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America Without Social Security

In my last post I showed how Congress and President Obama are simply paying lip service to the need to preserve Social Security and Medicare.  Now, let’s take a look at what America would look like if there was no Social Security.

The March 2013 issue of the AARP Bulletin contains a chart that looks at the percentage of Social Security recipients 65 and older living in poverty today compared with the percentage of recipients who would live in poverty without the benefit of Social Security.  The chart was prepared using data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia.   The 2011 threshold  for poverty was $10,788  for individuals and $13,596 for couples.

According to the data, in this country an average of 8.7% of America’s Social Security recipients are living in poverty.  The states with the lowest percentage of Social Security recipients living in poverty are Wisconsin (5.1%), Iowa (5.6%), Connecticut (6.2%), New Hampshire (6.5%) and Wyoming (6.6%).   The states with the highest percentage of their Social Security recipients living in poverty were Georgia and Arkansas at 11.9%, Mississippi at 12.5%, Louisiana at an even 15%, with the District of Columbia topping the list at 15.6%.  Michigan is in a 12th place tie with Massachusetts, with 7.4% of our Social Security recipients living in poverty.

Now, what happens if Social Security goes bye-bye?   The average percentage of people 65 and older living in poverty goes from 8.7% to 44.7%.  The states with the lowest percentage of people 65 and over living in poverty would be Hawaii at 33.6%, the District of Columbia at 34.9%, Alaska comes in at 36.8%, followed by Colorado at 36.9% and Connecticut at 37.6%.  The states with the dubious distinction of seeing the largest percentage of their senior citizens living in poverty would be West Virginia with 51.8%, South Carolina at 51.9%, Georgia with 52.8%, Tennessee and Mississippi with 54.8% and topping the list,…Arkansas at 55%.  Michigan would be squarely in the middle of the pack at 47.6%.

Another way Of looking at what America would look like with no Social Security is to look at the change between the two numbers for each state and DC.  Nationwide, the number of people 65 and over who are living in poverty would increase an average of 536%.   The District of Columbia would see the smallest increase, 223%  more senior citizens living in poverty.  The other members of the bottom five are Louisiana (335%),  Alaska (353%), Texas (386%), and New York (392%).  The states with the largest increase in the number of senior citizens who would be living in poverty are Missouri (685%), New Hampshire (693), Kansas (700%),  Wisconsin (835%) and Iowa, with 844% more impoverished senior citizens.  Here in Michigan we would see 643% more people 65 and older living in poverty.

Keep in mind, this data concerns only the number of people 65 and older receiving Social Security retirement benefits.  It does not include those who retire early at 62 or those who receive Social Security disability benefits.

In my opinion, this data underscores the need for President Obama and Congress to finally get serious about saving Social Security and Medicare.  Their proposals involve cutting benefits to one degree or another.  Of all the ideas that have come forth, one one idea is sure to save Social Security and Medicare—the legislation sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders in the last Congressional session which would have lifted the cap on the amount of income taxed for Social Security.  The Congressional Budget Office said that Sanders bill, if approved by Congress and signed into law by the president, would save Social Security for the next 74 years, the furthest into the future the actuarial tables can forecast.

The stated goal of Social Security was to provide economic security for this country’s retirees.  The economic security of our retirees is not achieved by cutting benefits.  It will not be achieved by anything President Obama and Congress have proposed so far.

President and Congress Paying Lip-Service to Saving Social Security & Medicare

President Obama and the Republicans in Congress have been and will continue to be engaged in a wrestling match over our national debt.  Our national leaders have been wrongly tying entitlement reform to the national debt issue.  The Republicans, in particular, seem to have conveniently forgotten what their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, said in a 1984 presidential debate in Louisville, Kentucky:

“Social Security has nothing to do with the budget…” ~ Ronald Reagan

Reagan was absolutely right.  Social Security and Medicare are funded through a payroll tax.  They are not a line item in the federal budget.  In fact, for years presidential administrations of both parties have raided the Social Security fund and used the money to mask  the actual size of the federal budget deficit, replacing the funds with IOU’s in the form of Treasury bonds.

As Obama and the Democrats and the Congressional Republicans have proposed entitlement reform, I’ve been struck by their apparent lack of understanding of the financial difficulties the average American faces.  Here are a few examples:

*The financial advisory firm Hello-Wallet recently found that 1 in 4 households will withdraw some or all of their retirement funds to meet their current daily living expenses.

*AARP reports that for the first time in history people over 50 now have accumulated more credit card debt than those under 50.

*A 2010 report from the Center For Economic Policy and Research found that “Employment in physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult working conditions is a major cause of early labor market exit among older workers…”  This is an important factor to consider because physically demanding labor can result in the worker in their mid to late 50′s finding that they are no longer physically able to handle the demands of their job.  Those workers may find themselves out of a job, physically unable to do many of the jobs that are out there, and too young to retire with full Social Security benefits.  The earliest a person can retire is 62.  If they retire at that age they receive a reduced benefit level for the rest of their life.  Their benefit level does not increase when they reach the normal retirement age.

The common thread running through most of the ideas that both parties have put forth to save Social Security and Medicare is that they involve cutting benefits to beneficiaries.  Raising the retirement age has widespread support on Capitol Hill, and that action certainly results in less benefits for retirees over the course of their lifetime.  I’ll give some credit to President Obama.  His Affordable Care Act, for instance, ended the whopping over-payments to Medicare Advantage plans, and specifically bars the board that has been given the duty of coming up with says to cut fraud and waste from Medicare from including in their recommendations to Congress any measures that would reduce benefits to beneficiaries.  But Obama has endorsed using the Chained CPI formula for determining Cost Of Living Allowances for Social Security beneficiaries.  The Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration has determined that use of that formula would result in an annual cut of 0.3-percentage points for the average recipient.  That works out to about $130 less per year for that average recipient.  While that may not seem like much, that money could be very important to the retiree living on a fixed income and seeing more and more of their money eaten up by ever-increasing food, utility, fuel, and medication costs.

