Business Lobbyists Offer Help with Fixing Deficit. Kiss Your Asses Goodbye, Old and Sick People

Categories: Schutze

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This country is being hoodooed by the oldest magic show trick in the book -- misdirection. The fictional crisis of entitlement spending is just a new version of the stain on Monica Lewinsky's dress, the latest cheap trick by the super-rich to turn our attention away from the truth.

For a glimpse of truth, take a peek at a story in The New York Times this morning about an outfit called "Fix the Debt," a group of business-types in Washington who have struck a pose of helpful concern on the national debt. They say they just want to help the government identify the cuts it needs to make.

But The Times, after taking a closer look at these helpful old souls, finds some snout and claw protruding from their robes. The outfit is dominated by professional lobbyists for the big money, eager to bring government a basket of helpful entitlement cuts to make, especially in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

But when they take off the robes and return to their day jobs, it's their teeth and claws that turn red, attacking any attempt to touch an array of huge tax breaks for the wealthy and for major corporations. In fact many of the Fix-the-Debt activists are pulling down fat six-figure fees for their success so far at doing just the opposite -- worsening the debt by carving out tax breaks for the wealthy.

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"Goodness, Granny, what a huge carried interest loophole you have!"
Just a few of those would be the carried interest loophole, which gives an enormous income tax break to people in the private equity industry, and the active financing exception, by which companies like G.E. and other multinationals are given fat tax breaks to reward them for shipping jobs overseas.

The Times story points out that Fix the Debt's "core principles" talk about the need to slash social safety net programs like Medicaid but make no mention at all of military spending. Interesting oversight, given that defense spending is more than twice what we spend on Medicaid as a percentage of gross domestic product. Could this oversight have anything to do with the fact that a co-founder of the Fix the Debt, David M. Cote, is chief executive of Honeywell, a major defense contractor?

The book-end to this story is another one in The Times today about a new study confirming that the United States has fallen almost to the bottom of the heap among the world's rich countries in healthcare and life expectancy for young people. The study convened by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council cites a number of probable causes for our deplorable under-50 mortality rates, from drugs to guns to automobile accidents, but it also points to a major over-arching factor: We spend more than any other country for healthcare and get less.

Why would that be? The study cites a fragmented healthcare system and the high number of people who have no healthcare insurance. We could take that as code for a healthcare system run by insurance companies for the wealthy -- a system that is greasing our slide to Third World status.

In fact, if they're going to insist on calling the Affordable Care Act "Obamacare," maybe we need to come up with a pejorative nickname for what they've got in mind instead. How about Bananacare?

What these forces adamantly do not want us to focus on or see is our real-life ability to resolve entitlement funding through the simple expedient of making big companies and rich people pay their damned taxes at rates anywhere near what the rest of the civilized world requires. Oh, no! Don't look over there! Look over here at these greedy old people sopping up Medicaid benefits and living high on the hog in Medicaid nursing homes.
No? You won't look at that? How about Monica Lewinsky's dress again? Surely there is something they can get you to look at other than the glaring truth before your very eyes.


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58 comments
j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

What percentage of the budget will entitlement spending consume 10 years from now?  Answer that simple question, Jim.  We both know it can't continue.  Old people will be fine.  So will the sick.

ruddski
ruddski

Lots of good ideas here, but y'all are wasting your time. Relax, we voted Obama in for a reason.

James080
James080

Yes, yes, yes. The Republicans love America but hate Americans, and they lobby, scheme and legislate to rob from the middle class and the poor to enrich the extremely wealthy. 

Yes, yes, yes, the Democrats love Americans but hate America, and they lobby, scheme and legislate to rob from the wealthy to bribe the middle class and collateralize the poor to keep them ignorant, dependent, and reliable Democrat voters.

JS, unless you're writing about local governmental corruption, your columns all descend into recitations of the same old leftist stereotypes. Give me a national political issue, and I believe I could write your columns for you just by stringing together a dozen paragraphs of progressive talking points lifted from the NYTimes, MSNBC and CNN. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt.


