Posts tagged Medicare
We went right up to the edge of the cliff, peered into the abyss, and turned back. For now. But what exactly came out of the cliff-averting bill? Let’s take a look at the details, as well as their potential ramifications.
First, because so many people want to keep score, who “won” this battle? Nobody. Seriously. There are no winners here. President Obama, who had the trump cards (though not Trump’s endorsement), gave an astonishing amount of ground. Again. Republicans didn’t get a lot of what they wanted, either. And all of us lost because this deal kicked most of the problems down the road a few months.
Anyway, on to the details.
I’ve written about the upcoming Congressional fiscal challenges several times before. It’s sort of a tradition by now. I feel obligated to document the play-by-play for the current games so as to keep the story moving along.
We are rapidly approaching the Fiscal Pothole. Much has happened in the last two weeks. We’ve got less than four weeks until the deadline hits. Come the New Year, the Bush-era tax cuts expire, the 2011 Debt Ceiling cutthroat sequester goes into effect, unemployment insurance payments run out, the FICA Tax Holiday once comes to another end, the Medicare Doc Fix needs to be fixed again, and the Alternative Minimum Tax needs its annual goosing. To top it off, America runs back up against the debt ceiling shortly thereafter.
Will we survive this catastrophe? Can disaster be averted? What have the players been doing? Activity comes fast and furious. Who will survive?
President Obama submitted to Congress a plan that tackles all of these issues, quite an ambitious achievement. It includes a four trillion dollar deficit reduction over ten years, extends the Bush tax cuts for everyone in America on the first $250,000 of income, extends the payroll tax credit and bonus depreciation for business investment, makes permanent the Alternative Minimum Tax and Medicare Doc Fixes, along with another package of routinely expiring tax provisions — mostly for businesses — known colloquially as tax extenders. That’s just the beginning. (more…)
I’m feeling an increasing frustration with the inability of policymakers — and the voters who act as their enablers — to put forward a reasonable and fiscally responsible plan for digging this country out of the ditch we’re in.
The problem is pretty easy to grasp, even if the solutions escape us. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, the data are clear and unequivocal. The world economy is headed for the crapper.
There’s some good news to be had. It’s not too late for this nation to reverse its fiscal course and set the Ship of State on the right economic course. In my opinion — an opinion our readers are welcome to challenge in the comments section below — there will likely be a flight of capital from Europe to the United States as the Euro Zone slides deeper into the Slough of Despond. That potential for investment in our economy only exists if we seize the moment and develop the political will to act. So far in the current financial crisis, investors have indicated that they have more faith in the United States than in any other country to do the right thing. As a patriot, so do I.
Fiscal reform could be a major factor in filling the hole we’ve dug. We. Both political parties. Me and you. All Americans.
Employment hasn’t been recovering at a high enough rate satisfy anyone. Return to full employment will likely take more than a few years. Many have been complaining about this, so here are a few radical ideas to create jobs. I don’t think there’s any question they’d work for that purpose. But I can anticipate a lot of opposition.
- Require that businesses shorten their average work week by a minimum of five hours, setting the American “standard” work week to 35 hours. Provide tax incentives for going beyond that, by as much as an additional five hours, lowering the work week to 30 hours.
- Remove the age requirement for Medicare, to allow all Americans to get on a single-payer health care system, and allow employers to drop all insurance coverage.
- Lower the retirement age for Social Security to 60. Encourage Americans to retire earlier.
It may not be obvious how these measures could create jobs. They could lead to full employment, virtually overnight, give a jolt to the economy such as America has never seen, make us all healthier, and give us a lot more free time. Let me explain. (more…)
Two years ago, as Congress was engaged in heated debate over the legislation that would eventually become the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also called, disparagingly, “Obamacare”), ex-half-Governor and failed Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin weighed in with her view: the legislation would include, in her famous phrase, “death panels”.
Of course, it’s not just this one provision that presents a problem. My original comments concerned statements made by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy advisor to President Obama and the brother of the President’s chief of staff [current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel]. Dr. Emanuel has written that some medical services should not be guaranteed to those ‘who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens…An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.’ Dr. Emanuel has also advocated basing medical decisions on a system which ‘produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.’
Unfortunately, the ensuing debate over end-of-life issues and the financing of health care for all Americans was characterized by an increasing amount of heat (“You Lie!”) and very little light from that point forward.
Was Sarah Palin right? (more…)
A few weeks ago I noted that we’re spending more per capita, even adjusting for inflation, than we ever have been, and yet we keep hearing about how we have to cut back on everything. It seemed to me a contradiction, and I couldn’t help but wonder…where have all the dollars gone?
After getting no real specific answer from the fray (though a few ideas of where to look for answers), I turned to a combination of the Internet and Excel. In one sense, the answer didn’t surprise me, but in some ways it really did.