At odds with the US Chamber, Bachmann looks forwards to voting to default on nation’s debt

June 14, 2011

At odds with the US Chamber, Bachmann looks forwards to voting to default on nation’s debt and risking economic calamity


When last night’s Republican presidential debate – a debate full of promises of ending Medicare/Medicaid and giving millionaires another tax break and generally making a full return to the failed Bush-era economic policies that left millions of Americans without jobs – turned to the issue of where candidates stood on defaulting on the government’s debt, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) made clear she stands on the side of exploding the economy:


BACHMANN: I've already voted no on raising the debt ceiling in the past. And unless there are serious cuts, I can't.


Bachmann joins Rep. Paul Ryan and other House Republicans willing to hold the economy hostage until they see “massive cuts” to Medicaid, which would leave millions of seniors that depend on Medicaid for long-term nursing-home care, as well as disabled Americans of all ages, with no options left.

Like Ryan, Bachmann puts herself at odds with the U.S. Chamber
(via Washington Post’s Plum Line) :


                Posted at 06:46 PM ET, 06/13/2011

By Greg Sargent

* Did Tom Donohue, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, vow that his organization will work to “get rid” of any House Republicans who don’t vote to raise the debt ceiling? Sure sounds like it, according to a well respected Atlanta blogger who watched Donohue give a local talk:

In one of the funnier moments during his Rotary talk, Donohue was asked if Congress was going to raise the debt ceiling.

Yes, it will be raised, Donohue answered, mainly because the country can not afford to not pay its bills. To those newly-elected representatives who say they aren’t going to raise the debt ceiling and will shut down government, Donohue said the U.S. Chamber has its own message: “We’ll get rid of you.”

MORE: DEFAULTING ON NATION’S DEBT = “Dangerous Gamble,” “Could Blow Up the Economy”


Ø  Talking Points Memo, 6/9: “Experts: Even Brief Default Could Blow Up The Economy” : Because interest rates on bonds determine how much it costs the US government to secure more debt, even seemingly slight changes can affect the long term deficit on a large scale. A 1% rise in interest rates, or 100 basis points, would grow the deficit by over $400 billion over the next five years and $1.2 trillion from 2012-2021, according to the CBO. 

Ø  Talking Points Memo, 6/14: ‘CBO Director Elmendorf: Debt Default ‘A Dangerous Gamble’


Ø  Talking Points Memo, 5/19: ‘Moody’s, S&P Warn U.S. Risks Triple-A Credit Rating If It Defaults On Debt — Even Briefly

Ø  Wall Street Journal, 5/17: Business Groups to Congress: ‘Raising Debt Ceiling Is Critical’ : Sixty-two business groups, including the American Gas Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers, urged congressional leaders on Wednesday to raise the federal debt ceiling amid fears that political brinkmanship could lead to another financial crisis.

Ø  Financial Times, 4/26: ‘Nervous Wall Street warns on debt limit’


Ø  Politico, 4/27: ‘Bank execs warn GOP on debt limit’ : Executives from the deep-pocketed industry that traditionally pumps millions into political campaigns are warning members that failure to raise the limit would risk a spike in interest rates, a possible collapse in equity prices, bank failures and a severe depression.

Ø  New York Times’ Economix, 4/26: ‘What Happens if the Debt Ceiling Isn’t Raised’

06.14.11 | permalink

Bush Tax Cuts Turn 10

June 7, 2011

Bush Tax Cuts Turn 10: The Top 10 Things the Congressional Republicans That Want to Make Them Permanent Forget to Mention


1) New York Times’ Economix, 11/18/10:  “Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7.”


2) Wall Street Journal, 1/9/09: ‘Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record’

Ø  New York Times, 9/7/09: “FOR the first time since the Depression, the American economy has added virtually no jobs in the private sector over a 10-year period.”


3) The Huffington Post, 05/20/11: Bush-Era Tax Cuts Projected As Largest Contributor To Public Debt [CHART]


3) Economic Policy Institute, 6/1/11: From 2001 through 2010, the cuts added $2.6 trillion to the public debt; nearly 50% of the total debt accrued during this period.


