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Obama’s “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” and the Week Ahead

FDR signing the Social Security Act

FDR signing the Social Security Act

It’s going to be a big week for the Obamagharchy. In order to short-circuit the coming Obamageddon, our Dear Leader is making “fiscal responsibility” the focus of his week. On Monday, President Obama will meet with lots of “experts” and think tank denizens to discuss the future of what is left of the social safety net: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The meeting will take place on Monday from 1-4:30PM in the State Dining Room of the White House. According to Politico, the event will open with

addresses by President Obama and Vice President Biden. It’s set to include members of both houses of Congress from both parties.

The opening session will be followed by “breakout” sessions of five topics: health, tax policy, Social Security, contracting and procurement, and the budget, each led by senior officials.

The budget director, Peter Orszag, will be leading the health breakout — a policy area on which he’s long focused, and one expected to be front and center in the budget.

Christina Romer and Larry Summers will lead the Social Security session…

One hundred and thirty guests, reportedly including forty-four blue dog Democrats and a number of Republicans, have been invited to participate. Some of the invitees from Congress whose names have been published are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Jim Matheson, D-Utah, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-South Dakota, and Dave Camp, R-MI (ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee). CIA Director Leon Panetta will also attend because of his experience working on the federal budget in the Clinton Administration.

Also invited to attend are “leaders” of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an organization begun by billionaire Peterson to push for “reform” (read elimination) of Social Security and other “entitlement” programs. William Greider wrote about Peterson’s project in a column entitled “Looting Social Security” in The Nation last week.

Governing elites in Washington and Wall Street have devised a fiendishly clever “grand bargain” they want President Obama to embrace in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” The government, they argue, having spent billions on bailing out the banks, can recover its costs by looting the Social Security system. They are also targeting Medicare and Medicaid. The pitch sounds preposterous to millions of ordinary working people anxious about their economic security and worried about their retirement years. But an impressive armada is lined up to push the idea–Washington’s leading think tanks, the prestige media, tax-exempt foundations, skillful propagandists posing as economic experts and a self-righteous billionaire [Pete Peterson] spending his fortune to save the nation from the elderly.

These players are promoting a tricky way to whack Social Security benefits, but to do it behind closed doors so the public cannot see what’s happening or figure out which politicians to blame. The essential transaction would amount to misappropriating the trillions in Social Security taxes that workers have paid to finance their retirement benefits. This swindle is portrayed as “fiscal reform.” In fact, it’s the political equivalent of bait-and-switch fraud.

Greider’s Koolaid high hasn’t quite worn off yet: he thinks that Obama is being duped by a bunch of slick con men:

Will Obama take the bait? Surely not. The new president has been clear and consistent about Social Security, as a candidate and since his election. The program’s financing is basically sound, he has explained, and can be assured far into the future by making only modest adjustments.

But Greider is starting to see the writing on the wall:

But Obama is also playing footsie with the conservative advocates of “entitlement reform” (their euphemism for cutting benefits). The president wants the corporate establishment’s support on many other important matters, and he recently promised to hold a “fiscal responsibility summit” to examine the long-term costs of entitlements. That forum could set the trap for a “bipartisan compromise” that may become difficult for Obama to resist, given the burgeoning deficit.

Despite his excuse-making for Dear Leader, Greider’s piece is must reading, particularly because he shines a light on the long-term efforts of wealthy elites to destroy the New Deal programs. In 1981, Reagan won huge tax cuts for the rich and corporations and he made up the losses in 1983 by increasing the FICA (social security) payroll taxes on working people and employers, supposedly to prepare for the retirement of the massive baby boomer generation. In reality, Greider writes,

the government has already spent their money. Every year the Treasury has borrowed the surplus revenue collected by Social Security and spent the money on other purposes–whatever presidents and Congress decide, including more tax cuts for monied interests. The Social Security surplus thus makes the federal deficits seem smaller than they are–around $200 billion a year smaller. Each time the government dipped into the Social Security trust fund this way, it issued a legal obligation to pay back the money with interest whenever Social Security needed it to pay benefits.

That moment of reckoning is approaching. Uncle Sam owes these trillions to Social Security retirees and has to pay it back or look like just another deadbeat. That risk is the only “crisis” facing Social Security. It is the real reason powerful interests are so anxious to cut benefits. Social Security is not broke–not even close. It can sustain its obligations for roughly forty years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, even if nothing is changed. Even reports by the system’s conservative trustees say it has no problem until 2041 (that report is signed by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the guy who bailed out the bankers). During the coming decade, however, the system will need to start drawing on its reserve surpluses to pay for benefits as boomers retire in greater numbers

[….]

Follow the bouncing ball: Washington first cuts taxes on the well-to-do, then offsets the revenue loss by raising taxes on the working class and tells folks it is saving their money for future retirement. But Washington spends the money on other stuff, so when workers need it for their retirement, they are told, Sorry, we can’t afford it.

