A Medicare Phase-Out By Any Other Name Still Stinks

The Republicans voted to phase out Medicare and use the money for even more tax cuts for the rich. The public found out and turned out. So now they are coming up with new ways to mask the same thing. They call them “triggers,” “across-the-board cuts” and “spending caps” but these are all really just about cutting Medicare and Social Security and education and giving more and more tax cuts to the rich. Please don’t be fooled. And please get active and let them know you do not like what they are up to.
The “Ryan Plan” To Phase Out Medicare
A Republican named Paul Ryan came up with a plan to phase out Medicare and use the money to give even more tax cuts to the rich. Hence the name “Ryan Plan.” The plan replaces Medicare with a “premium support” voucher that covers some of the cost of insurance, (as if an ill 80-year-old can get insurance at all. The trick was to start the phase-out in 10 years, hoping people won’t notice.
While this phase-out of Medicare cuts “government spending” it just shifts that cost to you and me, and actually dramatically increases the overall costs. The Center for Economic and Policy Research calculates that it adds $7 in individual costs (you and me) for every $1 it cuts in “government spending.” But the mask that it cuts “government spending” gives them cover for even more tax cuts at the top.
Town Hall Anger
Last week every Republican in the House (save for a few) voted to say, “Yes, let’s do this.” Then they went home and met with constituents at town hall meetings, and were surprised to learn that regular people are smarter than they thought they were. They thought they could just slip this past people, under the cover of deficit hysteria. Instead people shows up at town hall meetings demanding answers. And they were not happy about what the Republicans were doing.


So now, returning from exposure to the unwashed masses they are saturating the airwaves with corporate-funded propaganda, ads with soothing voices telling us how good for us the Republican plan to get rid of Medicare will be. And they are working on new plans to do the same thing, but to make it less obvious what they are up to. “Triggers. “Caps.” “Across-the-board cuts (that leave out military and cut taxes at the top.)” Etc.
The Polls
Poll after poll after poll after poll shows that the public understands where the deficits came from — tax cuts for the rich, huge increases in military spending and the costs of the recession — and wants their government to fix these causes of the deficit. But the people are not in control of the government, the powerful few who own the giant corporations are, so the government keeps coming back again and again with schemes to cut the things government does for We, the People and use the savings to cut taxes on the wealthy and the corporations.
Demand The Details
Do not accept any plan that does not detail specifically what they are doing to fix the problems. Any plan that does not clearly raise taxes on the rich, cut the military spending and provide jobs and a solid economic foundation for the future by investing in infrastructure and alternative energy is not addressing the problems. (The People’s Budget is a plan that does these things.)
These are the things that the public is demanding. This is why the powerful forces in control of the government keep coming up with shadowy detail-free schemes like “triggers” and “spending caps.” They are trying to mask tax cuts for the rich and cuts in the things We, the People do for each other like Medicare, Social Security and education.
Get Angry
We are bombarded with scheme after scheme to take away what is ours, so that a wealthy few can have even more. They have plan after plan. Here is comedian Lee Camp explaining that “Evil People Have Plans“:

Don’t just take it, foil their plans. React. Get angry.
And then:
Get Active
Get out there and get your voice heard. Call your member of Congress and both senators. Show up at town hall meetings and demonstrations and protests. Sign up to be on mailing lists of organizations like Campaign for America’s Future, MoveOn, Srengthen Social Security and Don’t Make Us Work Till We Die!, Credo Action, Coalition on Human Needs, US Uncut, On May 12, Campaign for Community Change, Working America and others who are working to fight back. Join Up.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Royal Wedding Of Austerity And Trade Deficits Is Killing Our Economy

