A federal court blocked the state of Kansas from enacting new temporary regulations for abortion clinics that could have shut down two of the three clinics in the state -- but state officials say they are devising an identical set of permanent regulations.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia granted a temporary injunction against the law, which requires all of the abortion clinics to be licensed annually under a new set of regulations by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Robert Moser, secretary of health and environment for the state, said the department will follow the law, but "Judge Murguia's ruling is narrowly tailored and does not prevent KDHE from moving forward to establish permanent licensing regulations."
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal:
The agency described the first set as temporary, which allowed it to avoid taking public comments and get the rules in place within weeks, though they could remain in effect afterward for only four months. The next set of rules would be considered permanent and require public comment.
The Center for Women's Health filed suit after failing to obtain a license, arguing that the new regulations "impose burdensome and costly requirements that are not medically necessary," and were implemented in a way that "made it impossible for existing medical practices to obtain a license by the effective date." Aid for Women in Kansas City, which also did not get licensed, was allowed to intervene in the case. Planned Parenthood of Kansas, the only other abortion clinic in the state, was licensed Thursday.
Officials say the proposed permanent rules are identical to the temporary ones, the Capital-Journal reports, and a public hearing will take place on September 7 to hear suggestions for changes.
The Aid for Women clinic says it will challenge the permanent rules if they are similarly strict.
The Nation's John Nichols talks about the great things Medicare has accomplished -- and how to lower costs without gutting it. As you can imagine, he doesn't think much of Rep. Paul Ryan's approach:
Forty-five years ago this week, the first Medicare checks were delivered, and the United States made a great leap forward.
Before Medicare was implemented?as a social-welfare program designed not just to deliver care but to poverty?one in five Americans lived below the poverty line.
After the program was implemented, and after related ?War on Poverty? initiatives were developed, that number was cut almost in half. Poverty among seniors dropped by two thirds.
Why? Before Medicare, millions of elderly Americans could not afford to buy healthcare. They did not have access even to basic care. When they needed treatment for the inevitable ailments that are associated with aging, they and their families spent down what meager savings that retained and a stumble into poverty soon followed.
Medicare broke the vicious cycle for the elderly, as Medicaid did for disabled Americans and their families.
?For more than four decades, Medicare has kept millions of our senior citizens from living out their days in poverty,? explains one of the program?s steadiest champions, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin.
Medicare continues to serve the purpose for which it was created.
Indeed, so much good continues to come of this program?and of Medicaid?that it is difficult to imagine why anyone who seek to dismantle the program. But that is precisely what House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, is trying to do.
[...] The right reform now is not the Ryan plan. It is the proposal by Representatives Henry A. Waxman, Sander Levin, Pete Stark, John D. Dingell, George Miller and Rob Andrews that would save the government billions by reducing Medicare Part D drug costs for taxpayers. This legislation, the Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2011 (H.R. 2190), would save more than $100 billion.
How? By eliminating the sweetheart deal for brand-name drug manufacturers that was developed by the Bush-Cheney administration and its congressional allies and that allows these multinational corporations to charge Medicare higher prices for millions of low-income enrollees in the Medicare Part D program.
?Instead of making devastating cuts to programs that help low-income and middle-income Americans, as Republicans keep putting on the table, we should do what every other industrialized country does and ask the pharmaceutical industry, one of the wealthiest in the world, to chip in,? says California Congressman Stark, the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee?s Subcommittee on Health. ?What?s more, the savings from this legislation could pay for a multi-year ?doc fix??something we tried to do in a comprehensive way but have had to address yearly so Medicare?s payments to doctors aren't slashed.?
Medicare can be reformed the right way.
It is not broken. And it is not broke.
Contrast this approach with that of the Administration and Congress members:
¶ Gradually eliminate Medicare payments to hospitals for bad debts that result when beneficiaries fail to pay deductibles and co-payments. Medicare reimburses hospitals for 70 percent of such debts after the hospitals make reasonable efforts to collect the unpaid amounts.
¶ Reduce Medicare payments to teaching hospitals for the costs of training doctors, caring for sicker patients and providing specialized services like trauma care and organ transplants. Medicare spends $9.5 billion a year for its share of those costs.
¶ Reduce the federal share of payments to health care providers treating low-income people under Medicaid and the Children?s Health Insurance Program. The administration wants to establish a single ?blended rate? for each state. The federal government now reimburses states at different rates for different groups of people and different services in the two programs.
Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and an architect of Medicaid, said he was ?very concerned? that this proposal would reduce the federal contribution to Medicaid and shift costs to states.
