Street investors agree that it would cause financial chaos. ‘This chatter about not meeting our obligations, I just don’t understand it,’ JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said late last month during an event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Dimon is one of the few business leaders who have been outspoken on the issue. ‘It’s a moral obligation to ourselves and anyone who owns U.S. debt,’ he said. ‘They should know the United States is good for its money, period.’” [NPR, 4/13/11]

Chief Economist For The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Said If Congress Didn’t Raise The Debt Limit The Result Would Be Higher Interest Rates , Financial Uncertainty And Damage To The Nation’s Fragile Economy. “Martin Regalia, chief economist for the [U.S. Chamber of Commerce], agrees that there’s no other option but to raise the debt limit. The chamber is lobbying Congress and educating lawmakers about what it could mean if that doesn’t happen: higher interest rates, financial uncertainty and damage to the nation’s fragile economy. Regalia says the ramifications of a default — or even a close call — can be an eye-opener for lawmakers. ‘It’s no reflection on them that they don’t fully understand the nuances of a budget process that I don’t think anyone fully understands.’” [NPR,4/13/11]

“The Debt Problem Won’t Be Resolved – And May Even Be Made Worse – By Not Raising The [Debt Ceiling.” “A number of lawmakers -- some of whom will speak at a Tea Party rally on Thursday -- have said they will not vote to increase the debt limit because it would be fiscally irresponsible. But their rhetoric is misleading because it conflates two different things. There's raising the debt ceiling, which is a technical necessity. Then there is the country's actual debt problem, which is a political and policy matter. Indeed, the debt problem won't be resolved -- and may even be made worse -- by not raising the ceiling.”  [CNN Money, 4/1/11]

House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling “It Would Be Catastrophic To Have The Nation Default Upon Its Debt.” “Both House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that not raising the debt ceiling is not an option – although they disagree on how future budgets should address closing the budget gap.  ‘What I do think is, yes, it would be catastrophic to have the nation default upon its debt,’ Hensarling said.” [Hill, 4/10/11]

House Speaker Boehner Said Defaulting On The Debt By Not Raising The Ceiling “Would Be A Financial Disaster, Not Only For Us, But For The Worldwide Economy.” “The possibility of the U.S. defaulting on its debt due to congressional inaction isn’t on the table, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday. Boehner said it would mean ‘financial disaster’ for the global economy if Congress were unable to come to a deal to raise the debt ceiling this spring. ‘That would be a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy,’ Boehner said on ‘Fox News Sunday’ of the risk of default. ‘I don’t think it’s a question that’s even on the table.’” [Hill, 1/30/11]

 

 

The Jackson Sun: Voters will reject GOP over needless Medicare cutbacks

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

The Jackson Sun opinion editor Tom Bohs recently took Republicans to task for their vote to radically change Medicare into a vulture voucher system. The Paul Ryan, budget wonks say, would increase the out-of-pocket cost of health care for seniors by more than $6,500 a year.

Sens. Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander voted for it. As did Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlias, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn and Stephen Fincher.

From The Jackson Sun:

Republicans shot themselves in the foot by proposing to end traditional Medicare and replace it with vouchers for private insurance. If they don’t drop this scheme, it will cost them dearly in the 2012 election cycle.

Not only would privatizing Medicare through a system of insurance premium vouchers wildly complicate the purchase of health insurance for senior citizens, it is unnecessary.

Not only would privatizing Medicare through a system of insurance premium vouchers wildly complicate the purchase of health insurance for senior citizens, it is unnecessary. Seniors already have private insurance options under Medicare through Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The only thing the voucher system would take away is the government option for Part A (hospital) and Part B (doctor services) that seniors know and largely love — talk about biting the hand that votes for you.

Under the voucher plan proposed by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, seniors would be allotted money they could spend on health insurance purchased through private insurance companies. The advantage, according to Ryan and other Republicans, is that people would be able to choose the health insurance that best suits their needs.

That is the biggest false hope I have ever heard perpetrated on old people. What is the best health insurance policy for anyone? The best policy is the one that pays the bills when you get sick without splitting hairs over whether a particular illness, procedure, service, doctor or medication is excluded in the fine print of the insurance contract.

It is a fallacy that different people have different health insurance needs. What health problem don’t you want coverage for? The idea that some people are in better health than others and don’t need as much health insurance is nonsense. No one can predict life’s illnesses and health mishaps, let alone those of old age. It would be like buying car insurance that only covered you on some days of the week.

The other reason Ryan’s approach to privatizing Medicare to save money surprises me is that it is unnecessary. The system is solvent for many years to come. Shortfalls after that easily can be addressed long before they materialize. Ryan is solving a problem that doesn’t exist, and making seniors and other voters angry in the process. He should focus on problems that are real and on the table right now such as the national debt, high unemployment, mortgage defaults and a host of social, military and international affairs challenges we face.

But the thing I find most disturbing about privatizing Medicare is that it complicates the last bastion of senior citizen comfort. People who are old, sick or near the end of life don’t want to be burdened with complicated insurance decisions. Can Republicans not let old people just finish out their years with peace of mind without a lot of rah-rah, take responsibility, every man for himself flag waving? All that’s fine when you’re young or 40 or 50 and still building your lifestyle and personal security. But when you are 70 or 80 or older, the last thing you need is a bunch of insurance companies trying to get their hands in your pocket.

