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Excerpt: "So now it's official. The 2012 campaign will be about the future of Medicare. (Yes, it will also be about jobs, but the Republicans haven't come up with any credible ideas on that front, and the Democrats seem incapable of doing what needs to be done.) This spells trouble for the GOP. Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans - even a majority of Republican voters - want to preserve Medicare."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

The Republican Death Wish

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

27 May 11


orty Senate Republicans have now joined their colleagues in the House to support Paul Ryan's plan that would turn Medicare into vouchers that funnel money to private health insurers. They thumbed their nose at the special election in upstate New York earlier this week that delivered a victory to Democrat Kathy Hochul, who made the plan the focus of her upset victory.

So now it's official. The 2012 campaign will be about the future of Medicare. (Yes, it will also be about jobs, but the Republicans haven't come up with any credible ideas on that front, and the Democrats seem incapable of doing what needs to be done.)

This spells trouble for the GOP. Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans - even a majority of Republican voters - want to preserve Medicare. They don't want to turn it over to private insurers.

It would be one thing if Republicans had consistency on their side. At least then they could take the high road and claim their plan is a principled way to achieve the aims of Medicare through market-based mechanisms. (It isn't, of course. It would end up squeezing seniors because it takes no account of the rising costs of health care.)

But they can't even claim consistency. Remember, this was the same GOP that attacked the President's health-reform plan in 2010 by warning it would lead to Medicare cuts.

Former President Bill Clinton counsels Democrats not to say Medicare is fine the way it is. He's right. But instead of talking about Medicare as a problem to be fixed, Democrats should start talking about it as a potential solution to the challenge of rising health-care costs - as well as to our long-term budget problem.

Can we be clear about that budget problem? It's not driven by Medicare. It's driven by the same relentlessly soaring health-care costs that are pushing premiums through the roof and causing middle-class families to shell out more and more money for deductibles and co-payments.

Some features of Obama's new healthcare law will slow the rise - insurance exchanges, for example, could give consumers clearer comparative information about what they're getting for their insurance payments - but the law doesn't go nearly far enough.

That's why Democrats should be proposing that anyone be allowed to sign up for Medicare. Medicare is cheaper than private insurance because its administrative costs are so much lower, and it has vast economies of scale.

If Medicare were allowed to use its potential bargaining leverage over America's hospitals, doctors, drug companies, and medical providers, it could drive down costs even further.

And it could force the nation's broken health-care system to do something it must do but has resisted with a vengeance: Focus on healthy outcomes rather on costly inputs. If Medicare paid for results - not tests, procedures, drugs, and hospital stays, but results - it could give Americans better health at lower cost.

Let the GOP go after Medicare. That will do more to elect Democrats in 2012 than anything else. But it would be wise and politically astute for Democrats to go beyond just defending Medicare. Strengthen and build upon it. Use it to reform American health care and, not incidentally, rescue the federal budget.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes. your social media marketing partner


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+51 # Kenneth D. Land 2011-05-27 23:10
Medicare and a major need of all seniors, who have already paid for it. This is going to be a major point of the beginning of the revolution that is pending and will happen. The fact that the government has taken a great amount of the Soc. Sec. fund, causing the deficit therein, is still not acknowledged by most people. When this sinks in, it means a riot.
+18 # Adoregon 2011-05-28 13:18
Keep your eyes on Vermont (which along with Oregon is one of the most progressive states)...

Copy and paste:

Single payer is what any U.S. citizen with the cognitive horsepower of a well nourished gerbil wants.
+36 # LegacyCost 2011-05-27 23:27
Wondrful someone with a voice saying what is obvious to so many of us advocating for real reform in health care finance. MEDICARE FOR ALL! Do You think you can get Bill to stop advising shills like Ryan on how to sell us a pig in a poke!
+43 # Hors-D-whores 2011-05-28 00:37
I hope that Hochul win is just the beginning of putting the GOP in their place. People under 55, believe it not, when you are 65 you will want medicare so help us fight back for you and the future of the health of this country, unless you wan to see your grandma and grandpa live under your roof.
+60 # giraffee2012 2011-05-28 00:55
The Deficiet is not caused by Medicare - 1. Put the real money drains on the table lined up like ducks: wars, banking mortgages with the housing market (and betting against....) and the lack of oversight (which has nothing to do with de-regulation) and the rebates to OIL, GE and others who don't pay taxes (loopholes) and the Bush Tax cuts (which have not trickled down but have trickled jobs OVERSEAS) ---

That is not a complete list.