It is amusing though, that you and some others actually believe it is still possible to avoid a federal default at some point in the near future. You should have taken some math, business and economics classes along with journalism and English. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Great stuff Jim.  Though I don't think you can defend the claim, "Interesting oversight, given that defense spending is more than twice what we spend on Medicaid as a percentage of gross domestic product."  The defense budget is $550-700b depending on which accounting you take, it might really be as high as $1t-1.2t  where I believe we spend $1.3 on medicare/caid.  

The fact is that major healthcare, and banking are professional utlities, they should be either wholly socialized or essentially nationalized.  Sorry, but that what the evidence shows.  To Holman, I'll remind you that the notion of professions and utilities being markets apart from the free market are as old as Common Law and are found in Adam Smith.  But, we get this non-sense advocacy to privatize the Rentiers and to loosen the reigns on them.  That's wrong, just as it's wrong for gov't to intrude into the free market and to transgress the civil liberties which are meant to limit it's police powers. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Your clan just made the Bush Tax Cuts permanent.  And taxing the so-called rich to pay the freight on entitlements is a laffer.  Even some of your Leftist wags have caught up with the horrifying tactical error all because you fixated on Hating.  

Bottom line - you can abolish military spending and seize ALL the assets of the "rich". but that will not fund the current Welfare State, nor slow the pull into the Debt Ceiling abyss. That requires the only bunch capable of paying the freight on such a staggering amount of money - the Bourgeois, the Middle Class.

And since the Radical Left has bargained away the only chip they had left (the B-B-Bush Tax Cuts) by making them permenant, the House will block every attempt to raise taxes on the people who make this country work. The ones who built it.

Elections have consequences and it will be four years before there will be any further increases in taxation, much less MASSIVE tax increases on the middle class.

And that includes bumping up the Debt Celing.

The President will have to raise it himself by invoking continuity oif government (NPSD 51 or HOmeland Rule 20, other a few other stupud Leftist tricks) which will bring in a Constiutional Crisis. Which is what we need. And which is what he wants. And that is to burn the house down.

In any case, I think we will begin to witness a gradual federal secession from the states, voiding reimbursements, this year. The best way to put pressure on the House is to materially reduce matching funds for education, transportation and state-administered social and medicaid programs.

Washington Secede! (ha!)

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

When the focus is under 50, it is all about lifestyle. Stop drinking to excess, slamming down the greasy calories, and get some exercise. Brush your teeth and floss. If your choice of employment involves carrying a pistol and you are not in military or law enforcement, quit. Stop using illegal drugs that got grown/manufactured by God knows what process. Get a free flu shot. Never ever drive with alcohol in your bloodstream. Obey the speed limit and traffic laws. If your spouse/significant other upsets you, walk out the door.

People under 50, when dealing with impacts on millions, normally have minimal interaction with healthcare system. They end up dead or hurt because of stupid choices, for the most part. Paying higher taxes is not going to do anything to help people escape from their dumb choices in life.

animas
animas

Actually the IOMNRC study is good news for the wellness standards of Americans over 50 who are by and large "healthier than their conterparts in 17 other industrialized countries".  Mortality and morbidity rates for those under 50 appear increased due to "poor personal lifestyle choices (drug use, obesity, STDs, etc., eg.)" "societal decay" as well as "intentional" and "unintentional" accidents.  Re-configuring the health care system is of little value to those who do not make reasonable choices.  Has the NYT just discovered the "evil" of lobbyists?  Seems to me that they were co-liobbyists with the Health Insurance Industry when AARP and other insurers promoted Obama/BananaCare.  Is health insurance more affordable today? Are Health Insurance CEO's making any less money?

ruddski
ruddski

All we need is an EO granting any foreign national within our borders citizenship, and the taxes they will have to immediately hand over will fix the economy, more or less.

schutzenaivewhitegui
schutzenaivewhitegui

"greasing our slide to Third World status" .... NO, it is naive white-guilt open-borders "progressive" libtard white-guilt propagandists like YOU and the rest of the "advocacy journalists" at the Obsever who are doing that. And yes, I deliberately wrote "white guilt" twice.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Jim, Jim..... Did you miss the memo?

These people are job creators. We now must refer to them as job creators.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Oh no, look at my rant! Whatever you do, don't try any math!

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Why do we even bother discussing it?

We elected a rabid Kenyan  commie/socialist and all he did was give money to banks and keep on fighting the wars of imperialism. 