For their part, the Republicans have long had a goal of dismantling the social safety net, including Social Security and Medicare.  They oppose any reform that involves bringing in more revenue.  They have a laser-like focus on the meme that reducing spending in Social Security and Medicare as the only way to save those programs.  And sadly, there are many Democrats who share that point of view.  What Obama and Congress don’t want you to know is that legislation was introduced in the last session of Congress which the Congressional Budget Office found that, if enacted it would save Social Security for the next 75 years—the furthest into the future that the actuarial tables are able to project.  It’s possible that Social Security and Medicare would be saved for years beyond that 75 year projection.  That legislation, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont, never advanced to the floor of the Senate for a vote.  Obama did not press for Sanders’ bill to be passed.  Democratic leaders in the House and Senate did nothing to advance the passage of the legislation, and the Republicans were adamantly opposed to it.  With their actions President Obama and Congress proved that they are interested in paying lip-service to saving Social Security and Medicare; they are not really interested in doing what needs to be done to actually save them without hurting millions of Americans.

What that legislation introduced by Sen. Sanders would have done was eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes.  That cap on Social Security taxes is set at $113,700 for 2013; meaning that the Social Security (FICA) taxes are taken out on the first $113,700  of a person’s salary or wages.  Any wages or salary above that would not be taxed for Social Security.   No matter how much your wages are, you only pay the FICA on the first $113,700 of your wages.

If Sanders’ legislation had been passed and signed into law both Social Security and Medicare would be saved, with no benefit cuts to beneficiaries.  The Social Security tax is set at 7.65%.  Of that, 1.45% of that rate provides the funding for Medicare.   Here’s how the current system works for the person with $1-million in salary or wages.  They pay the FICA tax on their first $113,700 or a total of $8698.   Under Sanders’ proposal they would pay the FICA rate on their entire $1-million salary and would pay $76,500.  That means the current system is saving that average millionaire $67,802 in FICA taxes each year.  Their savings is more than 7-times the amount they pay.

A 2012 report by the Boston Consulting Group found that there are 5.1-million  households reporting income over $1-million.  That income may not be totally wages; there may be other sources of income such as property, stocks and bonds etc. which would be taxed at different rates and not subject to FICA.  But for illustrative purposes, let’s say that of that group there are 1.5-million households with salary or wages of $1-million.  How much money would they bring to Social Security and Medicare under Sanders’ legislation.  Crunching the numbers shows that those 1.5-million millionaires would bring over $1.14-trillion annually to Social Security and Medicare.

This year Social Security will pay out $820-billion and Medicare is projected to pay out $523-billion with a grand total of $1.343-trillion.  That money from those millionaires would nearly pay the total expenditure.  In 2011 some 142,823,000 individual tax returns were filed with the IRS.  That leaves about 141,323,000 to add their FICA payments.  Clearly, eliminating the earnings cap would save Social Security and Medicare for many generations to come.

Think of the kind of country we could have if Sanders’ approach was adopted by President Obama and Congress.  In his book, “Rebooting The American Dream” Thom Hartmann advocated that instead of raising the retirement age, we drop it to 55 and increase the benefits between 10 and 20-percent.   That would allow people to retire and enjoy full benefits before their bodies break down instead of working until the day they die.   Those retirees would be able to live modestly on Social Security instead of struggling to make ends meet.  By dropping the retirement age we would create more job openings for younger workers;  workers who would be able to pay off their student loans and spur the economy by buying houses, cars, and whatever grownup toys they desire.

Instead, we have an America where our president and Congress are united in their belief that the only way to save Social Security and Medicare is to enact measures that would reduce benefits to the people who have earned their benefits from those programs.  They may differ in some approaches and share the same vision in others, but they’ve both turned a blind eye to the one approach the CBO has said would save both programs for far into the future without cutting benefits in any way.

American History: 350.org “Forward on Climate” Rally

On Sunday, February 17th, 2013, I joined 50,000 people in Washington, D.C. for the 350.org “Forward on Climate” Rally, the largest climate rally in American history.  People from all across the United States and Canada came to Washington D. C. to bring awareness to the climate change crisis, and to also protest the Keystone XL Pipeline.

I rode to D.C. in a van full of activists from Michigan and Canada. I was also accompanied by John Bolenbaugh, who worked on the Enbridge Oil Spill clean up in the Kalamazoo River, until he blew the whistle on Enbridge for covering up oil rather than cleaning it up properly. I met John after I had outed the illegal liability waivers Enbridge had been using to trick residents in to signing after their oil spill in Michigan.

We arrived in D.C. at about 9 a.m. we had brought with us hundreds of signs to hand out that said “Enbridge Lies” and “Tar Sand Truth.” We also brought t-shirts and sweatshirts to hand out along with a microphone and speaker to use to educate people about our experience with the Enbridge oil spill and the subsequent oil cover-up. We also wanted people to watch the video proof on John’s website helppa.org

The rally began at noon. The speakers at the rally included, hip-hop caucus Rev. Yearwood, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, President Obama’s former ‘green jobs’ czar, Van Jones, 350.0rg founder, Bill McKibben, and Mike Brune of the Sierra Club. Van Jones discussed how the Keystone XL Pipeline will define and be part of Obama’s legacy. Senator Whitehouse  called on people in Washington to change their game. Mike Brune reassured the crowd that we were on the right side of history.

The highlight of the rally in my opinion, was the march from the Washington Monument to the front of the White House. During the march the crowd almost doubled in size as more people came and joined in the march. Occupy Wall St. had a very visible presence as many ‘occupiers’ wore black and yellow tape that said “OCCUPY.”  Occupy also had a large banner that I had the privilege to help carry during the march, which read “OCCUPY WALL ST STOP KEYSTONE.” While marching the crowd broke out in to various chants. A constant banging of drums could be heard. Signs, flags and banners blew in the wind and the infamous over-sized Lady Liberty Puppet made an appearance and danced throughout the march.

Once the crowd arrived at the White House more chanting began. “Obama come out…we got some shit to talk about.” “We are unstoppable..another world is possible.” and “Obama…Obama…we don’t want no climate drama” were among some of the most popular chants heard throughout the crowd.

It was later revealed that President Obama was not at the White House. Instead, he was in Florida, golfing with Tiger Woods and oil tycoon Jim Crane.

After the march, the crowd began to disperse and the buses began to leave D.C. I can still fell the energy from the rally and march. Being present around so many like minded individuals fighting the same fight as you, has got to be one of the most powerful feelings ever.

President Obama is scheduled to decide on the Keystone XL Pipeline any time. What would you like to say to the President before he makes his decision. And if you were at the Forward on Climate Rally, please share what you experienced in the comments below. I sure would like to hear from you!

