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TODAY'S QUESTION: Should the 2012 federal budget plan change Medicaid and Medicare?

Monday, April 4, 2011 | 12:17 p.m. CDT

The Republican proposal for the 2012 federal budget will be revealed this week. The plan aims to cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending over the next decade.

The budget plan, prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Commission, calls for an overhaul of Medicare and cuts in Medicaid.

Medicare, which pays health care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, cost $396.5 billion in 2010. Medicaid provides payments to health care providers for Americans with low incomes or those who meet eligibility requirements.

The proposed plan would let those currently under 55 choose from private insurance plans when they turn 65. The government would then pay around the first $15,000 in premiums. Anyone currently 55 or older would keep the current Medicare programs.

Medicaid funding would be given in block grants distributed by states, which would cut Medicaid spending.

Obama’s proposed plan would cut $1.1 trillion and would not involve any changes to Medicaid or Medicare.

Do you think there should be changes to the current Medicaid and Medicare system? Would you support the Republican budget plan?


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Comments

Ellie Funke April 4, 2011 | 5:01 p.m.

I debated responding because I don't have time right now to do the research necessary to answer this question in detail. I challenge you, Chelsea Arnold, to defend your last statement. I challenge you to show where it will cut $1.1 trillion without adding it back into the DSS budget. Show us where the net savings/increases will be.
I know it will involve changes to Medicaid and Medicare, will go into it more later given time.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote April 4, 2011 | 6:19 p.m.

I would answer yes, if the policy lowers the cost of health care (comparative effectiveness for example).

Rep. Ryan's plan is not a serious approach in this regard, thus I would not endorse Ryan's plan. His plan simply cuts spending in the face of mounting health care costs. Not treating people to save money seems rather unenlightened, especially for the wealthiest country on the planet. I would target many other programs before denying the poor access to health care.

Note that simply not acting upon the Bush tax cuts, will save almost as much money ($3.3 trillion vs. $4 trillion), and as far as I know letting the Bush tax cuts expire won't kill anyone. For a preview of what severe medicaid cuts would look like, see Arizona after they cut funding for a number of transplant operations:
http://www.healthcare-now.org/two-dead-s...

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 4, 2011 | 8:48 p.m.

Back in the 70's, in an effort to combat medicare fraud and improve efficiency, the US gov't hired EDS (Ross Perot's formerly tiny company) to digitize claims processing. Out of this, the ICD-9 coding system was born.

The gist behind the coding system (besides the fact that data storage was REALLY expensive back then so codes were used to represent longer descriptions of things) was that everything had to have an approved code, and be coded correctly, or it didn't get paid. Seeing a golden opportunity to deny claims based on coding errors, non-coded products and procedures, etc., private insurance companies were quick to follow suit. It should have saved money, right?

Unfortunately, it didn't save any money, at least not overall. Instead, an administrative war ensued. Suddenly, people on both ends had to be paid to either code and submit claims, or process / deny submitted claims. The coding system kept getting fractured into smaller and smaller bits as payers kept searching for ways to get paid, and payees kept searching for ways to deny payment.

This required an ever-expanding labor force to manage submittal and processing. It's is why the hospital has to charge $10 for an Advil. The pill itself is virtually free, but it costs $10 for all the administrative work to track the darned thing. It would cost us all less if the hospital just gave away the pill and ate the cost, instead of expending valuable labor trying to recover it.

Today, almost half of all healthcare costs are dedicated to administrative personnel on both ends - doctors and insurance companies - just to participate in this madness. This is why elective procedures seem such a bargain in comparison: very little billing overhead, and complete removal of the insurance industry and all it's workers from the payment side.

The privatization of Medicare doesn't address this problem at all. Same system, same problem. The block grant concept does a little, but only insofar as it will limit coverage. People will die, but hey, people die all the time, and it WILL save money. It will still be run the same administratively wasteful way.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 4, 2011 | 9:22 p.m.

"Rep. Ryan's plan is not a serious approach in this regard, thus I would not endorse Ryan's plan."

We understand Christopher. You have enough trouble getting anyone to endorse Your plans. "Raise taxes on everyone" just doesn't seem to work for the majority of us.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 4, 2011 | 10:14 p.m.

"as far as I know letting the Bush tax cuts expire won't kill anyone."

Chris, as I asked last week, what's preventing you from saying no to the tax cut extension by calculating what you would have paid if they ended and then sending the extra money to the feds? Your reply, "No (I already paid my taxes)," is a cop-out because the Treasury will accept your check at any time. The feds also have a website that accepts donations for paying down the deficit. Do I really need to post that link again?

If letting the Bush tax cuts expire won't kill anyone, including you, why wait for Congress to force you to put your money where your mouth is?

(Report Comment)
Zach H April 5, 2011 | 1:33 a.m.

The Republican's plan would put an increased burden on the poor and elderly. What else is new?

How about we take the top part of the Bush tax cuts away (over 250k) or implement a millionaire's tax? This nation's top tax bracket is the lowest it's been since before WWII. The wealthiest should be reinvesting in the nation that allowed them to prosper, not squeezing us like a lemon.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 5, 2011 | 7:33 a.m.

