Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sacrificing the Elderly Poor to Protect Tax Cheats

If you're a Social Security recipient on Medicaid, a bipartisan cabal plans to kick as many of you off the eligibility rolls as possible, just so corporations can get even richer. It's all part of yet another back-door deal in which the Obama Administration pretends to be hoodwinked by Congressional Republicans. In the latest act of Kabuki Theater, the GOP leaders have agreed to pass the most right-wing portion of the president's American Jobs Act: ending a requirement that the government withhold three percent of payments to federal contractors to ensure tax compliance. But but but -- only on condition that it becomes harder for poor people to qualify for Medicaid. Somebody's gotta pay to make the lives of the rich easier, and it ain't gonna be the rich. Besides, this change in eligibility was something Barry proposed way back when The Grand Bargain was the talk of the town.

It is unbelievable but true that in these times of social unrest and ever widening income disparity, the Democrats still buy into the conservative ideology that programs to further enrich the wealthy must always be paid for by our country's most vulnerable citizens.  And even more egregiously in this particular case, it's tax breaks for tax cheats!

From Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler, here's how the latest proposed social safety net slashing will work: 
The government uses a measure known as Modified Adjusted Gross Income to determine Medicaid eligibility. Currently, though, it only incorporates the taxable portion of Social Security income in that calculation. Under this proposal, it would factor in all Social Security benefits. That means some seniors who currently qualify for Medicaid would no longer be eligible. Doing this would save about $14.6 billion over 10 years — more than the cost of repealing the 3 percent withholding compliance measure.
In sum: make it easier for big contractors to cheat on their taxes, and covering the cost by limiting Medicaid eligibility for sick old people.
This stinks of more corrupt collusion between the Democrats and Republicans, two barely distinguishable factions of the same oligarchic uniparty.  And to think we were under the illusion that the OccupyWallStreet movement would strike fear into their venal withered hearts. They actually have no hearts. The Washington Post has all the sordid details here.

Obama himself was schmoozing at one of his endless series of $35,000-a-plate fundraisers just across the bay from Oakland the other night as riot police attacked peaceful protesters, lobbing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets into their encampment.  Earlier yesterday, he joked with Jay Leno on the "Tonight" show before heading to yet another soiree at the home of Hollywood stars Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith.

The usual Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, will make their usual aggrieved noises over the latest Obama betrayal. Nancy Pelosi will remain stonily silent in her passive-aggressive way, but the deal most likely will go through. These deals always do, not in small part because Obama is the Earner in Chief, holding the key to an expected billion dollar Democratic war chest. Those who don't fall in line run the risk of having their careers redistricted out of existence.

Obama Fiddles....

While Occupy Oakland Burns

** Update 10/27: The House voted to move forward with both bills last night, with just a few Democrats making a noise against the deal. New rules designed to keep the more affluent poor off Medicaid will not take effect until 2014, when all of us will be magically under the thrall of the private insurance companies, and Obamacare theoretically swings into full gear. So if you're currently receiving Social Security plus Medicaid, you're okay for a few more years. Of course, who knows what other goodies the super-secretive Super Committee has up its sleeve to balance the budget?


Patricia said...

I think it's kind of funny that Obama's raising all this money. Who's gonna vote for him again? Hey, wait a minute... that is, if the electronic voting booth is actually up and counting, or there aren't any glitches. I guess in California it's like the OK corral with rubber bullets. Hope the NYPD doesn't find out about them. they seem to like their night sticks and pepper spray more. When are they gonna go old school with water cannons and dogs? Just sayin....

jhand said...

My best guess is that the people most affected will (or would) be those elderly like me who live just on the plus side of retirement, but don't have the funds to move into a managed care facility or nursing home when and if their health fails. Once we have used up all our resources, Medicaid will help with the balance of payments to the care facility, that is, IF it is available. So Congress crows about saving billions, but at what cost to those who can't afford to pay for extended care when they need it? And what about the financial burdens this "savings" will put on the families and children of the elderly? The only question that remains is whether Congress is collectively stupid or collectively heartless. I believe the answer is both.

Valerie said...

I keep thinking about diehard, Fox watching Republicans like my mother who has a nest egg but receives Medicare. She might still have to reap the rewards of her terrible radically “conservative” politics. Sadly, so will so many innocent people.