Day 150 (T 11/06/12) Conversations on Election Day 2012

Tuesday November 6, 2012

Summary:
Conversations on Election Day 2012; How Do You Decide? Courts & Money; ‘True the Vote’ Falsifies the Vote; Who Needs a President? Israel’s Apartheid on Palestine

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Hour 1
Jeremiah discusses Election Day decisions with our listeners today. Motivations for voting expressed: ‘lesser of two evils’, torture, jobs, and more. We have a diverse audience, listeners indicate their support for Rocky Anderson (J), Gary Johnson (L), Obama (D), Romney (R), Jill Stein (G), as well as writing in themselves for President. If you experience problems at the polls, you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Hour 2
How do you decide on who to vote for? And how do candidates who might not even have a chance of winning, decide to run anyway?

Courts & Money. Michigan has the reputation for the most expensive and most partisan. Plus the most intense political ads for judges.

Elections are the worst way to select judges. The process leaves judges beholden to party bosses, wealthy donors, and the whims of the very, very few people who actually bother to vote. ~ ANDREW ROSENTHAL, NY Times

Andrew Rosenthal reveals that Michigan law has a loophole that does not ensure that all money spent on political ads does not have to be disclosed, if those ads are “issue” ads. This is problematic for judicial races, where conflict of interests may come into play.

A group called ‘True the Vote’ dedicated to eradicating election fraud falsifies the forms used to gain access as observers at polling locations. Irony?

Hour 3
Bill Kauffman writes:

To invest in one man quasi-kingly powers over the 13 states then, 300 million people and half a continent today, is madness. And it didn’t have to be this way. ~ Bill Kauffman The American Conservative

. Did the Founding Fathers make a mistake in creating the president.

The food crisis in Palestine only seems to be getting worse. Israel controls the access to resources, Jews are in the minority, but Palestinians are forced to rely on Israel for resources at inflated prices. Isn’t it time we recognize that what is going on there can be called Apartheid?

An Election Day Reflection

All day on November 5th I was met with Election Day posts. People looking forward to making changes, to getting America back on track, to cause the change that this country so desperately needs. To all of these people, I have a message. To everyone who has has posted something to the effect of “you have no right to complain if you do not vote” and has supported themselves by saying “the lesser of two evils”, I would like you to do something for me.

I ask that you reflect on everything you’ve ever said about politics. Everything and anything you’ve ever said during election season. Anything you’ve ever thought or believed about politics and presidential candidates. Now, I want you to think long and hard about how many times you’ve said “the lesser of two evils” over all of these election cycles you’ve been participating in, whether it be through encouraging or actual voting. How many times do you think that that same phrase has been used in our country’s history? For how many election cycles has that same idea been spread, that we need to vote for the least of the two evils to run our country, believing that that ‘lesser of evils’ will bring us out of our slump and into long-term success, growth, and prosperity?

Now think about how many times that has actually happened.
Think of all the times you’ve been disappointed by your ‘lesser of evils’. Think of all the times that you’ve vowed to change the system in the next election. Will you just at the very least consider this? Maybe if you think long and hard about this, you’ll understand why I am not voting this year. Maybe you’ll understand why I don’t plan on voting in the foreseeable future.

Do you get it now? It doesn’t matter what you say, which of the ‘least evil’ you select and support. Just because you select the least does not mean that you do not select evil, and it certainly does not mean that you have selected the best. The politics of America have been corrupt for decades; we all know it, and we all openly admit that politicians are crooked criminals. And yet every two years, we bamboozle ourselves into believing that somehow, someway, this year is gong to be different. If only we can get them in this term, then everything will be fixed: we’ll be on our way back to the once-great America that we dreamed of, that the Founding Fathers envisioned for us to enjoy.

But it won’t change. The status quo will remain the same. The two-party paradigm will hold strong, and the change that we so desperately seek will be put aside by the powers that be for things that they knew they were going to put on their priorities list all along. They have already been bought out long before you cast your ballot, and they will do whatever it takes to keep the money flowing. This fake choice cycle will continue on ad infinitum unless you actually do something productive for change.

Voting is the LAST thing you should be doing to encourage and foster change in this country. Talk about the issues in a meaningful way with everyone you meet. Pose those hard questions and don’t take bullshit answers as being acceptable. Ask why. Demand support for positions. Don’t settle for those ‘politics’ answers that we so often hear at debates. Become active, pass out fliers and hold debates. Create a club to talk about topics. Meet up with friends at a cafe and chat for a few hours about those pressing questions that all too often divide us. Encourage an intellectual base, and you will get educated leaders.

If you actually want to help change America and you want to vote, I urge you to vote third party. I don’t care what party it is, I don’t care why you do it. If a third party candidate gets at least 5% of the popular vote, that candidate will receive federal funding for the next political election. That means more money to spend advertising, pointing out the flaws of a closed two party system (one that’s really only a single party in the first place). If you REALLY want to see some change, start locally. Look at your state legislators. Hell, look at those in your city who make decisions. Making big changes starts locally.

If you really want to take control of America’s fiscal policy, America’s energy crisis, America’s endless wars, then vote for a senators and state representatives who are aligned with your values. The idea that the President is the one who does these things is ludicrous. The dynamic is certainly different now, but the President isn’t the only one who influences the decision. Congress needs to be reigned in. Congress is the one you should be looking at, wondering what in the flying fuck they are up to. The President is the least of your concerns if those are your three major issues.

I just ask that you all think long, hard, and critically about the decisions you are all about to make on this election day. I know I did.

How Far We’ve Fallen

How far we’ve fallen from the kind of people who laid the foundation to this great country we live in.  I’m sure that if the Founding Fathers are aware of what passes for governance and politics in this country they would be absolutely shocked and disappointed.

Many people have this image of the Founding Fathers as a group of courageous men unanimous in their beliefs of what needed to be done to lay the foundation for this country.  Courageous?  Certainly.  Unanimous in their beliefs?  Absolutely not.  They had different ideologies and beliefs.  But, they also had the willingness to set aside their ideologies and compromise where needed for the good of their young nation.

