An ad from Americans for Prosperity features a flurry of TV news clips about rising debt in the past few years and connects them to President Obama’s statement in February 2009 that “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” However, recent deficits have been fueled by Bush policies and the recession, and the ad takes the president’s words completely out of context. In fact, Obama was talking about whether efforts to rescue the economy would lead to economic progress. Since that interview, massive monthly job losses have turned into steady private-sector growth, including 4.5 million new private-sector jobs in the last 29 months.Read more after the jump.
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More than two years after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law, the conservative crusade against the bill continues. Perhaps the most common attack against the law is that it hurts America’s seniors, specifically by “cutting” or “slashing” $500 billion from Medicare. In reality, ACA’s savings do not have a negative impact on current benefits – and the controversial GOP plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) actually retained almost all of the spending reductions in the law. ACA also reduces overpayments to Medicare Advantage, a private alternative to the federally run plan, and creates a Senate-confirmed board of experts to find future savings. Meanwhile, conservative critics fail to mention that ACA closes the prescription drug “donut hole,” provides free preventive services to millions of seniors, and extends the program’s solvency.
Affordable Care Act Closes The Prescription Drug “Donut Hole”
“Donut Hole” Is Gap In Drug Coverage For Annual Costs From $2,830-6,440. From CNNMoney: “What’s the donut hole? In addition to a $310 deductible, Medicare beneficiaries pay 25% of their drug costs until the total reaches $2,830 for the year. Then, they fall into a coverage gap. At that point, enrollees must pay all costs out of pocket until their annual expenses exceed $6,440. After that, seniors pay 5% of drug costs for the rest of the year.“ [CNNMoney, 6/7/10]Read more after the jump.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is out with an updated version of his fiscal blueprint for the country, replacing last year’s widely panned plan to effectively end Medicare by turning it into a voucher system with an only slightly less destructive concoction. In his latest proposal, Ryan pitches a premium-support system that would offer seniors a voucher to buy either traditional Medicare or a private plan, purporting to control costs by allowing competition. But the vouchers wouldn’t be able to keep up with rapidly rising medical costs, shifting the burden onto beneficiaries and eventually rendering traditional Medicare an unviable program.
Click here to read more about the Medicare overhaul in Rep. Ryan’s previous budget, which was passed by the House GOP in 2011.
The New Ryan Budget Undermines Medicare
The 2013 Ryan Budget “Reiterates Republicans’ Call Last Year For Overhauling Medicare.” From Bloomberg: “The proposal reiterates Republicans’ call last year for overhauling Medicare, though with some changes reflecting a compromise plan Ryan of Wisconsin has since written with Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat. It would offer seniors, starting in 2023, subsidies they could use to buy private health insurance or use in Medicare. Either way, benefits would be capped, which would be a major change in how the open-ended program now operates.” [Bloomberg, 3/20/12]Read more after the jump.
In 2011, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a controversial plan that he claimed would “save” Medicare. The proposal was included in the House budget, which passed the lower chamber with nearly unanimous support from Republicans but was voted down in the Senate. The Medicare debate rages on, however, and the facts about the Ryan plan are too often obscured by the aggressive spin of its supporters and distracting arguments about the definition of words like “end” and “voucher.” Whatever the right wants to call it, the Ryan plan is radical legislation that would hurt millions of Americans who rely on Medicare for health security.
Ryan Plan Would “Essentially End” Medicare For Future Seniors…
Ryan Plan Transforms Medicare Into A “Premium Support System.” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s overview of the Ryan plan: “The proposal would gradually transform Medicare into what is described as a ‘premium support system.’ Beginning in 2022, all newly-eligible Medicare beneficiaries (i.e., individuals turning 65 as well as younger, disabled individuals becoming eligible for Medicare) would only have access to health coverage through private insurance plans, rather than through the current government-run Medicare program (i.e., traditional Medicare), or under a Medicare Advantage plan. Under the new premium support system, Medicare beneficiaries would be entitled to a payment from the federal government to help defray premiums and other health care costs under the plan. The government would make payments directly to private health plans on behalf of Medicare eligible enrollees, rather than pay hospitals, physicians, and other medical providers directly for the services provided to their Medicare-eligible patients, as is currently the case. If the government payments to plans on behalf of enrollees were insufficient to cover premiums and/or other costs, beneficiaries would be responsible for additional costs. In other words, Medicare would no longer provide coverage for medical care, but instead provide a ‘subsidy’ toward the purchase of a private health insurance plan.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011, emphasis added]Read more after the jump.
From Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) August 4, 2012, speech at RedState Gathering:
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Finally I want to mention this: It’s not just about the money. That’s important, but it’s the cultural concerns as well. I mean, I never– I never intended to get involved in politics. I was a wrestling coach. I was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. I was gonna help student athletes try to get to their goals and dreams on the wrestling mat, and I liked doing that. But you get married, you have kids, you start looking at the world different. You get tired of government taking your money, insulting your values, telling you what to do. And I decided to run for office. And the cultural concerns are one of the things that got me involved in politics. We do also – while we’re working on the things I described – we do also have to remember that life is precious and we should protect it. That family is important, it’s the first institution the good lord put together. Before the state, before the church, it was the family, and we should—we should have policies that emphasize those key facts as well– Think about this. Forty-eight million Americans today are on food stamps. One in seven Americans now believe it is okay for someone else to be responsible for them being fed. That is sad. The greatest country in the world, one in seven.