I feel so optimistic about the Occupy movement - I mean if Chris Hedges is optimistic, how can I not be? - But then I see Obama signing more Free Trade agreements and going after the Post Office - a net neutral organisation that is running beautifully – while pretending to care about jobs ALL WHILE RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION. Obviously, he and the rest of the Obama Camp think they are going to get away with it! And then crap legislation like this getting through Congress with few impediments - and I wonder. Is it that our elected officials are in such a bubble that they don’t recognise that the rest of the 99% are waking up? Or are Chris and I wrong?

When will those who are already suffering - or see those they love suffering under this plutocracy stand up and be counted? It is not like they have to get out there and start their own protest by themselves! All they have to do is JOIN in with the Occupy protests near them.

James F Traynor said...

With the latest from Pelosi and listening to Glenn Greenwald's interview on NPR about his new book. Plus the Oakland debacle, it looks as if revolution is becoming our only choice.

Will said...

Here's an inspiring video of Leah Bolger speaking her mind at the Super Secret Super Committee meeting yesterday:

Here's a portion of what she said, courtesy of Democracy Now:

"The American people want to tax the rich and end the wars. That’s how we fix the deficit. And all this obfuscation with percentages of GDP, this is just trying to confuse the issue... The vast majority of the public want you to tax the rich, end the wars. We spend more on war commitments than the rest of the world combined. And this history of this vast, grotesque spending on wars and the war machine has depleted the base of this economy. We would have enough money for housing and healthcare and everything that we want, if we stopped spending our money in this black hole of the military machine. It’s very obvious. I speak for the 99 percent: end the wars, and tax the rich."

Anne Lavoie said...

@James F Traynor

I'm with you, James. A peaceful revolution is absolutely necessary. It's already started.

We have had an unrepresentative, undemocratic, and corrupt government for years, but we have only now realized it. It is corporate run and even Obama is not trying to hide it. He's just pretending nothing is wrong with that. It is no longer a government of, by, or for the People by any stretch of the imagination.

Corporate Goliaths have been financially infiltrating and influencing governments all over the world, for decades, to further enrich themselves, and have gotten the help of the US Military-Industrial Complex to do so.

Now with the accumulation of their ill-gained wealth, they have succeeded in buying a controlling interest in the entire USA Empire.
And the real kicker is that we've been paying the tab all along and we still are! The mother of all scams.

Our (their) elected representatives have been business partners with them for years. It's not capitalism, it's institutionalized criminalism, a system of mutual enrichment. And to add insult to injury, Congress and the President pretend that the system is not intentionally and continually rigged for them to enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayers. Most of the politicians are the 1%. If they aren't when they arrive, they are when they leave and take a lucrative lobbyist or corporate board position, or a dozen.

We don't just have taxation without representation, we have ELECTIONS (and representatives) without representation! Our vote is essentiall nullified by corporate money as soon as it is cast.

As the system is rigged now, our tax money is increasingly going directly to corporations through government subsidies, military contracts, and giveaways too numerous to mention.

Privatization of profits (through government contracts, etc) paid for by socialization of the cost (by taxpayers' money) isn't just for bailouts. It's everyday government business, for the big corporations players anyway. The small businessman still gets screwed like the rest of us.

I know of no greater justification to declare our independence from this entire corrupt system, and that requires a revolution. A peaceful revolution is the most powerful moral force on earth. The current corrupt government will learn that lesson, sooner or later. Guaranteed.

James F Traynor said...

I hope it will be a peaceful revolution, but I have my doubts.

Anne Lavoie said...

@James F Traynor

I know what you mean with our heavily armed citizenry in such a powerful police state.

But have you seen 'The Singing Revolution' on PBS? It's about Estonia's peaceful revolution as they fought for their independence from the old USSR. There were brutal elements there too, but they did not lose a single life. They remained solidly peaceful and determined against all odds, and they succeeded.

It was an inspiring and powerful movement, and really struck a chord with me. I had a lump in my throat watching it. The power of the people is awesome when united as One.

The real BEAUTY is that the opposition, oppression, and struggle is what creates that Oneness of the people.

The Black Swan said...