Now the 2010 Supreme decision to give corporations first amendment rights -- has upped the problem so now we have the "best govt money can buy" (That decision is UNCONSTITUTIONA L and based on an 1813 "typo" by a Supreme) -- Impeach Scalia/Thomas who were wined/dined by Koch brothers before passing that Decision.

TParty wants smaller government? Then keep the government out of woman's uteruses! Separation of church/state.

Vote in 2012 -- and look at who is funding your candidate b4 you cast your vote for "him/her" --- The GOP is bought and paid for and unless you make a lot of $$ how can you vote for a GOP?

And this is my opinion
Thanks Robert Reich for the article -- please send a copy to each Democrat in Congress + President Obama
-13 # forparity 2011-05-28 15:34
For all practical purposes, there are three columns in budgets.

Revenue --- Spending --- balance + or (-)

Medicare is under the Spending column. It does contribute to deficits - just as does everything else in that column.
+12 # Anarchist 23 2011-05-28 22:23
Youu forgot to look at 'Revenue' and that would go up if the big corporations and CEOs paid their fair share! It is only a deficit if spending is greater than revenue!
+32 # Ralph Averill 2011-05-28 02:32
The Republicans have indeed shot themselves in the foot over Medicare. Their fear tactics have back-fired on them. However, although I believe that Obama will probably be re-elected, the 2012 election is still a ways off, and the Democrats have a talent for forming circular firing squads. One hopes that the Dems will focus their energies on Congressional races, especially for the House. It won't matter if Obama holds the White House if there is still a sand-bagging Republican majority in either house of Congress.
+1 # rm 2011-05-30 09:55
Yes, indeed, but let's hope it is more than a shot in the foot. Right between the eyes would be a lot nicer and would put an end to the republicans forever. The republican party was founded as the party of big business and banking. It has never cared at all about the well-being of the American people or the nation as a whole. It wins elections by fear and fraud. Let's hope this radical Ryan program will be its undoing.
+32 # J.Lind 2011-05-28 05:23
Bravo, Robert Reich!
Now if we can get Washington DC to listen!!
-3 # forparity 2011-05-28 17:57
Well, you'd have to get the people - the citizens - the voters - the vast majority of them to listen to Robert Reich. He is on the fringe 15-25%, compared to majority thinking.

And, that is how it is supposed to work. Everyone expresses their views and the people decide - Washington is to be a reflection of that.
+46 # sark 2011-05-28 06:11
Actually, I think getting rid of the electronic voting machines would do more toward electing those of the Democratic party but high voter turnout can help as we just saw in the NY race.