If you click on this printed version of the Declaration of Independence, and your eyesight is good, you'll be able to read the start of the list of accusatory "he has"es listing the intolerable "repeated injuries and usurpations" of King George III, and see how far down is the first mention of taxes: "imposing taxes on us without our consent." Do Teabaggers read, do you suppose?
"We praise our Founders annually for revolting against royal rule and for creating . . . a representative form of national authority robust enough to secure the public good. It is still perfectly capable of doing that. But if we pretend we are living in Boston in 1773, we will draw all the wrong conclusions and make some remarkably foolish choices."
-- E. J. Dionne Jr., in his WaPo column
"What our Declaration really said"
"[L]ately I find it hard to remember that one good person is worth saving, or that most people are just weak, not evil. The world will burn, in war, and famine, and revolution, and climate change and it will burn because we are so contemptible we refuse to do anything to stop it from burning. . . .
"We have become contemptible. Our leaders, perhaps, are most contemptible of all, but we continue to consent. Oh perhaps polls might say we're not happy, but who cares what polls say? We do nothing, we let our leaders do as they will, and we take on their mores, becoming cruel and debased and uncaring of what happens to our fellows, not even the care of enlightened self interest."
-- Ian Welsh, in his blogpost "Deserve: the deadliest word"
I had second thoughts after I wrote the head for my recent piece about Freeman Dyson's NYRB piece about Richard Feynman, "I don't have many heroes, but Richard Feynman is one of them, even though I understand hardly anything about his work in physics." If I think about it, it occurred to me, I actually have lots of heroes. The thing is, they're nearly all lone voices or lone practitioners whose heroic qualities come from the very solitariness of their activities.
Which brings me to the two gentlemen whose recent writings I deferred considering till today, in favor of directing attention back to Howie's recent posts about Arianna Huffington's report on the resiliency she found among all manner of Greeks she found in a recent visit to her native country, in the face of the brutal slapdown being administered by the international lords of "austerity," the greedy financial elites, and Bernie Sanders' recent Senate speech throwing out a challenge to the president to reclaim our basic democratic values.
I'm not sure I can make much clearer than I have (repeatedly) here my esteem for E. J. Dionne Jr., whose unflappably calm and authentically humble voice regularly articulates the sharpest and most articulate cases for those increasingly challenged democratic values. In that sense, this recent column defending the values embodied in the still very much living Declaration of Independence is simply what you'd expect from him. And I guess the same is true of Ian Welsh, whom I depend on for real-world, no-bullshit clarity, and unfortunately that clarity been turning grimmer and grimmer as it becomes clearer how badly Barack Obama has failed at the job of reversing the right-wing model of governance he inherited -- mostly because, as Ian has pointed out numerous times, he never said he was going to, whatever we may have thought we heard from him.
In these pieces E.J. and Ian are sort of looking at the same fucked-up situation, and even sort of asking the same question: On what basis might there be hope for a solution? The difference is that E.J. thinks there might be an answer, and Ian doesn't -- he would be asking the question in the sense, on what basis do we think there might, realistically, given who and what the country has become, be a solution?
In his calm, reasonable way, E.J. makes clear that he has grave fears for the republic because of widespread misreadings of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that falsify both their sense and spirit. He frames this, as you would expect, with exquisite politeness, other people -- me, to pick a random example -- would just say that the present-day Right is made up of people who are either (1) too stupid to know how to read, (2) too lazy to actually read, or (3) too dishonest to accurately represent what they read.
Our nation confronts a challenge this Fourth of July that we face but rarely: We are at odds over the meaning of our history and why, to quote our Declaration of Independence, ?governments are instituted.?And he suggests that "we are closer to that point than we think," citing the Teabaggers' choice of "naming their movement in honor of the 1773 revolt against tea taxes on that momentous night in Boston Harbor."
Only divisions this deep can explain why we are taking risks with our country?s future that we?re usually wise enough to avoid. Arguments over how much government should tax and spend are the very stuff of democracy?s give-and-take. Now, the debate is shadowed by worries that if a willful faction does not get what it wants, it might bring the nation to default.
This is, well, crazy. It makes sense only if politicians believe -- or have convinced themselves -- that they are fighting over matters of principle so profound that any means to defeat their opponents is defensible.
In the long list of ?abuses and usurpations? the Declaration documents, taxes don?t come up until the 17th item, and that item is neither a complaint about tax rates nor an objection to the idea of taxation. Our Founders remonstrated against the British crown ?for imposing taxes on us without our consent.? They were concerned about ?consent,? i.e. popular rule, not taxes.
