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View Diary: How to replace sequester cuts and balance the budget with progressive tax code reform (33 comments)

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  •  Thanks, HD. Very enlightening indeed... (7+ / 0-)

    I think in any national debt debate we have to first veer away from the false premise the Republicans are trying to shove down our throats.

    This has never been about the debt. It's plainly evident it's about decimating the social safety net. Period.

    If the Republicans were really concerned about the national debt, defense cuts, corporate welfare (in the form of subsidies) and tax loopholes would all be on the table. They're not; no matter what the GOP says to the contrary.

    If the Republicans were at all interested in saving the so-called "entitlements" they'd already have ways to fix Medicare on the table, (which are fairly simple to implement) and they'd be telling the truth about the fact that Social Security has nothing at all to do with the national debt.

    The only way we can fix the debt problem... is to start out with the truth.

    Thanks for the diary.

    "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

    by markthshark on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 05:52:56 PM PST

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    •  Your comment here should be a post on its own (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markthshark, ontario, simple serf, KenBee

      that should stimulate much discussion.

      As just a few examples, my understanding is that if we just let Medicare negotiate with big pharmaceuticals over drug prices we could save substantial billions.

      Also, last week I read that each service branch is doing their own custom version of the new F-35 jet fighter, but two are way over budget and behind schedule so experts are suggesting we could save over $60 billion if we just canceled to two worst and standardized on one design which would save in parts, training (of pilots and repair), etc.

      Another excellent article I found last week details about three dozen overseas military bases, that are now totally obsolete - hangovers from the cold war, which could be closed, with little consequence to our national security, or maybe even improvements over across the board sequestration cuts which will hurt future training.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:19:08 PM PST

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      •  Yes, negotiating prescription prices would go.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog, simple serf

        a long ways towards cutting costs in Medicare. Ending the "fee-for-service" program would also help enormously.

        Add the basic "waste, fraud and abuse" savings and you have a formula for extending Medicare for decades.

        And don't even get me started on defense cuts. lol

        We could easily cut 1/3 of the Pentagon's budget and the only noticeable change would be seen by accountants and lawyers for the MIC.

        Not only would we see a big reduction in the national debt. We'd also see a much-needed attitude adjustment to our misguided imperialistic aspirations, which tend to make more enemies than friends.

        "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

        by markthshark on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:56:57 PM PST

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        •  Amen brother. We could even put aside the wasteful (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roger Fox, musiccitymollie

          spending on defense and just zero in on folks paying their fair share. You want a quick fix, go back to the tax rates during Eisenhowers Administration. Too drastic? Ok, let's take baby steps.

          1. Raise the cap on FICA - any perceived SS problems resolved.

          2. Negotiate prescription drug costs and allow buy in to Medicare for 55 and older - perceived Medicare problems resolved.

          3. Eliminate fluff tax breaks for the rich and famous - we're now getting close to evening the books.

          4. Reform tax code to give incentives to American job creators - we now have a thriving economy to allow for rebuilding infrastructure.

          5. And not meant to be last on the list strengthen our public education system - utopia.

          •  We used to do #5, (0+ / 0-)

            The 1986 Tax Reform Act removed tax shelters for domestic investment.

            We used to have #1, after the 1983 SS deal, the income cap was at 90%, today its at 84%. Today 90% is about 186k.

            FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:24:58 AM PST

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          •  Agree with your list, but would add to #2 (0+ / 0-)

            allow "subsidized" buy-ins to Medicare (otherwise, only affluent and wealthy seniors would be able to do so).

            Thanks for the recommendations!

            Mollie

            “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

            by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:10:21 AM PST

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          •  2. is far from true. There are (0+ / 0-)

            deep seated problems with Medicare which the ACA is starting to solve. But we do not  need to expand it to an additional set of people, all of whom would be sicker than average, until we get some of the problems worked out.

            Besides that is what Medicaid is for if they are low income. And Medicaid is far better than Medicare any way.
             

