Monday, September 10, 2012

Be Very Careful

Robert Reich notes

A half dozen fact-checking organizations and websites have refuted claims by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan that President Obama removed the work requirement from the welfare law and will cut Medicare benefits by $716 billion. The New York Times even reported that Romney has been "falsely charging" Obama with removing the work requirement.

The Romney camp, however, responded "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."   In the world of Randian free-enterprise fantasy, success is proof of virtue, and the GOP's brazenly dishonest campaign reportedly has proven effective among white voters.

Approximately one-third of the nation's children, as well as growing numbers of pregnant women, disabled individuals, and adults in nursing homes receive their health care through Medicaid.  Nevertheless, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, as reflected in his budget proposal as chairman of the House Budget Committee, and presidential nominee Romney both support converting Medicaid into a block grant program that would provide states a set amount of money to spend annually on health care services for poor.  Ezra Klein explains

Ryan cuts nearly $1.4 trillion from Medicaid over the next 10 years. That’s a 34 percent cut to the program’s expected spending over the next decade. Those cuts, unlike the cuts to Medicare, are specific, and they begin immediately. Estimates from the Urban Institute suggest that if those cuts are made, about 30 million people could lose their health insurance.

Oh, and Ryan repeals the Affordable Care Act. That’s where some of his Medicaid cuts come from, but that also knocks out all the subsidies for lower-income Americans to get health insurance. So that’s another 15 million people without health insurance. So under Ryan’s budget, about 45 million people would lose health insurance they otherwise would’ve gotten.

Ryan’s budget cuts $134 billion from food stamps, which is enough to kick 8-10 million people off the program.

Ryan cuts $166 billion from the portion of the budget that houses our education, training, employment and social services funding. We don’t know exactly how he’d apportion those cuts, but the documents he’s released suggest a big chunk of them are going to hit Pell grants.

Moreover, everything we know suggests Romney’s on the same page as his running mate.It’s important to remember that Romney’s budget is much, much more aggressive than Ryan’s. It’s less specific, so it gets less attention. But it’s much more aggressive. Ryan’s got about $5.3 trillion in cuts. Romney’s looking for $7 trillion. And he’s not keeping Ryan and Obama’s Medicare savings. And he’s increasing spending on defense by much more than Ryan does. So to pay for that defense spending and make up the Medicare cuts, he needs about $1.5 trillion more in cuts from the non-Medicare, non-defense side of the budget than Ryan has.

Last Wednesday, Bill Clinton emphasized the danger posed by the Medicaid plan to the middle class. While noting it is "going to really hurt a lot of poor kids," he added

But that's not all. Lot of folks don't know it, but nearly two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for Medicare seniors -- who are eligible for Medicaid.It's going to end Medicare as we know it. And a lot of that money is also spent to help people with disabilities, including -- a lot of middle-class families whose kids have Down's syndrome or autism or other severe conditions. And honestly, let's think about it, if that happens, I don't know what those families are going to do.

To Newt Gingrich, Obama is "the food stamp president."   To Mitt Romney, Obama is the fellow who wants to hand out welfare to people who don't want to work.   To Rush Limbaugh, his "entire economic program is reparations."

Not surprisingly, then, the evening after Bill Clinton slams the GOP for targeting a program providing health care for poor people (young and old a few in the middle), Barack Obama says this about Medicaid:

Nothing. In over 1300 days in office, a Democratic President refuses to mention the poor, or even his opponents' plan to undermine popular and successful government program serving their needs.  During this election cycle, and in an address to convention delegates touching on a wide range of issues, Medicaid is off-limits.

One does not, in polite company, say:   Barack Obama is black, and he is inadequate as President.   And if you are the first black President, you do not go around and defend Medicaid or the concept of welfare.  He tiptoes around the issue, as he must, and leaves it to a former (Caucasian) President to ask for a little compassion for poor children- but mostly for others.   We've come a long way, baby.

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