Does anyone else remember in 2009 and 2010 the Republicans screaming that Obama and the liberals were going to cut medicare? They use cuts to medicare as a scare tactic to get the elderly vote then after the election cycle they actually cut it themselves.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 8:15 a.m.

J. Hamm - Could expect you to omit the fact that Ryans changes only effect those now under age of 55 from your lament. Those over 55 would die with the same Medicare we have now. And, you to show the hypocrisy in complaining about changes while belonging to the crowd that has proclaimed "none of these politicians will ever dare touch our entitlements!"

Zach H. would do us a service if he could explain, "The wealthiest should be reinvesting in the nation that allowed them to prosper, not squeezing us like a lemon."

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 5, 2011 | 9:25 a.m.

Frank;

So you are saying that the elderly voters shouldn't care because the Republicans are only going after their kids and grand kids medicare?

If you and your generation are not willing to give up your medicare benefits why should my generation and I give it up? Same for social security. Whatever happened to living by example? Why don't you start the trend by giving up your social security and medicare benefits?

"And, you to show the hypocrisy in complaining about changes while belonging to the crowd that has proclaimed "none of these politicians will ever dare touch our entitlements!"

When have I ever said such a thing Frank? When are you going to stop putting words in people's mouths, stop plagiarizing websites, stop using so much hyperbole and start thinking for yourself?

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 10:50 a.m.

Jack Hamm - Do you indeed, want to correct the excessive spending of our Federal Gov't and require those in control be mandated to balance their budget as We all must?

If your answer is no,you are quite understandable in your criticism of Rep Ryan and his plans. If yes, then your comments are the height of hypocrisy. You profess concern about your kids and grand kids, while supporting this Democrat administration while it is in an attempt to destroy the nation they will have to live in.

"So you are saying that the elderly voters shouldn't care because the Republicans are only going after their kids and grand kids medicare?" No, I said "R's have to fix SS. If it hurts me it's OK".

You said,"why should my generation and I give it up? Same for social security." If you won't give up yours, why should I give up mine. This from Democratic Underground:

"Shouldn't Republicans refuse to accept Social Security benefits? And drug prescription benefits? And Medicare?

If they are to be thought serious about fiscal conservatism, they ought to get off the teat, don't ya think?

It's time to start asking them to give up their government support."

"stop plagiarizing websites, stop using so much hyperbole and start thinking for yourself?" Is that you writing to me?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 5, 2011 | 11:30 a.m.

frank christian wrote:

"Do you indeed, want to correct the excessive spending of our Federal Gov't and require those in control be mandated to balance their budget as We all must?"

OK, let's inject some numbers into this.

In order to balance the federal budget, we have to either cut spending by $1.5 trillion, increase revenue by $1.5 trillion, or some combination of the two.

$1.5 trillion is roughly half of the federal budget. We could cut all of Medicare, half the defense budget, half of Social Security, and still not make it. This simply won't happen - not even a little bit.

Approximately 2% of households earn more than $250,000/year. They represent a bit more than 25% of the total income of all taxpayers (approx $12 trillion in 2009). Say we let the Bush tax cuts expire, and their rate goes from 36% to 39.5%. That's about 3.5% of three trillion dollars, or about $100 billion. That's a drop in the bucket - we'd have to raise their rates to 80 or 90% in order to balancce the budget that way. That would result in many of them leaving the country, or otherwise sheltering their income, and the revenue would fall way short of projections.

Some combination of the two may be possible, but if Republicans are having trouble cutting a measly $100 billion from the federal budget, and Democrats are having trouble passing a measly $100 billion tax increase, then we have a LOT bigger problems re: a balanced budget than will be solved by government (or anybody else).

You never answered what you would specifically cut to balance the budget. I don't think you can answer that (I don't think anyone can)

DK

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 5, 2011 | 11:30 a.m.

Frank;

What I am saying is before we start cutting people's retirement and medical benefits, before we start cutting funding for our children's and grand children's education, and before cutting funding for vastly needed infrastructure investments we should start by cutting the 3 wars and the over half trillion we spend every year on defense. I don't know about you but I would rather my tax dollars go to making America a better place instead of it going to foreign countries to make them worse places. I can't think of a more un-American or unpatriotic position then making fellow Americans suffer so that we can continue to kill foreigners.

""stop plagiarizing websites, stop using so much hyperbole and start thinking for yourself?" Is that you writing to me?"

Yes it is. Has anyone else ever been caught plagiarizing here? No, it's only been you hasn't it? People are not going to forget you copying and pasting from websites to here and the Tribune and passing it off as original thought. They are not going to forget you telling people to stop looking at everything so one sided and to blame both parties even though everything bad that has ever happened in this country is the liberals fault in your mind and everything good is the regressives fault. The apex of your thought pattern really seems to be a caveman like "progressive bad, regressive good". It is staggering to watch Fox news at night then come here the next day and see you repeating every talking point that they brainwashed into you. Remember when the Mosque near the Trade centers was a big deal? You were all over that one Frank, complaining left and right. Then Fox news stopped talking about it (probably since people found out Fox's second largest shareholder was financing it) and you magically stopped talking about it. If you want your life to be an extension of Fox news then so be it but don't expect others to respect you.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger April 5, 2011 | 12:00 p.m.