At least one friend of Social Security will also be at the “Summit meeting” on Monday. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research has argued that health care is the real emergency and that cutting Social Security benefits would be disastrous, especially in the context of the ongoing financial crisis. Baker published a post at Talking Points Memo last week warning of our Dear Leader’s plans for Social Security:

Word has it that President Obama intends to appoint a task force the week after next which will be charged with “reforming” Social Security. According to inside gossip, the task force will be led entirely by economists who were not able to see the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which is giving the country its sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.

This effort is bizarre for several reasons. First, the economy is sinking rapidly. While President Obama’s stimulus package is a good first step towards counteracting the decline, there is probably not a single economists in the country who believes that is adequate to the task. President Obama would be advised to focus his attention on getting the economy back in order instead of attacking the country’s most important social program.

The second reason why this task force is strange is that Social Security doesn’t need reforming. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it can pay all scheduled benefits for the next 40 years with no changes whatsoever.

The third reason that this effort is pernicious is that this talk of reform is occurring with the baby boomers just as the cusp of retirement. Due to the reckless policies of the Rubin-Greenspan-Bush clique, this cohort has just seen their housing equity wiped out with the collapse of the housing bubble.

A few members of blogosphere 1.0 have also been roused from their stupor, and the realization that Obama is not what they thought has finally started to break through the koolaid-induced haze. At Open Left Chris Bowers and the always terrific Paul Rosenberg have addressed the Social Security issue (actually, Rosenberg has always been a bit of an agnostic about Obama, even though he stuck it out with the Obots at Open Left). Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake is also starting to get a little worried. I don’t know why she couldn’t see this coming a year ago, when Obama began mouthing right-wing talking points and praising Ronald Reagan, but better late than never.

Hamsher provides a summary of the Diamond-Orzag plan (Orzag is now Obama’s budget director) here. Basically, the plan calls for increasing the retirement age and cutting benefits for people under 55. Benefits won’t change if you are over 55, but of course the plan will serve to encourage generational resentment and eventual elimination of Social Security. If you want to read the whole thing here it is. In an excellent post, Campskunk at Allegre’s Corner has this to say about the Diamond-Orzag plan:

It’s all there: reduction in benefits, increase in premiums, and lots of monkeying around with the cap and how taxed income above the cap will be treated differently than money from us regular working folks. And that’s what is going to kill Social Security. You see, right now, everyone who puts in money gets benefits roughly in proportion to their contribution. Me and Warren Buffet will get pretty much the same check, and we’ve contributed roughly the same amount. Well, Warren probably put in more than I did, because I’m pretty sure he made at least $100k for a few years when I was a bit shy of that amount, but you get the idea.

Orszag’s plan will shift this fundamentally fair system to one where the rich will be subsidizing the poor. And that will open the door to the argument that, “Well, us rich folks are paying for those poor folks to get their checks, so why can’t we cut it back? What did they do to earn that check, anyway?” It changes Social Security from an insurance program to a welfare program, and undermines the claim that you’re getting benefits that you deserve based on your own contributions to the fund. Once that unassailable fact is altered, Social Security, which has survived 70 years of efforts to dismantle it, won’t last long.

The AP tells us in their usual adoring fashion about the rest of our Dear Leader’s plans for the coming week.

After focusing his first month on the economic mess he inherited, President Barack Obama now starts rolling out his own far-reaching agenda with a summit on fiscal policy, his first speech to Congress and the unveiling of his budget for 2010.

This coming week will mark a turning point from what Obama felt compelled to do, to what he wants to do. It also may test how much spending, change and ambition the American people and their elected officials can stomach in a short time.

On Monday, Obama will try to snap Washington’s collective mind-set back to fiscal restraint, just days after signing a record-breaking spending plan to stimulate the moribund economy. His afternoon-long “fiscal responsibility summit” at the White House is bound to set off sparks.

Come Thursday, he will send Congress highlights of his budget request. One administration official says it will disclose that Obama plans to cut the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term, mostly by scaling back Iraq war spending, raising taxes on the wealthiest and streamlining government.

Whew! He’s going to scale back on war spending and still send nearly 20,000 troops into Afghanistan? Why do I get the feeling Obama plans to cut the deficit by raiding the Social Security trust fund and throwing a bunch of poor people off Medicaid? I know, I’m just a bitter old woman who can’t see that our Dear Leader knows best and will make sure it all comes out okay in the end.

The AP says lots of people are thinking maybe Obama is trying to accomplish too much too quickly, but

Ken Baer, a spokesman for the White House Office of Budget and Management, defended the series of initiatives.

“When the house is on fire,” he said, “you can’t say ‘I want to take a long coffee break.'”

Wait a minute. Didn’t the President just spend a long weekend in Chicago before he got around to signing the “emergency” stimulus bill? Whatever. I guess this week, he’s back to rush, rush, rush. So we have the Fiscal summit on Monday afternoon, then on Tuesday night Obama will give a speech before a joint session of Congress. The on Thursday, he’ll present his budget. Then maybe he’ll take that long coffee break–or a week in Hawaii? I don’t think he’s ever worked this hard before, but he’s got to pay back all those Wall Streeters who got him elected and paid for his Inauguration bash.