Sometimes you can just see glimmers of something through the DC brain fog, other times it becomes so clear that you can’t ignore it. The current DC brain-fog motto is, “if it doesn’t work, do it more.” Today’s GDP-growth report shows that austerity isn’t working, so the geniuses in DC want to do it more. And they say, “government just gets in the way of business” so we send our businesses out on their own to compete with governments, and the resulting trade deficits eat our jobs.
Cutbacks Cut Growth
How long ago was it that DC was all about cutting taxes for the rich even more? And how many minutes after that was DC all about cutting budgets – “austerity” – because of the resulting budget deficits? So instead of the jobs that will fix the deficits the government gives us cutbacks — cutbacks in taxes on the rich, cutbacks in construction projects, cutbacks in teachers and police and other government functions, cutbacks in the things We, the People do for each other.
We watch as England, Greece, Ireland and other countries try cutbacks – austerity – to get out of slow growth and their growth gets slower as a result. The US tries it, too, and our growth gets slower, too.
The first quarter growth figures are out: 1.8% for the first three months of the year,

Total output grew at an annual pace of 1.8 percent from January through March, the Commerce Department said Thursday, after having expanded at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

But the DC fog machine blames the weather, not austerity.

Higher commodity prices and winter blizzards that shuttered businesses and delayed construction were among the main causes of the slowdown.

Our growth slows because of austerity. So they blame the weather and insist on more austerity. Because austerity “gets government out of the way” of the wealthy few and their accumulation of the rest.
Trade Deficit
As the economy recovered a bit and people started to buy a few more things , the things came from elsewhere, and the money and jobs just left the economy. Without government policies to deal with it, our trade deficit will continue to get even worse, costing us even more jobs and growth and draining even more money out of the country.
Germany runs a trade surplus, so German unemployment is at its lowest level in 19 years. Headline: German Unemployment Declines to 19-Year Low as Export Boom Drives Demand,

German companies are hiring as they increase production to meet booming export orders, fueling domestic demand. … German factory orders and industrial production rose more than economists predicted in February. … More than a third of Germany’s medium-sized companies plan to take on staff in the second quarter …

Germany also pays workers more than we do, gives them lots and lots of vacation time, health care, pensions, rights on the job — all the things that our leaders say hurt our businesses.
Our leadership is making every effort to return to the old economy that caused the crisis. This is because those who benefited from that economy are still in control of the system, still using their great wealth to get what they want, damn the consequences for the rest of us. (Hint, the first link is to a post titled, Nine Pictures Of The Extreme Income/Wealth Gap, and the second is a post titled, Corporate Propaganda Response To Town Hall Medicare Anger.)
Contractionary Policies Cause Contraction
Conservatives say so many silly things that are proven wrong by the simplest fact-checking — cutting taxes increases revenue, taxes take money out of the economy, tax cuts grow the economy — and the silly thing they say that is hitting us now: cutting back causes expansion.
Huh?
Here is what really happens in the real world. Following are a few charts showing the effect of the “stimulus” and what has happened since the stimulus ran out.
First, manufacturing. See the plunge through 2008? That’s the collapse. See the sharp change to an upward direction through 209? That’s the stimulus. See the leveling off since? That’s the end of the stimulus.
ISMFedApril2011
Now look at the following chart of job growth. See the downward slope, when we were losing more and more jobs every month? That’s the collapse. See the upward slope, when we were losing fewer jobs every month, up to where we were actually gaining a bit? That’s the stimulus. See the leveling off, standing still through 2010, going into 2011. That’s the end of the stimulus.
chart_jobs2
You can see in front of your face what works and what doesn’t. We should be doing what works, not what doesn’t. Why did I even have to write that sentence?
Solutions
As I wrote the other day, we have to invest in rebuilding our infrastructure if we want to continue to be competitive in the world, so right there are millions of jobs that need doing. And the payoff from doing that pays for doing that.
We need to retrofit our economy to be energy efficient, so right there are millions of jobs that need doing. And the payoff from doing that pays for doing that.
We need more teachers, more police, more firefighters, more judges, more scientists, more social workers, more park rangers, more noise abatement and met and safety and environmental and other kinds of inspectors and so many other things that We, the People do for each other — so right there are millions of jobs that need doing. And the payoff from doing that pays for doing that.
So right there are millions of jobs that need doing. And the payoff from doing that pays for doing that.
But wait, there’s more:
National Manufacturing Strategy

The idea of a manufacturing strategy or industrial policy is hardly a radical concept. Alexander Hamilton constructed America’s first industrial policy in 1791. Setbacks during the War of 1812 due to a lack of domestic capacity to build naval vessels and military equipment cemented the determination of the federal government to grow manufacturing, a policy that continued until the end of World War II.

