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October 22, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Democrats focus on elections, not solutions

We constantly hear from Democrats that the problems with Medicare are caused by tax breaks for the rich, foreign wars and subsidies for Big Oil.

Frankly, if the wars ceased tomorrow, the tax breaks were rescinded immediately and subsidies for Big Oil were thrown out, the net effect on the ills of Medicare would be zero. The immense problems with Medicare and Medicaid make the above look like small potatoes.

But what are the Democrats doing? House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told a reporter that the Democrats realize there are major problems with Medicare but don’t want to come out with solutions because they will get the Paul Ryan treatment.

Five budgets have been introduced in the Senate and the Democrats have not cast one “yes” vote on any of them, including President Barack Obama’s budget, which was voted down unanimously. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats have not produced a budget for two years for political reasons.

The touted Affordable Care Act does not do one thing about the costs of health care except implement the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which has the ability to ration care.

The left’s demagoguery on Medicare is shameless. The Democrats know that the program is in deep trouble but would rather have the issue next November than provide some solutions now.

Ryan, a Republican, came out with a plan that at least makes an attempt to deal head-on with possibly the most important issue of our time.

Which is leadership?

To me it shows that the Democratic Party is more interested in winning elections than in the future of this country.

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  1. Joseph argues that if the wars were stopped and oil subsidies ceased, it would not cure the financial ills of Medicare... and he is right. However, if that were done and it should be because we can no longer afford either, Medicare could survive for longer while we figure out a long term solution.

    Dennis argues that keeping the Bush tax cuts was stupid and just added to the deficit and makes it more necessary to make big changes to Medicare now... and he is right. However, logic dictates that no matter what else we do, entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are going to have to change in order to survive.

    And those two points of view are the ones each party espouses and the reason we keep sitting in 'neutral' rather than solving our problems.

    The financial mess is so large now that half measures are not going to work. We can't afford to fight in 3 wars, offer oil subsidies, retain the Bush tax cuts and leave Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security unaltered. We can't even afford to trade one for the other anymore. We need to do all these things and more...just to be able to suvive financially.

    To me, it's like we are all on the titianic and rather than look around for something that we could fashion that floats so we could avoid drowning or freezing to death while we wait for rescue, we decide it is better to go to the wine cellar and argue over what wine to drink while the ship sinks.

    It boggles the mind if you think about it....

    Michael

  2. Joe correctly points out that Medicare and Medicaid are "immense problems". But they are problems, not in and of themselves so much, as they reflect the HUGELY IMMENSE problem that is our healthcare system. We may have the best healthcare available in the world, but we have a hugely inefficient and expensive method to deliver it. As long as we insist on maintaining insurance companies as the "middlemen" for our healthcare and pay them retail prices to provide supplies and services they purchase wholesale, it will get worse.

    We need a SINGLE PAYER healthcare system so American companies can compete in a world market with firms from countries that already provide universal care.

  3. GoGo - We don't need insurance. We need health care. If you don't have insurance, can you go to a physician's web site and find out how much an office visit will cost? No, you can't. You can't shop docs for cost. With a single payer plan, the competition between doctors is QUALITY! The rest of the industrialized world has universal care that is way cheaper and they outlive us. Are we Americans so much smarter than anyone else that we have to cling to an insurance-based system we can't afford or can't get into?

  4. Joseph,

    I realize that cutting a few other expenses will not save Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security in the long term and I do not agree with the Democrats prescription.

    The problem I have with the Republicans is this.

    Just like the Democrats, Republicans need moderates to be able to get things done.

    When you advocate replacing a benefit (Medicare) that pays medical bills directly at a rate that matches the costs, no matter how high they go, with an altered Medicare where what it pays will be less than the full costs (and yes I know it is going broke), you cannot also insist on keeping the Bush tax cuts, staying the course in 3 wars, continuing to spend what we do on foreign aide and defense, etc, etc, etc.

    When Republicans do that, they open themselves to charges (fair and accurate or not) that they will sacrafice old people to support wars, corporations, the rich, wall street etc. and they lose credibility with moderates.

    If Republicans continue to totally hold to principle, they will be a minority party and we will continue to slide into a more socialist type of nation.

    The time to stand on principal and be unwilling to move an inch off positions was way before these huge government benefits were provided to so many Americans (many of which Republicans supported). We did not get this way overnight and like it or not, Republicans need to understand that you have to ratchet this back slowly. If they can't see that, too many of the people they need will not support them.