After all, this country was founded on the basis of compromise.  The Constitution is not our first guiding document for this country.  Before we had the Constitution we had the Articles of Confederation; a document that gave power to the states with a weak central government.  Those circumstances led to a weak confederation and European powers England, France, and Spain licking their chops over the states they planned to divide among themselves when the United States collapsed.  Here on this side of the Atlantic our Founding Fathers saw the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation and began discussing a new document–the Constitution.  But, there arose a disagreement about whether to pass the Constitution immediately as it read and those who saw the need to strengthen the Constitution by including other provisions–what we know as the Bill of Rights.  Those favoring immediate passage told those who were holding out for the additional provisions that if they agreed to pass the Constitution as is, the provisions they wanted would be added as the first amendments to the Constitution.  That’s exactly what happened.  Both sides gave a little, and we ended up with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights because of compromise–that ten letter dirty word in today’s political world.

If you study the papers of the Founders and the history of the that time you learn that Hamilton and Adams were urbane businessmen who favored a strong central government.  At the other end of the spectrum was Jefferson, who was pro-states rights and a farmer by profession.  In the middle was our first President, George Washington, a politically moderate elder statesman.

There was an excellent editorial in the July/August issue of the AARP Bulletin titled “Try Greatness, Not Meanness” which forcefully made that point about how the Founding Fathers built this country:

“In life these four great men did not like one another.  Journals of that time are full of stories of their conniving and bitter rivalries.

Yet look at what they accomplished when they set aside their vanity, ideology and shortsightedness; a federation of distinct regional and economic interests bound by core principles and liberties upon which a carefully balanced national government could function and thrive.

We’re deep into a campaign season that amounts to a 21st -century explosion of vanity, ideology and shortsightedness.  Angry divisions with no interest in compromise have picked sides and launched a seemingly endless barrage of costly and inflammatory advertising.”

Look back a few years to the days following the 2008 election in which Barack Obama was elected president.  As was pointed out in an article in the September 3 issue of Time magazine titled “The Party Of No“, from the get-go the Republicans had no interest in working with Obama and the Democrats in Congress to solve the many serious  problems we faced ind the midst of the Great Recession; they were interested only in defeating him and making him a one-term president.  Who can forget Republican Senatre Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a remarkable moment of candor, stating that his number one priority in the coming congressional session was to make Barack Obama a one-term president.  Less well known, but equally telling, was a statement made by Congressman Pete Sessions in a presentation to a Republican leadership conference when he posed the question “If the purpose of the majority is to govern, what’s our purpose?”  Sessions answered his question by telling the audience, “The purpose of the minority is to become the majority…. That is the entire conference’s mission.”

Sessions couldn’t have been more wrong.  Yes, the Republicans were in the minority following the 2008 election, but they still had a role in governing this country.  Their role was to do as the Founders had done;  set aside what would benefit them politically and work with the Democrats to solve the serious problems this country faces.  They adopted the strategy of opposing anything and everything President Obama tried to do, even if it meant opposing something they had proposed or supported in the past.  The individual mandate in Obamacare was first proposed by the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, and a major part of Mitt Romney’s health-care reform plan for Massachusetts; but when it came time to vote on Obamacare not a single Republican voted for it.  Republicans pound the drums for tax breaks for small businesses, but when Obama’s jobs bill, which included many tax breaks for small businesses, came up for consideration last year it was blocked by the Republicans.

The Republicans will accuse Obama of showing a lack of leadership, and claim that his plans have failed, but the fact is the Republicans have shown themselves to be a disloyal opposition that has refused to work with Obama and the Democrats in governing this country and solving the problems we face.  Congress cannot work when one party refuses to do the job they were sent to Washington to do and govern this country.  And please understand that when I call the Republicans a “disloyal opposition” I am not saying they are disloyal to the President.  What I’m saying is that they are being disloyal to this country by placing their political interests above the job they were sent to do—govern this country.

And to be fair, the hands of the Democrats are also dirty.  They have also been guilty of putting politics above responsible governing and doing what’s right.

Consider for example, what Nancy Pelosi said when she became Speaker of the House.  She said that investigations of the Bush administration for possible wrongdoing was “off the table”.  Now, there was fertile ground for investigations.  There was the redefinition of torture to permit waterboarding, and the warrantless surveillance  of American citizens in this country.  But, investigating possible wrongdoing in those things would not be done.  Why was investigating the Bush administration taken “off the table”?  Most likely because Pelosi knew that there would be a day the Republicans would be able to investigate a Democratic president.  She refused to do the right thing, investigate and let the chips fall where they may, because that could have political repercussions in the future.

An even more egregious example came recently when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to inject himself into the presidential campaign by refusing to act on a bill passed overwhelmingly by the House which dealt with auditing the Federal Reserve; choosing instead to claim that he had been in contact with someone who claimed to have proof that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for several years—a contention for which he offered no supporting evidence.

To understand why I consider this to be an egregious example of playing politics rather than governing it’s important to understand why that legislation was overwhelmingly supported in the House.  Let’s take a look at the Federal Reserve.

The Fed was created in 1913 in response to bank panics which had occurred.  Functions of the Federal Reserve include serving as the central bank of the U.S.; supervising and regulating banks as well as protecting the credit rights of consumers; managing the nation’s money supply; and maintaining the stability of the financial system.

There have been several criticisms of the Federal Reserve.  It has been alleged that the Fed caused the Great Depression and is partly responsible for the Great Recession of 2007; as well as that it is ineffective in its role of supervisor and regulator of the banking industry; that it has been responsible for booms and busts in the economy; and lacks transparency.

It is clear that the Federal Reserve impacts every one of us in many ways, yet according to the law that established the agency, it is not under the supervision of Congress or the White House.

There was legislation passed in 1978 which established that the Fed can be audited by the Government Accountability Office, but there are several restrictions as to what the GAO can audit in the Fed.  How sweet is that?  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to tell the IRS if they choose to audit your tax return that they can look into your business expenses but not your entertainment expenses or charitable contributions?  In essence, that’s exactly what the Fed has been able to do.

Given the important functions of the Federal Reserve, the criticisms which have  been made of the agency, and the fact that it is unsupervised by Congress and the White House, legislation which would allow a real audit of the Fed would seem to be a good thing.  But Harry Reid put more importance on playing politics than advancing this legislation which would have provided some transparency into that very secretive agency.

No one’s hands are clean in this.  Both parties are guilty of putting  politics over responsible governance.  Have we and the national leaders we send to represent us in our nation’s capitol  totally lost our way?  Are we incapable of learning from our past and seeing that the way things are today is not the way it has to be or should be?’