To solve the trade deficit and create millions of good-paying jobs (like in Germany) we need a national manufacturing strategy — a government-sanctioned plan to ensure that U.S. manufacturers remain competitive in the global marketplace. Click this link for a few examples of countries that have national manufacturing strategies.
Following is the Alliance for American Manufacturing’s plan:

Expand American Production, Hiring, and Capital Expenditures

  • Establish a manufacturing investment facility to leverage private capital for domestic manufacturing
  • Expand and make permanent clean energy manufacturing tax credits and industrial energy efficiency grants to allow America to lead on green job creation
  • Link federal loan guarantees for new energy infrastructure projects, including nuclear, wind, solar, other renewable energy sources, as well as the smart grid, with expanding domestic supply chains
  • Adopt immediate, up-front expensing rules for plant and equipment to spur capital expenditures
  • Enforce our trade-legal Buy America and other domestic procurement requirements to prevent leakage of tax dollars overseas
  • Invest in America’s Infrastructure

  • Create a National Infrastructure Bank to finance high-value, long-term infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, high-speed rail, and other needs
  • Enact a robust, multi-year surface transportation infrastructure program of at least $500 billion financed exclusively by fuel taxes
  • Enhance Our Workforce

  • Refocus on technical and vocational education, providing a seamless program that bridges high school and post-secondary education to produce the next generation of highly skilled manufacturing workers
  • Reward companies that are investing in effective skills and training programs for their workers
  • Make Trade Work for America

  • Keep America’s trade laws strong and strictly enforced to provide a level playing field for our workers and businesses
  • Penalize and deter mercantilist nations such as China that manipulate their exchange rates and implement non-tariff barriers to gain an unfair trade advantage
  • As the Administration works to double exports, expand the goal to include balancing our trade account so that gains in exports are not overwhelmed by increased imports
  • Rebuild America’s Innovation Base

  • Make permanent the research and development tax credit and enhance it to incentivize commercialization and production in America
  • Focus federal investments in new technology and workforce training on promoting regional clusters of innovation, learning and production
  • And finally,
    It Never Hurts To Quote The Boss
    Press release

    WASHINGTON’S FIXATION WITH AUSTERITY IS HURTING THE ECONOMY
    Campaign for America’s Future Urges Lawmakers to Put Job Creation First
    Washington, DC – Campaign for America’s Future’s co-director Robert Borosage commented on today’s economic indicators. Borosage said:
    “The first quarter growth figures — 1.8% for the first three months of the year — are an ominous reminder of the reality that Washington has forgotten.
    “This economy is in trouble. For most Americans, the recession has not ended. Growth is painfully slow. Unemployment remains high. Home values are dropping; gas prices are rising; wages are not keeping up.
    “Despite this — and despite the warnings of economists — Washington, driven by the new House Republican majority, has turned prematurely to austerity. Contractionary policies cause contraction. They will impede any recovery, and slow an economy that is barely moving.
    “Washington offers no answer because it is fixated on the wrong question. The question is how do we get the economy going and put people back to work — not simply how do we balance our books? Every deficit reduction plan — from the President’s to the House Republican’s to the Congressional Budget Office projections — assumes faster growth than we saw in the first quarter.
    “The most powerful deficit reduction measure is to put people to work, turning them into consumers and taxpayers. If growth and unemployment stay at this level, deficits will rise, not fall. The White House and the Congress should turn to measures to put people to work, to stave off debilitating layoffs of teachers and police at the state and local level, instead of ignoring the reality that Americans are struggling with every day.”