Mr. Hamm puts it succinctly and accurately--and worth repeating: "I would rather my tax dollars go to making America a better place instead of it going to foreign countries to make them worse places.'

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Dick April 5, 2011 | 12:13 p.m.

This idea of cutting 4 to 6 trillion dollars out of the budget over a decade is about as intelligent as doing lines of cocaine to pass the time of day. It isn't going to happen so why waste time on such an idiotic idea? The people of this country aren't going to go for it. It's time to get realistic and see about doing what the government is supposed to be doing: fix the economy and then they won't have to spend so much. It was done in the 90's and it can be done again. The issue here is that Republicans know a tax increase is really going to have to happen and they want to avoid that at all costs. Sorry, but the rich are going to have their taxes increased sooner or later and get back to the pre-Reagan levels. They made plenty of money then and they will continue to do so. For those that hate this idea, too bad. Since almost none of you are in that 1% bracket I don't see why you scream so loud about the idea.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 5, 2011 | 12:36 p.m.

"Why don't you start the trend by giving up your social security and medicare benefits?"

I would gladly give those up if I could get back everything I've paid in, plus interest.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 5, 2011 | 12:41 p.m.

@ Jimmy

"

"Why don't you start the trend by giving up your social security and medicare benefits?"

I would gladly give those up if I could get back everything I've paid in, plus interest."

I bet most people would; however that is not what Frank and the regressives are advocating. Frank wants to keep his SS benefits but wants younger generations to lose them. However, for Frank to keep getting his benefits the younger generations must keep paying into the system. So, Frank wants me to pay taxes so that he can get his government handout but he does not think that people younger then him should get the same deal.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger April 5, 2011 | 1:17 p.m.

If I can be allowed to pull this thread back to the original question of Medicare, etc., the issue few people want to address (I'm not referring to my fellow posters here) is end-of-life decisions. I don't have the stat at hand, but I'm sure we're all well aware that the vast, vast amount of Medicare spending occurs in the last six-twelve months of life, and in many, many cases, those are expensive procedures which don't always have the best interests of the patient in mind. How much are we, the taxpayers, willing to spend for an expensive, iffy treatment or procedure to keep an old geezer like me alive for another few months? Of course, when one broaches this topic, the conservatives go nuts, and start screaming about pulling plugs and death panels. Facing up to hard realities isn't easy for anyone of any political stripe, but we're going to have to do it, especially with the boomer surge on the horizon.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 1:19 p.m.

dk, jh,ho - You people have stepped out of our world with your political bias. You make it clear to all that the safety and prosperity of our country mean nothing, until the progressive liberal vision for it, is achieved. There is no reason on earth for any American not to wait and see what the R's can do, or see and know that the D's have no intention of doing anything, but drive our bus over the cliff.

Mark, with his numbers, hamm, with his insane, false crap, hank, with his "tag along" agreement, because he can thus profess the progressive, liberal, opposition to war, whether necessary or not; are becoming quite hysterical and boring to read and hear. They know that none of the things being attempted by Republicans can ever be obtained as long as a Democrat with the power to stop them, remains in our gov't. They also see the possibility that this may well happen. Post all the trash about me, you wish, I'll still be here to play catch.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 1:20 p.m.

SS is a transfer payment, not a savings account. Funny how we all know that, but still talk about it in terms of having paid into the system, and deserving to get something out of it, or getting back what you paid so far.

The money I pay today goes directly towards Frank's SS check today.

SS has a couple of fundamental problems:

1) Income growth over the last 30 years has happened mostly outside the income cap of the SS tax. SS tax revenue growth has fallen behind overall income growth because of this.

2) Accelerating retiree growth that is now significantly outpacing declining job growth.

Both of these factors are related to the increasing income disparity in the US. The retiree to worker ratio would be going up anyway, but the fact that the entities that have experienced most of the income gains are actively shipping jobs overseas doesn't help much.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 1:32 p.m.

Sorry, but how does Mark, with his numbers, make it "clear to all that the safety and prosperity of our country mean nothing"?!?

DK is the only one here that appears to have any grasp whatsoever of the scope of the financial problem.

I'm not sure how the other's opinions (mine probably included) can be viewed as wanting to destroy our country, either.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 1:45 p.m.

There's actually a very good reason for me "not to wait and see what the R's can do". Fact is, I've already seen what the R's can do:

1) Talk about fiscal responsibility;

2) Bait and switch, using the fiscal issue as cover to advance a draconian social / moralistic agenda. It's not smaller government they want, it's just different government: less helping people, and more controlling people.

If you remember, I was willing to sit back and see what they would do after the election. Now, I've seen. I'm not impressed.

It's the baldface lie; total outright projection. Whatever GOP/Conservatives are accusing Dems/Liberals of, you can be quite certain it takes one to know one.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger April 5, 2011 | 1:46 p.m.

Frank accuses, "hank, with his "tag along" agreement, because he can thus profess the progressive, liberal, opposition to war, whether necessary or not;"

Au contraire, François: there are wars I might support; I just haven't seen one worth supporting since WW2. And let me repeat that if we do go to war, taxes must be raised to support it. I assume you would disagree.

But back to the issue of health care...

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 5, 2011 | 1:50 p.m.

"SS is a transfer payment, not a savings account. Funny how we all know that, but still talk about it in terms of having paid into the system, and deserving to get something out of it, or getting back what you paid so far."

