Sunday, June 23, 2013

A New Insult: Expanding Means Testing for Lower Middle Income Seniors

The notice in the Newsletter from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare was blunt and to the point. A new “proposal” before congress- hell bent on appeasing the Fix the Debt parasites- is to expand the means testing of Medicare to lower middle income seniors. According to the Newsletter:

"The proposal would shift billions of dollars in additional costs to beneficiaries by further expanding means testing for Medicare Parts B and D – until 25% of all beneficiaries are paying higher, income related premiums. A recent study found that this proposal would eventually impact individuals with annual incomes equivalent to $47,000 in today’s money.”

Let’s make it clear here that $47,000 /yr. is not a princely sum for an annual income, especially for seniors who – unlike younger folks- are burdened by additional health care costs including more medications, as well as the possibility of having to enter a nursing home for everything from a broken hip, to Alzheimers. The nursing homes are not cheap at $3,000 a month or more. Hence, this expanded means testing is nothing short of deplorable. The fact that the richest 1% will still make out like bandits while lower middle income seniors suffer is even more disgusting.

The NCPSSM Newsletter went on to note that this expanded means testing along with a chained CPI for Social Security, and possibly higher eligibility age for Medicare would:

“generate a tsunami of seniors living in poverty”

Setting the cuts in stark contrast to the wealthy tax payers, the Newsletter goes on:

"The benefit cut resulting from the chained CPI proposal alone would result in Social Security beneficiaries losing about 2 percent of their income, while the 2013 tax increase on wealthy Americans earning $500,000 results in a negligible 0.6 percent loss’

Process that difference! For the half million a year wealthy guy his piddling 0.6% loss is barely equal to the current cost of one share in his favorite hedge fund or a 1/10  kt blood diamond. For the senior it would equal a month's worth of blood pressure and diabetes meds. Do the rich Neoliberals who make up most of the Beltway's blabber set care? Of course not!

In other words, the confluence of benefits cuts is designed to increase inequality and poverty rates dramatically (already 15% of seniors live at or below the poverty line)

Note also that all those talking heads, Neoliberal hacks and flacks, including Joe Klein and Fareed Zakaria of TIME, and “legal” leaker Bob Woodward, who advocate “entitlement cuts” – are themselves sitting pretty and have no need for “entitlements” at all. They neither see or care about the fact that half of seniors barely get $22,000 a year in benefits, and that the U.S. is amongst the stingiest of developed nations in terms of social insurance. In other words, these Neoliberal twerps essentially support ‘Fix the Debt’ and Pete Peterson who insist the weakest and most vulnerable in the nation take the hit so the Neoliberal free marketeers and speculators can continue their fun run with the DOW – and expand their takings.

The NCPSSM solution will be to bombard congress with petitions from millions of its members. The message is firm and unambiguous: there must be NO willingness to compromise in any September debt ceiling showdown such that seniors’ lives and well being is sacrificed. The rich will have to pay their fair share and that must mean higher taxes, as opposed to socking it to the elderly!

For the link to see who's really behind such savage cuts and means-testing, go to:

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