Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ryan Wets his Panties in Confrontation with Obama

Seems like during the meeting of GOP brain-dead, anti-tax posturing rats with Obama yesterday, Paul Ryan (he of the Medicare Early Death Plan) tossed a hissy fit and at one point (according to a McClatchy News Service report in today's paper) accused the President of "misdescribing" his proposal and "implored the President to ease up on the demagoguery". Are you kidding me? These rat-ass bozos were nothing BUT demagoguery two years ago, painting Obama's Affordable Health Care Act as having "death panels" for seniors! The report noted Obama wasn't having any of it from this twit either, responding he wasn't a stranger to "cartoonish depictions" saying:"I'm the death-panel supporting, socialist, may not have been born here president", thereby mocking the Repukes' and their endless blathering the past two years.

Who are these assholes trying to kid anyway? Or is it more like letter -writer Greg Zierten in today's Denver Post described it:

"The argument, it seems, is “until you come up with something equally absurd, you can’t complain.” Really? If those who supported the Ryan plan could just show us the list of private insurers lining up to write affordable policies for the elderly, the poor and the terminally ill, maybe we wouldn’t be scared.

It’s not Democrats but the callousness or naiveté of those who support this unworkable plan. So death panels are just fine as long as they are administered by the private sector?

If you really want an honest start in dealing with budget problems, perhaps you could propose eliminating all the Bush tax cuts. These tax cuts don’t save lives, but Medicare does."

Or another letter writer (David Peel) who put it:

"Republican Reps. Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner are complaining the Democrats are using scare tactics against the Republican Medicare plan. And they should know — after all, the Republicans invented Medicare scare tactics. Remember “death panels” and “killing grandma”? They were Republican talking points from last year’s election.

Well, Reps. Tipton and Gardner, now that the Democrats are pushing back, you complain about 'scare tactics'. You boys sound just like spoiled brats running home crying to mommy that someone is being mean to you. Man up and stop whining. You voted for the Republican plan; defend it."

But as I noted in earlier blogs, they can't defend it! The bottom line is simple and can't be cloaked in bullshit: Seniors get handed a pittance to buy medical insurance on their own in a closed market with only other elderly or sick seniors. The chances of any company taking them on for even a half million bucks are SLIM and none! Why should they? Any medical insurance idiot would know the medical loss ratio would be enormous with a mostly sickly-disposed pool to work with. They'd be paying out endlessly for this or that treatment or test and being given a lousy $8,000 - 12,000 a year to work with. (Which is why the GAO estimates seniors at minimum would have to pay at least 67% out of pocket compared to what they do now with Medicare which is no freebie).

But some dull of brain or ignorant are misled into blinkered thinking by the despicable tactics used by some economic demagogues (the REAL demagogues), including Robert Samuelson and “Uncle Tom” Sowell. These two typically whine and mew about "entitlements" and "dependency" then complain how many “poor” seniors (and poor people in general) own cell phones, cars or TVs. Well give me a fucking break already! You think those are signs of AFFLUENCE or wealth!? Only a numskull would believe so, since even the most indigent chattel house renter in Barbados has those! They're regarded as essentials, not luxuries, and rightly so! A TV is about the cheapest, most cost effective form of entertainment one can have short of five hours of Gin Rummy a day. It certainly isn't like going out to concerts, ball games or the night clubs every night! A car is regarded as a necessity, either for seniors who need to get to their doctors, or who still must work to make ends meet - to get to their jobs- since most towns (like the one I live in) have eliminated hundreds of bus routes due to budget cuts. And as for cell phones, tell Grandma that if she wants her standard Medicare she can't own one 'cause they're "too luxurious" next time she falls down on the bathroom floor and can't get up! Yet these shitheads believe there are enough dumb asses out there to lap this crap up. Well, maybe there are!

So, do these ignorant, posturing imps believe American poor seniors shouldn’t even own what the most impoverished West Indian finds essential? This is bollocks! I don’t care if a senior has two TVs, a cell phone and a beat up old ’88 Chevy, he or she is still entitled to his or her Medicare- and THAT means the standard issue (which even as it is isn't cheap at $3,300 a year or more)- not some stupid voucher. NOW, if we’re talking about owning two Lamborghinis, a 3,000 sq. foot home with four Jacuzzis, and a home movie center with surround sound and stereo from an 89” flat screen HDTV- THAT’S a different kettle of fish! Then I would certainly question whether a senior can't afford to pay a lot more for his medical services!

But for fuck's sake, let's not lump all seniors together as Samuelson and Sowell do, especially resorting to bogus economic stats. For example, in his own argument, Samuelson begins by referencing the government's defined "poverty line" of $12,968 for 2009 for an over-65 couple.He then adds that "the high income group- defined as four times the poverty line or almost $52,000 for a couple in 2009- rose from 18.4% in 1980 to 30.6% in 2007". But as I noted in an earlier blog, the REAL poverty line, not the lowballed farce, is more like $38,000/yr! (The existing poverty level hasn't factored in inflation since 1969!)

Even at $38,000/yr. this means the retired couple at $52,000/yr., say, is only one major calamity away from indigence since it's barely 36% above the true poverty line. Indeed, most financial columnists writing on retirement incomes (e.g. in Smart Money magazine last issue), place a couple over 65 with $50,000/yr. income as just barely in the middle class! Obviously, something is serious amiss in the picture presented by Samuelson! Well, as one previous Denver Post letter writer put it, he obviously isn't factoring in the cost of a nursing home stay, estimated at $130,000 for one senior and it may occur more than once!

Samuelson and Sowell do further injustice and compound their PR crimes by complaining that the median net worth (that is assets minus debts) of 65-plus households was $237,000, or about "twice the amount of households aged 45 to 54. Among 65-plus married couples, median net worth was $385,000".

But again this misses the point! All it really shows is that the average American of whatever age group is a terrible saver, and this is most likely based on wage scales that have declined absolutely since 1973 - coupled with increased dollar value debasement. To get a more realistic picture, recall net worth factors in the home as well, and we do know most over 65's own their homes. (Which is a move also heartily recommended by financial planners). Let's say the home is nominally worth $100,000 then subtract to get the actual monetary net worth, which turns out to be $137,000 for the average over-65 household and $285,000 for married couples. But this is nothing! Given current over-65s are already advised to have on hand $225,000 to cover expenses and co-pays Medicare won't! That already eats up the total net worth in real money terms of the average over-65'er and most of the net worth (79%) of the married couples! So WTF does Samuelson want? For our "affluent" or "higher income" seniors to live off cat food, along with no vacations ever, and no amenities, period?

The one hole in all the pro-Ryan, GOP'ers thinking is the failure to process that Medical costs are not standardized as in the case of most common consumer products. For seniors this is even more greatly exacerbated, often because they're included in one large risk pool with many of the same problems (cancers, hip fractures, etc.) THIS is exactly what has led Yale School of Management Professor Fiona Scott Morton to call out Ryan’s plan for exactly what it is: a demand shedding plan. As she puts it, “there’s no evidence many companies will be rushing in to provide health coverage to ailing boomers with competition that ought to lower any premiums”

So let Weepy Ryan, Uncle Tommy Sowell, and Robert the "Grinch" Samuelson piss and moan all they want. Most Americans (nearly 3 in 5) want their Medicare as miserly as it may be compared to other nations' programs, rather than a pitiful voucher and pat on the back with "Good Luck and God Speed!" from Ryan's Death Proposal. As for "demagoguing", not at all. The Dems merely need to lay out the cold, hard FACTS of Ryan's plan where they go on the campaign stump and let people who hear it decide for themselves if that is really a gamble they want to make!

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