Archive for February, 2011

Ignorance is not Bliss

Monday, February 28th, 2011

How do you explain at this point that one in three Republicans believe that President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim?  Even Sara Palin has encouraged the birthers to give up the cause because it is starting to be embarrassing, but they remain steadfast in their commitment to their particular delusion. 

We have more climate change deniers, creation “science” supporters, and Christian founding father historical revisionists in congress than ever.  It doesn’t matter that none of these lunacies have any support from mainstream scientists or historians.  They have become a conservative cult religion that can no longer be debated in any meaningful way. 

We also have the largest gap between the rich and poor in the history of this country and larger than any other industrialized country in the world.  This gap started widening in the 70’s when middle class wages stagnated and the wealthy won tax breaks from virtually every Republican administration.

The Republican Party’s latest ploy is to use the specter of our children being burdened with an unmanageable debt to create the impression that the nation is teetering on the brink of financial collapse.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  None of the traditional signals which indicate that our borrowing is causing a problem are present.  Inflation is low.  Foreigners are happy to buy our debt at historically low interest rates.  There is also plenty of credit available for business.  

While it is true that we have to deal with the deficit, it isn’t near term spending that financial markets are concerned with.  It is our ability to deal with the long-term structural debt from healthcare and entitlement programs that worry our creditors. 

Our more immediate concern should be increased employment.  That is the single most effective and efficient way to reduce the short term deficit.

Instead, the cuts that are proposed will not only increase unemployment and reduce public safety, but also directly harm the very kids whose financial future we were supposed to be protecting.

Now the same folks are trying to take away the single most powerful right that the working man has.  That’s the right to band together and bargain with their employers as a group.

This deficit is NOT the fault of the working man.  It is the fault of unfunded wars, windfall tax cuts for the rich and unregulated financial markets.  It is the result of decades of attack on the middle class by the wealthy and powerful.  And it is being paid for by dismantling the social safety net which helps keep people from slipping back into poverty.

The rich are getting richer because they have used their wealth to purchase favors from the government while telling you that they shared your values and you believed them.   They told you that your kids needed to save the world from Saddam while they made billions from no-bid defense contracts and you believed them. They told you that government was the problem while government was cutting them a special deal and you believed them.  They told you that their wealth and power would trickle down to you, convinced you to give them tax breaks, and invested the money overseas while closing US plants and you believed them.  They told you that you can’t trust scientists and professors who documented dangerous corporate practices and you believed them.  They told you that mainstream newspapers are biased when they ran stories of corporate corruption and you believed them.  They told you that liberal elites who tried to limit corporate power were the cause of all your problems and you believed them.  They told you that they are the only people that you can trust and you believed them. 

As they outsource your jobs, took your homes, drained your savings, starved your children, and turned you against your neighbor, you continued to believe.  As they slowly sucked the last blood from your body and consumed the last bit of oxygen from your lungs, you cursed the darkness and wondered how this happened to you.

It happened to you to because you chose to ignore the facts that screamed that the rich and influential are not your friends and are stealing from you because you aren’t paying attention.

Big Lie Politics

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

House Republicans passed a bill to repeal healthcare reform because they said it was job-killing and budget-busting.

FactCheck.org found their claims were false.  The site has details, but here is a quick summary.

Job-Killing

Republicans used two sources to project between 650K and 1.6M lost jobs.

The first was a quote in an August CBO report.   “The legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount—roughly half a percent—primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.”  The problem is this wasn’t about lost jobs.  It was about workers choosing to either retire or switch to part-time because under the bill they were no longer dependent on their employer for affordable healthcare coverage.

A January 2009 report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses contained the 1.6M projection.  The NFIB is the nation’s largest small business association and a fierce opponent of healthcare reform.  Their report assumed that all employers would have to provide health insurance.  The final bill excluded businesses with less than 50 employees from regulation.  The NFIB has not revised their report even though these “smallest” businesses accounted for the largest portion of projected job losses.

Factcheck.org also found that Republicans ignored the 890K new jobs that the same report said the bill would create.  FactCheck.org summarized, “The 1.6 million figure is a gross exaggeration of the likely effect of the law, even using the NFIB’s study as a guide.”

Budget-Busting

FactCheck.org found Republicans used “mostly bogus” data to come up with the projected $700B deficit increase.

First is a claim that Medicare savings were being double counted which FactCheck debunked.

Next, $200B of the $700B came from the cost of upcoming Medicare reimbursement adjustments.  Both parties agree that it’s necessary, but the adjustment wasn’t part of the healthcare bill.  Suggesting that repealing the healthcare bill will somehow avoid this expense is serious misinformation.

Finally Republicans claim that the bill will cost $115B to administer.  The same CBO which they quote in their “job killing” claim listed administration costs between $10B and $20B.

Republican couldn’t kill the healthcare bill with ideology and name-calling.  Now they are trying to kill it with “Big Lie” politics about jobs and deficits.  Fortunately, the American people are starting to see through this too with polls showing support for repeal dwindling to 26%.

Hopefully sites like Factcheck.org will help force the honest debates we desperately need on how best to control the rising cost of healthcare.