After several failed attempts to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act, conservative candidates are persisting in making the destruction of the landmark health care reform law a campaign issue, with many promising to do away with the law come 2013. But the benefits in the law are already kicking in, and repealing the law would affect millions of Americans who are already seeing lower health care costs, better services, and protection against industry abuses.
Repeal Would Kick Millions Off Their Insurance
Up To 30 Million Could Lose Coverage Gained As A Result Of The Affordable Care Act. From the Congressional Budget Office: “CBO and JCT now estimate that the ACA, in comparison with prior law before the enactment of the ACA, will reduce the number of nonelderly people without health insurance coverage by 14 million in 2014 and by 29 million or 30 million in the latter part of the coming decade, leaving 30 million nonelderly residents uninsured by the end of the period.” [CBO.gov, July 2012]
Up To 6.6 Million Young Adults Would Lose Health Care Coverage Through Their Parents’ Plans. From the Los Angeles Times: “President Obama’s healthcare law helped as many as 6.6 million young adults stay on or get on their parents’ health plans in the first year and a half after the law was signed, a new survey indicates. […] Earlier surveys by the federal government found that the number of people ages 19 to 25 without insurance declined after the law was signed, reversing years of erosion in health coverage for young adults.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/8/12]Read more after the jump.
It’s unremarkable for President Obama’s opponents to deride his career in public service; ever since Ronald Reagan ran into term limits, conservatives have insisted that business experience is more important in the White House than intellect, vision, and policy knowledge. But conservative reverence for the business world and disdain for government work is so dogmatic today that Republicans often claim that Obama’s policies have primarily, or even only, benefitted the public sector at the expense of the private economy. This is nonsense. The primary difference between the Obama recovery and the previous three post-recession economies, other than the depth of the crater Wall Street’s actions created, is that where government payrolls expanded under Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Reagan, the public sector has shed well over half a million jobs since the end of the recession. Meanwhile, private-sector hiring has been far more consistent than conservatives would have you believe.
3.3 Million New Private-Sector Jobs Since Recession, But 640,000 Government Employees Out Of Work
Recession Officially Ran From December 2007 To June 2009, Making It The Longest Since World War II. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: “The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months. In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.” [NBER.org, 9/20/10]Read more after the jump.
The American economic pie may have increased in size, but 95 percent of Americans are getting a smaller slice than in the past. This is partly because the top 1 percent of the country has nearly quadrupled the size of its own helping. Their nearly 300 percent increase in take-home pay over that time dwarfs the more modest progress of the rest. Furthermore, while conservatives allege that progressives seek equal outcomes for all, at the cost of American economic freedom, the fact is our storied “equality of opportunity” is overstated. Economic mobility is scarce in the U.S. compared to other advanced economies, and most born into wealth or poverty stay more or less where they started.
Earnings Have Exploded For The Top 1 Percent, While Everyone Else Has Seen Much More Modest Growth
Economic Boom Following World War II Saw Income Gains “Distributed Rapidly Across Income Classes.” From the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America: “Between 1947 and 1973, economic growth was both rapid and distributed equally across income classes. The poorest 20% of families saw growth at least as fast as the richest 20% of families, and everybody in between experienced similar rates of income growth. Since then, growth in average living standards has unambiguously slowed. Between 1973 and 1995, growth in productivity, or how much income can be generated in each hour of work, collapsed to less than half the rate that characterized the previous quarter century.” [The State Of Working America, accessed 3/7/12]Read more after the jump.
Despite demanding immediate deficit reduction in a difficult economy, conservatives insist that any increase in tax rates for top income earners will kill jobs. Instead, they argue for lowering tax rates on the wealthiest Americans (while downplaying the deficit impact of such a tax cut) as way to increase hiring. There is no evidence for this argument, however intuitive it may seem. Lower tax rates on the rich are not associated with more hiring or stonger GDP growth, and while conservatives insist that top income tax rates hit small businesses heavily, their ludicrous definition of “small business” renders that statement meaningless. Along with the threat of higher taxes, conservatives insist that federal regulations are holding back job creation and have made loosening the rules a focus of their agenda. However, tax breaks for the wealthy and deregulation do almost nothing to increase consumer demand, which is the true driver of hiring and expansion decisions.Read more after the jump.
Crossroads GPS attacks President Obama’s economic record with a clip of a CBS News report stating that “this is the worst economic recovery America has ever had.” Blaming the president for high unemployment, the ad fails to acknowledge the severity of the Bush recession, which caused the economy to continue to shed hundreds of thousands of jobs in the first months of the Obama administration, and the GOP-favored public-sector downsizing that’s led to government layoffs. Far from ‘failing,’ the Recovery Act helped avert an even more severe economic collapse.Read more after the jump.