I would like to see Medicare reformed by going to Medicare for All. Getting rid of the "for profit health (not) insurance" companies would do a lot for the health and well-being of citizens.
+2 # giraffee2012 2011-05-28 21:22
Right on Sark
+23 # liberalman 2011-05-28 08:25
A film title comes to mind:"A Bridge To Far."
This GOP tries mightily to urn all matters involving profit motive over to their benefactors, the same group of ultra-wealthy that have always, but now due to a right wing activist SCOTUS decision can legally & openly purchase their lackeys of choice. Remember when Bush Lite hyped privatizing Social Security minutes before the great Wall Street explosion? There would have been devastating personal financial consequences for the average American. Now..finally now..Average Joe American should be able to see that the Great & Mighty Oz(corporations )are pulling the levers & pulleys behind the curtain of the GOP tent filled with all of it's bought & paid for performers. Say what you will per the Democrat party but they are & always have been the choice for decision making that benefits the masses for social good.
Wake up those of you Republicans that are not part of the few percent that control the wealth of this fine country & wish to not only keep it, but wish to add all of your remaining dollars to it's pockets!
+25 # reiverpacific 2011-05-28 08:35
It always amazes me that Robert Reich was Secretary of Labor for the Clinton administration, which screwed the poor right royally -even more than the Bushes either end of him who at least were clear about whose side they were on.
Reich has now emerged as one of the real voices of reason and substance on behalf of the increasingly submerged many-headed, with the depth of knowledge and progressive vision which elevates him well above the over-publicized talking heads, who tend to declaim out of their other ends, well-lubricated by the fruits of their pandering commercialism.
Per Medicaid, as I have found -it is anything but perfect. Well before one reaches eligible age (65), the junk-mail starts to flow from every organization under the national umbrella of the "Caring" professions, AARP to the big and not-so-big insurance-pharm aceutical complex, about how essential "Supplementary" private coverage is. On top of which, if you want Part "B" Medicare (doctor visits), they deduct $110 + from any S.S. you may be receiving and then you have to cough up even more for the other "Parts".
I'd like to see Medicare -which we have all paid into as part of our payroll deductions, or like me, as "Self-employmen t tax" (and therefore NOT an entitlement for "freeloaders"), be enfolded into a single-payer system for everybody.
+19 # genierae 2011-05-28 09:36
Thanks for mentioning the $110 monthly deduction that those on Medicare have to pay for Part B. I have also had to pay hundreds of dollars for procedures that Medicare only partly covers. These kind of payouts are never mentioned in the media, as if we get everything free. I am a minimalist when it comes to doctoring, I want no unnecessary tests and I go to the doctor only when I absolutely have to. Now that medicine has become profit-driven, I no longer trust the care, and the drugs that are offered to me. Expediency rules the day. With profits as the top priority, the medical profession has become just as prone to fraud, error and negligence as any other business. Greed rears its ugly head and corrupts everything it touches, including the care I receive from my doctor. As for AARP, they represent the rich and the rest of us must look out for ourselves. The final straw that made me cancel my membership was when they did a puff piece on George W. Bush, with not ONE mention of his crimes.
+7 # AndreM5 2011-05-28 14:59
Congratulations for recognizing what has always been the truth: AARP is simply an insurance company. It is not an advocate for seniors, it is a predator on seniors. AARP is in bed with pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street to the detriment of those it claims to represent. Who elected them to this calling anyway? No one. Be sure to enlighten your friends and family.
-1 # forparity 2011-05-28 15:16
Well, the $110 (Part B) is for lower income folks. Pres. Bush, in one effort to help save Medicare signed into law the rather progressive income tested premium scale.

For 2011 (just going to list the individual filing (tax) column. Monthly premiums for Part B:

$85,000 or below - $110
up to $107,000 - $161
up to $160,000 - $231
up to $214,000 - $300
above $214,000 - $369

What a crime??
+24 # CenTexDem 2011-05-28 08:36
The Dems are missing a great opportunity to save both Social Security and Medicare and to create jobs. They need to adopt the People's Budget of their progressive wing which cuts defense and government subsidies of the rich and makes the tax code more progressive. Families and small businesses earning less than $75,000 per year should pay no income tax so families can afford to educate their kids. They need to adopt a domestic natural gas energy policy and Obama's immigration reform. They need to get input from Americans on how to reduce health care costs and they need to explain the benefits of Medicare for All which will make small businesses competitive in the world economy. They need to get on a bus and share their ideas with regular Americans across America.
+6 # genierae 2011-05-28 14:30
Unfortunately adopting "a domestic natural gas energy policy" is proving to be a disaster in the making, mikuslaw. They are destroying groundwater systems and poisoning humans and animals in this harmful process. Pumping chemicals into the ground at very high pressure is also causing mini-quakes that could trigger big ones. This is not working and should be stopped. We must invest time and money into energy processes that do not destroy the environment that sustains us.
+8 # Dave W. 2011-05-28 14:32
mikuslaw, "The Dems are missing a great opportunity to save both Social Security and Medicare and to create jobs." This is reflective of today's Democratic party. THEY rarely stick together... on ANYTHING. "Blue Dogs" roam the chambers of Congress pissing on any notions of altruism whist we progressives count the number of "D's" in D.C. and wonder why the hell we're not doing better. If Democrats had actually stuck together in '08 we'd have single payer health care today. Oil companies would not be getting subsidized. The ball busting Bush Tax cuts would have been rescinded. Republicans/Ver min have been the enemy of poor and working class America since McKinley was elected in the gilded age of the 1890's. The further right they have gone has resulted in a number of Democrats following them. Ben Nelson, Senator from Nebraska calls himself a Democrat. He voted with the Republicans in 2010 over 90% of the time. That's Democrat?! We've known Republicans were the enemy for a long time. It's the knifes in the back, delivered by "D's" that is killing us. Who signed into law NAFTA and the repeal of Glass/Stegall? Who extended tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans for another two years/indefinit ely? Hint: "They" weren't Republicans.
+19 # jon 2011-05-28 08:42
The Republicans get ever more shrill in their adamant sticking to corporate shari'a fundamentalism. To compromise with them is like compromising with the devil - what ever you give in, is forever lost, an inch at a time.
+17 # genierae 2011-05-28 09:42
It is absolutely essential that we pressure our representatives in D.C. to protect Medicare and not allow Republicans to hold it hostage to raising the debt ceiling. Stand our ground, call their bluff, voila, they will cave.

Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121
+2 # giraffee2012 2011-05-28 21:24
genierea - right -- it's the wars and "funding the oil companies" "banks" and those who do NOT pay taxes! Trickling our jobs overseas --
+22 # KLHoover 2011-05-28 09:47
I agree with most of Mr Reich's comments but don't get how even the liberal Mr Reich can omit acknowledgment of where the heart of the budget problem lies: the steadily engulfing defense budget. Why is this elephant in the room consistently let out the back door before discussion starts on our troublesome deficit?
Medicare indeed needs to be reformed but we're led to believe that it is shameful that we are spending so much on the welfare of our population while it's OK to maintain a gushing pipeline of taxpayer money into the pockets of defense contractors.... .
+15 # wanda 2011-05-28 09:50
As usual Robert is right. I don't see Democrats taking on any real reforms even while they plan to hammer Republicans in order to win in 2012. I'm so disgusted with both parties. Reppublicans are the party of "NO" vision and "NO" care. Democrats are so gutless that they passed a weak health care reform packagethat was a Republican plan years before and to which Republicans didn't vote for anyway. We need to get rid of Blue Dogs and Republicans in Washington if we the people want policies that ensure a balance between the greed of capitalism and the needs of dignity. Voting for the Party of NO is just plain stupid.
Americans also need to decide what they want to pay for and expect the value from that payment. If not, we'll be paying taxes and get nothing in return.
+12 # ruthee 2011-05-28 10:14
As I read these marvelous comments from my fellow voters, seems to me they all point out the practice of America's most powerful liars, our senators and reps. Granted, a small percentage of these government whores are likely honest people who sincerely work for the welfare of our Country. But outright lying and obfuscation have become the stock in trade of our "public servants!"
It is well known that our "public servants" STOLE funds from S. Security to use as they pleased. Did we complain? How? Writing in a journal online will do nothing other than make said "public servants" smile! Until we are at least fragiley organized and together wield power, we are nothing.
How to do that? God grant us the wills and the intellects to provide plans. ruth mckenney Springfield, Mo.
+13 # Susan O. Foster 2011-05-28 12:15
Actually, when the Social Security fund was put into the general fund, there were demonstrations on top of letters -which I had to hand write in those days. As usual it was underreported if at all, and demonstrators were dismissed as "commies" as is always the case with opposition to war or economic abuse.
+13 # Lulie 2011-05-28 10:17
Unfortunately, it doesn't really register with young people that they too will be old one day, and they'll need Medicare and Social Security.
Even with these programs, many old people today are barely making it financially. I've seen it estimated that if you are at retirement age right now, you'll need something like a million dollars in savings to live the rest of your life at a middle-class level. What will the amount be when today's 20-year-olds are ready to retire?
The right-wing power structure doesn't care about Medicare or Social Security, or any other social programs, because they have plenty of money, and they're fine with "every man for himself."
The younger generations HAVE to make Medicare and Social Security top priorities. We all need to not only preserve these programs, but improve them. Everyone in this country should receive or be able to buy into Medicare. That would result in healthy medical and economic systems, as well as healthy people -- old and young. Privatization would bring about the death of the programs and of people.
+21 # jrk8z 2011-05-28 10:25
I am usually in agreement with Dr. Reich; but in this instance Dr. Reich writes "Can we be clear about that budget problem? It's not driven by Medicare. It's driven by the same relentlessly soaring health-care costs.." I agree, the problem is not Medicare but take issue with the cost driver being "healthcare costs". He has inappropriately linked "insurance costs" with "healthcare costs", they are not the same. E.G. the cost of administrating Medicare is 2% and represents the cost of the insuring seniors. America's "healthcare crisis" is in fact an "INSURANCE crisis". Private insurance is the main cause of this crisis. Greedy private insurance companies directly consume 20% to 40% of every health care dollar spent on profit, advertisement & administration and indirectly consume an 10% to 15% in paperwork and clerical work associated with difficult & bureaucratic issues that the insurance companies force upon doctors, hospitals and patients. These private insurance companies consume half of our healthcare dollars, they leave Americans to pay for large portions of their own healthcare and limit doctors to lower and lower payments. Additionally, by rationing care for greed, these insurance companies actually lower the access and quality of healthcare in the United State.