_____________________________________________________________

UPDATE: A note on the comments. We are experimenting with the new nested comments options provided by WordPress. Right now we have it set so every new comment goes to the top of the thread. If you want to converse with other people you can reply directly to their comments. This is just a one-day trial, and we plan to poll users to get their opinions on it.

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121 Responses

  1. Excellent post, BB.

    This part really amazed me from Greider:

    The new president has been clear and consistent about Social Security, as a candidate and since his election. The program’s financing is basically sound, he has explained, and can be assured far into the future by making only modest adjustments.

    Um, no, he never EVER said that. EVER. He said SS was “in crisis” over and over. He has made it a priority to “reform” Social Security. HILLARY was the one who said the program was fine and that saying it was in crisis was a “right-wing talking point.” HILLARY was the one who said the first thing she’d do to fix the economy would be to raise taxes on the rich back to Bill’s levels. Then, if SS needed a little tweaking after that, she would see what needed to be done.

    What the F*CK is in that Kool-Aid? It seems to affect peoples’ hearing in a most bizarre manner.

    • hallucinogens? I’m seriously wondering.

      The housing bubble and the credit bubble – neither are going to be as painful or cause for as much regret as the BO bubble.

    • I know, MadamaB, and Greider is really a good guy. He always has been. I don’t understand this need to make excuses for Obama, especially from someone like Greider who has always spoken truth to power.

      • One bit of irony that would so delicious in all this if the reality weren’t so frightening is all the hand wringing by that academic ladies list I’ve been tracking. Every one of them went for Zero over Hillary with that oh-so-academic “Women like us have all we need, therefore black men should be pushed to the front first” rationale.

        Now they’re wailing yet again over the proposed dismantling of Social Security, wondering where this came from.

        If it weren’t for the PUMA blogs like the Confluence, right about now I’d be wondering if I weren’t crazy. I remember Zero and Hillary taking those same positions on Social Security during the primaries, too, Madamab.

        • Yes, my distrust of him went to full-on panic mode when he started talking about loving Raygun and saying SS was “in crisis.” No Democrat should EVER f*cking do that, and even at Eschaton where the tr0lling and CDS was rampant, some people were rightfully getting nervous about the O’s embrace of right-wing rhetoric.

          Wonder how they feel now?

          • MadamaB,

            I think some of the younger, more affluent O-bots like Kos simply don’t care. They would love to screw us older people, and they think they won’t need a safety net. They don’t realize that if the elites succeed this time, they will keep right on screwing everyone who isn’t super-rich.

          • (snort) Well Kos, making “easily over $1 million last year, DOESN’T have to worry about a safety net. Does he?

          • Katiebird,

            Even millionaires like Kos will have to worry if they destroy the safety net and the entire system crashes. He is small-time compared to someone like Pete Peterson. And they’ll also have to go to the bother of calling out the troops to put down the rebellion and pay to lock the dissenters up in the “FEMA camps.”

          • BB, do you think he realizes that, though? I think he thinks he’s in a separate world…..

          • I don’t know, KB. Now that his blog is on Time’s “most overrated” list, maybe his income will drop? One can only hope.

          • BB, sadly there is a precedent for such a thing…

            The self-named Bonus Expeditionary Force was an assemblage of some 43,000 marchers — 17,000 World War I veterans, their families, and affiliated groups, who protested in Washington, D.C., in spring and summer of 1932. Called the Bonus March by the news media, the Bonus Marchers were more popularly known as the Bonus Army. The war veterans sought immediate, cash payment of Service Certificates granted them eight years earlier via the Adjusted Service Certificate Law of 1924. Each Service Certificate, issued to a qualified veteran soldier, bore a face value equal to the soldier’s promised payment, plus compound interest. The problem was that the certificates (like bonds), matured twenty years from the date of original issuance, thus, under extant law, the Service Certificates were un-redeemable until 1945.

            In 1924, over-riding President Calvin Coolidge’s veto, Congress legislated compensation for veterans to recognize their war-time suffering: receive a dollar for each day of domestic service, to a maximum of $500; and $1.25 for each day of overseas service, to a maximum of $625. Amounts owed of $50 or less were immediately paid; greater sums were issued as certificates of service maturing in 20 years.

            Some 3,662,374 military service certificates were issued, with a face value of $3.638 billion. Congress established a trust fund to receive 20 annual payments of $112 million that, with interest, would finance the $3.638 billion dollars owed to the veterans in 1945. Meanwhile, veterans could borrow up to 22.50 per cent of the certificate’s face value from the fund. In 1931, because of the Great Economic Depression, Congress increased the loan value to 50 per cent of the certificate’s face value; yet, by April 1932, loans amounting to $1.248 billion dollars had been paid, leaving a $2.36-billion-dollar deficit. Although there was Congressional support for the immediate redemption (payment) of the military service certificates, President Hoover and Republican congressmen opposed that, because it would negatively affect the Federal Government’s budget and Depression-relief programmes. Meanwhile, veterans organisations pressed the Federal Government to allow the early redemption of their military service certificates.