The very first item on their list condemned the king because he "refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good." Note that the signers wanted to pass laws, not repeal them, and they began by speaking of "the public good," not about individuals or "the private sector." They knew that it takes public action ? including effective and responsive government ? to secure "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Their second grievance reinforced the first, accusing the king of having "forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance." Again, our forebears wanted to enact laws; they were not anti-government zealots.
This misunderstanding of our founding document is paralleled by a misunderstanding of our Constitution. "The federal government was created by the states to be an agent for the states, not the other way around," Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said recently.
No, our Constitution begins with the words "We the People" not "We the States." The Constitution's Preamble speaks of promoting "a more perfect Union," "Justice," "the common defense," "the general Welfare" and "the Blessings of Liberty." These were national goals.
We learned it in elementary school: The Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation to create a stronger federal government, not a weak confederate government. Perry?s view was rejected in 1787 and again in 1865.It would appear that Governor Perry had already put his brain on idle by elementary school. E.J. also disposes of the nonsensical "Tenther" argument; he might have wondered where the Tenthers were during the Bush regime, which witnessed far and away the most sweeping, unapologetic expansion of federal-government in the nation's history.
I hate the word "deserve" because lord save us all from what we "deserve", but lately I find it hard to remember that one good person is worth saving, or that most people are just weak, not evil. The world will burn, in war, and famine, and revolution, and climate change and it will burn because we are so contemptible we refuse to do anything to stop it from burning. And maybe that we now includes me, but I'm so very tired of dealing with stupid, cruel, selfish people. Heck, forget selfish, people who won't even look out after their own self-interest, or even understand what it is. . . .
[W]e have selected, to rule our societies, sociopaths at best and psychopaths at worse. They have contempt for those they rule, do not see them as even truly human, and enjoy hurting them. They feel tough when they make the hard decisions, which are somehow always hard for others, but never for themselves. They encourage cruelty in society, from the ground up, and routinely subject the population to humiliating surveillance, force them to abase themselves to the least appearance of authority, whether legitimately used or not, and condone murder and torture and routine humiliation. They don't do these things to themselves, of course, the rich, for example, don't get groped in airports, but they routinely do it to those below them.
And in so doing they teach those below them, to do it to those below them, and below them, and below them, and so on. The sickness comes from the top, a rotten poison which has altered the character of nations. But it came from the bottom, first. It came from a population who became lazy and complacent and thought they had rights they didn't have to guard like a dog with a bone; who thought they could just live their lives and leave politics to other people except for pulling a lever or marking a ballot every four years. It came from people who felt "I've got mine, who cares what happens to anyone I don't know?" Unable to see themselves in others for longer than the gossamer blink of an eye, they were also unable to understand that what was done to others would also be done to them.
We have become contemptible. Our leaders, perhaps, are most contemptible of all, but we continue to consent. Oh perhaps polls might say we're not happy, but who cares what polls say? We do nothing, we let our leaders do as they will, and we take on their mores, becoming cruel and debased and uncaring of what happens to our fellows, not even the care of enlightened self interest, the clear understanding that what is done unfairly, cruely, to someone else, could, probably will, one day be done to us. We pretend to care most about our children, making such a fetish of it that allowing children to roam unattended is virtually treated as a crime, yet we are creating a world in which they will suffer, unimaginably, a world in which hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of our grandchildren will die.
Lord save us from what we deserve, because what we deserve is what's going to happen: war and revolution, famine and drought, climate change on a scale we truly don't understand.
"A nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous," Obama declared at his inauguration. What he said on that bright January morning is no less true or stirring now. For all his failings since, he is the only one who can make this case. There's nothing but his own passivity to stop him from doing so -- and from shaking up the administration team that, well beyond the halfway-out-the-door Geithner and his Treasury Department, has showered too many favors on the prosperous. This will mean turning on his own cadre of the liberal elite. But it's essential if he is to call the bluff of a fake man-of-the-people like Romney. To differentiate himself from the discredited Establishment, he will have to mount the fight he has ducked for the past three years.#
The alternative is a failure of historic proportions. Those who gamed the economy to near devastation -- so much so that the nation turned to an untried young leader in desperation and in hope -- would once again inherit the Earth. Unless and until there's a purging of the crimes that brought our president to his unlikely Inauguration Day, much more in America than the second term of his administration will be at stake.