"In short" Private Insurance companies are not the solution to our problem; they ARE the problem.
+14 # DesignCreature 2011-05-28 10:31
Rein in the insurance companies and big pharma and Medicare will take care of itself. Won't happen, but one can only hope.
+12 # soularddave 2011-05-28 12:01
The GOP healthcare plan is obvious - "die quickly". That's why they don't want to allow for environmental regulations, safety, public health care, or retirement money to flowing to older people. They don't want to spend money on educating or protecting the youngest citizens, but they do spend money on adjusting the perception and conversation about everything, so it suits their grand plan for us.

Eliminate the generous retirement plan for Congresspeople, and send them home to get a real job.
-24 # forparity 2011-05-28 12:30
Ah, a view from Robert Reich, the man who supports throwing granny over the cliff:

Sep' 26, 2007, in a lecture to UC Berkeley students how under reform, rationing [death panels] would work. Note - Reich is explaining how "he" would reform health care:

"We're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too we're going to let you die."

Even with that, he says that proper health care reform will result in us paying more money - not less:

" young people are going to have to pay more."

And so far, we know that part is proving to be true.
+7 # genierae 2011-05-28 14:45
forparity, I find it hard to believe that Robert Reich said "so we're going to let you die." I think what he was talking about was the end-of-life decisions that most of us will have to make. If our chances of survival are slim to none, do we really want chemo when it will only make us sicker, do we want extraordinary measures taken right up to our last breath, or do we want to go home and die in peace, with our families around us? I will gladly say no to procedures that will only prolong my pain and prop up a dying body. If it saves Medicare money, that's fine with me.
-5 # forparity 2011-05-28 15:07
Hard to believe? It's a quote. His words of what an idea presidential candidate [Democrat] would say - would present - if he didn't really care about being elected.

In other words, here is what we must do - but if we actually spell it out in public - they're not going to elect us to do it.
+11 # JCM 2011-05-28 15:04
You are greatly misrepresenting this lecture. He is speaking as a fictitious presidential candidate explaining some of the more harsh realities about our present health care system.
-9 # forparity 2011-05-28 16:07
Well, my response did not get posted. Yes, he is - as I attempted to explain - but it's his view that he is presenting. That is very clear. You can't solve this massive problem without massive pay cuts - all across the board (doctors, nurses, centers, specialists (will have to weaned out), technology, drugs and drug research, etc. Wait times will go way up. Elective surgeries will be pared (hip replacements, knee, reconstructive, etc). and with rationing care.

Like other single payer systems do. Like Medicare does.

Medicare payments to doctors and other services does not keep our system rich - it's the private sector. Medicare pays squat to providers. And, as noted elsewhere here, Medicare is not a comprehensive plan - -that's why folks purchase private supplement plans. And thanks to Bush - Medicare members got a Rx benefit for the first time in history - and a progressive premium scale for Part B.
+9 # Elliot Hoffman 2011-05-28 13:35
As usual, Bob Reich articulate the issues with clarity and sanity. The deeper issue here - that Dems must someday focus on- is the civil war that is raging in our nation. The "civility war" is about lies, untruths and mean spiritedness rampant on the right wing of what used to be the Repub party. These are not Repubs - these are liars.

The civil war is about the life and values of our Democracy and our country. Are we a government of, by and for the people or are we a government of, by and for major corporations and Wall Street?

R's generally stand for the latter; D generally for the people.

Medicare is a major symptom of this civil war. We don't need health insurance; we need health care. Truth - the American people are being ripped off. Fact - the next 6 highest cost countries spend half what we do per capita on health care for their citizens (these are our allies). These 6 countries are rated as the top 6 in terms of quality health care results by the World Health Organization. America is rated 36th - just above Cuba and Latvia. Wake up, citizens - we are being raped by the economically powerful who own our political "leaders."