            On 28 July, 1932, Attorney General Mitchell ordered the police evacuation of the Bonus Army veterans, who resisted; the police shot at them, and killed two. When told of the killings, President Hoover ordered the U.S. Army to effect the evacuation of the Bonus Army from Washington, D.C.

            After the cavalry charge, infantry, with fixed bayonets and adamsite gas, entered the Bonus Army camps, evicting veterans, families, and camp followers. The veterans fled across the Anacostia River, to their largest camp; President Hoover ordered the Army assault stopped, however, Gen. MacArthur—feeling this free-speech exercise was a Communist attempt at overthrowing the U.S. Government—ignored the President and ordered a new attack. Hundreds of veterans were injured, several were killed — including William Hushka and Eric Carlson; a veteran’s wife miscarried; and many other veterans were hurt.

            it could happen again

    • It was the right-wing talking points and admiration of President Reagan which first alarmed me about then-candidate Obama. He has been consistent in wanting to “reform” (loot) Social Security from the beginning. That, plus all the early funding from Wall Street firms, convinced me he was a Republican in Democratic clothing.

      I have tried to give him credit and support when he does something good (or even half-good), but if he tries to mess with social security, he will lose all support from me. (Not sure that would bother him, of course.) I, too, have a dear friend who lost a parent young, and Social Security helped his mom keep their house and my friend to go to college. And it provided payments to my parents in their retirement.

      I don’t know if it has occurred to the young Obama supporters who want to change or end Social Security, but if their parents do not get social security, most of the parents will spend down any and all assets they have — not even a modest inheritance for the OBOTS to look forward to. And mom or dad or Aunt Jenny may be destitute and may have to move in with them.

      Social security has not only helped its direct beneficiaries but also their family members who do not have to help support mom and dad and other family members.

      I guess a few Obama supporters would leave mom and dad out to starve but they might be in the minority.

      djmm

      • Very well said, djmm. I appreciate your comment very much. This idea is not only wrong, but it is penny wise and pound foolish.

  2. Ohforgawds’ sake. Spammy, let me out!

  3. wow, you are quick, BB! 🙂

  4. bb great post though terrifying. One small typo – I think you meant the FICA payroll tax, but it says FDIC
    http://tinyurl.com/b9ak8z

    Please delete this post 🙂

  5. BOHICA

  6. I read somewhere that there are 30 financial geniuses invited to address the group and that BO will kick it off with his own remarks.

    3 1/2 hours = 210 minutes.

    Assume the Big ZerO uses up 15 minutes (that will be 255 head turns from side to side to read off the teleprompters).

    That leaves 195 minutes for 30 people to inform everyone what should be done.

    That means 6 1/2 minutes per genius.

    I can just imagine the output of this silly crap.

    • Shainzona,

      I know. It does seem like a very short meeting to address such serious issues. I’m guessing they have already decided the results ahead of time (like at the meeting where the Dems gave Hillary’s delegates to Obama).

    • i’m sure it’s just more posturing … quick!!! look like we know what we’re doing! maybe we can keep fooling a lot of the people still!!!

      • I think it’s more Shock Doctrine than trying to look competent. They know exactly what they’re doing, it’s just that what they’re doing is not trying to save the economy, it’s trying to keep Versailles propped up while trying to convince everyone else that no, really, their cupboards aren’t bare.

        People are petrified about the economy, not too confident that the stimulus will help, and Democrats are trying to leverage the disorientation and fear to let them ram through measures that would never go anywhere otherwise.

        The attempt to divide the generations with the Soc Sec changes only being applicable to those under 55 is to split up “the enemy” — and why not, it worked so well during the primaries to neutralize ‘older women’s’ support for Clinton. And the fact that they’re rushing this through means that the coup will be complete while the still-small number of ‘progressives’ who are starting to smell the coffee will be caught early in their wake-up phase.

        • Democrats are trying to leverage the disorientation and fear to let them ram through measures that would never go anywhere otherwise.

          Which makes it TOTALLY clear that Democrats don’t want Health Care for Everyone any more than Republicans do.

          • But we already knew that. Why is it coming as a surprise to all the O-bots? Why are they so dumb?

          • I can’t reply directly to BB’s comment, but they’re dumb because 1) they suffer from massive CDS and 2) Obama is black.

            As for 1), it was clear to anyone who compared the candidates rationally that there was absolutely no comparison whatsoever. Clearly Hillary was superior in every way and ready on day one. But if you are stupid enough to think that a guy who has not been president since 2000 is responsible for the past eight years of Bush/Congress f*ckups, then you’re stupid enough to let it make you see Hillary through poop-colored glasses.

            And as for 2), don’t flame me; I’m just following Eric Holder’s advice and talking about r*cism, man. Obama has used that skin of his to hide his corporatist agenda and the idiot Obots are still falling for it.

            It sucks being Cassandra, doesn’t it?

          • Spammy hates me today!