    Michael

  5. It must be nice to be a Republican and always Right.
    It is alright to criticize Democrats, but know this Joe, The GOP is wrong on Medicare, and wrong on the economy in general.
    The GOP has one answer for every question: Tax Cuts! The GOP will have an extremely rude awakening next year, they will lose badly!

    The GOP has had a concerted effort to dismantle the Middle-Class for the past thirty years. In 1980, ST. Reagan was elected and he got the ball rolling to destroy Labor Unions and off-shore jobs. But it is OK because he was a Republican and above reproach.

    Just like you Joe. You Joe are always right! You Joe are similar to your Nazi Cousins! You constantly denigrate and demonize the Left.

    Well, There you again! Being Dead Wrong is coin of the realm in Joe's World! The Democrats will hold the Right Wing Nuts (Like Joe) in check.

    So you Republicans better learn to compromise, because the left has bent over backwards trying to appease the right and we are weary of your antics. Hey and tell Paul Ryan thanx for the One Finger Salute.

  6. Joe, The healthcare law mandates the purchase of insurance and requires insurance companies to provide more comprehensive coverage. As of 2008 medical defaults were running about 8%. That translates to over $600 million a day. Countries with high numbers of insured people have much lower medical defaults. This reduces costs. Everyone pays their own way. You don't have freeloaders imposing enormous costs on responsible people.
    This won't be enough though. The only way to make healthcare affordable is to reduce the money going to doctors, hospitals and drug companies. Wellpoint (Blueshield Bluecross) has had numerous press releases on the subject.

  7. Medicaid and Medicare are nothing more than insurance programs. They are fine. To reduce insurance costs you need to reduce claim costs. Excluding employee compensation they pay out all of what they take in and get sent $100 billion in medical bills a month to cover 100 million people. Healthier living habits would help. Diabetes alone is $600 billion a year. Obesity a big part of the problem.

  8. Amusing, when Democrats start acting like Republicans, putting elections in front of other issues, the author gets ticked off?

    How's November mid-cycle elections working out for ya?

  9. The "Pledge to America" was the GOP/Tea Party mantra last September. The Democrats moved very far right to extend the Bush tax cuts last December. Taxes are the lowest they've been in fifty years, but yet corporations sit on $2 trillion that can be used to hire people. The House is controlled by the GOP/Tea Party and all they are putting forth are issues concerning our culture, not the economy. People say corporations aren't investing because the economy is still shaky, but the GOP/Tea Party are infighting over ideology and not attempting to meet the Dems part of the way on a budget. Now it's the Dems turn to sit back and watch the fall out but few like that idea either.

    We need answers to our problems not off the wall ideology that will crush a class of people (seniors and the poor) under while providing nothing but handouts to the wealthiest.

  10. Joe,...you've been drinkin the Republicon/FOX Kool Aid again,...you gotta stop that its turning your mind to mush and your letters are proving it.

    You keep thinkin the Republicons have the solution and your gonna be real disapointed since they create the problems (Bush 2000/2008) and then blame the Democrats. Sure, the Dems are slow at the switch, corrupt and cater to the corporate money too but aren't the domestic terrorists we see in the Con party.

    Joe, the fact is the party you support wants to kick us back to the 1800's and keep every dime for themselves. They have NOTHING for you,...since in their eyes your like Bush, a useful idiot. You support them with words, time, money and your vote and thats where it ends, because if we follow their plan you, many other republicons, democrats, independents and others will all be bunking together in the same homeless shelter, a building that was once a proud thriving factory, mall, maybe a shuttered school. We'll damn sure be "united" then.

    Blame the democrats if you like, they too have a part in this, but when the poor and middle class have their ass nailed to the wall we'll all be their together while the corrupt power of the extreme right is counting ALL of the cash,...yours included.

  11. mred:

    The USA spends 42% of all money spent on military in the world.

    Cut military budget by 65%
    Means test Social Security and Medicare.
    Legalize and decriminalize the drug war.
    Reduce prison population by 50%.
    Tax church's non-charitable activities.
    Tax new gas guzzler cars.

    Looks like a good start to me. Just the reduction in war machines would solve many problems by not waging war on the rest of the world. And yes churches are a must! If you use the church pulpit to preach politics then you should be taxed, it's no longer a separation of church and state. Our war on drugs has been a dismal failure for decades. The 70's gas crunch put more efficient autos on the road, we can do it again.