Medicare for all is the key option - if you want to opt out and pay exorbitant insurance premiums to those who will do what it takes to deny coverage, please, be my guest.
Elliot Hoffman.
+4 # genierae 2011-05-28 18:22
I think that the overreach of the current crop of Republicans is bringing about a consciousness-r aising that is spreading across this country. AND ABOUT TIME!! They have insulted the intelligence of the American people one too many times, and now they must face the consequences. The sleeping giant is waking up at last.
+4 # genierae 2011-05-28 19:32
I just ran across a quote that fits your comment pretty well, Mr. Hoffman:

"I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends...that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them." Adlai Stevenson
+2 # wfalco 2011-05-28 19:45
Down here in the swamps of Florida a new governor named Rick Scott got rich on Medicare FRAUD. And he still got elected due to voter apathy, a weak Democratic candidate, and the mighty Tea Party.
Mr. Scott only speaks to the Tea Party choir. Just the other day he made an appearance at a conservative retirement community to sign the state budget with all of its record cuts. Democrats that attempted to attend the ceremony were escorted out by the police. By the way, Scott's approval rating is near the bottom for governors nation wide.
So perhaps the Party (as in Tea) is over.
Even the most rabid Tea drinker prefers our politicians to keep their hands off his Medicare. Looks like the Repugs made a fatal error.
+5 # giraffee2012 2011-05-28 21:21
Here's FOOD for the Dems to discredit Ryan's proposition: If you are under 55 - do you still have to pay into Social Security/Medicare?

You bet you do! In other words - you keep paying for something that gives you about a $1700 / year voucher!

The TAX is mandatory! But you will be paying in MUCH more over your lifetime than that voucher!

Dems-- come on- The best defense is a good offense. Start offending the Ryan "fix" for the deficiet.

The wars are making money for "private contractors" for "aircraft and gun makers" and the banks probably "bet" on the wars too.

Why would our government want to "FIX" foreign countries (roads, schools, etc) when OURS are falling apart?

$$$$. As long as the Supremes keep the UNCONSTITUTIONA L decision that gave corporations first amendment rights - to BUY our government --- we have to "fight with out votes"

Vote 2012 -- and look who is funding the person you're thinking of voting for.

Me? I'm voting demo -- cuz I do not want another "W" in the W.H. or a Walker type in the Congress.

And the GOP is tricking you with rhetoric about abortion - Hyde bill!

VOTE 2012 (they have not taken that right away from us YET)
+4 # wfalco 2011-05-29 09:56
You are absolutely correct giraffee2012.
But down here in the sun baked swamps of FL. the Republican state legislature and THE MEDICARE FRAUDSTER Governor passed legislation restricting voting rights and ability to vote. College students, for example, who change residences frequently will be given the almighty "provisional" ballot-meaning it won't be counted.
They have also set limitations on early voting days which helps the working man by providing the extra time needed. Also limits on the amount of time provided to turn in names from voting registration drives. The obvious intent is to prevent likely Democratic voters from casting a ballot. It is so blatantly obvious and the Republicans don't care how it looks.
My hope is that this overwhelming confidence in bamboozling the public will finally backfire. Let's see what happens.
+5 # Elliot Hoffman 2011-05-29 10:54
The raging conversation around deficits. A little history and truth.
1. U.S. National deficits: 1776 -1980 - 200 years - accumulated total deficits - $1 Trillion (200 years = $1 trillion!)
2. Ronald Reagan - slashes taxes, balloons military spending, promises balanced budget - results: adds about $3 Trillion to national debt in 8 years
3. Bush 1 - adds approximately $1 trillion to deficit in 4 years
4. Clinton (Reich on the team) - lowers deficits by @ $1 Trillion(?)
5. Bush 2 - turns projected $5 Trillion surplus to $5 Trillion deficit by slashing taxes for wealthy and launching 2 wars

Results - Republican raise deficits from 1980-2008 from $1T - $12 Trillion, Dems (Clinton) lowers by $1 T. Obama inherits
collapsed economy and must pick up the slack by adding to deficit.