Instead of Ocuppy Wall Street, we need Overthrow Wall Street. Valerie and Anne have it right. The government does not represent it and it does not care anymore. It is a giant criminal organization, taking our money and using it to wage wars, overthrow foreign governments, assassinate innocents, jail our citizens and enrich corporations. It is actively involved in policies that are too the detriment of our nation and its citizens and the the rest of our world. We do not need it, and it is time we got rid of it. Electing new or different folks into office won't change a thing. We need to completely rethink the idea of the United States, of capitalism, of banking, of the environment, of a social contract. This beast cannot be reformed. It must die and something new, something unprecendented must take its place. Look at the French! They overthrew the Monarchy and now... If we just keep changing the players at the top or the structure of government, nothing will ever change. Every human society has failed, each one more catastrophically than the next and will continue to do so unless we all take a hard look at ourselves and decide to make the hard choices to reinvent civilization.

eaveltri said...

@ Traynor, Lavoie and all the rest of my progressive brothers and sisters, It certainly appears to me that the only way out of this corporate fascist government is by way of revolution, since it is obvious at least to me that the system is quite effectively rigged in favor of the most corrupt and greedy corporatists.
Traynor has his reservations that a revolution can be bloodless. In the past there have been examples some examples of fairly bloodless ones. Lavoie seems more certain that it is possible to have one here in the USA. We all saw what happened in Oakland last night. I believe there will be more such instances of police instigation of violence. I also believe there will be more violence at least to some degree. I don’t see the ‘masters of the universe’ just giving in and saying ok you win without really testing the reserve of the disenchanted substantially. I also believe there is a need for the movement to get leadership with clear goals. Those goals must be to insure the control of corporations by the government for the benefit of the people as a whole, not solely their largest shareholders or managers and to create a new American foreign policy devoted to enlightened self-interest rather than global hegemony.
If this is possible I do not know. Time will tell.

Anne Lavoie said...

I mean non-violence on OUR part.
I fully expect it from the government and other thugs, but we need to totally resist violence no matter what they do. That is exactly how we will grow and gain power and unity.

Resistance to violence, however, does not mean non-action! There are forms of power other than physical weaponry and violence, but everyone has to stay calm, focused, and determined so we can imagine and exercise those options as the need arises.

Personally, I'd like to see all of us, no matter where we are, make a serious effort to generate and spread calming waves of deep peace for the benefit of the protesters and our movement. They need us and we need them, especially as this thing grows.

After all, it's r evolution.

The Black Swan said...

I think a peaceful, effective and beneficial form of protest/revolution is needed. Occupy Wall Street may help to wake up the populace, but it isn't going to accomplish a thing. The gov't and their masters just don't care. What I would love to see is instead of protesting/occupying in a paved park, people going to other parks and start growing food. Keep livestock, produce goods. Sell nothing, buy nothing. Drop out of the global economy and stay local. Imagine if instead of thousands occupying Wall Street, we had thousands farming Central Park! Setting up housing, small industry, etc. We don't need to overthrow anyone, we just need to tell the gov't and their masters that as much as they don't care about/need us, we don't care about/need them. Turn our public land into productive land and let the 1% play with their funny money. They will fall before we ever will. Create the society we want, run it parallel to the US gov't. We've got the numbers. We will win.

eaveltri said...

All right, I get it, and I agree with A. Lavoie also. The OWS and all others must remain calm and focused and not use any violence. Trying to out muscle the US government is useless and suicidal. All it would do is tend to legitimize the increased use of force by our corporatist government against the people. And I believe that is exactly what their response would be and also the excuse they may be hoping for.
I’ve read two interesting news items today. One was about the mayor of Oakland apologizing for the police reaction and promising a full investigation of that police response and the other that other cities are considering the use force to remove other OWS groups. Apparently the corporate establishment is unsure which route to take to break up the movement. I think that Blumberg has decided to try to out wait them and let time and the approaching cold weather do his dirty work. I would like to send some money to help. I don’t have much but every little thing I can do I’d like to do but I don’t know which organization can best be trusted not to try to sabotage or co-opt the movement. Any suggestions?
I also agree with Black Swan when he says, “We do not need it (the currently constituted US government), and it is time we got rid of it. Electing new or different folks into office won't change a thing. We need to completely rethink the idea of the United States, of capitalism, of banking, of the environment, of a social contract. This beast cannot be reformed. It must die and something new, something unprecedented must take its place.” At this point, I don’t believe that will happen unless some type of united coordinating body begins to make the kinds of progressive demands for changes that must take place. Is anything happening in this regard?

James F Traynor said...