4) TRICKLE-UP ECONOMICS: Economic Policy Institute, 6/1/11: In 2010, the top 1% of earners received 38% of the breaks in the 2001-08 tax changes; 55% of the tax breaks went to the top 10% of earners (those making over $170,000)

Ø  Tax Policy Center, 7/8/10: The average millionaire gets more than $100,000 a year in tax breaks under the Bush tax cuts.

5)EPI, 6/1/11: In 2010, tax filers in the bottom 20% of the income distribution (tax filers making less than $20,000) received only a 1% share of the tax cuts, and 75% of these low-income families saw no reduction at all.


6) Fiscal Times, 5/13/11: According to an April New York Times/CBS News poll, 41 percent of people primarily blame the Bush administration for today’s deficit; only 14 percent blame Obama. That same poll found that an overwhelming 72 percent of people support raising taxes on couples making more than $250,000 in order to reduce the deficit.”


7) Citizens for Tax Justice: “Many lawmakers want to extend the Bush tax cuts again into 2013 and beyond, which would almost double the federal budget deficit.”


8) Huffington Post, 6/6/11: 'Patriotic Millionaires' Describe What They've Done With Their Bush Tax Cuts: 'I Built A Dance Floor In My House'

9) CBPP, 5/26/11: The House budget would permanently lock in all of the Bush tax cuts, which flow disproportionately to high-income people.  It also would make permanent the relief from the AMT that now is regularly extended every year or two.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that extending these tax cuts would cost $3.8 trillion over the coming decade, the vast majority of which would be attributable to the Bush tax cuts. 


10) CBPP, 4/20/11: The House budget essentially would finance these tax cuts with extremely large budget cuts, including cuts in a number of key programs for people with low or moderate incomes:

Ø  Associated Press, 5/10/11: The House Republican budget would leave up to 44 million more low-income people uninsured as the federal government cuts states’ Medicaid funding by about one-third over the next 10 years.

Ø  ThinkProgress, 6/2/11: House GOP Cuts To Nutrition Assistance Equal To One Week Of Bush Tax Cuts For Millionaires

06.07.11 | permalink

They just couldn’t help themselves, could they?

June 7, 2011


They just couldn't help themselves, could they?  : “House Republicans Look To Privatize Social Security"

SEE BELOW.    Statement from Tom McMahon, executive director of Americans United for Change – the group formally known as Americans United to Protect Social Security that led the national campaign to defeat President Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security in 2005: “They just couldn’t help themselves, could they?  After already voting to voucherize Medicare and eviscerate Medicaid to pay for trillions of dollars in new tax breaks for millionaires and big oil, House Republicans must have figured ‘Why stop now?’  Now they’re proposing to privatize Social Security and let their friends on Wall Street get their hands on the trust fund – apparently trying to achieve the Triple Crown among conservative ideologues by doing away with the nation’s three most cherished social safety nets that keep millions of seniors, children, survivors and people with disabilities out of poverty.  House Republicans don’t seem to care that the American people already rejected this scheme for turning Social Security’s guaranteed benefits into a guaranteed gamble on Wall Street when President Bush proposed it. They don’t seem to care that the vast majority of Americans are rejecting their proposals for ending Medicare and Medicaid as we know them.  Nothing else seems to matter to House Republicans when it comes to more profits for Wall Street.”

House Republicans Look To Privatize Social Security

Benjy Sarlin | June 7, 2011, 9:26AM

Republican leaders left Social Security untouched in their House budget this year, but a group of GOP lawmakers are looking to fill the gap themselves with legislation that would create a voluntary privatized version of the program.

Introduced by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who also chairs the House's campaign efforts at the NRCC, the "Savings Account For Every American Act" would allow people to immediately opt out of Social Security in favor of a private "S.A.F.E." account. Eventually the program would expand to let employers send their matching contribution to workers' Social Security to a "S.A.F.E." account as well.

"Our nation's Social Security Trust Fund is depleting at an alarming rate, and failure to implement immediate reforms endangers the ability of Americans to plan for their retirement with the options and certainty they deserve," Sessions said of the plan, according to The Hill. "To simply maintain the status quo would weaken American competitiveness by adding more unsustainable debt and insolvent entitlements to our economy when we can least afford it."