I will close this by quoting once again from that editorial in the AARP Bulletin:

“John Adams could just as easily been talking about today when he wrote in 1776 of his fears that the Continental Congress’ decisions would be dictated by ‘ noise, not sense; by meanness, not greatness; by ignorance, not learning; by contracted hearts, not large souls.’  His conclusion is appropriate today as it was  then:  ‘There must be decency and respect and veneration introduced for persons of authority of every rank or we are undone.  In a popular government this is our only way.’  Decency, respect and veneration produced compromise and a foundation that has endured for 236 years.  We are surrounded by noise, meanness and ignorance.  The measure for our leaders must be their ability to rediscover that proven formula of sense, greatness and learning.’

We should not; and indeed cannot settle for anything less.

Obamacare v Ryancare: Claims & Facts

The 2012 presidential campaign is swinging into its final phase.  The Republicans just held their national convention, with the Democrats’ national convention just around the corner.  The selection of Paul Ryan by Mitt Romney to be his running mate has pushed entitlement programs to the forefront because of the controversial entitlement reforms proposed by Ryan in the Republicans’ proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year. The last couple of weeks we’ve heard a lot of claims made by both camps about the plans of the other guy; so I believe it’s important to look into those claims and see where the truth lies.  I will identify the claim and then pass along what I learned about the truth (or lack thereof) of each claim.

Let’s start with Republican claims about Obamacare:
(more correctly titled: “The Affordable Healthcare Act”)

 Claim:  “The President’s new health care law is emblematic of the wrong way to address the problems with Medicare:  First, the overhaul raided Medicare by nearly $700 billion to fund a new, unsustainable, open-ended health care entitlement.  Second, it created a government panel of bureaucrats with the power to impose price controls on providers in ways that would result in rationed care and restricted access to treatments.”

Fact:  Let’s start with that alleged raiding of Medicare to pay for Obamacare.  The bulk of that $700 billion comes from the gradual ending of overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans.  Since Medicare Advantge plans were created Medicare has been paying the insurance companies that provide the plans over $1,000 more per beneficiary than the insurance companies have been spending on the medical care of those beneficiaries.  That extra money went straight into the pockets of the insurance companies.  To give you an idea of why that reform is necessary, consider this:  A 2009 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that there were 10.1 million people enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2008.  Multiply 10.1 million b y 1,000 and you get 10.1 billion.  Medicare has been wasting more than $10.1 billion each year on Medicare Advantage plans with the insurance companies being the beneficiaries of that overpayment.  Yes, Obamacare does cut Medicare payments to medical providers and suppliers of medical goods, but the bulk of that  $700 billion comes from the gradual ending of those overpayments.

Now, as to the second point in that claim, yes, Obamacare did create a board whose mission is to develop proposals to deal with the growth of spending in Medicare, but the law does clearly spell out what those proposals can and cannot do.  Consider this provision on page 372 of Obamacare:

“(ii) The proposal shall not include any recommendations to ration health care, raise revenues of Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A or 1839; increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments)or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.”

Obamacare also spells out the things the panel must consider in producing their proposal.  According to the law, the panel must give priority to recommendations that extend the solvency of Medicare, as well as improve the health delivery system and outcomes; protect Medicare beneficiaries’ access to services, target sources of excessive spending; and consider the effects on Medicare beneficiaries of changes in payments to providers and suppliers.

Claim:  “There are two ways to control health care spending:  Give bureaucrats the power to decide which health care services seniors can use; as the Democrats’ health care law will do starting in 2014, or give patients more power to reward providers who deliver high-quality, low-cost care (and deny business to those who fail to produce quality, affordable care) as Republicans seek to do.”

Fact: I refer you back to page 372 of the Affordable Healthcare Ace and its prohibitions against rationing care to Medicare beneficiaries.  In addition, this claim by the Republicans ignores the fact that the act mandates that more health care services such as wellness preventative care be provided to Medicare beneficiaries; and includes measures which reward doctors who demonstrate good care for their patients.  What the Republicans seek to do is to let the market govern Medicare.  Market forces may work in most economic situations, but do we want the market to determine the quality of health care we receive?

Now, let’s take a look at the Romney/Ryan plan for Medicare reform:

Claim:  The Romney/Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it.

Fact:  The Romney/Ryan plan for the reform of Medicare would leave the program untouched for those 55 years old and older.  For those under 55, beginning in 2023, they would be able to go to a newly created Medicare Exchange, where they would be given a choice of private plans alongside the traditional fee-for-service option of traditional Medicare.  The Romney/Ryan plan also features “premium support” or vouchers for seniors who need financial support to pay the premiums.  The Republicans tout the Medicare Exchange as providing seniors the opportunity to get their health insurance the same way members of Congress do; through a marketplace where they can find the best plan that meets their needs.  But, that’s where the similarity ends.

Analysts have pointed out that the Congressional plan has a funding mechanism in place that limits the amount of funding responsibility shared by the beneficiary.  Romney/Ryan has a funding mechanism that has no limits on the amount of funding responibility which would be shared by the beneficiaries.  So yes, the amount of the vouchers may increase as the cost of living increases; but if health care costs exceed the rate of inflation, seniors will be digging deeper and deeper into their pockets to pay their premiums.  From 2000 to 2011 the annual rate of inflation averaged 2.55%.  A graph in the Republicans’ 2013 fiscal budget showed that health care spending amounted to about 7% of the govenment spending as a share of the economy.  If seniors get a 2.55% increase in the amount of their voucher, but health care spending causes the amount of their premium to go up 5-6% how long do you think it would be before the average senior citizen has to dip into their savings to pay their health insurance premiums.  Another thing Romney/Ryan would do is place limits on the amount of awards in medical malpractice cases.  That’s been a Republican wet dream for years.  It must also be pointed out that the Romney/Ryan plan for reducing the cost of Medicare, as outlined in the 2013 fiscal year budget passed by the House of Representatives on a party line vote is so complex that the Congressional Budget office has been unable to score it, or determine how much it would cost.

Given the fact that the Romney/Ryan plan changes Medicare for those under 55 from a guaranteed benefit program to a premium support program that people would have to buy into, I believe it’s fair to say that Romney/Ryan does, in fact, change Medicare as we know it.