    Sobotka, from The Wire:

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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    Cutting Government Creates Jobs Like Cutting Taxes Increases Revenue

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
    A “report” from Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee says that the path to job creation is cutting … the very things that create jobs. This is like saying that cutting taxes increases revenue. We know how that worked out, and the job-consequences of budget cuts are going to be just as disastrous.
    Sometimes you can cut through ideology by looking at what actually happens in the real world. Reagan cut taxes: huge deficits resulted. Clinton raised taxes, the deficits went away. Bush cut taxes, we went back to huge deficits. And you can see the same thing when you look at government spending and jobs. England and Greece are trying austerity, and their economies are sinking as a result. In 1937 the United States learned this lesson, succumbing to deficit cutting which choked off the recovery from the depression. On the other hand, the “stimulus” boosted the economy, held off a depression and created millions of jobs — but not enough jobs to overcome the Bush years. Here is the chart — note the obvious effect of the stimulus and of the end of the stimulus on the jobs picture:

    chart_jobs2

    Cut Cut Cut To Grow Grow Grow?
    Republicans say that cut cut cut leads to grow grow grow. Their prescription is to cut taxes to “reduce uncertainty” which they say will result in job creation. Never mind that Clinton raised taxes and then the economy boomed. Then Bush cut taxes and then gave us the worst job-creation record in decades, even before the recession started! From The Hill, GOP study backs ‘cut and grow’ but says new jobs could take time,

    House Republican leaders on Tuesday released a study that they said shows their “cut and grow” strategy will boost the economy.
    
The study argues that reducing uncertainty about future taxes will increase household spending and business investment, spurring growth and hiring.
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the report shows “less government spending means more private sector jobs.”

    Just how will “certainty” about tax cuts create jobs?

    The study argues that “non-Keynesian effects” result from government budget cuts. It says households expecting future taxes to pay for government spending will purchase more homes and durable consumer goods once uncertainty about future taxes is erased.

    Right, knowing that taxes will be lower, people will go out an “purchase more homes.” The people funding the Republicans will just go buy an 8th house with their tax savings. And maybe a Maybach or two. Plutonomy in action!
    No Path To Jobs
    Laying off teachers and firefighters is not the path to jobs. Cutting government cuts the very things that nurture the soil in which business can thrive. We need a modern infrastructure to compete in world markets, but they are cutting back on infrastructure spending. We need a well-educated population to grow the economy, but they are cutting back on education.
    Cutting is clearly not the path to more people having better-paying jobs: Congress takes aim at jobs program,

    Becky Thompson of Sioux Falls turns 72 next month, and she is quietly grateful that she has a job working in the computer lab at Experience Works, an agency that helps older workers find employment.
    . . . But now she and other older workers are worried that all this – the training, the support, the camaraderie – will disappear in the next round of budget cuts.
    That’s because more than 60 percent of Experience Works’ budget comes from the Senior Community Service Employment Program, the only federally funded job training program for low-income seniors – and one of many programs targeted for reduction in the Republican spending bill that passed the House last month.

    Economists, Analysts, Everyone Says Budget Cuts Will Kill Growth
    Isaiah Poole summed it up in, More Than 300 Economists Repudiate Right-Wing “So Be It” Economics,

    Today the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for American Progress jointly released a statement signed by nearly 320 economists from around the country, including Nobel Prize winners Kenneth Arrow and Eric Maskin, former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Alan Blinder, and former Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and Director of the National Economic Council Laura Tyson.
    That comes a day after Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics released a report that estimated the House budget cuts would result in a loss of 700,000 jobs by 2012. That finding evoked a “so what?” from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that was remarkably in line with the dismissive “so be it” comment that House Speaker John Boehner made earlier in February in response to concerns that budget cuts would result in job losses.