Republicans have been wary of wading back into Social Security privatization after a major push on the issue during President Bush's second term failed to reach a vote in either the House or Senate despite there being a Republican Congress. One Freshman Representative who suggested the federal government could be rolled back to just four departments even listed protecting Social Security from privatization as one of his top causes on the 2010 trail. Among the GOP presidential candidates, Rick Santorum had tried to adopt the cause as part of his platform.

House Republicans propose Social Security opt-out

By Pete Kasperowicz - 06/06/11 04:25 PM ET

House Republicans on Friday introduced legislation that would allow workers to partially opt out of Social Security immediately, and fully opt out after 15 years.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, and several other Republicans introduced the Savings Account for Every American (SAFE) Act. Under the bill, workers would immediately have 6.2 percent of their wages sent to a "SAFE" account each year.

That would take the place of the 6.2 percent the workers now contributed to Social Security.

Another 6.2% is sent to Social Security by employers. Under the Sessions bill, employers would continue to make this matching contribution to Social Security, but after 15 years, employers could also send that amount to the employee's SAFE account.

Sessions said this transition to a private retirement savings option is needed because Social Security last year began paying out more money than it took in.

"Our nation's Social Security Trust Fund is depleting at an alarming rate, and failure to implement immediate reforms endangers the ability of Americans to plan for their retirement with the options and certainty they deserve," Sessions said. "To simply maintain the status quo would weaken American competitiveness by adding more unsustainable debt and insolvent entitlements to our economy when we can least afford it."

Under the bill, employees would be able to make tax free contributions to their SAFE account, and take tax-free distributions at retirement age. The bill would also allow employees to stay with the Social Security program if they wish.

Other sponsors of the bill are Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

06.07.11 | permalink

New AUFC Video: Rep. Joe Heck derides Social Security as a “pyramid scheme”

 June 3, 2011


UPDATE from Jon Ralston on Twitter:


RalstonFlash Jon Ralston

@RepJoeHeck on video of him comparing Social Security to a "pyramid scheme" says: "I regret that I misspoke."

14 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply


RalstonFlash Jon Ralston

More @RepJoeHeck: "Those who have followed my position know that I am fully committed to protecting the promise of Social Security.."

14 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply


Statement from Tom McMahon, executive director of Americans United for Change, formally known as Americans United to Protect Social Security, the group that led the national campaign to defeat President Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security in 2005: “We have followed Joe Heck’s position on Social Security, and far from committing to keeping the safety net in place and future generations out of poverty, the Congressman is on record supporting privatization and letting his friends on Wall Street get their hands on Nevadans’ guaranteed benefits.  Rep. Heck is on record supporting the same risky privatization scheme proposed by President Bush that was overwhelmingly rejected by the people of Nevada.  Did Congressman Heck really ‘misspeak’ when he derided Social Security as a “pyramid scheme” – or was it a Freudian Slip?  Based on his record, it appears to be the latter.”  


Ø  Heck Supports Privatizing Social Security: When asked in an interview with Nevada News and ViewsHow would you propose to reform the Social Security program?,” Heck replied:  “I believe that any individual should have the right to voluntarily take their portion of Social Security withholding and invest it as they deem appropriate.” [Nevada News and Views, 5/4/10]




See below – Jon Ralston spotlights shocking new video (taped on May 18 at Boulder City Hall by Americans United for Change) of Congressman Joe Heck (NV-3) deriding Social Security as a “pyramid scheme.”   Statement from Americans United executive director Tom McMahon:  


“Social Security has operated successfully as the same pay-as-you-go system it always has since FDR signed the Social Security Act into law over 75 years ago, lifting generations of seniors, survivors and disabled Americans out of poverty. Rather than committing to keeping this cherished social safety net in place for future generations of Nevadans, Joe Heck outrageously likens the program to fraud.  Joe Heck has a lot of nerve calling Social Security a “scheme” especially after voting for the Ryan plan to end Medicare and throw seniors to the mercy of the private insurance companies.  Talk about a real “scheme:” Congressman Heck wants to replace Medicare with ever-shrinking private vouchers and hike seniors’ out-of-pocket costs by more than $6,000 so that millionaires, Big Oil, and job-outsourcing corporations can have another tax break.”








Nugget No. 1 - Guess who's excited about Rep. Joe Heck using the phrase "pyramid scheme" about Social Security?