The New York Times’ Erik Eckholm and Katharine Seelye report on the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) pledge to “spend $2 million in 2012 to defeat New York?s four ‘turncoat senators’ who ‘betrayed marriage’” and wonder if conservatives who voted for marriage equality will face an uphill reelection reelection fight:
The organization [NOM], which says it expects to raise $20 million this year from Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian groups as well as individual donors, is gearing up for intense battles over same-sex marriage in several other states; so far, voters in 29 states have adopted constitutional amendments banning it.
Since the vote, the Family Research Council, one of the largest conservative Christian advocacy groups, started hearing from more followers who wanted to defend traditional marriage, and officials said they expected a jump in donations.
?More than ever before, people are seeing this as a national issue,? said Tom McClusky, senior vice president of the council.
Well financed conservative groups certainly represent some degree of danger to marriage equality proponents, but this threat shouldn’t be overstated. Consider New York. NOM pledged thousands of dollars to defeat same-sex marriage in the state, but the law still passed as Republicans realized that voters — even conservative voters — didn’t view the issue as a priority. In fact, since 2007, all four Republican assembly members who have broken ranks and voted in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry have won reelection “typically without even having to face a primary challenger.” Most recently, Democrat and marriage equality advocate Kathy Hochul secured victory in the NY-26 special election, despite NOM’s marriage-focused campaign against her.
NOM and other anti-marriage organizations may secure a few isolated victories, but they will be fighting the prevailing trends of increasing popular acceptance of marriage equality and the growing number of conservative and Republican donors who are willing to spend millions to help make that policy a reality. As Sen. Mark Grisanti (R) — one of the four Republicans who voted in favor of New York’s marriage law — recently told YNN News when asked if he feared a conservative backlash, ?I?m comfortable with my decision and my vote because I think it was a balance, and whatever NOM wants to do, as I said, that?s what makes this country great. Go ahead and do what you?ve got to do.”
Hospitals across the region are cutting staff, elected officials are considering slashing Medicaid and Medicare funding and medical bills are driving an increasing number of Georgians into bankruptcy.
But the six- to seven-digit compensation packages for the chief executives who lead metro Atlanta?s taxpayer-subsidized hospitals remain untouched and in most cases are growing.
Five of these CEOs made more than $1 million in the fiscal year ending in 2009, the last tax records available.
Edward Bonn of Southern Regional Health System, which operates Southern Regional Medical Center and two affiliated facilities, made $2,610,175 in fiscal 2009. Bonn left the system that year and received his pay of $421,822 plus $2.2 million from a retirement plan. Hospital CEOs commonly receive extra pay from retirement plans when they leave.
Bonn did not receive a bonus because the hospital system lost $12 million that year, the hospital said.
So as hospital CEOs are still taking home hefty paychecks, tax exempt hospitals — which also receive millions in government grants — are cutting staff and their associations are lobbying the government against including any additional Medicare cuts in the debt ceiling negotiations. In fact, the American Hospital Association “spent nearly $4.1 million in the first three months of the year lobbying the federal government on the health care overhaul and several bills tied to it,? Forbes recently reported.
The fact still is that any additional cuts will be felt by patients first and executives last — a situation that screams for greater regulation of the CEO compensation packages of tax-exempt institutions and points to some of the access in the health care system.
Two longstanding Supreme Court precedents prohibit states from forcing racial minorities to jump through special hoops in order to enact a law which benefits them as a group. Thus, for example, a state may choose to repeal all of its affirmative action programs, but it may not then impose an additional requirement that reinstating these programs will require supermajority support. Racial justice laws must stand on the same footing as all other laws, and be enacted through the same procedures.
Given these two cases, last week’s Sixth Circuit decision striking down Michigan’s recent ban on affirmative action in university admissions is a slam dunk. Under a recently enacted Michigan ballot initiative, Michigan’s constitution now forbids state universities from considering race in admissions, an amendment that leaves supporters of affirmative action on grossly uneven footing with supporters of other admissions policies. As the court explains:
An interested Michigan citizen may use any number of avenues to change the admissions policies on an issue unrelated to race. He may lobby the admissions committees directly, through written or in-person communication if the latter is available, or petition higher administrative authorities at the university: the dean of admissions, the president or dean of the university, or the university?s board. [...]
Meanwhile, a Michigan citizen seeking that Michigan universities adopt race-based admissions policies must now begin by convincing the Michigan electorate to amend the Michigan Constitution. Placing a proposed constitutional amendment abrogating Proposal 2 on the ballot would require either the support of two-thirds of both the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate, or the signatures of a number of voters equivalent to at least ten percent of the number of votes cast for all candidates for governor in the preceding general election. A majority of the voting electorate would then have to approve the amendment.