  7. great work BB! i think what the folks consider ‘entitlements’ in the program are the add ons that were put in by LBJ’s great society program, like disability benefits and survivor benefits. SS was originally set up to be for retirees only and was modified for those other purposes in the 60s.

    • Thanks, Dakinikat. I wonder how soon you’ll be able to get a sense of Obama’s budget and how he plans to cut the deficit in half? Have you heard anything yet?

      • he’ll talk about this year’s budget in the State of the Union Address on tuesday. So, far I can’t imagine where he’s going to cut.

    • and yet, when I was listening to AAR before they all lost their minds, caller after caller would say that the “entitlements” saved their lives during hard times. Their mother who used the survivor benefits to raise them after their father died. The injured worker who used the disability benefits to survive when he/she could no longer work.

      The idea that we are all in this together has been almost completely undone by the Raygun propaganda machine. Obama absolutely believes in blaming the victims of bad government; he is even more of Raygun’s son than Bush II was.

      • Oh, he only blames certain “vicitims of bad government”–he has his pet victims who will do just fine….

      • madamaB I loved your play the other day…simply brilliant my dear Anna Russell would be proud….

        As would it wonderful Monsuratte…..

        Gotta love your Divas!

  8. If California is any indication, the amount of dollars being spent on illegal immigrants by way of healthcare is unsustainable. Billions of their budget alone goes into the cost of treating those illegals who come here solely for the purpose of giving birth which makes them automatic citizens. Ridding that one requirement may save a lot of money as a start.

    In my one city alone, the cost of healthcare has skyrocketed due less to legitimate illness than the drive by shootings and drug overdoses who jam our emergency rooms day after day. Chances are these are the same recipients who drive without auto insurance which in turn drives up the cost in that area because of this reckless treatment of the laws.

    There are many areas where reform can start but until we really look at some of the underlying reasons for the abuse inherent in the system, we will be forced to watch these costs continue to rise without an end in sight.

    • Have you been watching Lou Dobbs again?

      I live in California and I can tell you illegal aliens aren’t the problem.

      And the idea that pregnant Mexicans are coming here just to give birth is a myth just like Reagan’s welfare queens driving Caddillacs.

      BTW – Illegals can’t get insurance because they can’t get licenses.

      • As a matter of fact that was discussed on C Span. But you cannot deny that if there are at least 20 million illegals already in the US that there are those who have been treated as uninsured patients and that cost is factored into the costs we pay.

        My Sunday morning paper alone has 3 more drive by shootings from last night and chances are those being treated right now are uninsured.

        All I am saying is that there are many who are being treated who are not contributing and those of us who are end up paying for their treatment through higher costs.

        For those who are here illegally but working, the employer seems to be getting away with shunting their obligation onto others while piling up the profit. Reform is needed all around.

        • Now if we could just get the rich to contribute, we could really have a good health care system!

    • my great grandfather came to this country in 1906 from Germany. I don’t know if he was a “legal” immigrant, but I doubt it. If not for the citizen by birthright situation, who knows if my family would have been able to stay in this country. I might be some german obot at this point…

      • gary, the difference is that illegal or not, your grandfather was not able to take advantage at that time of government programs who insured his medical treatment at the cost to the taxpayer. Those programs just did not exist back then.

        • Sorry this is so long, but some info on “illegal” (undocumented) immigrants,

          The Truth about Undocumented Immigration

          Undocumented Immigrants Effect on Social Security

          Undocumented immigrants compose about three percent of the total US population. (Josiah Heyman of the University of Texas at El Paso)

          The estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the Social Security system with a subsidy of about $7 billion a year. (The New York Times)

          Immigrants contribute billions of dollars annually but receive no public pension in retirement, are not eligible for Medicare, and are not entitled to any other benefits. (Social Security Administration)

          Most undocumented workers pay taxes, and they pay a variety of taxes. (The New York Times)

          The money that undocumented immigrants paid in 2004 added up to about 10 percent of that year’s surplus – the difference between what the system currently receives in payroll taxes and what it pays in pension benefits. (Social Security Administration)

          The money paid by illegal workers and their employers is factored into all the Social Security Administration’s projections. (Social Security Administration)

          After the 1986 passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, the Social Security Administration began receiving mountains of W-2 earnings reports with incorrect or fake Social Security numbers, and placed them in the “earnings suspense file.” Since then, the file has grown, on average, by more than $50 billion a year, generating $6 billion to $7 billion in Social Security tax revenue and about $1.5 billion in Medicare taxes. (Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago)

          Many older workers return home to Latin America when they reach retirement age. (BusinessWeek)

          The Healthcare System and Undocumented Immigrants

          Immigrants are not swamping the U.S. health care system and use it far less than native-born Americans. (The American Journal of Public Health)

          Immigrants accounted for 10.4 percent of the U.S. population but only 7.9 percent of total health spending and 8 percent of government health spending. (The American Journal of Public Health)

          Thirty percent of immigrants use no health care at all during the course of a year. (The American Journal of Public Health)

          Immigrant children spent or cost $270 a year, compared to $1,059 for native-born children. (The American Journal of Public Health)