Hello, TV ad.



06.03.11 | permalink

GOP Presidential Litmus Test (i.e. doing away with Medicare)

May 26, 2011


IMPORTANT UPDATE RE: THE NEW REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL LITMUS TEST (i.e. support for the Paul Ryan plan to double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs after “essentially end[ing] Medicare” and leave up to 44 million Americans uninsured, including most nursing home residents, as well as disabled people of any age after slashing $1.4 trillion from Medicaid – all to pay for trillions of dollars in new tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil and job-outsourcing corporations) :


ABC News: ‘Pawlenty Says If He Were President He Would Sign Paul Ryan's Budget’




Newt Gingrich: No, it’s too “radical” and “right wing-social engineering.”    I mean, YES, YES!


Jon Huntsman: “I would have voted for it, including the Medicare provisions.”


Herman Cain: “Nobody's talking about the fact that the centerpiece of Ryan's plan is a voucher. Now, a lot of people don't like to use that term because it has a negative connotation. That is what we need."

Dick Cheney: 'I Worship The Ground Paul Ryan Walks On'

Sarah Palin: “I love Paul Ryan’s plan.”


Mitt Romney: ?????????  “The Ryan plan and my plan are on the same page, we have the same objectives,” Romney said. “My plan is different than his, it’s not identical. But I applaud the fact that he put forward a plan.”Still, Romney would not elaborate on what he himself would do, saying he’s still an undeclared presidential candidate and would give detailed proposals later. “I will be happy to describe my specific plan, but clearly at this stage that’s still a little premature,” he said.


235 House and 40 Senate Republicans: “Aye.”

05.26.11 | permalink

Paul Ryan gets defensive over “shocking” NY-26 GOP loss seen as “rebuke” to his plan to end Medicare

May 25, 2011

Paul Ryan gets defensive over "shocking" NY-26 GOP loss seen as "rebuke" to his plan to end Medicare


In response to these sobering headlines this morning …


Associated Press: ‘Medicare key to shocking Dem win in NY House race’

New York Times: ‘Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat; Rebuke Seen to Medicare Plan’


…Congressman Paul Ryan, architect of the wildly unpopular, “radical” Republican plan to “essentially end Medicare and double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs so millionaires, Big Oil and job-outsourcing corporations can have another tax break, had this to say on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning:


‘There is a Medicare story to be told here ... and it's that the president and his party have decided to shamelessly distort and demagogue Medicare…. If you can scare seniors into thinking that their current benefits are being affected, that’s going to have an effect. And that is exactly what took place here. So yes, yes, it’s demagoguery, it’s scaring seniors.”

A) It must have been another Paul Ryan from Wisconsin who during the health care reform debate took to the House floor to “shamelessly distort and demagogue” the Affordable Care Act and “scare seniors”, falsely claiming the reform would “take coverage away from seniors”.  Not only do seniors on Medicare have all the same guaranteed benefits they’ve always had since the ACA was signed into law, Medicare is today stronger than ever before and seniors are today enjoying new benefits that will get even better over time.  As the AARP wrote to their membership: “The New Health Care Law and You. If you are on Medicare: Your guaranteed Medicare benefits are protected and you will receive improved benefits. Changes to Medicare will lower the out-of-pocket cost for the prescription drugs you need to stay healthy and expand the preventive care you can get for free.” 


B) Ryan doesn’t deny that future seniors under 55 will see their guaranteed benefits disappear under his plan after leaving them to the mercy of the private insurance industry. But Ryan doesn’t pass the laugh test claiming today’s seniors wouldn’t see their current benefits affected under his plan –Ryan seems to think pointing out the facts about his plan is “demagoguery”:

