Saturday, April 9, 2011

Will the Tea Party continue to hold the government hostage?

Tonight the Democrats and Republicans agreed to another stop gap measure to fund the government through the middle of next week.  The major sticking points were the funding to Planned Parenthood and E.P.A . oversight of our air and water quality.  The Tea Party and the Republicans are trying to make an ideological argument for dropping womens health services and consumer protections on envirnmental issues into key issues in a budget battle that the Republicans kept blocking in the senate last year. Senator Mitch Mc Connell is noteworthy in the fact that he decided last year not to let the fiscal year 2011 budget go through until there were more republicans to fight for their social issues in the house and senate. Mc Connell believed ,erroneously, that the republicans would be controlling both the house and senate after the last election cycle. 
    There is much to be concerned about in this budget bill.  All we know is that it has 39 billion dollars in cuts, which will mostly affect the poor and middle class.  There also is reportedly some more tax breaks for businesses and the wealthy in this country which should not be in this budget bill. 
    There will be more fights to come during the next few weeks and months on the Ryan Plan to get rid of social security and medicare and replace it with a block grant to states to subsidize, for seniors who will now have to buy insurance on the open market,  insurance payments to private companies so those companies can make a huge profit on the backs of seniors and take that money out of the federal government for replacement of medicare and medicaid.  It is a subsidy to seniors to buy insurance on the open market, and if Ryans previous bill, is what he is basing the amounts on, then seniors will only get about $2500.00 in tax subsidies to buy their insurance out of pocket.  the CBO says it will cost seniors about $20,000.00 more in out of pocket costs under the Ryan Plan.  Most seniors I know, don't make nearly enough money to be able to afford those kinds of costs.  The better way to protect medicare is to raise the tax on medicare and to allow everyone to be able to buy into medicare.  After all medicare only has a 2% overhead cost for administration vs private insurance overhead costs of between 10-50% based on the high CEO pay and the dividends for shareholders. Also Ryan wants to get rid of the healthcare law which ends discrimination of pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny people healthcare.  Did you know that just being a woman is a pre-existing condition that an insurance company denies healthcare to on a regular basis?  Also that women pay more for insurance than men for the same policy?  Currently there are over 600 reasons that an insurance company can deny you coverage for, from the mundane, like acne, to the serious, like heart disease.  Here is just one insurance underwriters web site out of California which lists just a few of the reasons that you may be denied insurance: 
    If you one of the lucky people out there who doesn't have a pre-existing condition or the family history or propensity for various disease processes, CONGRATULATIONS!  You have been lucky enough to have been blessed with fantastic genes.  The majority of us are not so lucky as you.  I personally have at least 6 of the items on that list which would either deny me coverage outright or cause me to have premiums much higher than I could ever possibly afford.  Is that fair?  Is it fair that anyone could be denied coverage just because of family medical history?  How can we claim to be an inclusive people and still deny people basic human services?  No one in this country should ever have to go with out the basics of food, shelter, clothing, education, a job,  and medical care.  Anyone who would deny anyone else the same privileges that they, themselves recieve is a selfish idiot.  100% employment however is frowned upon by the fed and the chamber of commerce. Presumably because it would send wages and benefits skyrocketing as people could easily jump from job to job looking for the best deal. 
    Another problem with the Ryan bill is that it really has nothing to do with reducing the national debt.  Instead what is in it is a severe reduction in social programs which help the elderly, disabled, poor and middle class and takes most of the 4.3 trillion dollars in savings and gives 4.2 trillion of it to the rich and multi-nationals in the form of tax breaks and subsidies.  Once again giving a huge windfall to corporations and the rich, at the expense of the poor and middle class.  The better idea again would be to go back to the tax rates of the 1950's and 1960's when the highest tax rates were 90+% .   Back then companies actually put money back into their companies and expanded them instead of taking the money out of the business and sending it into an account overseas.  The wealthy still did really well, much better than anyone else in the country, but there was also a vibrant and growing middle class at that time too.  The wealthy were more apt to give their employees an excellent wage because they could write it off as a business expense, and therefore lower their tax bill.  Instead of that economy, we have been using the Reagan failed policies of trickle down economics which does not and never will work.  The republicans keep trying to expand that failed policy by giving out even more tax breaks to the wealthy and multi-national corporations in the mistaken beleif that it will work this time.  It hasn't worked since Reagan tried it in the 1980's there is no reason to believe it will work now.
    The other major fight is the raising of the debt ceiling.  The Tea Party Republicans would love to shut the government down on that issue.  If they do, I shudder to think of the massive and far ranging implications of such a move.  It would cause another world wide recession if not another depression,  Interest rates would sky rocket into the double digits, and we would experience hyper-inflation, the likes of which we have never seen before.  The hyper inflation would mean people would not be able to feed their families, as a loaf of bread may suddenly be $20-25, a gallon of milk would be $10-15, and a jar of peanut butter would be around $50.  There would not be very many people who wouldn't be starving in such a situation.
    Social programs are the life blood and the safety net of our society.  Especially now when there are so many people out of work and have been for a long time.  We need to make sure that the least among us are taken care of , whether that means the sick, the elderly, children and the unemployed.  All who want to work and who are able to work need to be given jobs, even if it means you just pay people to pick up garbage along our roads and highways, as a way to earn an honest living until something better can come along for those people.  Or you could have them in nursing homes, which are notoriously understaffed, to help take care of those patients, who are otherwise being neglected, due to lack of staffing and funding of those institutions.  There should be lots of areas where the government can put these people back to work, on a temporary basis for a couple of years until the economy gets back on track.  Too many cuts in the budget will only serve to send us back into another recession or depression.