Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Tag: Medicare

Affordable Care Act & Scott Walker

Fact:  By 2014, all 50 states have to have their health care exchanges up and running.  If they don’t, the Federal Government will step in and take control.

Fact: By 1/1/2013, all 50 states have to have a plan in place on just how they’re going to create these exchanges.

Fact: Scott Walker doesn’t like Federal Government Control and yet, he is putting off beginning the work on the exchanges until after the November election.  He’s probably thinking that Romney will win and he’ll never have to put it in place.

Opinion: Scott Walker is a dofus who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.  It’s too bad the man kept his throne in the Wisconsin State House, because he’s going to screw us like he is the Marquis De Sade.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek (August 13 – 26, 2012),  “only 18 states had even started putting in place the …health benefit exchanges.”  That’s one eight, people.  One of those states is Wisconsin.  The article states: “The Republican governors of six states are simply refusing to create the exchanges…”  And, our Governor is one of them.

Apparently, Scott Walker wants to wait until the outcome of the November election (see article here) to act on creating an exchange.  He also ” turned down $38 million in federal money that could have gone to implementing the federal health care law in Wisconsin.”

Does he even have a clue about what setting up a health exchange will entail?  First, you need an interface that end users (that’s us) can interact with to pick out the insurance, actually, that would be second.  First, you need the list of insurance companies, plans and rates that will be sold.  Then, an end user interface.  Then, you need for this software, database, etc. to interact with Medicare and Medicaid.  You need an interface for the insurance companies.  You need an interface for the government employees that will have to assist people signing up for insurance.  You need all of this to speak to the Federal Government’s computers.

And, you need money to create it, run it and maintain it.  So you really shouldn’t turn down $38 million from the Federal Government earmarked to help you do just that.

You need Business Analysts who can talk with all the parties to see how this can be put together – that can’t be done in a day.

And, Walker thinks he can wait until after November to do it.

The man is doesn’t understand the value of making it easier for people to purchase insurance.  And, he doesn’t understand the value of getting this project off the ground.  He doesn’t see the big picture.

Our state is still losing jobs and Scott Walker wants to put this off as long as he can.  Let me explain the big picture:

Setting up a healthcare exchange requires (at the very least) the following:

1. Business Analysts

2. Project Managers

3. Quality Assurance Testers

4. Database Administrators

5. Data Analysts

6.  Web Designers

7. Network Engineers

8. Web Services Programmers

9. Computer Programmers

10. Managers

11. Administrative Assistants

12. Technical Writers

When your state leads the nation in job losses, a project like this can put a lot of people to work, which in turn creates demand in the economy.  Think about it, when one person is working their money (i.e., wages) spreads through their community.  They pay their rent or mortgage – rent is better, as the money goes to a landlord, who then spreads it out.  But, a mortgage payment means a bank has money to lend (in a very simplistic view).  They purchase gas at their local station.  They buy groceries at their local market.  They take their family out to dinner.  They purchase new clothes and, this is personal, they purchase new programming books.  (I’ve never started a new project without purchasing a book.)  $10 here, $20 over there and pretty soon demand is up again.

But, Scott Walker is sitting on his hands, ignoring the Federal Government Mandate and hoping it just goes away.  He has to have the plan in place by January 1,2013.  Walker’s hoping that 1/20/2013 will bring in a new President and he won’t have to follow the law.  Romney’s not going to win, our country can’t be that full of stupid people.  But, even if he does win, the Affordable Care Act won’t disappear that face and Scott Walker will be breaking the law.  Oh – one more little item – Walker proclaims that he doesn’t want Federal Government interference, but the Feds will take this over if he doesn’t comply.  Why would you want to give up control of something so momentousness?  Could it be that Scott Walker is out of his realm?  That he cannot get this job done, because he is an uneducated man who doesn’t know how to run a project?

Thanks, Governor Walker.  I cannot tell you how much I hang my head in shame that my fellow Wisconsinites voted for you not once, but twice.  God help us all.

