Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Medicare and Taxes, Obama's Bargaining Chips

As he embarks on his bid for reelection, Barack Obama is cranking up the same tune  for fixing the economy -- Raise taxes on the rich, cut back on Medicare benefits.   Rich, to Barack Obama, is any one who makes more than $250,000.00 per year.   Why does he not mention the overpaid, often under talented celebrities who make outrageous amounts of money and contribute to his political campaigns.  Those people are rich!  Obama knows that  if he goes along with the Republicans' plan to cut the budget in order to bring the national debt under control, he will risk losing the support of his liberal base.

After Obama gave up $38.5 billion to the Republicans last week in order to avoid a budget shut down, liberal activists have threatened to withhold their support if he doesn't fight against any more cuts.  The Republicans on the other hand, are talking the need to slice trillions, not billions of dollars in programs in order to save the nation from impending bankruptcy.  The compromise between the parties was short lived.  On Wednesday, Obama will once again have to face the nation and deliver a speech about the looming battle over raising the debt ceiling. 

Senator Barack Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling during the Bush administration, yet now his staffers claim that the president regrets his vote and admits that it was a mistake.  This admission means only one thing:  Obama will push for raising the debt ceiling.

Obama has also promised his supporters that if he must make any  reductions in government entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid, they will be accompanied by tax increases on the rich and cuts in defense spending.  Now that he has authorized a surge in Afghanistan and  involved our country in a very costly third war in Libya, he plans to cut defense spending? Obama's feelings for the military were made quite clear last week when he threatened to withhold military pay if the government were to be shutdown.

Obama's liberal base wants him to appear as a job creator and not one who cuts the deficit budget, but the man has been in office for two years, and the only jobs that have been created are federal jobs, while the unemployment rate in the private sector remains basically unchanged.  There is no way that Obama can sell himself to the American electorate as a "job creator," while progressives believe that the fundamental problem in our country right now is unemployment and a job crisis, not a deficit crisis.

Last year when Obama agreed to extend the Bush cuts and not to penalize those who made $200,000 - $250,000 a year by taxing them, we agreed with the decision.  We feel that to penalize those who have studied hard to receive an education, and who have worked and sacrificed to eventually make a comfortable salary is unfair.  Those are the people who provide for themselves and their families without turning to the government for help and assistance.  Such taxes kill initiative and stifle the individuals' drive to succeed.  It is those  persons who make the  seemingly high salaries, who pay the high taxes to keep those entitlement programs going. They pay the exorbitant property taxes to keep the schools districts going.  Those are the folks who pay the high income taxes to the IRS.   Now the government wants to tax them again?  They are the people who pay for college tuition for their children without asking for assistance.   They are the ones who pay their debts, who spend the money that keeps small businesses afloat.  They are America's middle class. They are not the "rich." 

The White House has hinted that Obama's speech will announce deep cuts in the Medicare and Medicaid benefits.  In speaking with doctors and other health care professionals, we know that cutting benefits will be more difficult on the elderly than to consider Congressman Paul Ryan's plan to restructure the Medicare system.  If implemented now, the Ryan Plan would not affect anyone over the age of 55, but it would give those under 54 ample opportunity to successfully adapt to the changes before the full plan is implemented.  Those now receiving Medicare would not experience any drastic changes at all. 

The Medicare system has been subject to fraud and abuse for years, which has in large part been responsible for the system being broke and broken.  According to the Center For Public Integrity, "Every year as much as $60 billion in taxpayer money is stolen from Medicare, which pays for the health care of seniors and the disabled. This massive rip-off is done through various schemes, but largely by fraudulently billing for services or medical equipment they do not provide. “The legitimate Medicare recipient is hurt, the legitimate business that’s dispensing this and serving patients is hurt, every taxpayer is hurt, and we need to come down on this with both feet." But no serious crackdown has taken place, despite calls by legislators from both parties. We urge them to address the issue ASAP.

There are many reasons why Medicare has become unsustainable.  One is that people are living longer than previously expected, another is the fraud that increases yearly and goes unpunished.  Rather than to continue to frighten the voters, particularly the elderly with cuts to the system that they have by law been forced to accept as their health care provider, the Obama administration should seek to work with Republicans to find a lasting solution to the problem.  In the year 2000, then Texas Governor George W. Bush said:  "Medicare should not be a political issue."   We agree, it should not.  Medicare is dealing with peoples' lives.  Raising taxes is dealing in peoples' living.  Politicians don't have the right to mishandle either one.
"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government. "
Thomas Jefferson

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