The final problem with Ryan’s Medicare voucher scheme is that it might not – and I would hazard an educated guess it would not – be sufficient to purchase health insurance that would provide anywhere near the coverage afforded by Medicare. What would people do when their benefits ran out? Ryan doesn’t address that. Again, it would be every man for himself. Of course, there might still be Medicaid available to those brought to penury by uncovered medical expenses. But that only puts the burden on others, to say nothing of the emotional and psychological blow it would inflict on seniors.

Good grief. Medicare works. Leave it alone and find something to tinker with that really needs fixing. [Jackson Sun, 5/28/11]

FACTS & BACKGROUND:

 

REALITY: TENNESSEE’S ENTIRE REPUBLICAN U.S. HOUSE & SENATE DELEGATION VOTED FOR THE PAUL RYAN BUDGET

Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander voted for Paul Ryan’s budget to privatize Medicare. [Senate.gov Roll Call Vote, 5/25/11]

Tennessee’s entire Republican delegation (Reps. Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan, Chuck Fleischmann, Scott DesJarlais, Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Stephen Fincher) voted to turn Medicare into a voucher system. [U.S. House Clerk, April 15, 2011]

More than 1 million Tennesseans are enrolled in Medicare. [statehealthfacts.org, accessed April 15, 2011]


REALITY: REP. RYAN’S VOUCHER SYSTEM WOULD COST SENIORS THOUSANDS IN OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES

The Economist: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Plan Shifts The Burden Of Risk Onto Seniors By Only Delivering A Voucher For An Amount Ryan Thinks Ought To Be Enough For Health Care, Not Guaranteeing All Care. [Economist, 4/5/11]

Politifact: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan Would Force The Average Senior Receiving Medicare To Pay $6,350 More Out-Of-Pocket For Health Care. [Politifact, 5/6/11]

Center for Economic Policy Research: A Person Born In 1957 At Age 65 Will Require An Additional $182,000 In Retirement Savings In Order To Purchase Private Insurance Rather Than Accept Coverage Through Medicare. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Letter to Rep. George Miller”]

 

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET ENDS MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT

Wall Street Journal: “The [GOP Budget] Plan Would Essentially End Medicare.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Los Angeles Times: “Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare Privatization Plan Increases Costs, Budget Office Says.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/8/11]

CBO: The Ryan Budget Plan Would Increase Debt In The First Ten Years. [TPM, 4/5/11]

The Fiscal Times: “The Big Winners” In The Republican Budget Would Be “High Income Earners And Corporations, Who Top Tax Rate Would Be Reduced From 35 To 25 Percent.” [Fiscal Times, 4/5/11]

 

REALITY: THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET RELIES ON “QUESTIONABLE ASSUMPTIONS” AND “FISHY FIGURES”

Washington Post: “The Ryan Budget Plan Relies On Dubious Assertions, Questionable Assumptions And Fishy Figures.” [Washington Post, 4/9/11]

National Journal: “Ryan Plan Pushes Optimism To The Outer Limits.” [National Journal, 4/5/11]

Winning?

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Only one word can describe the latest move by the Tennessee GOP: Arrogance.

tngop-sheen

On Thursday, the Tennessee GOP announced it would be running a statewide radio ad called “Winning.” The spot featured the irrational and senseless Charlie Sheen, who lost his kids because he abused drugs and alcohol and mistreated women.

Is that what the GOP calls winning?

Tennessee Republicans voted to end Medicare for seniors and are passing laws that send Tennessee schools back to the Stone Age — broken promises to people who have worked their whole lives and an increasingly uneven playing field for rural families and working people.

Is that what the GOP calls winning?

Those aren’t Tennessee values. Show Tennessee Republicans we won’t let them get away with this.

Can you give $5, $10 or more today to help us fight back?

While they’re taking direction and handouts from big corporations, we rely on grassroots Democrats like you to show our strength and to be a true force for progress. Every gift – no matter how small – helps us put Republican seats in play.

And we’re going to go after them for this. They’re playing games with people’s livelihoods. We have got to stand up to their ideologically driven nonsense.

Tenn. Republicans Vote to End Medicare, Abandon 1 Million Tennesseans

Friday, April 15th, 2011

NASHVILLE – Chip Forrester, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, issued the following statement in response to the House of Representative’s vote today to end Medicare as a part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget:

“There are more than 1 million Tennesseans on Medicare, and 80 percent of them are over age 65. This budget shreds the contract that this country has with Tennessee seniors after a lifetime of work. We promised seniors that the cost of health care and long-term care would not bankrupt them and their families in their retirement. By ending Medicare, this plan will force seniors to pay more out of pocket and negotiate with private drug and insurance companies. By slashing Medicaid it takes away the last protection for seniors late in life.”

Tennessee’s Republican Congressional delegation voted unanimously in favor of passing the bill.

Facts

“House of Representatives Votes To End Medicare!” | Forbes.com | April 15, 2011

Tennessee’s Republican delegation votes to end Medicare | U.S. House Clerk | accessed April 15, 2011

Tennessee: Medicare Population Demographics | statehealthfacts.org | accessed April 15, 2011