The doesn't change the fact that I want back what I paid in. It's not my fault that Congress screwed up the system decades ago by spending the money that Frank and others paid in.

"SS has a couple of fundamental problems."

Three more are that:

1) The pay-in period isn't long enough. It should be a minimum of 30 years.

2) The quarterly earnings credit threshold is way too low.

3) Benefits should be paid only to the people who paid into the system. No spousal benefits and other free riders.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 5, 2011 | 1:51 p.m.

For Derrick

Your second point reminded me of this cartoon...

http://www.mattbors.com/strips/730.gif

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 5, 2011 | 2:27 p.m.

frank christian wrote:

"Mark, with his numbers, hamm, with his insane, false crap,"

You're welcome to correct any of them you like. They do, however, have to bear some semblence of reality.

For the third time, what would you specifically cut to balance the budget? Then we can find figures and see whether that will actually do anything more than give politicos, on both sides, a subject for their bluster.

DK

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 3:10 p.m.

Seems odd, Hank, for one to detest 1T$ spent in deficit in an effort to protect American citizens, but have no opinion (that I recall)on 4T$ deficit spent in last two years that has neither protected, nor produced anything for the people. This President is going to double our debt by the end of his first term then triple it by the end of his budget.

Funk and Bearfield, above are only ones Not directing their criticism at the ones that are trying to stop the deficits, Republicans. One says,"I was willing to sit back and see what they would do after the election." Not yet three months and now "I've seen. I'm not impressed."

Seems a little odd to me. Makes perfect sense to you, I suppose.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 3:26 p.m.

Mark - Read Rep Ryan's proposals, cutting spending across the board to levels of 2008, among them. If you don't agree tell him and say that you would prefer to have Charles Rangel, Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi running your show. I'll say again, "a way to make sure we never have fiscal responsibility, or a balanced budget in our Federal Government; is to allow one Democrat with the power to stop it, to remain in that gov't". Frame that, so you can remember it.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger April 5, 2011 | 3:40 p.m.

Thanks for reminding me how safe I am, Frank, now that all those weapons of mass destruction have been found, and....oh, and that al-Qaeda is now vanquished.... My point is (and was) that you don't wage wars without paying for them--with taxes on the people. A draft would help too, though that's another (although related) issue.

But back to health care....

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 5, 2011 | 4:21 p.m.

"I'll say again, "a way to make sure we never have fiscal responsibility, or a balanced budget in our Federal Government; is to allow one Democrat with the power to stop it, to remain in that gov't."
Anyone who blathers such totalitarian, absolutist and scorched earth rhetoric is not be taken seriously.
Or to be taken very seriously...like a crazed junkie fiending for his next fix seriously.
"You can turn your back on a man, but you can't ever turn your back on a drug." (With apologies to Hunter S. Thompson.)

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 4:25 p.m.

Right, Hank, You aren't going to address our exploding bebt, except in the context of "Bush's Wars", so back to health care, which you can only discuss in the context of Obamacare.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 4:31 p.m.

Gregg Bush - Speaking of drugs...... When you come down, name a Democrat that will/would vote for a balanced budget requirement for our Federal gov't.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 5, 2011 | 4:52 p.m.

"for one to detest 1T$ spent in deficit in an effort to protect American citizens"

I think many people who disagree with you Frank would say that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have little to do with protecting Americans; in fact it puts many more Americans in harms way.

"This President is going to double our debt by the end of his first term then triple it by the end of his budget."

He sounds like your kind of guy Frank. In 1980 US outstanding debt was $907 billion according to the Treasury department. By 1984 it was up to $1.572 trillion and a staggering $2.602 trillion by 1988. Reagan was just a little short of doubling it in his first term but he was almost right on the dot with tripling it overall. Granted Reagan did inherit a down economy just like Obama but what wars did he inherit? If I remember correctly Obama inherited two wars. Granted, Reagan did have military expenses fighting the Cold War in Afghanistan. It cost a lot of money for Reagan to arm and train the Taliban and bin Laden.

How can you admire Reagan so much but detest Obama at the same time. Sounds like "regressive good, progressive bad" to me Frank. Don't come back with "congress was controlled by liberals" or "Tip O'Neill derp" unless you have answers for Obama's house being controlled by regressives and John Boehner.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 5:02 p.m.

LOL spin my comment however you want, Frank. The fact remains that Republicans are only using fiscal problems as a cover to implement a more intrusive, more controlling government (for regular citizens, anyway).

It would be one thing if the Repubs were actually trying to improve the economy, but they're not. The Repubs are just trying to destroy America.

How silly does it sound when I turn it around?

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger April 5, 2011 | 5:15 p.m.

Frank opines, "Hank, You aren't going to address our exploding bebt, except in the context of "Bush's Wars", so back to health care, which you can only discuss in the context of Obamacare."

May I recommend a remedial reading course for you?

Our (admittedly) exploding debt is due to many factors, not the least of which is (1) the wars we fight; (2) the idiotic tax cuts for the super-wealthy; and (3) the expectation of the public to receive the benefits of the government (insert your long list) without agreeing to raise taxes to pay for them.