Only after traversing this difficult and costly process would the now-exhausted Michigan citizen reach the starting point of his opponent who sought a non-race-related admissions policy change.
Yet, regardless of what the Supreme Court’s precedents say about the issue, last week’s victory for affirmative action is likely to be short lived. The Sixth Circuit is notorious for requiring the full court to rehear politically charged cases where progressives triumph through a procedure known as “en banc,” and last week’s decision has all the hallmarks of a case the court’s conservatives will want to en banc. The case not only presents an issue that divides progressives and conservatives, but last week’s panel split 2 to 1, with two Democrats in the majority and a Republican in dissent.
The Sixth Circuit also has a bizarre and sordid history with affirmative action cases that will likely motivate many of its conservative judges to seek en banc review. Ten years ago, the last time that a major affirmative action issue presented itself to the Sixth Circuit, the en banc court split 5-4 and upheld the law. One of the dissenters, Judge Danny Boggs, responded to this loss with a vitriolic dissenting opinion accusing then-Chief Judge Boyce Martin of somehow manipulating the court’s rules in order to bring about this result.
Ten years later, Boggs remains a leader among the Sixth Circuit’s conservatives, and the right now controls nine of the court’s 15 active judgeships. It’s highly unlikely that Boggs won’t try to seize this opportunity to refight this decade-old battle, and only slightly less likely that a majority of the court won’t let him.
This morning in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney appeared confused on Libya, claiming that Congress had ?assented? to U.S. participation in a no fly zone. Watch it:
Of course, Congress has not ?assented? to the U.S. participation in the no fly zone. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), in fact, claims that Obama is violating the law by his failing to secure Congressional approval.
In an effort to limit damage from Romney?s error, an anonymous aide told Politico that Romney was referring to the general support ?by many members of Congress?for a humanitarian mission that included a no-fly zone.? Romney?s point, according to the aide, was that ?Obama should have stuck to that mission instead of muddling it.? Romney echoed this in his remarks, criticizing Obama for ?mission creep? for saying we ?have to remove Gadhafi.?
Roughly three months ago, when he announced his run for president, Romney supported Obama?s actions in Libya. He criticized Obama, however, for not being forceful enough in calling for the removal of Gadhafi. The LA Times reported on March 25:
“I support military action in Libya,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — but then he excoriated the specifics of Obama’s policy.
“He calls for the removal of Moammar Gadhafi but then conditions our action on the directions we get from the Arab League and United Nations,” Romney said.
And then, the core of his critique of Obama. “He’s tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced,” Romney said.
In other words, Romney wanted Obama to be less tentative in calling for Gadhafi?s ouster. It appears that Romney is confused not just about Congress but his own views on Libya.
Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is pledging to block all Senate business this week until the chamber starts debating the debt ceiling. In an interview that aired Sunday on C-Span, the freshman senator vowed to filibuster everything until the partisan gridlock over raising the debt limit is resolved:
PAUL: We?re tired of talking about extraneous issues. We?ve had not one minute of debate about the debt ceiling in any committee. [...] So I?m part of the freshman group in the Senate that?s saying, ?no more.? We?re not going to let them go to any issue if we have a say in it. We will filibuster until we talk about the debt ceiling, until we talk about proposals, and many of us in the conservative wing are going to present our own proposal next week. And that is to raise the debt ceiling. We will actually vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling next week if we can but it will be contingent upon passing a balanced budget amendment.
Paul did not specify who the other senators are who he believes will help him filibuster all Senate business this week.
Paul’s determination to bring Senate action to a stand-still ironically coincides with new reports that this Congress has been the least productive in modern history “as measured by votes taken, bills made into laws, nominees approved.” According to the Los Angeles Times, the 112th Congress “is underperforming even the ?do-nothing Congress? of 1948, as Harry Truman dubbed it.”
The Huffington Post notes that Paul’s plan “picks up where Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) one-man filibuster attempt last Tuesday left off. Johnson declared that as long as the debt ceiling negotiations are held behind closed doors, he would block all unanimous consent calls, effectively putting a stop on Senate business.” Johnson’s grandstanding lasted all of two hours before a procedural motion shut him down.
The balanced budget amendment is such a far-fetched and ill-advised idea that even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opposes tying it to negotiations to raise the nation’s debt limit.