There are guys and a few gals out there, on both sides, itching to have a go at each other. At the moment this would only benefit the status quo. And even if it were the opposite, violent revolution is a very iffy proposition; the Russian and, for a time, the French revolutions come to mind. And in the end, it may be completely out of our hands.
I do know that to continue on as we have will be disastrous to all, the 1% as well as the rest of us, although the 1% seem oblivious to that almost certain end.

Anonymous said...


Kat said...

(Beginning to sound like a broken record--) Excellent comment today on the bundlers article.
Obama is an elitist pure and simple. He is no better than those on the right that pretend to be for the "common man". He is just more comfortable with his wealthy donors and his Harvard educated advisers. That's our prez.
And now another plug for Move to Amend-- get involved.

Anne Lavoie said...


The Oakland Mayor might have also considered the implications of a General Strike when she decided to issue her apology. I hope the strike still happens on November 2 as called for and that she doesn't make some kind of empty promise to get them to call it off. We need to send them an unmistakable message that their violence will have serious consequences for them and their corrupt system.

We the People are a powerful force, and strikes are just one non-violent tool. Gene Sharp is the foremost authority on non-violent action and I'm sure his books are in the on-site libraries that the Occupiers have.

Calling for a strike after the incident with the Iraqi veteran is an appropriate non-violent response to violence. It has a financial impact and gives us the moral upper hand. The Powers-That-Be know that if this movement continues to grow, we will have the power to collapse their crooked economy in just a short time, if we so choose.

That's why they are trying so desperately to silence or attack this movement. They know how powerful it could be when coordinated nationally. Normally the people would be too apathetic to join in a general strike, but many are already outraged, and with some more incidents like having a military veteran shot by police? Game changer.

The only game the Powers-That-Be know is violence and they write the rules. You are so right about it being suicidal to fight their violence with violence.

But it sounds like the Occupiers have already learned to play by their own rules and playing a game the system doesn't understand. Like right now the establishment is crying 'they have no message', 'they have no leaders' 'we don't know what they want', etc. It drives them crazy because they can't control us!

My 4th Occupy event is tomorrow. I've got a new sign added to my collection: Revolution Is Our Right! (with a peace sign). I will bring it out when the time is right, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

Everybody, get out there and Occupy!

Neil said...

Great comments everyone.


Like right now the establishment is crying 'they have no message', 'they have no leaders' 'we don't know what they want', etc. It drives them crazy because they can't control us!

This strategy is brilliant in its simple elegance!

I’m sorry to say the cops are cracking down on Occupy Tampa, making arrests and removing people and their belongings like tables, as shown on this video

Here’s what I don’t understand about the right to protest. The US Supreme Court held that Westboro Baptist Church could picket the funerals of US soldiers, and chant homophobic messages, in Snyder v. Phelps. And other courts are following this lead, see below the story I received this evening from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I just don’t get it.

Nebraska funeral buffer zone infringes First Amendment

A fringe church that spreads its message against homosexuality through protests outside military funerals recently secured another legal victory for its controversial picketing activities.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis (8th Cir.) last week struck down a Nebraska law prohibiting protesters from coming within 300 feet of a funeral or memorial service. (State legislators have since amended the statute to expand the buffer zone to 500 feet.) The ruling came just 15 days after the Eighth Circuit deemed unconstitutional an almost identical Missouri ordinance.

Valerie said...

Good Point, Neil!

We have the right to assemble and we have the right of free speech. So what is going on that is objectionable? Is it the camping? If people didn't camp would the protest be acceptable? Somehow I don't think so. They would just find another reason to arrest protesters. I love the way the sanitation issue is always brought up in association with the protesters. Not only does it imply the protesters are just a bunch of filthy hippies it gives the city a "legitimate" reason to oust the occupiers from their camp grounds.

I think it is critical that the protests remain peaceful but I am concerned that as the movement grows, those working against the movement will send in agitators to look like protesters set on violence. I was reading the Boston newspaper about the Iraq veteran and so many of those commenting repeated the one sentence in the article about protesters throwing bottles and knocking over garbage cans. Some of the commenters even made the leap to Scott Olsen throwing bottles and knocking over garbage cans. It gave them the justification to suggest he had it coming to him and the police were the victims. I am concerned that this will be the plutocracy’s ploy – to make is seem like the protesters are violent, even when they aren’t.

It will be interesting to see how much support the Occupy strikers get on November 2. Fingers crossed it is a large group.

Neil said...

