Category Archives: Medicare

Cut, Cap and Balance: The Wrong Approach to Deficit Reduction

The following was posted this morning at the White House blog by Jason Furman, Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.

The blog post in response to all the rhetoric being thrown around by the ultra conservative right-wingers and TEA praters, who have taken control of the Republican Party and are risking our country’s economic future and well being over the debate about raising the national debt limit.

These people are pushing for a proposal called “Cut, Cap and Balance” which is legislation that would cut $111 billion out of the budget immediately, cap spending to a percent of the Gross Domestic Product, and send a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states in return for increasing the $14.294 trillion debt ceiling.

On so many levels this proposal is wrong and could lead to a worsening of the economy and handicap future Congresses and Presidents ability to deal with a fiscal and economic crisis.

“Cut, Cap and Balance” is not the answer to our current troubles in this country, fixing the economy and putting people back to work is with sound fiscal policy that has proven in the past to work.

Democrats and Republicans agree that getting our fiscal house in order is one of the critical challenges facing America. To address it we are going to have to make tough choices, bringing to the table a commitment to examine every area of the budget and every loophole in the tax code without presumptively taking any of the options off the table. But it is critical that we not bring down our deficits and debt at the expense of economic growth, innovation and job creation, or place the greatest burden on older Americans and the most vulnerable. That is precisely what the House’s Cut, Cap and Balance plan would do – a proposal that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney described as “duck, dodge and dismantle.”

The House plan fails to achieve a balanced plan to reduce the deficit, which is precisely the approach that has worked successfully in America in the past and has recently been recommended by a number of different fiscal commissions.

Let’s start with the “cut” and “cap” portions of the bill. These sections require spending cuts in 2012 and caps over the next decade identical to those in the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan., By House Republicans’ own design, achieving those spending levels would require cuts that would be harmful to the economic recovery in the short-term while also damaging our long-term competitiveness and placing a higher burden on seniors and the most vulnerable. To give a few examples:

  • The bill would abruptly cut more than $100 billion in spending in the first year alone, a step that Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf stated would “affect our projections for GDP growth over the next two years.”
  • The House Budget Resolution plan would cut clean energy investments by 70 percent, infrastructure investments by a third, and education and training by 25 percent – cutting 320,000 children from Head Start and reducing aid for families trying to put their kids through college by hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
  • It would cut Medicaid by one-third over the decade, and by nearly 50% by 2030. This could, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, result in 36 million people losing Medicaid coverage, including people with disabilities and seniors in nursing homes. And that comes on top of the 17 million who would lose coverage due to repealing subsidies in the Affordable Care Act.
  • And it would cut programs for the most vulnerable – for example, by food stamp benefits for a family of four by $1,760 per year or cut 8 million households from the program.
  • Finally, the House Budget Resolution proposed to convert Medicare to a voucher program, increasing costs for Medicare beneficiaries by $6,400 a year beginning in 2021 – with those higher costs increasing over time.

But “Cut, Cap and Balance” doesn’t stop there. It also includes a requirement that to secure an increase in the debt limit necessary to avoid default – and a devastating impact on families and businesses – Congress must pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Moreover, it is an extreme version of a constitutional amendment that would cap government spending and require a two-thirds supermajority to cut tax loopholes or take other steps on revenue. The President has frequently made clear why he thinks a Balanced Budget Amendment is a misguided effort to absolve leaders in Washington of their responsibility for making tough choices. But it is important to understand what this requirement means when added on top of the cuts in the House Budget Resolution.

To start with, consider that at the end of the next decade, the House plan would still be $400 billion a year short of achieving a balanced budget. Unless Republicans are willing to entertain $3 to $4 trillion in additional revenues over the next decade, that means $400 billion a year would need to be cut beyond the House Budget Resolution.

And when you’ve already made such deep cuts to discretionary spending, Medicaid and other programs, it becomes difficult to imagine any credible ways to achieve those spending levels without including Social Security in the reductions and making substantially deeper reductions in Medicare.

