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Friday, October 21, 2016

WASHINGTON — Deficit hawks are worried that the Medicare debate in the presidential campaign will make it impossible to reach a post-election deal to balance the budget. At the same time, much of the punditry focuses on how mean and nasty this campaign is.

Those who are anxious about the deficit should relax. This campaign could actually pave the way for a sensible budget deal. And those who bemoan the rock-’em-sock-’em campaign should stop wringing their hands and get about the business of calling out falsehoods and identifying misleading assertions.

On the budget, the fear is that because President Obama is attacking Paul Ryan’s fiscal road map and because Mitt Romney is responding by assailing the Medicare savings in Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Congress will be scared away from reducing the government’s health care costs. In this view, the campaign will poison the well for future budget talks.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is we cannot have honest budget negotiations until we resolve one big question: Will new revenue — yes, higher taxes — be part of a budget deal or not? The election will settle where the country stands on this proposition.

Despite the fantasies of the trickle-down supply-siders, there is no path to a balanced budget without tax increases. Obama openly supports a tax increase. Romney and Ryan not only oppose higher taxes but also claim they can cut taxes and balance the budget — eventually. If they win, we can look forward to more tax cuts compounding the red ink. Isn’t this what should really concern the deficit hawks?

If Obama’s critics want to argue that the tax increases the president is endorsing (his centerpiece is letting the Clinton-era income tax rates return for those earning more than $250,000 a year) will not be enough in the long run, they make a valid point. But at least Obama is willing to acknowledge the need for some revenue. The other side would just keep on cutting taxes. Those who care about a “balanced” budget deal should acknowledge where balance lies in this debate.

  • tranz2deep

    Let me explain the means by which Republicans plan to balance the budget through tax cuts; They stick Democrats with the bill! Then after a miserable Democrat-led term (often filled with Republican-provided roadblocks) the Republicans offer “relief” in the form of.. more tax cuts!

  • One of the most egregious statements made by Mitt Romney, the candidate of a party that is, allegedly, in favor of smaller government and spending reductions to balance the budget, was his promise to restore the money that President Obama took out of MEDICARE. Hypocrisy should be his middle name. President Obama proposed reducing the charges service providers make, greater oversight over the validity of their claims, and subsidies to pharmaceuticals and insurance companies introduced by the 2003 MEDICARE Part Reform (read Trojan horse designed to destroy MEDICARE) to curb the out of control increases in expenditures that are destroying that system. The intent is to restore solvency, which was understood by all the congressmen, including Paul Ryan, who enthusiastically embraced the proposal and wrote and passe legislation to that effect. Romney’s attempt to get votes by scaring seniors is an example of his lack of principles.

    • Dominick I like our answers keep it up.

    • dsjz59

      Mitt Romney is a big government, statist, globalist pretender. Look at this record. Talk is cheap.

    • Fortunately when we get to the debates President Obama will skewer Mitt on this and a host of issues. I hope Mitt is asked point blank why he is afraid to release his taxes.

  • old_blu

    “The fact is we cannot have honest budget negotiations until we resolve one big question”

    Why can’t Democrats and Republicans agree on anything? they don’t care if they are doing the right thing for America, just for their party, and (dare I say it) the teabaggers, they are trying to make a failing two party system into a worse, three party system.

    (i forgot they agree on vacation)

    • dsjz59

      You are so wrong. They (GOP and Dems) agree on budget deficits, never ending war mongering, crony capitalism, the end of individual freedom and privacy, globalism, the deindustrialization of America for the profit of the rich patrons of both parties and fractional reserve banking.

      Anything they disagree on is a shell game to make the voters think they have a choice. Neither side cares about abortion or gay marriage, they use social issues to keep us divided instead of united. Bush and Obama were nearly identical on economic policy and foreign policy, it was just packaged differently for gullible Americans.

      • old_blu

        You are not one of those people that believe it is all a conspiracy are you?