@ Valerie, re: agitators

This may already be happening. A guy showed up at Occupy Atlanta, Woodruff park, with an AK 47 rifle slung over his shoulder. Here are a couple of videos

His name is "Porch" and he does not agree with Occupy but supports their right to protest. He looks like the stereotypical AK owner: 30’s white male, skinhead, although he is wearing a dress shirt and tie. Apparently one can openly carry a rifle in Atlanta if one can lawfully own the rifle.

In the second video, notice the loud helicopter noise in the background. It was like this in Tampa.

Let’s face it, the one-percent will not give up without a fight. The movement, to remain peaceful and effective, needs more in its "toolbox" like strikes, and refusal to pay debt. If enough people stopped paying their bills, the system would crash.

eaveltri said...

@ Valerie, Neil and the rest of the progressive brothers and sisters that comment on this blog. To Valerie where and what is going to occur on Nov 2nd? To Neil and all others I just got an Email from the Progressive Change Committee. Neil said that the protesters need more tools in their tool boxes and I couldn’t agree with him more. The Email from the Progressive Change Committee is supporting a movement called Bankxodus. They are urging people to move their money from those financial institutions that have contributed and caused the financial collapse in the US to ‘good banks’ and credit unions that are not in the business of scamming people and crashing our economy. I personally think this is a great idea and soon as I return to the US from abroad that is exactly what I intend to do. Right now I am with Wells Fargo and I don’t know for certain but I think that it may not be one of the good guys. I urge all readers to consider this option.
Also there is the option of buying locally and refusing to support ‘bad’ corporations which fund right wing extremist groups and paid front men in the US Government. I will do this also when I return to the states in December. I will try to buy all my food etc. from small local dealers and buy other houshold items from individuals instead of, for example Wallmart who likes to outsource all their production overseas. I believe in fair trade and not free trade. I think that most of you do also from what I have read.
Someone recently suggested that the entire system in the US is broken. I think it was Neil and I agree with him to a degree. But there are still some good people in congress and the Senate. People like Dennis Kuchinic and Bernie Sanders among others. Elizabeth Warren is a person who I think should challenge O, Trojan Horse, Bama for the Democratic nomination or run as third party challenger, instead of running for the senate seat from Mass. I’d vote for her in a minute and so would I believe thousands or millions of others.

Valerie said...


The Occupy Oakland protesters are calling for a city wide strike on November 2 in response to the violence by Oakland Police that ultimately led to Scott Olsen, an Iraqi vet, being hit in the head with a gas canister can causing serious head injuries. I think the Olsen thing has really shaken up a lot of people observing the movement and the protesters are hoping people will stand in solidarity with them. The overuse of force by the Oakland Police is scary. Although the right wing media and the stupid MSM always seems to mention that garbage cans were turned over and bottles were thrown by protesters in EVERY report they do, many people understand that peaceful protest is a right guaranteed by the Constitution and peaceful protesters shouldn’t be treated like as if they are in a war zone.

Yes, at this point, we should all be "thinking globally and acting locally." But you can already do this no matter where you are. The corporate take-over by the 1% is everywhere. I live in Adelaide, Australia and I buy all my food at local markets and from people running small food stands at the side of the road. I buy my meat at a small organic store where the owner has been out to the farms where the animals are raised and can vouch for their treatment. I also buy as many of the clothes we need as possible at the local second hand stores, Salvation Army stores and garage sales. Because almost all of the clothing in Australia comes from Third World sweat shops, at least this is one way to keep the corporations making the clothes from profiting from me. Not only do I save money, but I know who the money is going to. The CEO of Qantas is trying to ship union jobs overseas and there has been a showdown. My family and I will avoid Qantas in future. But there are other ways to act locally. Some are a bit inconvenient. We try to keep our fossil fuel usage at a minimum and ride bikes the three miles to and from school and to make small shopping trips to the grocery store. I commute across the city to my university classes by bus. I am learning every day how to live a more simple life and to give the giant corporations as little of my money as possible. And you know what? I feel more connected to my community and neighbours than I have ever felt before! I get more exercise and I am more serene living a less materialistic life. And the great thing is I am not alone! More and more people are turning to a simpler lifestyle. Obviously, people can’t be commuting on bike in the snow! But we can all do a little that adds up to a lot and can cut into corporate profits.

By the way, there is a great video on YouTube (that I saw on RealityChex) about what to do with your junk mail to send a message to the big banks. Here is the link.