To take it back to health care, the following may be instructive--and I beg forgiveness if I've already posted this--but I spoke with a Canadian couple recently. They were young, bright, she a bit along with her first child. I said, "I know it's bad form to talk politics with strangers, but is it true that Canadians are clamoring for the kind of health care system we enjoy here in the United States?" (We were in Hawaii). He looked at me as if I were nuts, recognized the joke, placed his hand softly on his wife's abdomen, and said, "You know, this won't cost us a penny. This is why we pay our taxes."

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 5:34 p.m.

Reagan: the true father of modern government debt. Just to drive home the point, here's the graph: http://nationalpriorities.org/media/uplo...

If the Reagan/Bush 1 debt trajectory were held steady, we'd still be at about $13T debt, instead of $15T debt. Notice that the Bush 2 debt trajectory almost exactly matches the Reagan/Bush 1 trajectory. At least Republican presidencies are consistent, eh?

So, nary a peep about the first $11T in debt, but those last $4T are like ZOMG GOVERNMENT SPENDING IS (all the sudden) **SO** OUT OF CONTROL! Being all concerned about deficits and debt, while holding Reagan up as a model of the Presidency, is about as duplicitous as one can get.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 5:39 p.m.

The only real answer to US debt at this point is devaluation.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 6:00 p.m.

BTW, 9/11 killed about 3,000 Americans. So far, the Afghan and Iraq wars have killed about 6,000 Americans. Now, what was making Americans safer again?

In the meantime, we completely ignore the fact that, since 9/11, about 350,000 Americans have died in auto accidents, and another 160,000 have died from domestic gun violence (not including firearm suicides, which adds another 180,000).

I guess I lack perspective on some people's lack of perspective.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 6:15 p.m.

j hamm - "I think many people who disagree with you Frank would say that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have little to do with protecting Americans". Of course you do, you are a progressive liberal and as such reject any factual case made for wars not started by Democrats You probably bitched about H W's action in Iraq. Try to get your act together, Reagan had Soviet Union to contend with and put them "out of business" with the threat of his SDI, which Democrats oppose to this day, tho proved effective. This world threat, communism, is the reason he armed the Afghans. He also had to rebuild a decimated military left by Carter, just as Clinton did for W. Bush. You know, but cannot admit that Tip O'Neal, was proud to be a liberal and admitted readily, that he would obtain every $ possible from his Gov't, that every spending bill did and still does have to start in the House. Why should I not "mention" Tip and the D's when they are on record as having lied to Reagan on two occasions about reductions they would make in Spending cuts, which are huge in the "deficit spending" you and yours now blame on Reagan.

Your posts become more undecipherable with each attempt. "Obama's House" has recently been returned to R' control. The reference to tripling of our debt was the text of Obama's budget as stated by Rep. Ryan on Fox News. I forgot, if he said it on Fox, he must have been lying.

A little secret. Ryan is hoping his proposals will be demonized and demeaned by those like you and the ones above.

(Report Comment)
hank ottinger April 5, 2011 | 6:26 p.m.

Frank writes, "Of course you do, you are a progressive liberal and as such reject any factual case made for wars not started by Democrats."

Ah, so good to see that stereotyping is alive and well. So much easier than thinking.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 5, 2011 | 6:37 p.m.

I'm pretty sure the Constitution, not Tip O'Neill, requires all spending bills to begin in the House.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Dick April 5, 2011 | 7:21 p.m.

We are in Afghanistan because of the Taliban's support for the terrorist scum who attacked the United States resulting in the destruction of the Twin Towers. We have every right to be in Afghanistan and should stay until we finish the mission which is the eradication of the Taliban as a government and fighting force.
Do not join the Afghanistan and Iraq wars together. They are not the same.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 7:31 p.m.

The USSR disintegrated while in Afghanistan. Just sayin...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 5, 2011 | 7:36 p.m.

Derrick: "...to advance a draconian social / moralistic agenda. It's not smaller government they want, it's just different government: less helping people, and more controlling people."
__________________________

I'd like to comment on this as an aside to the main topic.

It is true that liberals castigate conservatives for trying to get into folks personal lives....take away freedoms, if you will.

But, I would remind everyone that this is a two-way street. Liberals send unasked-for Nicorette to Japan, want to limit where I live (cities), want to dictate how I get from one place to another, want to limit my income (taxes), want to take away business-owners' rights, etc.....all for a "greater" good.

Seems to me that no one has a monopoly on "limiting freedoms for a greater good".

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 5, 2011 | 8:03 p.m.

Hank - Our exploding debt. #1 1.75T$ for wars and counting, #2 arrived at by counting money gov't does not/won't have at it's disposal to spend, Not counting any additional revenues afforded the gov't by the production incurred by the cuts #3 What? The public won't agree to raising taxes to pay for the benefits proposed so our Gov't borrows (since Reagan) the money anyway? To stop this, takes the leadership we are now trying to achieve, that you can only ridicule.

An anecdotal story about universal health care and you wonder if You've posted it before? Did you ask the Canadians if they knew, their gov't was spending 150M$ annually to buy and lease health care products and hospital facilities from and in the USA, that their gov't cannot provide, or that every nation with univ health from Canada to Europe and beyond is privatizing their univ. system? Some like Greece have been ordered to change their Corrupt health care system to obtain IMF loans.