So if the required spending cut were across the board, it would mean all programs, including Social Security and Medicare, would be cut by 10 percent by the end of the decade on top of the House Budget Resolution.If defense spending alone were exempted, it would mean that all other programs (again including Social Security and Medicare) would be cut by about 12 percent by the end of the decade on top of the House Budget Resolution. It would be possible to avoid cuts of this magnitude, but that would require dramatically deeper reductions than the one-third cut in Medicaid and infrastructure currently proposed in the House Budget Resolution.

We obviously don’t agree with this approach. The President has proposed a comprehensive approach that ensures we live within our means and reduces the deficit by $4 trillion, while supporting economic growth and long-term job creation, protecting critical investments, and meeting the commitments made to provide economic security to Americans no matter their circumstances. We want to make significant cuts to government spending, including additional savings that come from further strengthening critical programs like Medicare, while protecting the recovery, strengthening the middle class and making the investments that will promote economic growth so folks feel confident in their futures and their children’s futures.

Representatives from both parties will continue to talk about reaching the largest deal possible. The President is pushing everyone to come to the table, put politics aside, work through our differences and prove to the American people that we can still do big and difficult, but necessary things.

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Filed under balanced budget amendment, cap cut and balance, Congressional Republicans, debt ceiling, default, economy, higher interest rates, Medicaid, Medicare, President Obama, Social Security, tax loopholes

Rush Holt: New Evidence Could Shape The Health Care Debate

By Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ 12)

I’ve always believed that the health care debate should be based on evidence, not ideology or demagoguery. Last week, the debate gained important new evidence thanks to an unprecedented study from Oregon.

In 2008, Oregon policymakers wanted to expand the state’s Medicaid program, but they lacked the funding needed to cover all 90,000 applicants. They decided that the fairest way to distribute their limited funds was through a lottery.

When researchers compared the 10,000 individuals who “won” the health care lottery to those who lost, they found dramatic differences in outcomes between these well-matched populations. Individuals covered by Medicaid were 35 percent more likely to see a doctor. They also felt better: they were more likely to rate their health as good or excellent and less likely to say that their health had deteriorated over the previous year.

Would you be surprised to learn that insurance coverage improved not only people’s physical health but also their financial well-being? People covered by Medicaid were 25 percent less likely to have an unpaid bill go to collection, and they were 40 percent less likely to borrow money or skip a bill payment because of medical expenses.

Although Oregon’s method of handling its budget limitations was novel, it dramatized an everyday phenomenon: a health care “lottery” in which some people gain health coverage while others are left to fend for themselves. Two similar Americans who work equally hard and are equally deserving of good health may experience very different outcomes, based only on chance factors: whether they live in a city with a strong job market, whether their employer provides health insurance, or whether their state supports its low-income workers through Medicaid.

Right now, 50 million Americans – including 8 million children – are losing the health care lottery. They are suffering all of the ills that the Oregon study revealed: poorer health, poorer access to doctors, and poorer financial security.

That situation is improving as the new Affordable Care law takes effect and helps 33 million Americans gain access to health insurance. Policymakers now have hard evidence to support what many of us argued when we enacted that law: insured Americans live healthier, happier, and more secure lives.

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Filed under Congressman Rush Holt, health care debate, Medicaid, Medicare, Newsletter, Oregon study, The Affordable Care Act

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/9/11: Working Together to Meet our Fiscal Challenges

WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Obama called on both parties to come together during this unique moment to find a significant, balanced approach to deficit reduction that lets us live within our means without hurting investments our economy needs to grow and create jobs. The President believes the American people deserve to have their leaders work in a bipartisan way to find common ground to tackle our fiscal challenges so we can be in a stronger position to focus on new job-creation measures to get the American people back to work.