          Most immigrants have health insurance. (The American Journal of Public Health)

          In reality, if more restrictions were placed on health care for immigrants, very little money would be saved, and many immigrant children would be put at grave risk. Many immigrant children already fail to get regular checkups, and as a result, more end up needing emergency care, or get no care at all. (The American Journal of Public Health)

          Many immigrants actually help to subsidize health care and social security for the rest the country. (Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, co-director of immigration studies at New York University)

          Immigrants pay taxes — including Medicare payroll taxes — and most pay health insurance premiums, but they receive only half as much care as other families. (The American Journal of Public Health)

          People like Dobbs use latino immigrants as scapegoats, as do many local municipalities blaming them for problems for everything from health care to driving drunk (which btw many in the latino community have recognized as a problem and have worked very hard to address through psa campaigns in spanish language media).

          Most undocumented immigrants follow the law, AND pay taxes, including Social security in the hopes that if there is ever an amnesty they won’t be left out for not having followed the rules.

  9. and you’re right, the only one in crisis now is Medicare because of the changes dubya made

  10. Caught in spam?

    I’ll try again…

    Last night as I was writing up some little off the radar news from Chicago about how MIchelle’s work there dumping patients is being protested by doctors in a highly unusual move, this story about the budget came up…I must have been close to midnight ET…

    Michelle’s work was all in the name of “efficiency” and that was part of the Obama release on this conference…

    How many disabled (like me) and seniors on Medicare get thrown under the bus?????

    The Past Week: February 15-21, 2009 (”Efficiency” Experts Michelle and “3-Card Monte” Barack Obama…Michelle’s Legacy at U of Chicago Hospital Under Fire by ER Physicians; Hubby Plans to Halve the Deficit via “Efficiency” (Among Other Things…); Spring Garden Prep!

    http://tinyurl.com/dc9pkd

  11. Well, the comment is up there twice…I don’t know why it landed where it landed instead of at the end….but there you go!

    • Insightanalytical,

      I added an update to the post. RD has set the comment preferences so that each new comment goes to the top of the thread. It’s just something she wants to try out for today. Yesterday, commenters were asking about having new comments at the top.

  12. Oh, that’s what I thought…nesting….

    I sort of like it! “Late” posts of interest don’t get lost and everything gets “related”….easier to refer back to the comments you’re replying to…

    I messed up and didn’t reply directly because I didn’t realize we were threaded today…

    Sorry, it’s early for me….!! And I was up late writing about this same story as it hit the wires!!

  13. Thank you for linking to Paul Rosenberg BB-he has some great graphs.

    • Laurie,

      He’s an excellent writer. I don’t know how he puts up with the O-bot comments. Last Jan., he posted some diaries critical of Obama at the Cheeto. I thought he was pretty much where I was with Obama. Maybe he’s paid well at Open Left?

      • Funny you should say that – my next two posts concern Rosenberg and they’re not positive critiques

        • Really, I’m looking forward to it. I honestly haven’t read him much for the past year because I don’t go to any of the 1.0 blogs much. Truthfully, If he feigned liking when he knew better, he’s worse than the others. I’ll be interested to see what you have to say, MYIQ.

  14. I’m so confused about the comments that I never told you how much I like your post.

    • Will the poll options for comments include: I hate it and it gives me a headache? Yes, yes, I lurk only to come out to b!tch about something. I’m just a grumpy old broad that spends most of my day here reading.

      • I hope you hang in there, G-cat. Maybe it will get easier with practice. I’m confused too.

        • BB I guess I am haveing a hard embracing “CHANGE”!
          I “HOPE” I can adjust to it….

          fuzzy dizzy dizzy -Pat vomit bucket please!

          • It’s just a trial for one day, Fuzzy. RD wants us to give it a chance for one day and then we can reevaluate.

        • BB: Oh I’ll hang in there. Where else would I find this type of conversation, that I do acutally love? It just reminds of TL and that constant trying to catch up drove me nuts. For some reason it takes forever to reload. I never had that problem even on threads here with 250 comments.

          • Well, I’m at least glad that you joined in today, if only to register your disapproval. From now on, I hope to see more of you, G-cat!

    • Thanks, Katiebird!

  15. Repeat, I do not like this format. Confusing to say the least.

  16. we are so screwed…it isnt funny!

  17. is this supposed to put the most recent comment at the top of the thread….Fuzzy is getting dizzy like riding rockinroller coaster on a full stomach …..

  18. I would like to think that President Obama appreciates that messing with Social Security would doom him to a one term administration, something I think he is totally unwilling to risk.

    • But Heidi Li wont his 27th ammendment make him prezzy for life..?

    • But Heidi Li, he won’t make it through the first term without all that sweet corporate cash anyway, and as we can see, they are the ones driving this “reform.”

      Might as well roll the dice and see what happens.

      Blurk.

  19. On the Great Experiment:

    I think impossible/crazy-making without an indication of [NEW] comments.

    • Katie ore you talking about the new format or are you talking the great experiement that is /was Social Security?

      • (giggle) The new Format.