 

Politics as Usual

I posted the picture from my blog about corporate taxes on Facebook.  I, then, shared a lot of feel good pictures.  Not so amazingly, the feel good pictures went on to be shared by my friends, while the picture of the widening gap between  Corporate taxes and Individual taxes went pretty much ignored.

I’ve created another picture and I hope that it gets passed around.

Moving on…

Included in the sad state of affairs, I posted on Twitter the following:

Republican: One who doesn’t want the government mandating that citizens buy health insurance, but sees no problem in deciding who can marry.

This posted to my Facebook account, as the two are linked. In response, I received this:

Democrat: one who does not care who or what you marry. As long as you are distracted enough for them to steal all your money and give it to someone who didn’t earn it.

Sad, isn’t it?

The idea that being a Democrat means you want to steal someone else’s money and give it away is the fallacy that the Republican Party promotes.  They’ve called earned programs, such as Social Security, entitlements.  They have distorted the Affordable Health Care Act so much that people don’t recognize the good things within it – such as mandating that health insurance companies spend at least 85% of premiums on health care and eliminating the pre-existing conditions.

 

U.S. Constitution and the Individual Mandate…

Oh, come on, the Republicans are getting a bit ridiculous!

I’m reading this story on Huffington Post about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Individual Mandate in the Health care law.  The article supports the notion that there are a lot of things the government mandates that everyone must do.  The example used is Medicare.  If you work, you pay into Medicare – you have no choice.

But, here’s what really got to me:  Mark Hayes – “former chief health counsel for the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee” states:

“Congress used more clearly defined constitutional powers when it created Medicare. “The power to tax and the power to spend…” “‘Here, with the individual mandate, it’s a different question – regulating interstate commerce. This is a novel question from a legal standpoint.'”

How is that novel?  Article I Section 8 Clause 3 states:

“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”

Novel question? Um, I don’t think so. The word Novel, when used as an adjective and not as a noun means:

  1. new and not resembling something formerly known or used
  2. original or striking especially in conception or style

Um, if the Commerce Clause has existed in the Constitution since the beginning, how is Congress being able to use it now a “Novel” question?

I’m just wondering.

Bumper Sticker Politics

On my drive home from work yesterday, I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Cut taxes, secure our borders” and went on to mention other right-wing propaganda.  I had to laugh.  We cannot cut our taxes anymore.  We are at the lowest point since the 1950’s.  Taxes are lower now than they were during Ronald Reagan and still, the right carries on with their bumper sticker politics.  Part of our debt comes because we cut taxes in 2001 and 2003 and never made spending cuts to offset it.  The only thing the Republicans, Tea Partiers and the right-wing are good at is spending misleading and sometimes outright lies about our economy.  Apparently, not enough of us took enough economics classes to understand the problem in order to find a solution.

If Obama signs off on a plan that makes huge cuts to Social Security and Medicare and does not include a tax raise, it will be a huge mistake.  Pay attention.  The “Taxed Enough Already” Partiers do not know what trouble they’re causing.  Paying taxes is how we maintain our schools, our secure borders.  We pay taxes to pay our military.  If the tax revenue does not go up – our military cannot get a raise, did you think of that?

Tax breaks handed over to the rich, who benefit most from our capitalistic society, does NOT create jobs.  Jobs are created by consumption – no consumption = no jobs.

Corporations are making their highest profits in years and they aren’t hiring because they are not compelled to do so.

Let’s start finding some real solutions to our nation’s problems and leave the half-baked signs and bumper stickers at home.

Republicans

Republicans should be totally ashamed of themselves.  In the states where Republicans rule, the order of the day is attack public workers and cut funding for birth control or let’s all carry guns and hate gays.

In Congress, the order is let’s not deal with the President on the debt ceiling (or anything else for that matter).  They’ve learned that a failing Congress usually gets Republicans elected.  If they “do nothing”, they can blame President Obama.  Except this time, they’re wrong.  Failing to act can mean that the US will default on its loans.  This not only ruins our economy, but it can take down the rest of the world.  Think about it, Europe is panicking because Greece might default and Greece is only worth 2% of the European economy.  Can you imagine what would happen in the world if the US defaults?

