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Keeping the programs adequately funded as Americans live longer is a challenge, but a far more manageable one than America would face if those benefits were withdrawn or significantly reduced. Thats why politicians never launch frontal attacks against either program. But Republicans who, as a party, have never quite made peace with these successful experiments in quasi-socialism are always offering privatization schemes and other so-called reforms that would ultimately undermine the benefits.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, early this year suggested sunsetting all federal legislation after five years, reasoning that If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again. Critics immediately pointed out that would, by definition, include Social Security and Medicare.
In a recent interview, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, took it further. Johnson complained that those who qualify for Social Security and Medicare because they paid into the programs, remember just get it no matter what the cost. He said both programs should face annual reauthorization in Congress to get their funding.
Keep Your Government Hands Off My Government Programs
In a smart column today, Bruce Bartlett looks at why it will be so hard for politicians to cut government spending: because so many Americans who say they support cutting government programs dont realize just how much they benefit from them.
Remember, for example, when a town hall attendee famously told his congressman to keep your government hands off my Medicare? Apparently that bewilderingly blinkered sentiment is hardly unique.
Mr. Bartlett produces the following chart, from a recent paper by the Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler, showing how many recipients of government benefits somehow dont believe theyve received any benefits:
|Percentage of Program Beneficiaries Who Report They Have Not Used a Government Social Program|
|Program||No, Have Not Used a
Government Social Program
|Hope or Lifetime Learning Tax Credit||59.6|
|Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit||51.7|
|Source: Suzanne Mettler, Reconstituting the Submerged State: The Challenge of Social Policy Reform in the Obama Era,Perspectives on Politics : 809.|
Pretty amazing, right?
As Mr. Bartlett notes, this kind of willful ignorance and the political momentum for government spending cuts that it enables cant last forever:
How Obamacare Reduces The Labor Supply
A while back, the Congressional Budget Office caused some controversy by estimating that Obamacare would lead to fewer jobs by reducing the labor supply. This led a lot of people to call Obamacare a job killer, but what it really meant was that Obamacare was a retirement encourager. Or, in budget language, “workers will choose to supply less labor.”
Webb is one of those workers choosing to supply less labor. Obamacare is making it possible for him to retire early, so he’s retiring early. In some kind of narrow economic view, this is a bad thing. But in a broader view of human flourishing, it’s a very good thing. The point of life isn’t just to work. The point of living in a rich country isn’t just to make it richer.
As Webb says in a video response to a YouTube commenter telling him to “get off your lazy ass and work,” “Who the heck are you to decide whether 50 is acceptable? Like I said 100 times before, you might want to work until you die, or until you’re 70, but I’m not going to be one of those people that retire in a nursing home while somebody spoon-feeds you applesauce and they’re getting your retirement to pay for it all. I’m not going to do it.”
This is a great quote to think about when you read people proposing to raise the Social Security retirement age.
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Beware Gop Has Plans For Medicare
Recently I was talking with a small business owner about the privately purchased health care policy that covered the owner and spouse. They pay about $12,000 a year for a policy with a $6,000 deductible each. Preventative health maintenance with a medical professional is something that they just cant afford. Their insurance is only to prevent financial disaster if they develop a catastrophic illness. The discussion concluded with the statement, I cant wait until we qualify for Medicare.When the Affordable Care Act was being developed there were signs at many town hall meetings saying Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare. While some laughed because Medicare is a government program, the underlying message was clear. Medicare was a government program that seniors currently value even while aware of its flaws.Medicare is the type of program that Republicans fear most a government program that in general works well. Their greatest fear is that the public will say: If Medicare works so well for the elderly, why dont we expand it to cover younger individuals? Medicare presents a threat to the current mantra that private is better.
Dr. Stephen Soltys is a retired professor emeritus who still teaches at SIU School of Medicine on a volunteer basis.