        • I agree about the [NEW] comments, katie (like at Alegre’s). That makes following the threads sooo much easier.

          • Just to be clear: We can’t do it. It’s just not part of the WordPress system.

          • Yes — I really like threaded comments, bc I think it makes for more topic-based discussions, but TC gets so many comments that it’s hard if new comments aren’t tagged. When AC has a post with lots of comments, it’s easy to skim down the column and see which ones have been added since you last read the thread. But maybe Word Press doesn’t have a NEW indicator on a comment by comment basis?

          • Valhalla,
            I’ve been poking around in the code to see if there’s something we could do with the style-sheet and a graphic element but, I can’t see anything usable.

    • KB,

      We should send that suggestion to WordPress. I assumed that the new comments would either be in bold or marked in some way, like they were at DK.

  20. I swaer this new format was pushed on us by The Daily Kopout and the Moldy Cheeto….oh and probably those Tools at Yes to Hypocracy…..

    Dizzy Dizzy Pat Vomit Bucket NOW!

    • fuzzy, you are so funny! I was just reading all your new comments on the post below. It’s easier if you post your comments as replies to someone else. Then they don’t go to the top of the thread.

  21. Obama will probably state that Social Security is a dinosaur of the 20th century my little consumption units. As I the great Pampers Said…The 20th century is so over….!

  22. I have a headache from trying to keep up with this format.

  23. Question for folks on the new format — when I reply to a comment that’s already indented (say, 3rd or 4th level down), the comment box gets pushed over too, so I can’t the end of the lines that I’m typing. Is that happening to anyone else? I’m trying to figure out if it’s just my browser (firefox).

    • Valhalla,

      I haven’t had that problem with the comment box yet. My browser was crashing with each new comment for awhile now. Now it’s working. But I use Internet Explorer most of the time.

    • Dont Laff BB and Company…What is a Broswer? is that like my internet explorer?

      Fuzzy may not have a browser…is that bad?

      • Yes, the browser is the software that lets you read stuff on the Internet. I use Internet Explorer most of the time too.

    • mine is fine, but when I use my computer at work, wordpress is always messed up. I even updated to the latest browser and it still messes up. I don’t know what causes it. you might try explorer, but I find that wordpress works better with firefox, and fuzzy, yes your internet explorer or firefox is your browser.

      • Trust me I really am technologically challenged I did not get my first cell phone until last april….and I have only been on line since October of 2007 year!

        Hillary Drove me to the internet!

        An angel on Hillaryclinton.com brought me here…I wish I knew who she was I would love to thank her!

  24. A trial period? thank god/dess!

    For all you wonderful folks I will be meeting Kiki and her daughter at the Notorious Parliment House resort in Orlando Florida Home of Disneyworld the $ 11.99 all-U-can eat buffett, N’Sync,Backstreet Boys and Brittany Spears~!

    • Hey fuzzy! Can you help me out with Sheri’s show tonight? She can’t make it & I don’t want to do it by myself.

    • We expect a full report from both you and Kiki, Fuzzy. When are you meeting her?

      • We are seeing a proffessional Drag show at the Notorious Parliment House Gay Resort!

        Believe it or not Proffessional Drag Show is not an oxy-moron….

        I once had my face proffessionally made up for our night of a thousand Chers (I was biker Cher from the movie “Mask”-completer with tight tee-shirt jeans leather biker chaps and leather jacket….

        Make up was great….me not so much my bra was so tight that my falcies kept popping out and assualting costomers in there eyes!

        Yess SM I shaved the beard for that -talk about feeling naked!

        • LOL! But what day are you meeting? Is it today or later this week or next weekend?

          • Oh silly me -I didnt answer your question-see I told you I was dizzy next saturday the 28th I believe!

            Sorry BB

            I have been using a netti pot thohelp with the congestion of my cold and keep my sinuses drained I must say it is a wonderful invention and does a lovely job….

            I recommend anyone with allergies use one for their sinuses its cheaper than Flo-Nase and probably better for you!

          • Fuzzy,

            I have a neti pot too. They work great! In fact I was just about to go use mine, because I’m coming down with cold. Ugh! Did you get some Mucinex? I swear by it. If you use both the neti pot and Mucinex, your sinuses will be so much better and you won’t get an infection.

          • thanks BB for the Musinex Idea…It never occurred to me they were working in tandem…

            You are Brilliant!

  25. Illegal aliens, illegal campaign donations, illegal vote counting, illegal financial reporting, illegal food imports, illegal Senate seats, illegal caucuses, illegal interest rates, illegal wars, what’s to defend?

    • Our neighborhood was overtaken by groups of 5-6 non-English-Speaking-Heavy-Drinking-LoudTalking-FastDriving men. I don’t know what we would have done if this happened when the kids were little. 10 of the Duplex units in our immediate neighborhood (including 2 on our cul de sac) have these groups.

      We went from being a child-friendly quiet back-water to being a high activity scary place.

      The combination of Language Barrier and Drunkenness was very intimidating. Both Mister and I come from Bi-Lingual Backgrounds. We’re not uncomfortable with other cultures. And not against immigration.