  • In 2012 alone, nearly four million seniors nationwide would pay $2.2 billion more for prescription drugs under the Republican plan.  [DPCC Report]
  • Wonk Room: ‘Why Seniors 55 And Older Will See Changes In Medicare Under Ryan’s Budget’
  • Under The Republican Plan, At Least One Million Seniors and People With Disabilities Will Pay Over $110 Million More For Their Annual Wellness Visits In 2012. At least 1,000,000 seniors are expected to see their physician for an annual wellness visit in 2012. These visits are critical to positive health outcomes for seniors across the country. As a result of the Republican plan, these seniors would each pay an additional $160 for the first visit and $105 for a subsequent visit. [HHS, 3/16/11; Kaiser State Health Facts, accessed on 5/5/11]
  •  All Seniors Enrolled In Medicare Will Be Forced to Pay More for Health Care Services Under the Republican Plan.  The Republican plan will require that seniors pay deductibles, co-insurance, and copayments for many preventive services currently covered by Medicare; including cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies as well as annual wellness visits. Seniors could be forced to pay for many other health services that Medicare currently covers free of charge to the patient, including mammograms; colorectal, cervical and prostate cancer screening; cholesterol and other cardiovascular screenings; diabetes screening and flu shots. [HHS, 11/4/10]



05.25.11 | permalink

“GOP shapes Medicare response” – i.e. wax nostalgic about wasteful subsidies to Big Insurance

May 24, 2011


Politico: “GOP shapes Medicare response” – i.e. wax nostalgic about wasteful subsidies to Big Insurance


Buckle up, America – Congressional Republicans are preparing to respond to the well-deserved criticism they’ve received in town halls across the country for their votes and intended votes for a wildly unpopular, “radical” plan to “essentially end Medicare and double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs so millionaires, Big Oil and outsourcing corporations can have another tax break.


And that response is …


to wax nostalgic about billions of dollars in wasteful and needless subsidies once given to the big insurance companies to inefficiently reinvent the Medicare wheel at the expense of all beneficiaries.   No, seriously.


From Politico’s Ben Smith today:


Sen. Chuck Schumer vowed yesterday to make the Medicare changes in Paul Ryan's budget a defining campaign issue for Senate Republicans in 2012 -- but Republicans plan to respond by reviving criticism of cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that were built into the 2010 health care bill.


Republicans in Congress are so desperate to distract the American people about their plan to end Medicare that they plan to dust off the old 2010 play book and try to pull the same dirty, trick play: that is to purposely try to scare and mislead seniors into believing that their Medicare benefits are getting cut under the new health care law.    Ignoring the conclusions to the contrary at the time from independent fact checkers and the AARP, during the 2010 election, one after another, Republicans falsely accused their Democratic opponents of cutting Medicare’s guaranteed benefits and they did so with the help of millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of deceitful TV ads from Corporate front groups. 


The fact is, it’s been over a year since the Affordable Care Act became law and no senior has seen their guaranteed benefits cut … period. What the new health law did cut, as part of its efforts to rein in waste and abuse in the system, was billions of dollars in wasteful in subsidies to private insurance companies that offer the so-called Medicare Advantage program, a program which needlessly and inefficiently reinvents the Medicare wheel at the expense of all beneficiaries.  


As the Economic Policy Institute put it before the ACA became law: “In a nut shell, Medicare Advantage plans are private plans funded through Medicare to provide similar benefits, but at a 14% higher cost on average, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency. Eliminating these overpayments would free up $157 billion over 10 years.”


And as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted in a 2009 report: “The overpayments, which have totaled nearly $44 billion between 2004 and 2008, average more than $1,100 for each beneficiary enrolled in a private plan. By increasing Medicare costs, these overpayments also drive up premiums for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare by $86 per year for a couple, according to the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More than 31 million seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in regular Medicare are forced to pay higher premiums each month to subsidize these excess payments.’

SEE ALSO: Med Page Today, Nov. 26, 2008: “Private Medicare Costs More Than Traditional Plans Without Quality Improvement”

By eliminating these wasteful subsidies to the private insurance industry, Medicare is today stronger than it has ever been before.  Not only did the health law strengthen Medicare’s solvency by 12 years and not only do Medicare beneficiaries still have all the same guaranteed benefits they’ve always had, but seniors now have NEW benefits like free preventive care services and tens of thousands of enrollees who fall into the infamous Part D “donut hole” are saving an average of $800 per person thanks to a new 50-percent discount on covered brand-name drugs.  And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in the system is getting tackled in a serious way – you may have see this recent headline: “In ‘Largest-Ever’ Bust, Medicare Fraud Task Force Arrests 111’ 


And the fact is, far from their campaign promises to protect Medicare, all but 5 House Republicans voted to dismantle the cherished social contract with seniors and dramatically shortchange them on their care.  As The Economist puts it, the GOP plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance.”  