Now let’s turn to Medicaid, the program that provides medical care for those with low incomes.  The Obama administration has chosen to strengthen the program through measures in the Affordable Care Act.  The law invests new resources into fighting fraud in the program.  Obamacare also provides additional funding for states that seek to expand Medicaid to cover more of their residents; and established a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation which will test new ways of delivering care to patients.  Those methods will improve the quality of care and reduce the rate of growth in health care costs for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Obamacare also increases the amount of Medicaid payments for primary care doctors in 2013 and 2014.  The law also authorizes waivers to allow states to submit their own plans for medical care to their needy residents.

The Romney/Ryan plan ‘s approach to Medicaid reform calls for the states to be given block grants which they would use to devise their own plans to meet the medical needs of their vulnerable residents.  Here’s how the plan is outlined in ” Path To Prosperity…The 2013 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution of the House Budget Committee”:

Claim: Repairing a Broken Medicaid System
Secure Medicaid benefits by converting the federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant indexed for inflation and population growth.  This reform ends the misguided one-size-fits-all approach that has tied the hands of so many state governments.  States will no longer be shackled by federally determined program requirements and enrollment criteria.  Instead, they will have the freedom and flexibility to tailor Medicaid programs that fit the needs of their unique populations.

Improve the health care safety net for low income Americans by giving states the ability to offer Medicaid beneficiaries more options and better access to care.  Medicaid recipients, like all Americans, deserve to choose their own doctors and make their own health care decisions, instead of having Washington dictate those decisions to them.

Constraining Medicaid’s growing cost trajectory by $820 billion over ten years, contributing to the long-term stability of the federal government’s fiscal condition and easing the largest and fastest growing burden on state budgets.”

I have a couple of issues with those points.  First of all, the choice of doctors available to Medicaid patients under the current program is not something that’s dictated by Washington.  The limited choice of providers that many people on Medicaid face is a result of the rate of funding given to providers.  Simply giving those block grants to the states does not guarantee that the states will provide better payments to providers, and thus result in more providers accepting Medicaid. Washington also does not dictate to Medicaid patients the health care decisions  they must make. 

I must also take issue with the claim that “Constraining Medicaid ‘s growing cost trajectory by $810 billion over ten years… (bureaucratese for “Cutting Medicaid by $810 billion over ten years”) will strengthen the program.  Look at it this way, here in Michigan we have the Mackinaw Bridge connecting the upper peninsula and the lower peninsula.  If you take away every third bridge supporting column are you strengthening the bridge?  Would you want to drive your family across that bridge?  I believe it defies logic to believe that you strengthen a program by making huge cuts in the funding for that program.

[Editor's Note: There is also the concern that states receiving the block grants might divert those funds to pay for budget deficits or tax cuts for the wealthy. Perhaps our audience can help us find out if this is the case.]

There’s another claim being made about Obamacare that I must address.

Claim:  Obamacare imposes new regulations and requirements on small businesses that are harming their ability to provide health insurance for their employees.”

Fact:  Obamacare provided up to 4-million small businesses tax credits to help them provide health insurance for their employees.  In the first phase of this program, implemented in 2010, the tax credits allowed them to write off 35% of the employer contribution amount.  In the second phase, in 2014, that write off goes up to 50% of the employer contribution.

As I did the research for this post I was struck by how many of the core principles and provisions of Obamacare and the Romney/Ryan plan are contained in “Hillarycare”, the attempt by the Clinton administration to establish a program of universal health care in the United States.

Comparing Obamacare and Ryancare with Hillarycare

Consumer Choice
Hillarycare had as one of its core principles that each consumer should  have the opportunity to exercise choice about plans, providers, and treatments.  That’s a key principle for both Obamacare and the Romney/Ryan plan.

Sharing the Burden
The belief that the health care system should spread the costs and burden of care across the entire community is also a part of both plans.  Personal responsibility, or an individual mandate to obtain health insurance is a principle in Hillarycare as well as Obamacare and Romneycare in Massachussets. 

Resolution Process
Fair procedures for resolving disputes between beneficiaries and insurance companies was another key principle of Hillarycare that is also found in Obamacare.

Coverage Decisions
Hillarycare would have had the federal government establish what services would be provided in a comprehensive benefit package.  That’s also a part of Obamacare. Hillarycare covered family planning and pregnancy-related services, as does Obamacare (as we all know). 

Purchasing Alliances/Exchanges
Hillarycare would have established regional and corporate alliances through which people would have obtained their health insurance.  Those alliances are certainly comparable to the health exchanges which are a part of Obamacare and the Romney/Ryan plan. 

Under Hillarycare an alliance could not cross state lines, but two or more contiguous states could coordinate the operation of their alliances.  That’s also a provision in Obamacare.  Under Hillarycare the states would determine which insurance companies would be allowed to offer plans in their alliances.  That’s also a provision in Obamacare and the Romney/Ryan plan for Medicare reform. 

Hillarycare would have allowed senior citizens  the option of remaining in in alliance plan when they turn 65 rather than sign up for Medicare.  That’s also a provision in the Romney/Ryan plan for Medicare Reform.

Capping Employer Costs
Hillarycare had a provision which would have capped the amount an employer would have to pay in premiums for the insurance they offer their employees.  Obamacare has a similar provision. 

Privacy Protections
Hillarycare would have established national standards for the privacy protection of medical information.  That became a part of our health care system in the form of the Health Information Patient Privacy Act or HIPPA.

I guess good ideas are not the property of any political party.  It’s just that it can sometimes take 20 years oa so for those politicians to accept that maybe that idea by those other guys is a pretty good one after all.

If you want to understand the truth about the health care reform plans offered by Obama and the Romney/Ryan team  I urge you to download the Affordable Care Act and use the search tool to look up applicable provisions when questions arise.  Also go to www.healthcare.gov and look at the timeline for when key features of Obamacare will be implemented.  By all means, look up “Path To Prosperity…2013 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution House Budget Committee so you can see how the Republicans would change our social safety net.  Last, but not least, keep those fact-checking sites handy so you can check out the claims made by both campaigns about the other.

Knowledge is the key to making an educated, informed decision as to who you will support in the coming election.

The Benefits Of Obamacare

The Supreme Court has ruled that, with the exception of one provision, the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is constitutional.  Despite that, Mitt Romney and the Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the legislation.  I believe that it’s important to understand what the American people will lose if that happens.