  • William Deutschlander

    The REPUBLICAN CARTEL hypocracy!

  • clarenceswinney

    Limbaugh has a Program on Armed Forces radio
    why not Jim Hightower or Ed Schultz?

    • Joseph Hemphill

      that chaps my ass….. my experience with the military was all the decision makers were staunch republicans, thus controlling what media you were able to access, especially overseas. the progressive point of view was purposely censored.

  • I had a senior citizen tell me, the other day, that she doesn’t have to worry about the Ryan Plan as it won’t affect her. It will only affect those under 55. I wouldn’t be so sure. Once Medicare and Social Security have been changed to a voucher and private plan, anything can happen down the road.

    This debate is not new. It started in 1935, when Roosevelt started Social Security. There were quite a few congressmen who cried that it was socialism and they would see that it was repealed. They have been trying all these years. At last, there is someone who thinks he has a way to do that. Seniors better wake up and realize they are in jeopardy. Social Security can be fixed with two simple measures: remove the cap so those who actually draw the most keep paying into it. Add $1.00 to FICA. Presently, and I am told the cap has dropped to $120,000, those who make that amount do not have to pay into Social Security after they reach the cap. Since the Social Security checks are based on the highest quarter, those who make $120,000 are drawing the biggest check.

    Please start thinking about where the Ryan plan is going. One tea-partier they interviewed at one of their rallies, said the government should only be responsible for two things: maintaining a military and wars. Some of those people have actually been put in office, thus the deadlock on the economy.

    • Maggie, next time you talk to your friend ask her how will MEDICARE be funded for people like her after contributors under 55 years of age are removed from the system. MEDICARE, like Social Security, depend on the contributions of workers to stay afloat. The truth is that without those contributors the system would collapse for everyone because of lack of funds.

      SS is solvent, unfortunately, MEDICARE is not collecting enough from workers contributions to cover outlays, and depends on general funds to survive. The choices if people under 55 are moved to a voucher system would be to raise taxes to offseet the revenue losses incurred from lack of sufficient contributions to cover even a small part of the program,, increase the MEDICARE fees seniors pay after we retire by a substantial amount, shut down MEDICARE and force seniors to a voucher program, or euthanasia.

      There are no free rides, we either pay for what we need and get or we have to do without. Ryan’s pie in the sky plan lacks specificity and does not explain how MEDICARE will be funded after young contributors are moved to a voucher system. Someone should ask him to amplify on that subject. Having aid all this, don’t forget that Romney, in his usual deplicitous style, praised and embraced Ryan’s conservative credentials while at the same time rejecting his MEDICARE plan and other controversial items, reminding everyone that he was the man at the top and that the agenda, including his tax plan, are his and only his.

  • howa4x

    The costs of where medicare dollars are spent need to be examined before the debate on how we will slow the expence of the program. Studies have shown that 80% of the costs are spent in the last year of a patients life, so we need a national conversation on end of life issues with out calling them death panels. We also need to look at how many different drugs the elderly are taking. It is common to walk into an older person’s apt and find upwards of 8 pill bottles of different drugs that have been prescribed by different doctors. Some of the drugs are for the side effects of other ones. Electronic record keeping can help save money there, where contraindications of drugs can be flagged and the risk of the side effects can be measured against the age or frailty of the patient. The other major cost driver is the adult children of a very elderly person who want every medical intervention known to keep their 90+ yr old parent alive no matter what state of health they are in. I’ve spoken to emergency room nurses that have told me of 100 yr olds coming in with heart failure because the adult offspring demanded they be saved to go back to rot in a nursing home covered by medicaid.. Doctors greed is another factor. I got a call from a person I know who is 87. He was concerned because his doctor wanted to do 2 knee replacements at about 100k each. I asked 2 questions, how much did he walk, and could he stand the rehab? The reality is the doctor wanted to grab a big payday, and this is a big issue, uneeded surgery.
    The problem is that issues like these never enter the debate. It is either about scare tactics on how the program will go bust if we don’t radically change it or don’t do anything to it. This is why it is so hard to slove big issues like this we can’t have an honest debate without some interest group jumping into save their peice or a cynical politician using it for their own gain or pandering for votes.
    Romney/Ryan have chosen the scare tactic route instead of the issue one.