The fact is, House Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system where seniors in their 60s, 70s, 80s and older are given a coupon and sent out into the private insurance market – a coupon that won’t keep up with the rising costs of health care and will leave seniors paying over $6,000 more out of their pockets for care.   Not stopping there, the Republican plan would also slash $1.4 trillion from Medicaid, leaving up to 44 million Americans uninsured, including most nursing home residents, as well as disabled people of any age.  And despite Republican claims to the contrary, not even today’s seniors would escape cuts in their Medicare benefits under the GOP plan as it would repeal provisions in the new health law that are working to fill in the Part D “donut hole” and help seniors pay for the medicines they need. In fact, under the GOP plan, next year alone, seniors currently in the donut hole would pay an additional $2.2 Billion for their Rx drugs.


Bottom Line: If Republicans in Congress think mourning the loss of needless subsidies to the big insurance companies will distract the American people about their plan to end Medicare as we know it, they’re sorely mistaken. 

05.24.11 | permalink

Senate GOP Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t Vote to End Medicare

May 23, 2011


Senate GOP Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t Vote to End Medicare and Double Seniors’ Out-of-Pocket Costs to Pay for Another Millionaires' Tax Break


Decisions, Decisions: Face The Ire of Their Constituents…or the Republican Party Establishment?


SEE: Associated Press: ‘Poll: Medicare doesn't have to be cut’ – see also Huffington Post: ‘Medicare Cuts Unpopular In Swing States, Polls Suggest’


See Also: Tea Leaves: Fire Red NY-26 District in Jeopardy for Republicans After the GOP Candidate’s Support for the Ryan Plan Becomes Central Issue in Special Election


With the Senate expected to vote this week on the House Republican plan to turn Medicare into Coupon Care and double seniors’ out-of-pocket costs so millionaires can have another tax break, the latest polls out show Senate Republicans have a tough choice to make.  Will they join 235 of their House colleagues in voting for a plan the American people are “not buying” and too face the ire of their constituents back home?   Or will they vote ‘no’ and incur the wrath of the Republican Party establishment that left former Speaker Newt Gingrich begging for mercy last week after he dared to call the Ryan plan what it is: “radical change.”   


Senate Republicans need only look at the special election taking place in New York’s 26th congressional district tomorrow to see how a vote to end Medicare would be as well received back home as a bed bug infestation.  In what was supposed to be a shoo-in and instead has remarkably become a toss-up, Republican Jane Corwin is running neck-and-neck in the polls in a heavily-Republican district (that has elected only three Democrats since 1857) in a race where Corwin’s enthusiastic support of the Ryan plan has taken center stage. 


Senate Republicans need only look at Newt Gingrich to see how they’re “damned if they don’t” vote to end Medicare so Big Oil and GE can pay even less taxes.  The spectacle of the former House Speaker’s whiplash-inducing 180 and apology tour after calling the Ryan plan “right-wing social engineering” made clear there’s a new litmus test for the Republican party and if you’re not for ending Medicare, the reaction is acidic.


No doubt Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) can expect the same tongue-lashing from the Party establishment today after going from “thank[ing] God” for the Ryan plan to now declaring he will not vote for it in an op-ed today.  Brown echoed what a chorus of independent analysts has long-since concluded: “Why can’t I go along with the Ryan Medicare plan?  First, I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support— and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays.”    No doubt Senator Brown is today receiving fewer angry calls from seniors he represents at the same time finding it more difficult to get his Party’s elite to take his. 



05.23.11 | permalink

It’s Been an Especially Extreme Week for the GOP

May 19, 2011


It’s Been an Especially Extreme Week for the GOP


First, Supporting the Wildly Unpopular House Republican Plan for Eliminating Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires Became the New GOP Litmus Test as Former GOP Speaker Gingrich Incurred the Wrath of the Party Establishment After Calling the Ryan Plan What It Is -- “Radical Change” :


CNN:  Newt Gingrich sparked this firestorm on Sunday when talking about Ryan's Medicare proposal, saying, "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate."  Since then Gingrich has apologized to Ryan and conducted interviews with conservative commentators in what appears to be an attempt of damage control.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer is also weighing in on the Gingrich controversy, saying on Twitter Wednesday that the "biggest takeaway from the Gingrich flap – ending Medicare as we know it is the new GOP litmus test."