Republicans add $$11Trillion to national debt over 20 years, Republican tax and Wall Street policies and de-regulation kills the economy and jobs. The Dems let them get away with all this with barely a peep about history and how we got into this mess.
-9 # forparity 2011-05-29 15:16
Reich on the team - that's funny. Some understanding you have of economies there.

Try this. By the end of 2003 - the shift from projected surpluses to accumulated deficits (2001, 2001, and 2003 combined) was approx. $1.3 Trillion. Note: at end of 2003 fiscal year, the deficit was $378 billion.

Now - Just exactly what did Bush do to Clinton's 2001 budget and his 2002-03 budgets to blow $1.3 Trillion?

Hint - the Iraq war costs thru that period were $54 bill. total. The Democrats rebate in 2001-2002 was $60 billion. The remainder of the Bush stimulus (tax cuts) cumulative, was around $265 billion. (Wow that stimulus rather pales compared to the Obama stimulus.)

Look - I'll defend the numbers, at the turn, for Obama and what he inherited in the same fashion. They both inherited disasters - Obama, by far the larger of the two.

I'm not inclined to blame Bush more for the 2007 crisis, any more than I am inclined to blame Clinton for the 2000 Enron bubble crash. And, I'm not inclined to blame Bush any more for the Housing bubble (which he inherited - and fed) any more than I am Clinton. I'd note that Obama supported the birth of the housing bubble.
-4 # Michelle 2011-05-29 22:45
Yes, wonderful... wonderful... What exactly does Mr. Reich mean by: " If Medicare paid for results - not tests, procedures, drugs, and hospital stays, but results - it could give Americans better health at lower cost." -- This sounds like typical non-sensical liberal rhetoric... how do you get results without tests or procedures or drugs and hospitals? I suppose we should have practitioners pull out their hocus pocus hat and just wish upon a star for "results." Yes, leave it to Mr. Reich to discuss Medicare -- a program designed for the elderly... May I just present this one quote: "We are going to have to, if you are very old, we’re not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you MAYBE going for another couple of months. It’s too expensive. So, were going to let you die. – Robert Reich, 9/26/07.
+2 # alice indigo 2011-05-30 10:31
I agree that Democrats should be proposing that anyone be allowed to sign up for Medicare. Hope they won't get off track by huge contributions from insurance industry.
While we're at it, bring our troops home - pay them to help us build up the US again. Better to pay for building than for killing.
And, eliminate tax cuts for the richest people and corporations.
Focusing on those three items alone will save our budget problems and improve our lives.
+1 # bobby t. 2011-05-30 13:04
to michelle above: one third of all one ever spends on health comes in your last year of life. look it up. that is a disgrace. and a scam.
the only culture that got it right were the arctic eskimos. when their teeth fell out and they couldn't work any more, they went out on the ice to die. they understood that the children would not get enough food to eat if they stayed. and who is more important? we make decisions based on survival of the species, or the species dies. i can't make it plainer than that.
-1 # Lulie 2011-06-01 17:13
Just wait. Your turn will come -- before you know it.
+1 # darkpriest 2011-05-30 18:22
The biggest truth that is not being said is about the TRILLIONS that Congress has "borrowed" from both Social Security and Medicare. Now, they don't want to pay it back because they have given the money to the elite. 17.2% of the national debt is owed to the Social Security Trust Fund. THAT MY FRIENDS IS WHY THE PUSH IS ON TO PRIVATIZE... THAT PLUS BEING ABLE TO SKIM OFF BILLIONS IN CEO BONUSES. IN ADDITION, LET US NOT FORGET THE 17 TRILLION THAT THE FED GAVE THE BANKS IN BUSH'S LAST YEAR AS PRESIDENT. WHAT DID THEY DO WITH THE MONEY? PERHAPS BOUGHT BONDS FROM OUR "LENDERS" IN ORDER TO CASH IN AND DESTROY SOCIAL SECURITY?
0 # Gil Rapp 2011-05-31 11:17
I not your last statement on Medicare. I agreed except to expect republicans to make any reasonable suggestions is a strained oxymoron.
Best regards,
Gil Rapp
0 # SOF 2011-06-01 10:18
- If we had government single payer healthcare like civilized countries we would pay the average 3% instead of 30% on administration costs AND the government would be less likely to sanction neurotoxins and carcinogens and untested GMOs because they would have to pay for resulting health effects.
- Now we understand how the good people of Germany let their country slide into fascism.

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