That you and yours are remotely interested in fiscal responsibility is a thinly veiled charade. Quit the kidding!

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 5, 2011 | 10:29 p.m.

Aside from the jab about Nicorette, I'm not buying that hogwash. [citation needed]

It's absolutely true that the rhetoric and propaganda from any side in any matter is almost always couched in "the greater good" or "think of the children" terms. It's amazing how many conservatives want to limit where I can ride my bike, "for my own good." Yeah, riiiiiight.

Pardon me if I really show my liberal perspective here, but I see GOP policy as clearly more directly punitive (do what I say or you'll get spanked), while Lib policy is more indirectly coercive (You'll get ice cream if you do what I say). I suppose the point it that one good leather belt should be a lot less expensive than a bowl of ice cream every time you want someone to do something.

It seems like it should be cheaper, until you add up just how much the US spends on it's collective "good leather belt" - i.e. police, corrections, and military. I find it highly amusing that a lot of Republican state governors are getting bitten by the enormous cost of decades of punitive policy.

Speaking of getting bitten by one's own policies:

"Reagan had Soviet Union to contend with and put them "out of business" with the threat of his SDI"

...But war is just an expensive, addictive drug. We got hooked, and never kicked the habit. When the USSR collapsed, our military spending was ~$340B, or ~$600B in today's dollars. Today, our total military spending is somewhere in the neighborhood of ~$900B - $1T, depending on exactly what you consider military spending. Yes, and arms race (and USSR's own invasion and occupation in Afghanistan) effectively put the USSR out of business, but if we don't get some rehab for this addiction (and get out of Afghanistan) it's gonna put US out of business, too.

"This world threat, communism, is the reason he armed the Afghans."

He armed the Taliban Afghans, specifically. And... how's that working out for us, now?

"He also had to rebuild a decimated military left by Carter, just as Clinton did for W. Bush."

This is just more baseless mudslinging. Clinton reduced the military budget from $349B in 1992 to $316B in 1996, which not so coincidentally coincided with... budget surpluses! But by the time Clinton left office, military spending had gone back up to $359B, which not so coincidentally correlates with a decline in budget surpluses. I'd hardly call a $33B reduction, followed by a $43B increase, 'decimating' the military. And, the correlation between the spending figures and budget surpluses is rather telling.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson April 5, 2011 | 11:03 p.m.

It is overly simplistic and historically near-sighted, to simply say that Reagan "armed the Taliban Afghans", and leave it at that. The United States and its allies armed, trained, and supported anti-communist elements in Afghanistan. These elements included the Taliban, but were certainly not limited to such. And Reagan was hardly alone, nor was such appropriation and execution strictly a partisan affair. Probably why the book and movie were titled "Charlie Wilson's War", rather than "Ronnie Reagan's War."

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 5, 2011 | 11:07 p.m.

Burn your Medicare card Frank. Help with our national debt.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 5, 2011 | 11:27 p.m.

Derrick: You can find the story about the Nicorette in the Tribune a day-or-so ago. We sent our Japanese sister city a bunch of medical supplies and over a million bucks in Nicorette. The article quoted someone as saying we hoped to help them quit smoking. The Missourian didn't cover the story, but that's par. To my knowledge, no one in our sister city asked for that kind of help. And here I thought that all cultures were created equal...ya know, diversity and acceptance and all that. Unless ivory-tower theorists say otherwise, of course.

I kinda agree with your statement about belts or ice cream....except that the liberal version of "ice cream" is usually banana-flavored cow crap. You may give up a "freedom" willingly, but you still lost one....for ice cream. Or a belt.

Have you ever asked yourself WHY military spending....or ANY spending....is more expensive today than in the yesteryear?

It's because salaries go up. EVERY single dollar circulating for ANY reason in ANY transaction in the US (the world) goes to someone's salary...someplace, somewhere...down the line. So, when you talk about increases in ANY spending, you will have to differentiate between the enhanced salary component versus "are we actually making more today than we were yesterday?" F22s cost more today for the same reason I can't buy my 1971 Ford Pinto for 1200 bucks.

Perhaps one of these dayz we'll outsource our defense.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 6, 2011 | 12:09 a.m.

@Tony: The Taliban was still the *primary* organization we worked with, fostered, and strengthened for this purpose. But otherwise, you're right.

@Mike: "banana-flavored cow crap" LOL! And a little too true.

@Mike: That's why I cited the ~1990 USSR collapse figures in today's dollars, as well as back then dollars. I didn't do so for the Clinton era figures because my focus was on the loss/gain over that timeframe, and adjusting for inflation doesn't change those smaller numbers much. $33B in 1996 = $45.5B in 2011; $43B in 2000 = $55B. The net change is still roughly +$10B, even in today's dollars.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 6, 2011 | 12:30 a.m.

When you look at SS and Medicare together, it's almost 40% of all federal expenditures. If you lump those together and call it "Senior Welfare", the situation starts looking a lot more like generational warfare than a class warfare.

But don't worry too much; help is on the way. Ryan's proposed cuts are just the death panels we've been looking for.

BTW, reducing spending across the board to 2008 levels would mean a $140B cut for defense. That really WOULD decimate (and a half, i.e. 16% cut) the military.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 6, 2011 | 7:40 a.m.