Meanwhile, at the same time the GOP establishment was turning up the heat on Newt for assailing the “radical” Ryan plan, House Republicans continued to feel the heat back home in their districts for voting for it :

Las Vegas Review-Journal: ‘Heck town hall meeting sparks passions’
VIDEO: Town Hall Constituents To Rep. Allen West: ‘Hands Off Medicare!’

Palm Beach Post: At town hall meetings, critics confront GOP Rep. West over Medicare cuts
Duluth News Tribune: Sparks fly in Cravaack’s visit to Iron Range.

Sun Sentinel: Rep. Allen West faces tough questions at town hall in Pompano Beach.

AP: Freshman Rep. Cravaack defends Medicare vote

Herald-Review: Schilling defends possible changes to Medicare during town hall in Decatur

Then on Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked legislation supported by more than 70% of the American public to eliminate $21 billion in wasteful and unnecessary subsidies for the five largest, most profitable oil companies in the world that made $30 billion in profit in just the first quarter of 2011 :


New York Times: The Senate on Tuesday blocked a Democratic proposal to strip the five leading oil companies of tax breaks that backers of the measure said were unfairly padding industry profits while consumers were struggling with high gas prices. … The defeat on Tuesday was expected since most Republicans were dug in against what they saw as a politically motivated plan in advance of the 2012 elections. … Under the proposal, Democrats would have eliminated five different tax breaks enjoyed by the multinational oil companies, producing an estimated $21 billion over 10 years.


And Throughout the Week, More and More House and Senate Republicans Climbed Aboard the “Default Deniers” Crazy Train, Despite Warning from the Economic, Financial and Business Communities of the Dire Consequences of Failing to Raise the Debt Ceiling, including “likely push[ing] the U.S. into recession and drag down the stock market” :


Politico, May 17: Default deniers: The new skeptics They are the newest breed of government skeptics, the swelling ranks of Republicans who don’t believe the Obama administration when it says a failure to raise the debt limit will prove catastrophic.   And they stand ready to make negotiations over raising the cap on debt as grueling as possible, making Treasury officials and Wall Street more nervous than ever that the country could suffer an unprecedented default with consequences no one can predict.  The suspicion, which once flourished on only the conservative outskirts of economic circles, has seeped into the mainstream in recent weeks, gaining broader acceptance among establishment Republicans, even as the administration issues increasingly dire warnings. 


MSNBC: GOP congressman: Default would benefit the U.S.  By now, it shouldn't be a surprise that House Republicans are against raising the debt ceiling -- unless it's joined by a significant effort to reduce spending.  But it is surprising when one GOP member says that defaulting on the debt and going through "a period of crisis" could actually be a good thing. California Congressman Devin Nunes (R) said in an interview:  “By defaulting on the debt, in the short and long term, it could benefit us to go through a period of crisis that forces politicians to make decisions” on major policies that affect the budget, he told POLITICO.


Think Progress: Toomey: ‘I Doubt’ That Failing To Raise The Debt Ceiling ‘Would Be Disruptive To The Economy’: As former Reagan economic official Bruce Bartlett noted, “failure to raise the debt limit not only threatens a default that could potentially roil the entire world financial system, but would potentially deprive federal workers of their salaries, deny payments to businesses for goods and services sold to the federal government, renege on Social Security benefits to retirees, and shortchange savers who depend on interest income.” Bank of America analysts noted that not raising the debt ceiling “would necessitate politically unpopular and potentially economically crippling budget cuts that would likely push the U.S. into recession and drag down the stock market.” It would also make paying off the debt much more expensive (through higher interest rates). Those sure sound like adverse effects.