    • phantomoftheopera

      and then there are the adult children who robbed their elderly parent blind, requiring them to use welfare dollars. and also the husbands who, once their wife develops a debilitating illness, divorce them and leave them to welfare to support. and yes, i know this ‘for a fact’. seen it. i work with a gal whose a legal guardian and has 34 clients. 3 fit the descriptions above, almost 10%!!!

  • greghilbert

    I think it good to distill matters down to their essence, but I don’t think this article does that.
    The issue is not “tax increase versus no tax increase”.
    The issue is “repealing tax cuts for the wealthy versus continuing tax cuts for the wealthy”.

  • onedonewong

    Barak wants to torpedo Medicare so that he Nationalize the countries HC system. He can’t wait to get his hands on 16% of this country’s GDP so that he can run that as well. trial attorneys are licking their cops just thinking about all the litigation opportunities when healthcare is nationalized

    • grammyjill

      Obama just made medicare solvent for another ten years. I really hope you listen to all the debates with your mind open and your eyes shut!

      • Joseph Hemphill

        this guy is a major doosh and has planted himself here to agitate as a paid shill for the party of greed over people. A soulless whore who has sold himself and every other middle class American out.

      • joebiteeme

        Did you take cyphering in school??? Obviously not Medicare – $750 BILLION + millions of illegals and that makes it more solvent???
        Granny get off the medical marijuana

        • grammyjill

          Check the REAL news. The money did not go into the general fund. It went back into medicare period! And I’m allerigic.

  • Only the most dimwitted believe there’s any truth to the Romney/Ryan messages. But for many, that doesn’t matter. For its only ideological zealotry that counts, not common sense. Those people prefer the spurious political platitudes of FOX primetime to the rational thought of MSNBC. No amount of logical persuasion will move them an inch because Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity tell them its right to believe the BS.

  • it is a sadly proven fact that the republican party has been bought by the super rich and will NEVER allow poor people the help they need, PERIOD. POWER BY, FOR AND ONLY TO THE RICHEST BIGGOTS IS NOW THE AMERICAN WAY.

  • Had Bush/Cheney found Osama bin-Laden and brought him to justice, and entered into Iraq and uncovered weapons of mass destruction, their administration would have been the greatest in recent history. Instead, they never found bin-Laden even as he was hiding in plain sight, and the only weapon of mass destruction they uncovered was a trembling and frightened old man hiding in a spider-hole. Nonetheless, Bush/Cheney managed to rake in trillions of dollars and support for their war effort and profiteered from those wars through Haliburton and Blackwater who cleared the way for contractors who profiteered from the destruction. Notwithstanding the tens of thousands of lives lost and ruined by the horrors of war and those mentally and physically suffering from its futility. Ryan is touting his association in this destruction of the American economy because if Romney/Ryan is successful, they will continue the destruction of America by entering their own war under the pretenses of supporting an ally, Israel from the attacks of Iran, and Romney/Ryan, the Koch Brothers, the tea Baggers, and all of their Super PACs will profiteer from it the same as Bush/Cheney. that is why Ryan is touting “war”. This time, instead of being a lackey, he will be a direct participant in the destruction of America. Stay tuned.

  • mikey4912

    Romney and Ryan (a comedy team that includes not one but two dummies speaking with someone elses words_Koch Bros) have no ideas so lies is what we get. If their ideas really got a hearing in the marketplace the American People would reject them( as they have done in the Past, like G.W’s idea about privatizing Socila Security.

  • Ed

    Of course “the other side just wants to keep cutting taxes”. They have made no secret of their intent to destroy the government, or at least deman it serve their purposes.