Weekly Update (8/25-8/31/12)


My mind has been all over the political spectrum this week.  I got in a conversation with Ralph (the guy from Saturday dinner) at Colton’s Steakhouse Tuesday about Medicare.  Ralph is a die-hard Republican, so the conversation was interesting to say the least.  I’m not sure how it started, but I think it was me that mentioned how I used my office hour that afternoon to learn about Medicare and how both campaigns are spewing out a lot of false and/or misleading information about it.  He was all about regurgitating what his candidate seems to have spread across the nation in attack ads that you have probably seen, and that is that Obama has robbed Medicare of 716 billion to pay for Obamacare (Affordable Care Act).  
We read from Politifactthat “Obama, nor his health care law, literally cuts a dollar amount from the Medicare program’s budget. Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. At the time the law was passed, those reductions amounted to $500 billion over the next 10 years.”   If you’d like to learn somethingthat could be even more shocking, you can read about the truth behind Stephanie Cutter’s statement that “Paul Ryan’s budget relies on the same $700 billion in savings from Medicare that Mitt Romney and other Republicans have been attacking Democrats about.” 
The extremely long, and well detailed article I read on Medicare was from FactCheck.org.   I wouldn’t expect you to read such a lengthy document, but a few key points include:
·         both sides seek some way to slow the increase in medical costs, improve the efficiency of care, or get seniors to use fewer or less expensive medical procedures
·         both sides, when attacking the other about Medicare through speeches or ads, will almost surely be feeding the American people bull
·         Some actual differences between the two include
o   Obama’s Affordable Care Act calls for an independent board to make recommendations on how Medicare can cut costs. It will be made up of 15 Senate-confirmed presidential appointees, who will be medical professionals, economists, health care experts and consumer representatives.
o   The Romney-Ryan plan leaves the cost-cutting up to Congress.
·         The Congressional Budget Office and the guardians of the hospital trust fund say Obama’s health care law does both extend the life of the trust fund and reduce the deficit, but can’t be also counted as paying for the law’s added spending. That’s a point in Romney’s favor. But Romney says he’d cancel those Medicare savings — or cuts — leaving him open to attack that he’d weaken the fund.
It all will come down to which plan would work better, and this would be a great debate to have between them.  But will we get it?  Probably not.  Any debate will be one side explaining the false attacks that the other side is making leaving the American people stupider than they were before they listened.   
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Did you listen to Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC?  Were you able to recognize any of the flat out lies, or any of the completely misleading remarks?  I’ll choose a source from the most conservative news network on TV for this one: Fox News.   Sally tells us how “Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut-down of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, when the plant was actually closed under Bush.  He also once again made the $716 Billion dollar claim about Medicare above, which Ryan himself embraced in his own budget plan. 
The better article about Ryan is again on FactCheck.org.  This gives some enlightening information about the Simpson-Bowles Debt commission that Obama set up.  This is where I started to get a little fed up and had to take deep breaths and try and relax.  What would you do as president of the United States if you wanted to reduce the national debt?  When I read about what President Obama did, I would like to think I would have done something similar.  He set up a bipartisan commission of Republicans and Democrats to compromise and figure something out.  This was an 18 member commission that needed 14 supporters to bring the report to a vote in congress.  What COULD have come out of this commission?  We’ll never know, because it only had 11 supporters within the commission.  Who was one of the other seven?  Paul Ryan.
Forgive me for speculating, but the reasoning behind blocking a possible budget that is a compromise between Republicans and Democrats is because the result of the budget will not be seen as the result of a bipartisan commission.  If Ryan or any three of the seven that didn’t support it gave it some support, we could have had a budget in place beginning to reduce the deficit.  But what would that do?  That would give Obama credit for making bipartisan efforts to balance a budget and reduce the deficit, which would make him, heaven forbid, look good.  Republicans can’t have that, since their number one goal (it seems) is to get rid of the guy. 
This is behavior that the American public should be appalled by.  I’m appealing to you, and the American public, to vote for Obama for a second term.  My reason is because the Republicans in Congress will no longer have to worry about getting rid of him in 4 years, because he will be gone in 2016.  Knowing that, I would certainly hope that a few Republicans in Congress would finally understand that they might as well get some things done.  I may be too optimistic, however, because you know there will be a few Republicans that will want to taint his record forever. 

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