Monday, February 10, 2014

What's important to me in 2014

  • Expand SS & Medicare. 
  • Goods sold in US should have same standards as goods made in US (including companies costs for labor as well as environmental standards). 
  • Close some overseas military bases & pay soldiers same as contractors. 
  • Fix vets' healthcare. 
  • Single payer healthcare. 
  • Eliminate capital gains (& dividend) tax advantages (take the rich man's hand out of the poor man's pocket). 
  • Eliminate salary cap on payroll taxes. 
  • Implement transaction tax on stock trades. 
  • Establish minimum tax level for companies doing business in US. 
  • Document all changes to proposed congression bills (no more AGI bonus surprises). 
  • Prohibit congressmen (& women) from profiting from their time in congress (corruption). 
  • Extend unemployment. Raise minimum wage (or pay congresspeople minimum wage). 
  • Eliminate unpaid internships both governmental and commercial. 
  • Establish guest worker visas for foreign labor (at least in agriculture and construction). 
  • Eliminate exemptions on congresspeople to wage, labor and other laws. 
  • Impeach Scolia or have him committed for insanity (not even the appearance of corruption?!). 

Posted in response to Debbie Wasserman's survey.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Want Republican Healthcare? You Have It.

So, how is that Obamacare working out? Problems? And why are Republicans against it? It is, after all, in almost every respect, a Republican plan. There is essentially nothing socialist or progressive about it. It is a fee-based, means-tested, privatized and state-based healthcare insurance system. Instead of being a simple, universal program, it is overly complex. It requires far more information from enrollees, and uses subsidies and means-testing to vary those subsidies. It tries to match individuals with a myriad of private insurance companies with dozens of insurance plans each. It does not even have a public option.

And how about the levels of coverage offered. Do you want bronze, silver, gold or platinum coverage? Do you think you can avoid bankruptcy with a healthcare insurance plan covering only 60% of expenses should you have a devastating illness or accident? The less you can afford for coverage, the more you end up paying in healthcare expenses. Romneycare in Massachusetts has not eliminated bankruptcies due to medical expenses.

Contrast it with Social Security, which is a universal, federal, tax-based retirement and disability insurance program which has been proven to be the most successful program ever to come out of Washington, D.C. And this is in spite of Congress chipping away at benefits over the last 30 years. Congress has delayed cost-of-living increases, with those increases being less than the real inflation rate. The age at which full retirement benefits start has increased. Incomes above $113,700 have no payroll taxes applied, and the salary cap itself has not risen in step with inflation. All income from capital gains and dividends are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

And what are politicians proposing in order to fix deficits caused by unfunded wars, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and an economy which tanked less than 10 years after massive deregulation of the banks and the financial industry? More cuts to Social Security.  

Do you like Obamacare? Then you will love the radical conservative plans to privatize Social Security and eliminate Medicare in favor of lifelong Obamacare.

The only thing worse than Obamacare is no plan at all. So until it is replaced by universal, single-payer, Medicare-for-all, the Republican healthcare plan for America will have to do.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Borrowing From Social Security

The U.S. borrows money by selling U.S. Treasury Bonds. As the Social Security Trust Fund contains only U.S. Treasury Bonds, it would make no sense to borrow from the trust. The only way for Congress to use the Trust Fund to make funds available for other purposes would be by defaulting on Treasury Bonds held by the trust. That would not be "borrowing", it would be theft of money paid by low and middle income workers (income over a certain amount, currently $113,700, is exempt from payroll taxes). Also, the only reason the Trust Fund contains bonds worth $2.6 trillion is that the trust fund was built up in anticipation of the retirement of baby boomers.

Reduction of Social Security retirement benefits is another oft touted solution to budget problems. But since Social Security has its own revenue stream, reducing benefits only affects the Social Security Trust Fund. Payroll taxes collected in excess of benefits paid out (a surplus) are put into the trust fund. Should there be more benefits paid than payroll taxes collected (a deficit), U.S. Treasury Bonds in the trust fund are redeemed in order to pay those benefits. The cash paid out by the treasury would most likely be obtained by the sale of U.S. Treasury Bonds to other investors. So with Social Security running either a surplus or a deficit, the national debt is not affected. Reducing benefits only affects the trust fund, and only affects the long term health of Social Security. Including Social Security figures as part of the regular budget's numbers is misleading and unethical, and people who propose reducing benefits as part of a deficit reduction plan are simply lying.

So the next time someone proposes using Social Security to help with deficit reduction, ask yourself what their real motivation is. It most certainly is not the national budget.