Critics claim that Obamacare is a bill that’s much too long and complicated for us to read and understand.  But you don’t have to go through the agonizing, mind numbing experience of reading the bill to learn what the key provisions are.  A website has been created to help people understand the key provisions of the legislation.  The website includes a timeline feature which tells when the key provisions will be enacted, and links to additional information about those key provisions.  Here’s a link to that timeline:

www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/full.html

Here are some of those key provisions found in that timeline.  Keep in mind that the provisions from 2010 and 2011 are in place and have been implemented.  Some of the provisions in 2012 may not have been implemented yet.

2010

*The health care law includes new rules to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to children under the age of 19.

*The health care law makes illegal the practice of rescinding, or denying coverage to applicants because of an error or other technical mistake on the application form.

*Insurance companies are prohibited from placing annual dollar limits on the amount of insurance coverage a patient may receive.

*The law established a process for external review in customers’ appeal of an insurance company’s determination on a claim.  In the past the appeal could only be made to the insurance company that denied the claim.

The law also provides several provisions for improving the quality of care and lowering the cost of health care:

*The law provides small businesses with tax credits to help them provide insurance benefits for their employees.

*Obamacare provides relief for senior citizens who will reach the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage (or doughnut hole) during the year in the form of a one-time $250 rebate check.

*All new plans are required to provide certain preventative services such as mammograms or colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or co-insurance.

*A new $15-billion Prevention and Public Health Fund was created to provide funding for proven  prevention and public health plans that help keep Americans healthy.

*Obamacare provides new funding and resources to find and prosecute fraud in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP programs.

*The law created a new Pre-Existing Insurance Plan to provide new coverage options to people who have been uninsured for at least 6 months because of a pre-existing condition.

*Young adults are allowed to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until they reach the age of 26.  Remember the recent TV ad which featured a woman who aged before our eyes, telling how she voted for Obama but was so disappointed in his performance that she no longer supports him?  A major source of her disappointment was the fact that her two children had not been able to find a job after graduating from college and had moved back in with her.  Had one of her children hurt themselves while playing basketball in the driveway, their trip to the emergency room would have been paid for by their mother’s insurance under this provision.

*The law created an Early Retiree Reinsurance Program which provides financial help for employment based insurance plans to help them provide coverage for workers who retire early, before  reaching the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare, as well as their spouses and dependents.

*Obamacare provides new incentives to expand the numbers of primary care doctors, nurses, and physician assistants.

*The law allows states that have or plan to implement measures requiring insurance companies to justify their premium increases to be eligible for $250-million in new grants.

*The law provides the funding to allow more people to enroll in Medicaid.

*Obamacare provides new funding to help rural health care providers and community health centers provide medical care for the under-served segments of the American population.

2011

Among the provisions of Obamacare taking place in 2011 are these provisions:

*Senior citizens who reach the coverage gap in their prescription drug plan will receive a 50% discount on the price of their medications.  This provision calls for seniors to receive additional savings on their medications until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.

*The law provides certain free preventative services such as annual wellness visits and personalized prevention plans for seniors on Medicare.

*Obamacare creates a new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation that will test new ways of delivering care to patients.  These new methods are expected to improve the quality of care and reduce the rate of growth in health care costs for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

*Also crated under Obamacare is the Community Care Transitions Program which will help high risk Medicare beneficiaries who are hospitalized avoid costly, unnecessary re-admissions by coordinating care and connecting patients to services in their community.

*The law created the Independent Payment Advisory Board to develop and submit proposals to Congress and the President aimed at extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund

*Obamacare also increases access to services at home and in the community by creating the Community First Choice Option, which allows states to offer home and community based services to disabled individuals through Medicaid rather than warehousing them in institutional care.

*To ensure that premium dollars are spent primarily on health care, the law generally requires that at least 85% of all premium dollars collected by insurance companies for large employers health care plan are spent on health care services and health care quality improvement.  For plans sold to small employers and individuals at least 80% of the premium dollars must be spent on benefits and quality improvement.  If insurance companies fail to meet these goals because their administrative costs or profits are too high, they will be required to provide rebates for consumers.

*The health care law also eliminates a discrepancy in payments to Medicare Advantage plans.  Before the reform law Medicare had been paying insurance companies that provide the Medicare Advantage services over $1,000 more per person than is spent per person in traditional Medicare.  This results in increased premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries, including the 77% of Medicare beneficiaries who have chosen to be served by traditional Medicare rather than a Medicare Advantage plan.  Under the law the overpayment is gradually eliminated without denying the Medicare Advantage beneficiaries the benefits they have been guaranteed.  This is the provision that the Republicans have portrayed as a Medicare cut.  The truth is all that’s being cut are over-payments to Medicare Advantage plans.  Beneficiaries in those plans will not see a reduction in services.

2012

*On or after October 1 of this year a Value-Based Purchasing program goes into effect for traditional Medicare.  This program offers financial incentives to hospitals to improve the quality of care in those hospitals.  Hospital performance is required to be publicly reported, beginning with measures relating to heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, health care associated infections, and patient’s evaluation of the care they received.

*Also going into effect on or after October 1 is a series of changes to standardize billing, and implement secure, confidential electronic exchange of health information.  Electronic health records will reduce paperwork and administrative burdens, cut costs, reduce medical errors and improve the quality of health care.

*To help understand and fight health disparities, the law requires any ongoing new federal health program to collect and report racial, ethnic, and language data.

*Obamacare provides incentives for doctors to join together to form Accountable Care Organizations; groups that allow doctors to better coordinate patient care and provide higher quality care, help prevent disease and illness, and reduce the number of unnecessary hospital admissions.  If an ACO provides high quality care and reduces costs to the health care systems they will be allowed to keep some of the money they have helped save.

2013

*Next year Obamacare will provide new funding to Medicaid programs to cover preventative health care services for patients at little or no cost.

*The law establishes a national pilot program to encourage doctors and other health care providers to work together to improve the coordination and quality of patient care to Medicare beneficiaries.  The program involves “bundling” of payments.  Under the current system a Medicare patient who undergoes a surgical procedure would generate bills for service from all of the providers on the surgical team.  Under the bundling established with this provision, the entire team is compensated with a bundled payment that provides incentives to deliver health care services more efficiently while maintaining or improving quality of care.

*The health care reform law will require states to pay primary care providers no less than 100% of Medicare payment rates in 2013 and 2014 for primary care services, with the increase fully funded by the federal government.