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Our Hidden Government Benefits
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DONT take at face value the claims that Americans dislike government. Sure, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 56 percent of Americans said they wanted smaller government and fewer services. Tea Party activists, the most vocal citizens of our time, powerfully amplify those demands. Yet the reality is that the vast majority of Americans have at some point relied on government programs and valued them even though they often fail to recognize that government is the source of the assistance.
A 2008 poll of 1,400 Americans by the Cornell Survey Research Institute found that when people were asked whether they had ever used a government social program, 57 percent said they had not. Respondents were then asked whether they had availed themselves of any of 21 different federal policies, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, the home-mortgage-interest deduction and student loans. It turned out that 94 percent of those who had denied using programs had benefited from at least one the average respondent had used four.
Americans often fail to recognize governments role in society, even if they have experienced it in their own lives. That is because so much of what government does today is largely invisible.
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Editorial: Seniors Paid Into Social Security And Medicare Hands Off Them Gop
For the second time this year, a key Senate Republican has suggested that Social Security and Medicare should be taken off the automatic-funding process that ensures people who have paid into the systems get what is coming to them, and instead be tossed up for regular congressional reapproval. They seem not to have considered the deep dysfunction that prevents most legislation from passing today thanks mostly to their own party. Worse, maybe they have considered it.
When conservatives talk about entitlements, they act as if its charity. In fact, both programs, despite their problems, are crucial to millions of older Americans who have paid into them throughout their working lives and, thus, are entitled to.
Social Security has long been the quintessential third rail of politics touch it, and youre dead. It is among the most popular programs not just in government today, but in the history of government. It deserves its popularity. When Franklin Roosevelt ushered it in during the 1930s , the goal was to end the then-common specter of poverty that awaited most Americans in old age. It has worked spectacularly. Unlike most government programs, it is largely self-funded, by future retirees. Medicare, which came along in the 1960s to address retiree medical care, operates under a similar process.
Health Disparities Health Care Reform Morality And The Law: Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare
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Excerpted From: Frank McClellan, Health Disparities, Health Care Reform, Morality, and the Law: Keep Your Government Hands off My Medicare, 82 Temple Law Review 1141
In January of 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress on the need to develop a national health care program, asserting:
The average level of health or the average cost of sickness has little meaning for those who now must meet personal catastrophes. To know that a stream is four feet deep on the average is of little help to those who drown in the places where it is ten feet deep. The recommendations of the committee offer a program to bridge that stream by reducing the risks of needless suffering and death, and of costs and dependency, that now overwhelm millions of individual families and sap the resources of the Nation.
Seventy years later, the problem of health disparities continues to plague the United States. The passage of the Health Insurance for the Aged Act, which created Medicare to provide health care insurance for senior citizens and Medicaid to cover the poor who are disabled or have young children, has increased access to health care for some segments of the population. However, millions of citizens and residents of the country continue to suffer from lack of access to health care, relying on hospital emergency rooms as a last–or in some instances the first–resort for health care.
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Sen Demint Of Sc Is Voice Of Opposition To Health
|“Mr. President, get your hands off of my health care and let’s make health insurance work better,” says Sen. Jim DeMint .Reprints|
Peggie Jenkins, 57, a machine operator at a large bakery here, said Obama’s health-care plan “inspired me. . . . He’s trying to help all the people, especially the ones losing their jobs. I don’t listen to all that negativity out there.”
DeMint, 57, who before entering politics owned a small marketing business and struggled to negotiate affordable health-care coverage for his dozen or so employees, said fixing the system has been one of the main causes of his career. But he considers Democratic plans a threat to freedoms Americans treasure.
Since arriving in Washington in 1999 as a House member, DeMint has been on a crusade against the bureaucracy of the federal city. He sought to abolish the federal tax code and once staged a rally in his home town of Greenville, where he tossed all 17,000 pages of the Internal Revenue Service tax code from a hot-air balloon.
“I’m working with a lot of people up here who don’t really understand the health insurance market,” he said. “I don’t think anyone in his Cabinet, or Obama himself, understands the business. I’ve been around doctors all my life.
“We need some real health-care reform,” he added. “So, Mr. President, get your hands off of my health care and let’s make health insurance work better.”