Who's gonna do anything to make things right when for 30 years the rich have been soaking up every dollar from productivity gains (which were supposed to mean fat paychecks and shorter workweeks, remember?) and through the golden rule (he who has the gold makes the rules) that ain't ever gonna change.

clevertrousers
clevertrousers

@ruddski because you share the same ethnicities?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@James080

But I will say this for you. Some of those sleazy lobbyists in Fix the Debt are big-name Dems.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@James080

You should not mix Scotch and Fox News.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@scottindallas

I split Medicaid from Medicare to get something smaller than Defense. Please don't hate me.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@holmantx If you looked at this rationally (I know, I know, what am I thinking?) you'd see that the "tax the rich" cries are not based upon using the taxes to fund the shortfall, but rather as a stick to influence behaviour. 

Tax cuts were supposed to stimulate the economy resulting in more jobs and better pay, which would result in higher tax receipts from everybody which would fund the shortfall. Instead, we've had 30 years of all the gains going to the few and then they get a tax cut on top of that. The middle class has been in decline since I was a kid. Whatever blips of good fortune that have appeared since have all been based on credit bubbles of some sort, which in the end only enrich the rich, leaving everybody else to scramble for a way to pay off the bills usually in a job that hasn't had a pay raise, or more likely has had a pay cut with a piling on of workload (so called productivity gains?). If you're looking for work, most jobs are paying less today than they were yesterday. About the only way to get rich today is to be a schmuck. i.e. Finance or Politics.

The only way to try to change things is to raise taxes on the people with all the money and power. If they want to take their balls and go home, fine. That's gonna open up opportunity for someone else. And we'll see how long they like living in Dubai or Singapore. ICE might not let them back in.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@holmantx I can fix Medicaid tomorrow.  Universal medicaid.  The insurance companies can compete if they can.  They can provide, what they should, plus and advantage plans.  

I would never advocate for something that radical and destructive to the markets (like the GOP's advocacy for massive cutting of tax deductions, which will destroy whole markets, again giving favor to connected interests above John Q Citizen.)  How much better to include the public option, to allow markets to gradually adjust to this controversial market action.  Raising tax rates is far less traumatic to markets, as it only reinforces the markets that serve these deductible avenues.  


It's not easy, simple and doesn't fit on a bumper sticker; but we need to go through the tax code and simplify it to something more akin to the Kennedy Tax code.  You must know that raising capital gains will favor capital intensive production, which is far preferable to cap lite production.  Low taxes and low cap gains only encourages speculation, as do these carried interest exemptions, which fuel bubble which exert their own inflation and taxation on the economy.  So, let us not delude ourselves that leaving these markets to their own devices and let us not thing that nationalizing them (I DON'T support nationizing investment banking) will FIX all that ails them.  When you have a professional utility, you have a problem as the client and payer are not the same party.  What we have now doesn't fix that, nothing (that we're willing to live with) does.  And, frankly, it can't ever be so.  The heirs (ins. or gov't) will pay that last medical bill, not the patient.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@MikeWestEast It's really screwed up that we privatize all these low cost, high profit clients and then nationalize the high cost liabilities.  It's another subsidy for the man.  If we nationalized healthcare, we might well have a surplus in medical care, as we spend twice per person what any other industrial nation does.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@MikeWestEast (and animas below):

Your answers express a terribly negative view of your country. So we rank below the Europeans because Americans are more likely to be socially decayed drug-heads? Well, then you're right: why try to do anything at all for this piece of shit country? I see your point.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@animas healthcare is a utility, patients are more akin to consumers, than customers.  Hence, we must address those you don't care about as well as the others.  Utilities are not free markets.  They don't have the freedom to refuse service the way a bar or restaurant does.  In exchange, they get a captive market.  Don't confuse utilities with free markets, you're ignoring a millenia of Common Law and Adam Smith among centuries of other economists. 

clevertrousers
clevertrousers

@Montemalone that ain't the golden rule, sonny...

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@Montemalone To be fair, I do believe that's how Kenyan socialism works.  So, you know, maybe we shouldn't mock.  And, Obama didn't exactly soak the rich, though the working class actually get an equal tax increase to what their tax increased.  2%% on payroll, 2%% on top income.  I frankly never supported the payroll tax cut, but it IS a tax increase.  A real socialist like Ike would've raised the rate to 91%% until this national crisis abated. 