@ Frank

"Of course you do, you are a progressive liberal and as such reject any factual case made for wars not started by Democrats You probably bitched about H W's action in Iraq."

This progressive liberal is a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. What war did you serve in? When did you shed blood for your country. I earned my right to complain about the wars by going there and seeing it and experiencing it first hand; what war did you shed blood in to run your mouth like that Frank? Or are you another one of those grumpy pathetic old men who like to act like big military guys when in reality they never had what it took to stand up and fight?

I have met a lot of guys like you Frank. You love supporting the wars and the troops because you have absolutely no idea what they are doing over there because you have never experienced it. However, in you little head you are more of a patriot and know more about the military then a veteran like me because I'm a liberal and you are a regressive. If you think either war has anything to do with protecting Americans you are crazier then I ever imagined.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 6, 2011 | 8:46 a.m.

jack hamm - You get a star in your progressive liberal crown. Formerly, one could not talk about "war" unless they had served in the military, as, of course, did the progressive making the charge. Now, according to you, one has to have shed blood, to have an opinion about the direction of our country, militarily. People are not animals, they don't have to experience a horror, to know that, that is what it is.

My war was Harry Trumans, Korea. I learned that "old men" were quite willing to force our young men to defend their idea of a threat to our country. Force, that is, unless, the young man enrolled in college, or obtained one of the many other "deferments" available to those in the upper echelons of our society. Thankfully, I never "bled", for my country.

Can you not consider the blood shed by the 3000 of 9/11? No, your side would rather wait for it to happen again, then catch the perpetrator (if still alive) and prosecute him/her to the "fullest extent of the law". Not my idea of the best way to protect our people.

We don't have the "draft" today and I sincerely express my pride in you to have volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 6, 2011 | 8:58 a.m.

Frank,

I don't think one needs to have served in the military or shed blood to be able to complain about any war. I think being a citizen and a tax payer gives you that right. My problem is people like you who think you have to be a backwards regressive to be able to complain about the military or wars. You are the one (and your regressive buddies) that like to think regressives are the only ones who know anything about the military, are the only ones who care about defending our country and that all liberals hate war and herp derp. It annoys me to no end when people like you try to take this approach of being more patriotic just because you are a conservative. It is one of the dumbest of many dumb stances that you take and personally I find it incredibly disgusting and unpatriotic; it is truly beyond shameful and I have seen you do it to many times on this site and the Tribune. I am beyond sick of hearing semi-literate tea baggers rip liberals over defense and the military when they never served one day in the military and never shed one drop of blood. You want to act like this big pro-military, pro-war tough defense guy? Go sign up and shed your blood. Until then, stop running your mouth to me; you sound like a DA 8 year old kid whos vision of war is GI Joe cartoons.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 6, 2011 | 9:27 a.m.

Frank,

I did not express the point I was trying to get across very well in my last post so let me try again.

It should not take me having served in the military for my opinions on US defense and wars to be taken seriously or with respect. The fact that I am a tax paying citizen should be enough. It does not matter if you are a veteran or not, or a liberal or conservative. No one side has a monopoly on patriotism and the military.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 6, 2011 | 9:33 a.m.

frank christian wrote:

"Read Rep Ryan's proposals, cutting spending across the board to levels of 2008, among them."

OK - I just got done reading a story about the imminent shutdown of government, and all the bickering taking place over whether to cut $33 billion (D), or $70 billion(R), from the budget, so they will agree to raise the debt limit. You actually think Congress, D or R, is going to support approx $700 billion in cuts? Dream on.

I don't necessarily oppose the partial privatization of Medicare, or of SS for that matter. It can be shown that investing SS tax and employer contribution in even a fairly conservative retirement portfolio can yield over twice what one can expect from SS. If there is not a large difference between the benefits that private insurance would pay, and what Medicare pays, then we can do a cost analysis and find out what this proposal would realistically save.

Just from this quick site:

http://www.ncpssm.org/medicare/fastfactm...

we see there are about 44 million Medicare beneficiaries, the average benefit is about $11,000/year, and dividing 400 billion dollars by 44 million beneficiaries gives an expenditure of about $9,000/beneficiary.

Rep Ryan's proposal would allow up to $15,000year for the purchase of private insurance. How is this going to save money in the future?

DK

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 6, 2011 | 9:49 a.m.

J H - Your first sentence: "I don't think one needs to have served in the military or shed blood to be able to complain about any war."

Next to last:"You want to act like this big pro-military, pro-war tough defense guy? Go sign up and shed your blood."

These register very low on my "scale of coherence" I've stated in past that I probably should no longer bother with your posts. That idea seems to have been a good one.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm April 6, 2011 | 10:00 a.m.

Frank,

You are confusing things.

I am not the one that started this by slamming another's view on the military because of their political leaning, you did. I do not believe that any citizen should have to serve in the military to be able to have an opinion on our wars; being a citizen is enough and no citizens opinion is greater than anothers.

However, if YOU want to start making claims about who can say what and what political party is more patriotic and cares more about the defense of our country then you can go back it up by serving in a combat zone. Until you do, do not dare telling me that my views on the wars or our defense are less than yours because I am a liberal and don't you ever dare try to tell me that liberals don't care about the defense of our borders and fellow citizens.