Worse than that, President Obama has handed the Republicans nearly everything they want – including major cuts to Social Security and Medicare – and they want to take their football and go home.  They are playing politics with our futures and the futures of our children and they’re turning their backs on $3 trillion dollars in spending cuts.  $3 trillion.  And, all because they want to protect the richest people in the nation.  You know, the ones that have summer homes and take expensive vacations, while the rest of us are struggling to pay our mortgages.  The ones who can afford to take Paul Ryan out for dinner and order two bottles of $350.00 wine, while complaining that liberals don’t like rich people.

Even Warren Buffet thinks the rich don’t pay enough in taxes.  I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that the rich and wealthy are paying the lowest amount in Federal income taxes since the 1950’s and, yet, they aren’t hiring.  Imagine that.  The real problem in this country are companies that make huge profits and do not hire anyone, along with the ones that close American plants and open ones overseas.

Meanwhile, Republicans are attacking Planned Parenthood – God forbid a woman is able to buy birth control at a low price – and Presidential Candidates are signing pledges against individual rights.  Lincoln freed the slaves, but he would never get elected now if he supported marriage equality.  Roosevelt supported the protection of our national parks and resources, but Republicans would kick him out of the party.  Nixon supported clean air and water and created the EPA, but these Republicans of today consider it a hindrance to make sure we have clean air to breathe and good water to drink.  Even Reagan raised taxes – twice – but the Republicans of today have rich donors to their campaigns to support.

Republicans have a long and proud history of doing good in this nation, but this modern breed of them are a huge disgrace to the Republican past.

What happened to the Republican Party that supported individual rights?  Where did the reasonable Republicans go?  They certainly aren’t here.

Obama’s Big Mistake

By offering cuts to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for a rise in tax revenues, President Obama is making a huge mistake.  There are a lot of people out there who will be relying on both Social Security and Medicare for their retirement needs.  We will have to deal with them later and that is a mistake.

As far as I’m concern, any spending cuts – which Obama has given in to plenty – that do not come with a raise in taxes for the wealthy are unacceptable.  We’re going to leave those who can ill afford it vulnerable and we’re already rewarding those who caused this mess in the first place.  It’s time to hit the fancy bankers and CEOs who have laid off their fellow Americans in the pocketbook.  If we tax the hell out of them, maybe they’ll start hiring to avoid paying taxes.

We, also, need to cut every subsidy for nearly every corporation – especially oil.  But, that’s a discussion for another time.

Let’s talk about spending

I’m going to make this quick. The comments I’ve seen on facebook and here regarding my tax cuts blog basically say the samething. We need to cut spending. I agree. We do need to cut spending. I haven’t looked at all of the spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s plan. Although, changing medicare for those under 55 to a subsidized insurance plan will most likely make the insurance companies rich. If we cut spending to the Health care plan and we don’t make sure these companies offer some federally mandated minimums, I think Ryan’s plan will save the government money by shifting costs to the parts of society that can ill afford them.

I found figures that in 2008 we spent $12 billion per month in Iraq and, in 2006, we spent $6 billion per month in Afghanistan. If those figures hold for 2011, that’s a grand total of $216 billion we’re spending somewhere else. Perhaps we could put all of this “tax cutting” talk aside and bring our troops home.

Granted, the national debt grows by 4.07 billion per day, so at the end of the year, we’re at – roughly – $1.4 trillion dollars. $216 billion isn’t going to make that large of a dent, but it would be a start. There’s an old joke I’ve heard: a million here, a million there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Anyway…

Does it really make sense to borrow money to fight two wars? I’d, also, like the government to spend a million or two and investigate just where all that money is going. But, that’s taking us in the wrong direction.