*Obamacare provides additional funding for the states’ Children’s Health Insurance Program.  The states will receive two more years of funding to continue this insurance for children who are not eligible for Medicaid.

2014

In 2014 many of the most popular features will go into effect:

*The law implements reforms that prohibit insurance companies from refusing to sell coverage or renew a policy because of a pre-existing condition.  Also included is the elimination of the ability of insurance companies serving the individual and small group markets to charge higher rates due to gender or health status.

*Obamacare will prohibit new plans and existing group plans from imposing annual dollar limits on the amount of coverage a person can receive.

*Insurers will be prohibited from dropping or limiting coverage because an individual chooses to participate in a clinical trial that treats cancer or other life-threatening illness.

*The health care reform law will establish advance-able tax credits to make it easier for the middle class to afford to buy health insurance.

*Starting in 2014 if your employer doesn’t offer health insurance as part of a benefit package you will be able to buy it directly in an Affordable Insurance Exchange, an online marketplace where insurance companies will be able to offer qualified health benefit plans for individuals and families.

*Also in 2014 the second phase of the small business tax credit for qualified small businesses and small non-profit organizations is implemented.

*Obamacare will increase access to Medicaid by expanding the number of people who can receive Medicaid.  The federal government will pay 100% of the cost for the expansion for the first three years, with the states eventually assuming 10% of the cost in subsequent years.

*The controversial individual mandate kicks in at the start of the year.  Most individuals who can afford it will be required to obtain basic health insurance coverage or pay a fee/tax to help offset the cost of caring for uninsured Americans.  If affordable coverage is not available to an individual, he or she will be eligible for an exemption.  It’s important to note that the “individual mandate” is more of an “optional mandate”.  Individuals will be charged that fee/tax if they refuse to buy basic insurance, but the agency charged with collecting that fee/tax, the IRS,  has no power to prosecute or seize the assets of the individual according to the health care reform law.  That’s the part of this provision that neither the Obama administration nor the Republicans want you to understand.  The Obama administration wants people in the dark about this so they will pay the tax/fee; and the Republican  want to project the image of large numbers of Americans having to pay this new tax.

*Free choice is ensured by allowing workers meeting certain requirements who cannot afford the coverage provided by their employer to take whatever funds the employer might have contributed to their insurance and use those funds to purchase a more affordable plan in the new health insurance exchange in their state.

2015

There is one more provision scheduled to take effect in 2015.  A new provision will tie physician payments to the quality of care they provide rather than the number of patients they see.  Payments will be modified so that doctors who provide higher quality care will receive higher payments than those who provide lower quality of care.

Conclusion

I admit that I have not been a big fan of Obamacare.  When it was signed into law I saw it as just a gift to the insurance companies, giving them 25-million or so new customers.  I would much rather see a single-payer system like Medicare for all.  But after looking at all of the key provisions in the law, I see a lot of good in the health care reform law.

What I see when I look at the key provisions of Obamacare are provisions that help all segments of America.  There are provisions to help provide insurance coverage for children, young adults, individuals, families, and senior citizens.  There are tax credits for businesses and individuals to help them provide or afford to buy insurance.  There are incentives for health care providers to provide higher quality health care.  There are provisions which will make our health care system more efficient, as well as funds for educating more health care practitioners to serve our aging population.

Since 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the right has derisively called the health care reform law “Obamacare”.  For the last couple of years, “Obamacare” has been a demeaning term.  Well, my friends, it’s time for us to take control of the word.  It’s time for us to refer to the Affordable Care Act as Obamacare with pride.  Obamacare is not perfect, but it is a great start.

And it’s a start that will be undone if Mitt Romney wins the White House and the Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress.  They have promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan they have yet to reveal.  Go back to the start of this post and look through the key provisions, thinking about  the ones which will benefit you.  Are you ready to kiss them goodbye?

If you see things in Obamacare that will help you, it’s time to take action.  It’s time to spread the word about this website and the provisions in Obamacare that will benefit you.  Too many people have formed negative opinions of Obamacare because they don’t know what’s in it.  Help open their eyes to the benefits Obamacare will bring to all of us.

Day 73 W 3/28/2012 Dueling With Dualism

On Wednesday March 28, 2012

Summary:
Emergency financial managers; violence; healthy eating; the Affordable Health Care being reviewed by the Supreme Court; Why Obama is against marriage equality.

Guests/Topics:
3pm RainbowPUSH-MI Preident, Rev. D. Alexander Bullock who is also the Rainbow PUSH Michigan State Coordinator, is our guest discussing violence, emergency financial managers and the importance of healthy eating as a civil right.

4pm The discussion about violence and emergency finanical managers continues in our 2nd hour, including a discussion with Monica RW with ROJS News on the topic of EFM. Public Act 4, which established EFM, is a historical precedent and attack on democracy.

5pm Is the individual mandate in the Health Care Constitutional? SCOTUS about to decide, what do you hope the outcome will be and how it will impact elections. Remember, the Affordable Health Care act is NOT single payer health care, maybe something better can come about after the ruling.

Also, why is Obama not backing gay marriage. Commentary on an article by Josh Kraushaar.

Show Links:
The Scandal of Michigan’s Emergency Financial Managers
@RainbowPUSHMI

Call the show with your comments and insights and to encourage others you know to tune in and call as well to be a part of the conversation on this important civil rights issue. The studio phone number is 616-656-1680. If the line is busy, please hang up and try again.

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Day 67: Never-The-Less & Even-So Moving Forward

TODAY ON PALEORADIO – Not necessarily in this order
1. Contraception & Abortion – Papal directives & the GOP primary platform.
2. Unionism
3. Euthanasia
4. Students suspended for organizing a walkout in defense of teachers.
5. Bullying – vote to get the movie in Grand Rapids
7. Deep Thoughts at 5: Getting beyond labels to get along, disagreeing on the path to common ground, fostering real dialogue to foster real progress.

Santorum’s Fearmongering Lies:

Related post: Jeremiah’s Vlog Response

Students Suspended for Walkout

LISTEN ON WPRR AM1680/95.3FM and online/mobile app from 3pm – 6pm EST today. Let PaleoRadio be your voice for transpartisan truth – give us a call at 616-656-1680 and be a part of the conversation. We also look forward to reading your comments below.

If you miss the show today, or you want to hear it again, you can download it tonight at PublicRealityRadio.org.