Some medical professionals here in Lexington County agree.
It Is Incredibly Uncomfortable To Be On The Wrong Side Of Your Tribe
Webb’s quick reversal is telling. He doesn’t walk back anything he said in his first video. He doesn’t say Obamacare hasn’t been a boon to his life or that he wants it repealed. He just says a lot of people watched the first video. The implication in his astonished chuckle is that he’s gotten more and angrier feedback than he expected he’s been lashed by the people he thinks of as his allies and praised by the people he considers his enemies.
It’s an excruciating experience to find yourself at odds with your political tribe. So, for most people, it’s actually borderline irrational to pick fights with your side. Webb’s vote in the 2016 presidential election isn’t going to save Obamacare or doom it his vote will have no effect on his life at all. But publicly coming out as a Hillary Clinton supporter when he attends the next meeting of his local Tea Party Patriots chapter? He’ll be attacked by his friends, kicked out of a group he loves, smeared on the internet. His public heterodoxy can really hurt his life. It’s not rational for him to announce he’s voting for Hillary Clinton. Policy interests matter, but they’re much more remote from us than our friends, family, and even our email inbox.
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The Weird Generational Politics Of Obamacare
Obamacare is a particularly good deal for older Americans: the law basically forces young people to buy health insurance in order to make premiums affordable for older, sicker folks. Folks like Webb, who mentions he’s got some medical problems.
In a crude way, you would expect the fight over Obamacare to feature older Americans advocating for the law and younger Americans fighting against it. But the reverse has been true because the Republican Party broadly, and the tea party specifically, skew older than the country at large, while the Democratic Party skews younger.
There are policy crosscurrents that help make sense of some of this: young Americans, because they’re poorer, get a lot of the law’s subsidies. And Obamacare cuts money from Medicare, which angers retirees, and raises taxes on richer people, who tend to be older. So the simple generational analysis only gets you so far. But as Webb’s experience shows, it does get you somewhere. Obamacare is an amazing deal for people in their 50s who need health insurance.
‘keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare: ‘ A Prescription That Progressives Should Fill
The state has consistently been displaced by individual initiative and market mechanisms in personal and collective memory and, more often than not, scholarly interpretations as well. Progressives, however, would do well to embrace rather than deride this pattern. More importantly, they should design legislation that capitalizes upon the long-standing preference of Americans for government that is hidden in plain sight. This article explores that history. It identifies the ways in which Americans learned to govern less visibly during the nineteenth century and the ways in which these patterns were reinforced during the twentieth. In the process, it also addresses the prevailing assumption that Americans did not govern at all for much of their history. Indeed, it is that mythical stateless past that those who have already secured their state-subsidized benefits deployed in order to deny prospective public support to others.
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Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare
Below is one of my favorite signs from the entire health care debate over the past year.
If the federal government does not have its grubby big old hands all over the current Medicare system, then who does? The Tooth Fairy? Santa Claus? The guy from the Monopoly game with all his funny money?
We recently highlighted the apparent philosophical inconsistency when people who love more government, for the best altruistic reasons, decide not to send their tax refund back to Washington to help pay for expansion of government services they strongly support, i.e. health care reform under President Obama and Speaker Pelosi.
On the exact flip-side of the parallel universe are the people who, well-intentioned they may be, are seen holding signs such as this one above, screaming in protest against any more socialism in America! all the while receiving enormous sums of federal taxpayer-supported programs such as Medicare.
Receiving copious amounts of taxpayer assistance in any form, ladies and gentlemen, is the very definition of socialism. We have had socialism creeping into our previously independent American cowboy psyche for at least the past 80 years or so in some form of government program or another.
Something has got to give, people. We cant have everything for nothing and not pay for everything you may want government to provide for everyone else. What is it going to be?
Approval Ratings never got us out of any trouble before. Leaders have.
Keep Your Government Hands On My Medicare
Celebrating Medicare and Medicaids 47th birthday this week, here are some quick thoughts on governments role in ensuring access to affordable health care:
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