  12. Good God, Joe...

    I'm reminded of the old adage,
    "Put brain in gear before opening mouth."

    You are so full of it, Joe, you must be burstin' right out of your britches!!!

    Here's the ONLY REAL Republican "PLAN"...

    "Just let us keep ALL OUR MONEY! Everything will work out after that!"

    Mindless.

    "We're BROKE! Why do you Demoncrat's keep wanting to SPEND MY MONEY!"

    We are FAR from "broke", Joseph...
    We need to re-set our priorities.
    See MRED.

    Military Occupations of foreign lands, tax cuts for the RICH, tax breaks for Corporations and their Zillionaire CEO's, bailouts for Billionaires, Big Oil, Big Pharma; That's where it goes, Joe... why on earth would you think otherwise?

    Republicans are hell bent for leather to annihilate Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Health Care Act. Some would smite their own kin folk to get it done, and HAPPILY SO. They'd accuse their own of being "bottom feeders" who "leech off the system", right, Joseph? ALL MONIES should go to "rich people"...because only THEY can manage the economics of the country, and put us back to right; right, Joe? I mean, just LOOK at what the Bush & Reagan economic genious's have done for the U.S. Economy...

    HEY...speakin' of "little" Joe, where'd he a' go-go???

  13. I have nothing to add to the comments here except for one observation.

    This is one of them rare times where the comments are far more interesting than the original letter.

    And the comments are more factual too. By a very, very wide margin.

  14. gmag39 - "Some would smite their own kin folk to get it done, and HAPPILY SO."

    What happened to you?

    I was smote by a friendly using altered history and a Bible!

  15. This letter certainly promotes the smart theme that the Dems are out only for winning elections--they are worthless participants. When it comes to the reform for Medicare proposed by Ryan, that was a dumb idea. One thing that millions have to look forward to in older age is decent Medicare coverage--to fix it will mean increasing the age of eligibility and higher contributions during work years--u dont cut benefits for the elderly! That is not just good political sense--its the right thing not to do.

    As for the wars--Iraq was a mission that we could not afford. Hussein was a bad actor Right now he would be gasing protestors seeking his ouster. Obama would be doing nothing about it. The only reason the US is in the French and Brit's war in Libya is ???? u tell me why--I still have not figured that out! We are in Afghanistan because of 9/11, that's a no brainer. Boots on the ground will always be a controversial policy. Time to phase into counterterrorism strategy in the Aghan region. Maybe some of u peacenics would prefer to be Canada--they have no defenses that America does not provide. When attacked turn the other cheek, allow the evil murderers to take over your mortgage--why not--there's an 85% chance it's underwater. U "no war" guys are joking, right?-If u really do not support fighting back, do u believe in abolishing the DOD? Are u waiting for a nuclear bomb to devastate Las Vegas? No thanks.Learn to face the rotten truth about those who want to destroy u. You need to get real. Right now u same guys need to be learning Chinese--have you heard about China's recent moves in South Asia?
    They are now infiltrating Pakistan, and rattling their swords against India and the U.S. How do we deal with 1.3 billion Chinamen and a Communist Government that wants to bury America--militarily and economically. PEACE BROTHERS!!

  16. Dennis--If they fought in this nation's wars, and are still patriots today, they are not the "peacenics" that I was referring to.

  17. The last time I saw someone as paranoid as Houstonjac (Bob Jack), they were burned out on crystal meth, hiding from the interplanetary police, wearing an aluminum skullcap. Gadds!

    If the world was our enemy, I'm pretty sure we'd get our arses handed to us, considering we are out numbered by the billions. If we keep acting as we have, invading countries, the probability does get higher.

    I agree with dipstick, "peacenik" should be substituted with "chicken hawk cowards" as Cheney, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, and dozens of other talking head "tough guys" who have no problem sending other peoples children to their death using lies to create a fictious emergency.

  18. Vernos B said"The last time I saw someone as paranoid as Houstonjac (Bob Jack), they were burned out on crystal meth, hiding from the interplanetary police, wearing an aluminum skullcap. Gadds!"

    You were no doubt looking in mirror

  19. What the United States spent on the military in 2010 versus the GDP percentage. We spend about 50% of the entire worlds military budget, Europe combined is about 20%.