I can put up with your political crap Frank but this is something that I will not tolerate. I did not fight so that I can come home and have some old computer tough guy tell me that I am not patriotic enough or I don't care about defense like he does because I don't hold the same political views as him. As I said before, it is incredibly unpatriotic and un-American. It is an insult to the millions of liberals that have served and died in our armed forces every time some regressive like you tries to act like Republicans have a monopoly on defense and the military. You truly should feel shame about this Frank.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson April 6, 2011 | 10:08 a.m.

@Jack_Hamm. Absolutely right Jack. I too am sick and tired of hearing many on the right claim jingoistic ownership of loyalty to this country.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 6, 2011 | 11:14 a.m.

Mark F. - I grow weary. There must close to as much "bickering" around here, as in Washington.

I said, read Ryans proposals, you come back with,"OK - I just got done reading a story about the imminent shutdown of government". You state 490B$ in debt paid with results of R' legislation is not enough to matter, but call Democrat refusal to cut even 70B$ in spending "all the bickering taking place". I have stated, nothing is going to happen, as long as Democrats are in the majority anywhere in our gov't. If a filibuster proof majority is not obtained by R's in the Senate, D's will kill any bill that lessens their ability to Spend, which is the source of their power. If you are nailed to your position that R's are not going to get anything done, then the premise should begin with these facts. Your opinion on SS privatization does not matter one "whit" as long as Senate Democrats can stop it. Harry Reid is willing to look at SS sometime in the next twenty years. In the meantime they are spending every dime that comes into it. You apparently don't see this as our problem. I do and contend that crunching numbers is of little value to "us" until specifics are on the table in Congress.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 6, 2011 | 11:40 a.m.

Krugman has started picking apart Ryan's plan:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04...

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04...

The "And a housing unicorn, too" article is particularly telling about how unrealistic Ryan's budget projections are.

(Krugman actually even follows me on Twitter, BTW)

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote April 6, 2011 | 11:45 a.m.

@Mark,
In response to this: "Rep Ryan's proposal would allow up to $15,000year for the purchase of private insurance. How is this going to save money in the future?"

The government can tether the $15,000 to whatever metric they like to increase it, i.e. inflation etc...

The problem is that the rate of health care costs are increasing at a rapid pace. Premiums for a family of four (employer based plans) have gone up roughly 9% per year over the last decade. Compare that to inflation: http://facts.kff.org/chart.aspx?ch=1185
Thus 20 years down the road it is going to cost far more money than $15,000 plus inflation. So it will save money...eventually.

However, according to the CBO after scoring Ryan's plan it will not be until 2040 that the budget is actually balanced. Table 1 pg. 3 from here:
http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/121xx/doc1212...
This also assumes a revenue of 19% GDP, based largely on tax increases to the middle class.

I would also note that the same document reveals that Ryan's plan actually increases the deficit in its first decade (as compared to current law).

To reiterate, Ryan's plan is not serious. It actually makes our situation worse in the first 10 years. Moreover, the only groups that actually benefit from the proposal (no austerity measures for them!) are the wealthy in increased tax cuts and those over 55 who will have no change in medicare benefits. Funny how those demographics are also the most enamored with Republicans in the voting booth. Just a coincidence, I suppose...wink, wink.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield April 6, 2011 | 12:09 p.m.

"This also assumes a revenue of 19% GDP, based largely on tax increases to the middle class."

Because the middle class is where the money is. If it weren't, then long ago Congress would have indexed the AMT so it hit only those it was originally intended: the top 1% or so. Another example: If the 2000-era tax cuts ended for those making more than $200,000, Obama estimated that it would have raised $700 billion over 10 years. If they ended for everyone else, too, it would have raised $3 trillion.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 7, 2011 | 8:33 a.m.

Christopher Foote wrote:

"To reiterate, Ryan's plan is not serious."

I read through a lot of his "roadmap" last night and found it to be pretty much as you describe. It's not a workable solution to the problems it means to address. It seems to be fixated on repealing "Obamacare", as if that bill will be the ruin of America. It's filled with a lot of hyperbole and questionable claims, and a complete ignorance of the role of energy in our society and realistic prospects for increasing domestic supply.

I guess that makes me a liberal. Whatever. My point is that this is not a roadmap for our future. It's a political posture piece that includes all the buzzwords to gain him support of a certain political faction.

About private insurance vs. Medicare - you wrote "Thus 20 years down the road it is going to cost far more money than $15,000 plus inflation. So it will save money...eventually."

I would imagine Congress could index the allowance to the cost of health care, also - I wouldn't think this proposal need mean that the level of care would drop in the future. My insurance at MU is probably better than Medicare, and I could have this for about $6,000/year if I were to leave MU. To me, it would be a wash as far as which I would prefer, if I could opt out of Medicare and have the government pick up my premium.

Another thing is that people on Medicare are rarely families with children - they're older couples or singles, and that would make the $15,000 go a lot farther than a family policy might.

I'd like to see a good objective analysis of the pros and cons of this Medicare proposal before decciding how I feel about it. But it seems pretty clear that it won't save very much money. People still have to use the same providers at the same cost (approximately), and whether a private company pays, or the government, doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

DK

(Report Comment)

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