James080
James080

@JimSX  

I don't watch FOX news.  Ever. Yes, there are sleazy lobbyists in both parties, and you should have made mention of that in your column. Joe Biden financed his political career (and jobs for one of his kids) on the largess of CitiBank. Which helps explains why the draconian Chapter 7 "bankruptcy reforms" he helped pass a decade ago have been left intact by the "other progressive" Democrats. I'll be watching how well Giethner does lobbying after his exit. Remember Ann Richards shilling for big tobacco?

James080
James080

@JimSX  

Irish Wiskey. Bushmills. But I'm still at work.....and out of whiskey at home.

No thanks of the Fox News.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@scottindallas @MikeWestEast My comment is not about socialized or private medicine. It is about not paying to put a splint on someone's leg when they really have an STD. People below age 50 that end up dead or hurt usually do not get that way from a lack of periodic visits to a family doctor. If you want to fix something make it apply to the drivers of the problem.

clevertrousers
clevertrousers

@JimSX @MikeWestEast do you? oh yeah, you are SUCH an optimist...

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@JimSX @MikeWestEast Please correct if some survey of our under 50 population compared to other places does not show higher obesity, less exercise, less healthy decisions on what to eat, higher drunken driving, greater use of illegal drugs, riskier driving behavior, higher alcohol abuse in binges and associated violence, and violence from family disturbances, excluding a war zone like Afghanistan or Zaire? You cannot fix problems if you do not acknowledge current conditions. You spend a lot of money and then wonder why does the situation still sucks?

animas
animas

I really can't say that my entire opinion of the US  population  is based upon what the NYT or IOMNRC says.  The conclusions are the IOM's and NYTs not mine.  I'm just saying that IOM and I agree that  the health care system works reasonably well for those who use it appropriately, follow their doctor's advice and take care of themselves (just like everywhere else, in any healthcare system in the world).  Do I think that hospital chains (for profit and not for profit. public, private) rip people off?  Yes.  Do I think that insurance should be more affordable for young people? Yes. Do I think that people should have a wider array of insurance choices?  Yes.  Do I think that socialized medicine would work in the US?  I don't know.  Do I think that we should all pay more taxes?  It depends.

animas
animas

Get over yourself.  You've got a huge nerve to tell me "who I care about".  I am simply setting the record straight about the IOMNRC report.  Read it for yourself.  I have got to get back to being underpaid and over taxed at work. Incidentally I am now waiting over 6 weeks for an appointment with my PCP who will be delighted that you,  Scott AKA-Hugo Chavez, feel that he is a "utility" or should be nationalized lke  a third world oil commodity.(that will make comrade physician work harder!)

schutzenaivewhitegui
schutzenaivewhitegui

@JimSX - your dumbshit denial just makes me laugh even harder, you goofy naive senile old libtard hack.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@James080 @JimSX A Protestant, eh?

clevertrousers
clevertrousers

@animas do you think you should ask yourself a lot of questions and then answer them? evidently.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@animas Well, what if we paid 5% more taxes and got insurance?  Freeing up 10-20% of your income.  Remember, we're already paying for all the high cost folk.  Getting all the hi-profit youngsters in the loop would be a windfall for the system. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@animas What's the difference, once you hit 65, you're on the USG plan.  They're the ones providing the bulk of the care, and for only 45% of total healthcare spending. 

animas
animas

Read the IOMNRC report. If you are over 50 and use the system appropriately the results are not worse, in fact they are better than the above.  Continue to work on getting over yourself, you have a real mountain to climb there.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@animas he's there now.  He sure didn't go to a private medical school--as no such animal exists in this country, or anywhere in the world.  Your individual doctor is a professional relationship, but major healthcare is another matter.  Your doctor don't know enough to treat you for your ultimate hospital visit.  You might not even be of sound mind, if conscious.  And, insurance companies, gov't grants, or the USG are gonna pay that last salary.  So, you might reflect on that, and discuss it with our physician indeed.  Germany, Canada, England, Israel, France's healthcare systems are hardly tantamount to what we get in the US.  No, we spend twice what they do, and get worse results. 

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