Paul’s ploy to advance an ideological agenda is further evidence that far from being the party of responsible adults, Republicans are acting more like petulant toddlers who readily throw temper tantrums to try to get what they want.
As the August debt ceiling deadline looms and Republicans continue refusing to consider revenue increases, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks excoriated the GOP for its intransigence. Writing yesterday that it “may no longer be a normal party” but rather a movement of “fanatic[s]” with a “sacred fixation” on tax cuts, Brooks slammed the GOP for rejecting a “no-brainer” compromise with Democrats, which would include closing tax loopholes for things like corporate jet ownership:
On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.
This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.
But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That?s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.
But Brook’s plea for sanity was lost on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who responded to the column on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham’s show this morning. Ryan said that if Republicans gave up the loopholes now without securing a deal to lower marginal tax rates overall, they would lose an opportunity to demand new tax cuts in the future:
RYAN: What happens if you do what he’s saying, is then you can’t lower tax rates. So it does affect marginal tax rates. In order to lower marginal tax rates, you have to take away those loopholes so you can lower those tax rates. If you want to do what we call being revenue neutral … If you take a deal like that, you’re necessarily requiring tax rates to be higher for everybody. You need lower tax rates by going after tax loopholes. If you take away the tax loopholes without lowering tax rates, then you deny Congress the ability to lower everybody’s tax rates and you keep people’s tax rates high.
Ryan is arguing that raising taxes on corporate jet owners and others is only acceptable if the money raised is plowed back into new tax cuts, not to paying down the deficit. He is clearly more interested in cutting taxes than dealing with the deficit, and is willing to let these egregious loopholes stay in the tax code until he can best exploit their removal to lower taxes sometime in the future.
Given the conservative preference for cutting taxes on high-income earning “job creators,” its conceivable Ryan would use the new taxes on corporate jet owners to help fund a new tax cut for people who happen to own corporate jets. Ironically, just moments earlier in the interview, Ryan attacked President Obama for wanting to close the loopholes, saying doing so would generate an insignificant about of revenue to pay down the deficit. But when it comes to tax cuts, closing those same loopholes would apparently generate plenty of revenue.
Once upon a time, this kind of move might have been called penny wise and pound foolish. The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration and Democrats on the debt ceiling negotiating team are offering up "tens of billions" in cuts to Medicaid and Medicare in return for any revenue increases.
Administration officials and Republican negotiators say the money can be taken from health care providers like hospitals and nursing homes without directly imposing new costs on needy beneficiaries or radically restructuring either program.
Before the talks led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. broke off 12 days ago, negotiators said, they had reached substantial agreement on many cuts in the growth of Medicare, which provides care to people 65 and older, and Medicaid, which covers lower-income people. Those proposals are still on the table when Congress reconvenes this week, aides said, and are serious options that Democrats could accept in exchange for Republican concessions that raise revenues.
?Congress smells blood,? said William L. Minnix Jr., the chief lobbyist for nonprofit nursing homes....
The new health care law trimmed Medicare payments to most providers. Many states, in fiscal distress, are cutting Medicaid, which is financed jointly by the federal government and the states. If Congress and the president now make additional cuts, hospitals say, they will close some services and increase charges to patients with private insurance.
Hospital executives from around the country plan to visit Capitol Hill next week to deliver this message: ?Cutting Medicare and Medicaid payments to hospitals will hurt the ones we love, especially the most vulnerable ? children, seniors, the poor and disabled.?
Mr. Minnix, the lobbyist for nonprofit nursing homes, said: ?The issue is not money. The issue is the effects on people, vulnerable people.?
The American Medical Association and AARP, the lobby for older Americans, have joined hospitals and nursing homes in fighting other proposals that would limit federal spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product. Members of Congress of both parties have introduced bills that would automatically cut spending across the board if such limits were about to be breached.
The cuts might be not direct cuts to benefits, but like the Social Security COLA cuts being considered, would still hurt the populations served by the programs because providers will reduce services or stop seeing Medicaid or Medicare patients. If they keep these services in place, but receive reduced payments for them, they will pass that cost on to the private insurance population, and health care costs will increase even more.
All of which contributes to compromising the Affordable Care Act further, and lessening its potential for success makes it potentially more unpopular and more vulnerable. Also out the door are the goals of making health care both more affordable and easier to access. Then there's the reality of increasing the hurt on already vulnerable populations. Finally, it's going against the expressed preferences of the majority of voters in poll after poll for taxing the wealthy in order to hold these programs safe. Bad policy, bad politics.