Robert Reich: If people knew that the Ryan plan would channel hundreds of billions of their Medicare dollars into the pockets of private for-profit heath insurers, almost everyone would be against it.
Ivan Eland: To keep with the bipartisan spirit after the Gabrielle Giffords’ assassination attempt and also to avoid partisan fighting over spending priorities, which will bog down and probably eventually kill any significant budget cuts, all government programs should be cut by 15 percent from last year’s budget level, including heretofore sacred defense and entitlement programs.
Robert Reich: The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.
Robert Reich: The President has to reframe the debate around the necessity of average families having enough to spend to get the economy moving again. He needs to remind America this is not 1995 but 2011 — and we’re still in a jobs crisis brought on by the bursting of a giant debt bubble and the implosion of total demand.
Walter G. Moss: Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott, is demonstrating why most of us who consider ourselves progressives dislike the politics of Tea-Party-backed candidates. For many of us, compassion and empathy are central political values, and Scott’s first budget proposal, unveiled on February 7th, reflects little of either value.
Robert Reich: I’ve been watching (and occasionally trying to deal with) the Chamber for years, and all I know is it has a deep, abiding belief in cutting taxes on the wealthy, eroding regulations that constrain Wall Street, cutting back on rules that promote worker health and safety, getting rid of the minimum wage, repealing the new health-care law, fighting unions, cutting back Medicare and Social Security, reducing or eliminating corporate taxes, and, in general, taking the nation back to the days before the New Deal. So what, exactly, is the deal Obama is pitching to the Chamber?
Robert Reich: The requirement that everyone purchase health insurance, or pay a fine doesn’t appeal to many Americans. They don’t like the government telling them they have to buy something. But the healthcare system can’t work without this mandate. Only if everyone buys insurance can insurers afford to cover people with preexisting conditions, or pay the costs of catastrophic diseases.
Carl Bloice: Social Security is not, to any significant extent, a contributing factor in the burgeoning deficit. Defenders of the system, including some leading economists, have successfully advanced that argument. Yet, a growing number of conservatives have begun to advance other specious arguments for “entitlement reform” that may threaten Social Security.
Linda Milazzo: Corporate media’s constant drumming of death panel lies resulted in Section 1233 (which allowed Medicare to provide advance planning doctor visits every five years) being eliminated from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that passed in 2010. This week CNN was back using the same death panel misnomer, spreading the death panel myth. Well I’m mad as hell. I’m not going to take it anymore from CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and talk radio. We, the people, deserve better.
Bob Letcher: In any case, people were screaming slogans at each other, as though volume alone would determine who was right. No nuance. Little listening, little worthy of being listened to.
Shamus Cooke: Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission attacks Social Security and Medicare. The retirement age would be raised from 67 to 68 (for those born after 1959) and from 68 to 69 (for those born after 2006). But current retirees will be affected too. The social security cost of living adjustment will be unhinged from the inflation index, meaning, payments will decrease via inflation.
Steven Conn: As midterm elections approach, conservatives seek to return America to the way things used to be. Not so fast, argues historian Steven Conn, unless you really want racial segregation, child labor, voting discrimination, and all the other things that old-time conservatives once supported.
Tina Dupuy: Going largely underreported, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke at the Eisenhower Library (name for the president who coined the term “military-industrial complex”), last week calling for cuts in the Pentagon’s budget. Gates asked, “Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners? “
Robert Reich: Sixty years later, we boomers have a lot to be worried about because most of us plan to retire in a few years and Social Security and Medicare are on the way to going bust. I should know because I used to be a trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. Those of you who are younger than we early boomers have even more to be worried about because if those funds go bust they won’t be there when you’re ready to retire.