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Filed under Congress, corporate taxes, debt limit, economic recovery, Education, Job creation, Medicare, Middle Class, President Obama, Social Security, tax breaks for the rich, weekly address

>President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/2/11: Cutting the Deficit and Creating Jobs

>WASHINGTON- In this week’s address, President Obama spoke to the American people about reducing the nation’s deficit and creating jobs across the country. The President emphasized the need for Government to live within its means— just as families do—in order to put the nation on a fiscally sustainable path which is critical to long-term economic growth and job creation. To solve the deficit problem, Democrats and Republicans must make tough choices and look at every tax loophole and program for opportunities to save money. President Obama stressed the importance of trimming the budget while also making critical investments in education, research, and technology to spur job growth and invest in our future. As families and friends join together to celebrate Independence Day, the President reminded Americans that since our founding, we have overcome challenges by coming together to solve our nation’s problems.

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Filed under 4th of July, credit cards, cutting spending, economic growth, Indepence Day, Job creation, Medicare, national debt, President Obama, tax loopholes, weekly address

>New York’s 26th Not Alone; ALERT BASED ON A NEW NATIONAL SURVEY

>Democracy Corps
Greenberg,Quinlan,Rosner Reasearch

Republican leaders and conservative pundits have spun Democrat Kathy Hochul’s upset win in New York’s 26th Congressional District as exceptional – with peculiar ballot lines, Tea Party independents, quality of the candidates, and Democratic message discipline. We concede: yard signs in Upstate New York did read “Save Medicare: Vote Hochul.” But our national poll completed on Wednesday shows that New York’s 26th is not alone. It is an advance indicator of a sharp pull back from Republicans, particularly those in the House.

Disapproval of the Republicans in the House of Representatives has surged from 46 percent in February to 55 percent in April to a striking 59 percent now. Disapproval outnumbers approval two-to-one; intense disapproval by three-to-one. For the first time in more than a year, the Democrats are clearly even in the named Congressional ballot – an 8-point swing from the election – and Obama has made a marked gain in his job approval and vote against Mitt Romney – with the President now leading by 4 points. This period captured the introduction of the Republican budget plan and vote by the House – and voters do not like what they see.

Perhaps most notably, this survey flags a major retreat from the Republican approach to deficits and spending, the economy, and jobs. As the Republicans have unveiled their plans and approach during this four-month debate on the deficit, priorities and the economy, they have pushed many voters away.

On Wednesday, Democracy Corps will release a major multi-study report on the economy and economic messaging, but we wanted to release these political findings before the holiday weekend.

The memo and frequency questionnaire can be found at:
Democracy Corps.

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Filed under Congressional Democrats, Democracy Corps, Greenberg Qiunlan Rosner Research organization, House Republicans, Kathy Hochuls, Medicare, New York’s 26th Congressional District, President Obama, Survey

>Socialism is all around us

>Lawrence O’Donnell on last night’s The Last Word points out how Bill O’Reilly is a “Socialist” like the rest of us.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Filed under Bill Maher, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, Lawrence O'Donnell, Medicaid, Medicare, MSNBC, socialism, socialist, The Last Word, us military

>Join Congressman Rush Holt For Two Town Hall Forums On Medicare

>Congressman Rush Holt will join federal Medicare officials to host two town hall forums in central New Jersey. Please join him to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns about the future of Medicare.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
1:00-2:30 p.m.
Monroe Township Public Library
4 Municipal Plaza
Monroe Township, NJ 08831

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
6:00-7:30 p.m.
East Brunswick Senior Center
2 Jean Walling Civic Center Drive
East Brunswick, NJ 08816

“Last month, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives passed, over my objections, a radical and far-reaching national budget for 2012. The proposed budget would end Medicare as we know it. Under this plan, if you are under 55 years of age, when you retire you would receive a voucher from the federal government and then fend for yourself on the private insurance market. The value of these vouchers is designed to shrink, relative to the cost of health care, each year – so seniors would be required to pay ever-growing out-of-pocket costs in order to maintain the same quality of health care.

Fortunately, the Senate has not voted on the Republican Medicare privatization plan, so there is still time to protect Medicare. I firmly believe that we need a national budget that strengthens our middle class, not weakens it, and I look forward to hearing your ideas at this week’s forum on how we can best achieve that goal. “

– Congressman Rush Holt

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Filed under Congressman Rush Holt, Medicare, medicare privatization, Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican budget plans, Seniors, town hall meeting