Back to the tax cuts: we can’t afford them. We can’t make a law that will add to the burden. You can’t cut your income and expect to pay off debt. It just won’t happen. Quite frankly, at our current tax levels, we’re really hurting. We should make the Bush tax cuts, which were extended by Obama, go away. The little raise won’t hurt any of us.

That said, going back to pre-Bush levels shouldn’t mean new spending, that money should go to paying off the debt and balancing the budget. Republicans love to toot their own horn and erroneously claim that they’re for the working people, the middle class. They aren’t. All of these tax cuts throughout the years have done more harm than good for this country. Reagan’s tax cuts went too far and the tax cut Republicans that have followed him don’t understand that. There are government programs that people actually don’t want touched. Truth is, if you want to keep your Social Security and your medicare, you’re going to have to pay a little more in taxes. It’s just that simple. If you don’t want to keep these programs, then we can cut taxes.

If you want a smaller government, then the only thing we should have the government pay for is defense. No federal money for roads, health care, education, farm subsidies, bailouts, green energy research, bank bailouts, unemployment, NPR, etc. The list goes on and on. If you like these things, then we have to be willing to pay for them. If we, as a nation, decide that we’re not going to pay for them, then we can cut them all, put thousands of Americans out of work and everyone of us will scramble to pay for college without government loans and grants. We will have to find a way to put enough money aside to pay for our own retirement. When we lose a job, well, you better have 8 months of savings set aside because there will be no help coming. And, you can kiss public schools goodbye because the feds give 70% of the support to our local school systems.

But, you can have a hefty tax cut for the rich people who don’t have to worry about any one of those things. They have the cash to do it all. They earned that cash on our backs. It’s our labor that makes them that money.

It’s just something to thing about this morning.

Social Security, Medicare and the Tea Party

I’ve been reading that the Tea Party wants smaller government.  And, Republicans want to privatize Social Security.  And, the country wants less government interference in their health care.  Add to this a soaring debt that most Americans want paid down, plus Corporations want to pay less in taxes (even though they’re the lowest since the 1950’s), as do most Americans (even though they’re the lowest since the 1950’s).

Well, I’ve got a plan.  You ready for it…

Let’s get rid of Social Security and Medicare.  Just like that, let’s stop both programs in their tracks.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, we can’t do that — we have thousands of retirees depending on their Social Security checks and their Medicare!  Well, I have a plan.

I say that starting January 1, 2011, no one in this country pays anymore Social Security and Medicare taxes.  Period.  Those people who are 65 and over on 1/1/2011, get to use up the rest of the money in the pot.  Once the last of them die, those of us who aren’t on either program would get an amount of any remainder, based on how much we paid in and how old we are.  I think if you’re 64 on 1/1/2011, you should get back at least as much as you put in.  I don’t think there would be any left, but we should plan just in case.

Then, all of us, would get to keep the approx. 8% we put into Social Security every year.  It would be up to us to figure out how to invest it.  And, our employers who pay another 8% would get to keep that money to use however they wish.  If they choose to put it in our 401ks, well, that would be a bonus and I say no tax on that money for the employee and employer.  If they choose to keep it in the company coffers, well, Corporations work hard for their money and they should get to keep it, but tax it as profit.

If you invest wisely between now and the time you retire, you should have a nice little nest egg.  I mean, you know better how to take care of your money than the government, right?  You’re on time with your bills, you pay your mortgage.  You made a good deal when you purchased your new car, so you must know what you’re doing, right?

But, I don’t believe in Government safety nets.  I’ve really had it with bailouts so, if you don’t invest wisely, well, that’s just too damn bad.  You’re on your own.  Oh, and we should enact a mandatory retirement age of 65.  We can’t have people hanging on to their jobs in order to make ends meet.  We need the next generation to get out there, work and save for their retirement.

So, who’s with me?  Anyone?  Let’s write our Congressmen and Senators and let them know – No More Social Security and Medicare.  Let’s start standing on our own two feet!  Come on, America!  Let’s get together and push this through!

God Bless!

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