    If people had good jobs that paid well the deficit would be a heck of a lot lower than it is. People would be paying taxes instead of collecting unemployment. Cutting the things that create jobs is certainly not a path to creating jobs. England is learning this, our Congress is not.
    No Job Creation Programs At All
    Republicans have held the Congress for months but have not introduced a single job-creation program. In GOP Bait And Switch On Jobs, Anne Thompson lays it out,
    ,

    The House Republicans have developed a track record of bait and switch when it comes to their approach to job creation.
    Last week, House Republican leadership released a PowerPoint by Congressman Paul Ryan that they are using to educate the Republican Caucus on their top policy priorities. Ryan laid out the “Jobs Deficit” as the number one challenge facing America in his very first slide. Yet he failed to focus on jobs until the very last slide, which reads: “Keep taxes low; spur job creation and growth.” Not quite the robust plan we need to put millions of Americans back to work.

    Is There At Least A Secret Plan?
    Is appears — and this kook “study” confirms — there is no real plan for jobs. But is there at least a secret plan in operation?
    Secret plan? When they said that cutting taxes increases revenue they knew it wouldn’t — they had a hidden agenda. They knew better than to actually believe that cutting taxes would actually increase revenue to fund the government. They said so. The resulting deficits were the agenda. The plan was to “cut their allowance” and “starve the beastto create a debt crisis, then demand that government cut back the things it does to protect and empower We, the People.
    What is the agenda behind this job-destruction agenda? If there is a secret agenda behind destroying so many American jobs — and the ability to create new jobs that pay well — then what is it? They can’t be crazy enough to destroy the economy just to increase their 2012 electoral odds, can they? On the other hand, no one has ever finished the sentence, “Republicans aren’t crazy enough to …” without being proven wrong.
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    Bloggers Were Right: It WAS Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

    The bloggers were right, it was about the jobs, jobs, jobs. For the first half of the year all the progressive bloggers were saying that the November election is going to turn out very, very badly for Democrats if they don’t focus on jobs. We said please, please drop this “austerity” nonsense, the only way to cut the deficit is to grow the economy. We were going kind of nuts about it, saying if you don’t spend money on jobs the voters will punish you.

    But the administration and many in Congress were busy on an “austerity” fad. The “centrists” and the big-media pundits and the rest of the “serious people’ were saying we needed to do something about the deficits because “the markets” wanted them to.

    So here we are. The bloggers were right (I include Paul Krugman among us), and the voters are punishing the politicians who listened to the same old DC elite pundits and campaign consultants and party insiders who demanded “austerity” cutbacks for We, the People.

    For example, May 11, I wrote in It’s The JOBS, Stupid! Why DC Elites Don’t See This:

    People care about jobs. They still care about jobs. And politicians who don’t care about jobs will lose their jobs, because that is what motivates voters.

    I concluded the May 26 post, Teacher Layoffs Loom Nationwide, DC Restaurants Humming, Jobs & Justice

    President Obama has talked about a bold, large scale vision for a new direction for the country. But Congress and the President are getting trapped in austerity budget thinking that won’t allow them to go in the direction of stimulus and helping regular people. If there is to be no money because of an austerity budget then American competitiveness, the economy and the mood of the public can only get worse. Do the DC elites actually believe the public is going to reward this with votes?

    June, The Real Deficit Is Jobs!

    The real deficit is jobs. That is one more of those things that everyone can see in front of their faces, but we’re told it isn’t what it is.

    . . . The excuse is that “the markets” will “lose confidence” in us. Apparently we aren’t working the salt mines hard enough. “The markets” — that’s the crowd who got in trouble and insisted that the world would end unless we immediately handed over to them all the rest of the money in the world — will “lose confidence” in our ability to work the mines hard enough, and will cut us off, unless we cut our pensions, sell off (to them) our resources, and promise never to be lazy and make demands for better wages, pensions, workplace safety, and do it now.

    August’s Where Are The Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs? began:

    The economy is stuck. We need jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Not tax cuts.

    Why is it that often the progressives come to a consensus on an issue, while the DC elite, the campaign consultants, the big-media pundits and the “centrist” politicians come to their own different conclusion, and then later it turns out that the progressives were right not just on the policy but on the politics, and the DC-centrist-consultant-pundit class were wrong. This happens time after time after time on the things that matter.

    Well, I have to say it: We told you so.

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