    1 United States $687,105,000,000 GDP 4.7%
    2 China $114,300,000,000 GDP 2.2%
    3 France 61,285,000,000 GDP 2.5%
    4 United Kingdom 57,424,000,000 GDP 2.7%
    5 Russia 52,586,000,000 GDP 4.3%
    6 Japan 51,420,000,000 GDP 1.0%
    7 Germany 46,848,000,000 GDP 1.4%
    8 Saudi Arabia 42,917,000,000 GDP11.2%
    9 Italy 38,198,000,000 GDP 1.8%
    10 India 34,816,000,000 GDP 2.8%

    Think for a minute, did China, India and what was once third world nations dominate the international market solely due to NAFTA? I agree with what El_Lobo posted, but I'll add the fact, we have fewer scientists graduating. We've fallen behind in education, technology, healthcare, manufacturing and other issues common to us all.

  20. Okay teamster, put some rubber on the road. If you made $75k/yr gross, how much of that would you be willing to pay in taxes to have all the benefits you think we need to give to every one? Or how about if you made $100k/yr gross? Or maybe $50k/yr gross? In other words, how much are *you* willing to live on after taxes (if you pay any at all)?

    This is a very simple question. And it is at the very heart of the debate.

  21. Jeanine62 - "The democrats also controlled our White House, the senate and our congress prior to the November elections BUT DID NOT pass a budget because of their fear of voter backlash."

    February 12, 2010
    WASHINGTON -- "Senate Republicans are using the filibuster to limit and often derail Democrats' initiatives, paralyzing the Senate and making it nearly impossible to accomplish even the most routine matters."

    If the Dems had the control you are talking about, why were there record setting filibusters? A Senate vote of 60 would end the filibuster. Obviuosly Dems didn't have the control you seem to not understand.

  22. Vernos, you know very well that the Democrats didn't even put a budget on the table for most of the time they held control of both houses, even when they *did* have 60 votes for a few months. They were more concerned with ACA, etc. And Reid had to make a lot of deals with his own party members to get that passed.

  23. teamster,

    No reasonable person denies that the Bush administration played a major role in our current problems. At the same time, no reasonable person will say that the Democrats have offered concrete solutions, either.

    You say the Democrats will fix the problems, they haven't even put forth a budget when they had the chance.

    You have not answered my question, but went on a tangent instead. How much are *you* willing to live on after paying taxes? Do you have a tax liability at all? Being a union member I would think you earn enough that you might pay a few dollars each year.

  24. So why didn't Obama let them expire last year? Obama failed us.

  25. I guess you didn't see this story about the auto bail-out: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/jun...

  26. Only a 20% loss of taxpayer money, $14B. I don't know about you, but I'm buying a Ford next time around. At least they survived without taking the government dime. (And I prefer Chrysler products, I have one now.)

  27. Yes, you can change tax laws overnight, they do it all the time. Obama could have worked with Reid and let the Bush cuts expire, but he didn't. And he won't do in 2012, either. Maybe in 2013 he'll start talking serious about it.

    And as much as I liked Clinton, we've already talked about him and NAFTA, one of the worst things that has ever happened. Not to mention how Clinton supported China becoming a full member of the WTO.

    No, the Democrats have been spineless when it comes to making the spending changes we need, even when they had the power to do so. That was why the Republicans took over the House, and why the Senate majority will be no more than 1 vote no matter who has control in 2012.

    And you still dodged my question, teamster. How much, as a percentage, are you willing to pay in taxes? How much are you willing to live on?

    My income is between $50k and $100k gross per year. I, and people like me, get hit harder than any other group when it comes to paying for the programs that you think everyone is entitled to. Well, I am fed up with paying for everyone else. I have my own family to support.

  28. El_Lobo,

    No, you don't. I have said before that I think a combination of tax reforms and spending cuts is needed. What I want is an equitable tax structure that removes the loopholes.

    My reference to Obama was mainly that there is no reason to count on him to let the cuts expire. Though he might if he is not facing a re-election bid, certainly not before then.

    If I were to dig through our past discussions I could probably one where you and I agreed to a limited extent on these matters.

    I would think that you would be very concerned that we borrow about 40% of every dollar being spent. That is not sustainable.

  29. As it stands right now I would not want to place any bets against Obama. I won't say it is a foregone conclusion, but no one has stepped up that I see as being realistic. The only Republican who might have been reasonable is Mitch Daniels (who at least understands the need for infrastructure,) and he has taken a turn further to the right, so scratch him.

    Talk abut "what if", what if we had backed Ho Chi Minh in the first place when he came to us asking for help to free his country from the French?