05.19.11 | permalink

House GOP Back Home On Recess, Back Facing “catcalls,” “booing,” “hostile questions”

May 17th, 2011

House GOP Back Home On Recess, Back Facing “catcalls,” “booing,” “hostile questions” After Voting to End Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires, Big Oil


WGN 9 Chicago Evening News, 5/16/11: “‘Hands off my Medicare!’ was the message outside as Representative Paul Ryan was inside the Palmer House Hilton speaking to the Economic Club of Chicago.  The Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee talking about his plan to cut and balance the budget which includes a controversial proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Dozens of protesters marched outside chanting “Tax the Rich!” and carrying signs that read ‘Hands of My Social Security!’ and ‘Paul Ryan Plan: Let Them Eat Cat Food.’”



Watch It Here: 



Columbian (Vancouver, WA), 5/16/11: Crowd pulls few punches at Herrera Beutler town hall: U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler faced a boisterous, partisan crowd Tuesday evening at her first Vancouver town hall, where she fielded sometimes hostile questions about her vote to restructure Medicare and her reluctance to support raising the federal debt limit… Several hundred people showed up at Skyview High School for the session. They passed a couple dozen protesters near the entrance who hoisted signs saying, “Save Medicare: Tax the Rich” and “People not Profits.” … “My first priority is to preserve and protect Medicare for the present generation and for future generations,” she said. But when she insisted that the Republican budget blueprint for 2012 “protects Medicare,” a chorus of boos and catcalls and shouts of “liar” erupted in the auditorium.


MSNBC, 5/16/11: For one Rep., a mixed reaction on the Medicare voteFirst-term Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler faced down some catcalls and booing at a two-hour town hall meeting with about 500 constituents Monday night at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash.


KSAZ FOX 10 (Phoenix), 5/16/11: Congressman Quayle Takes Heat for Medicare Decision: ANTHEM, Ariz. - It was one of the most provocative and memorable ads from last year's campaign. Ben Quayle, the son of former vice president Dan Quayle, while running for Congress proclaimed Barack Obama the worst president ever.  And he also made a memorable promise to voters: "I love Arizona, I was raised right, someone has to go to D.C. and knock the hell out of the place.” Monday night at a town meeting in Anthem, it was Ben Quayle who got beat up a bit while meeting with his constituents.  Many people in the crowd were fired up about about his stance on the proposed changes to the Medicare system. Quayle favors the Republican plan which would give seniors vouchers to buy health insurance on the private market.


Rep. Andy Harris takes Medicare budget debate to Berlin, Ocean City [Ocean City Today] “Harris brought the budget battle to Worcester County Saturday when he spoke at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City and at Showell Elementary School. […] Harris defended the fiscal 2012 budget proposal introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and approved by the Republican controlled House of Representatives. […] The auditorium was filled with senior citizens concerned about Medicare and, as with the numerous town hall meetings of 2009, the crowd reached pitched debate on health care issues. George Benton of West Ocean City was concerned about the costs for future generations and that costs could increase for existing beneficiaries within several years. “The Paul Ryan bill will kill Medicare as we know it,” argued Benton. “These good people want their tax dollars to go toward their grandchildrens’ costs. We’ve been borrowing all this money from China to pay for the Iraq War and for Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy.” [Ocean City Today, 5/13/11]


WPBF (Palm Beach, FL), 5/16/11: Congressman's Meeting Interrupted By Shouting.  Another town hall meeting organized by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, devolved into a shouting match Monday night. About 100 people came to hear the congressman speak. Police escorted one person out of the meeting.  But not everyone agreed with West's ideas on how to fix the nation's problems.


"I didn't agree with his explanation about Medicare. I'm very concerned about cutting Medicare and changing Medicare without looking at the revenue side," resident Dave King said.


Meanwhile, Speaker Boehner has decided to keep his head in the sand about the overwhelming public opposition to the Republican plan to do away with Medicare so billionaires(?) like Donald Trump can have another tax break, telling Face the Nation on Sunday:


REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: But you can ask any one of our members and they’ll tell you that on average eighty percent of the people at these town hall meetings--were supportive of taking big steps to put our fiscal House in order.

In reality, according to a recent poll conducted by The Hill:

By a 20-point margin, more Americans oppose Medicare cuts as part of action to control the deficit.

By a 32-point margin, American women and, by a 27-point margin, Americans age 40-64 oppose these cuts to Medicare.

57 percent of Independents and 89 percent of Democrats support rolling back tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 in an effort to reduce the deficit.

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