      Our daughter is living in a multicultural neighborhood in Chicago now that does NOT seem to have these problems.

      But, I wonder if some of the people who are speaking so loudly against Illegal Immigrants are living in neighborhoods like mine?

  26. Re: formatting of the comments section–

    Speaking as someone who reads and lurks here every day, but comments infrequently, I’d strongly recommend that the comments be ordered chronologically beginning with oldest first. Sometimes it is several hours between visits and I find myself catching up on two or three threads. Often I’m reading a thread where the discussion has ended, but because the comments on this blog are of such high quality, reading them along with the original blog entry is an integral part of the experience for me. It is extremely unwieldy and difficult to follow the discussion when one is required to scroll to the bottom of the comments and read upwards.

    I’m neutral on the nesting. I can understand why it is desirable for frequent and regular commenters to be able to avail themselves of that feature.

    There is core group of regular participants here and no doubt it is that group that is primarily responsible for the popularity of this site. But I hope our dear blog host will take into consideration the needs of her many loyal readers when making a final determination regarding the formatting of the comments section.

    Many thanks.

    • well said.

      • so gary you like the nesting? I am not yet sold on it but I guess I can adapt….

        • personally, I liked it the way it was. I never liked the nesting, I think that’s why I never really commented much on sites like talk left and even alegres corner. But I can adapt to that. the arrangement of the newest comment first is awful though. you have to read up to follow the root/parent comments, but then read down on the threads… it is very disorienting. I am like nell, I like to come in and read straight through all comments. with it like this i am constantly going up and down….

          • I agree Gary but what can we do? bobbing my head up and down and sideways…on a thread its like

            “Obama/Pampers looking for the next teleprompter que which is his only salvation during a speech”

            Next time Pampers gives a speach I want to have a “Bruce Almighty” moment

            the thought of Pampers saying “My tiny nipples went to France…” makes me giddy with delight!

    • I agree with you, Nell. I love the nested comments, but I like the feeling of reading an ongoing, chronological conversation. Sometimes I come home and actually read through all the comments on a post before I say anything, because the discussion tends to evolve over time. I enjoy that aspect of the threads.

      • Agreed.

        • Thanks for the feedback, everybody.

          To clarify, I’m neutral on the nesting only if the order of comments reverts back to oldest first. Otherwise, as Gary said, the yo-yo effect (scroll up, scroll down) is headache-inducing.

          What I’m trying to say, as tactfully as possible, is that this site didn’t reach its 5 million-plus hits based solely on the participation of its regular commenters. We lurkers are important, too! 🙂

    • Well said

  27. Great Post “BB”
    I applaud Washington “tightening it’s belt” like the rest of America. However, it’s a bit “A@@ Backwards”. First they Spend 1 trillion dollars, grow govt.; then they talk about cutting back…WTF!
    As far as Soc Sec. there was one thing (only 1) that he said; on the campaign trail that I agree with.
    It was/is to raise the “contribution annual cap”. My hubby & I are fortunate enough that his salary does meet that cap & by the end of the year ( just in time for xmas) the extra $$ is welcomed. However, if he raised it within reason & it would help others; I’d be fine with it.
    “MadamB” mentioned earlier about the families that pre-maturely lost their main provider & that “SS $$” helped to meet the bills. Sadly, I have 2 close friends in that group & it DID/DOES help.

    • when my dad dies I was just 18 and in College and my mom had 4 other kids in Middle and High school those social security survivors benifits for us kids were 100% necessary. They allowed my mom to keep our house and food on the table….

      My father earned those benifits paying into the system for 25 years!

      As RD said Soc Sec is a Social Insurance program not just a Retirement program!

      • Thanks for sharing this “FB”.
        That is how it is going for my friends. They were both lucky enough to have some Life Ins. $$; but the SS$ helped to keep them in the only home their children knew. Maintaining a stable home environment then (IMO) helped the family to make their very difficult transition of life without their co-parent.

  28. New thread up

    (if anyone sees this comment)

  29. thanks, bb-terrific post.

    will be emailing links to this and also Katiebird’s health care post to family and friends.

    wake up, America, please!

  30. The change that is needed is the fokllowing: Social Security MUST be taken out of the general fund and BE A FUND IN ITS OWN RIGHT. The government MUST pay back what it took with interest (and I don’t care how they do it). The government MUST BE STOPPED from borrowing (stealing) OUR MONEY. It is the peoples’ money and NOT an “entitlement”. Every time I hear the word “entitlement” my blood pressure goes up! Where are the people that are going to protest in droves and stand up for their/our rights and their money? Will the stealing and plundering continue? I cannot understand it. How can the money that I and my employers paid into Social Security be an entitlement? IT DOES NOT MAKY ANY SENSE. It must be stopped and only the people who pay it can stop it.

  31. […] liberals so he can end up with what he really wants–the Diamond-Orszag plan that I mentioned in my post yesterday. That’s the plan that reduces benefits over time and sets up generational and class […]

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