            I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

            by samddobermann on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 04:37:02 AM PST

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            •  Respectfully, you might want to doublecheck your (0+ / 0-)

              facts regarding the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

              Medicare needs some reform, but the Medicare system itself is definitely not the "cost driver" in our health care system.  Just the opposite.  In many ways, it should be the model for our health care systems (which is not to say, that no reform is needed).

              Medicaid as a program is next to non-existent in many states.  I'm in a Red State that opted out of federal Medicaid funding years ago, and has only a system that supplements medical care.  It is not even referred to as health insurance.  It is simply a meager 'health supplement.'

              And eligibility for Medicaid has been greatly narrowed (in many states), benefits are bare bones, the program has been pretty much privatized in some states (including my Purple Turned Red State), and many of the medical services have been contracted out to managed care companies.

              My Red State actually proposed to "cap" at $12,000 annually the benefit to individual beneficiaries.  [This proposal failed 3-4 years ago.  I haven't kept up to see if there was a subsequent attempt to cap the beneficiary benefit.]  But, for Pete's Sake, if you broke a toe or finger and had to have it cared for, you'd run up a bigger bill than that allowance would cover.

              Plus, the FPL for a couple is only $15, 130 for a couple not residing in Alaska or Hawaii.

              Here's the 2012-2013 [through June 30, 2013]
              Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States  

              Family/household    
              1     $11,170
              2     15,130
              3     19,090
              4     23,050
              5     27,010
              6     30,970
              7     34,930
              8     38,890

              For families/households with more than 8 persons,
              add $3,960 for each additional person.

              My reference wasn't to these folks, or those even making up to 130% of FPL.  It was to those couples that are "working class" (making under $60,000 annually).

              They would obviously be far above the Medicaid eligibility, but could hardly afford unsubsidized health insurance premiums.

              Check out the Massachusetts "Exchange" sometime, to get an idea of the cost for seniors' monthly premiums who are age 55 and over.  I have calculated it for me and Mr. Mollie.  [We're on the lower end of senior age.]  Some catastrophic policies are in the neighborhood of $1,000 monthly.  [The last time I checked a couple of years ago.]

              Remember, these policies are "age rated," and seniors are charged up to a ratio of 3:1 (compared to the least expensive policy to the "Young Invicible" crowd--what a silly term, LOL!)

              The cut-off for subsidized insurance through the federal exchanges is $46,000 for a couple.
               

              So, clearly, couples with a combined income just above the cut-off, could very well find it difficult, if not impossible, to fork over a couple thousand (or for that matter, $700, $800, $900) per month, per person, and pay a mortgage payment, one or two car payments, etc.  Especially those making $47,000 to $60,000.  You do the math--it ain't rocket science.  :-)

              And that seems like a reasonable expectation since a Family of Four is subsidized making up to $88,200 (by the Wikipedia Chart).

              I also just found out that tobacco users "will be rated."  Didn't realize that.  Thought the only "rating" was age-based.  [Not a factor for us, but obviously this will detrimentally impact many folks.]

              Now, if you're in Vermont, or maybe Oregon or Washington state if they have better Medicaid programs, that's wonderful.  But please realize that many states have shredded their Medicaid programs (by opting out of federal funding, through waivers) over the years, especially since the "Crash of 2007-2008."  Or that is certainly true of many states, including my own.

              So, we very much need to reenforce our health care system for this vulnerable group of seniors [age 55-64].  And whereas Obamacare will help some seniors, something needs to be done to help those working class seniors earning between $46,000 and $60,000 annually.  My guess is that this would be a pretty big chunk of that group, to have "fall through the cracks."

              [Apologize if this is a "mess."  On my way out the door, so very rushed.]

              Mollie

              “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

              by musiccitymollie on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:44:48 AM PST

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              •  Forgot my main point! According to Ezra Klein (0+ / 0-)
                By the end of this year, the federal government must establish health-insurance exchanges in as many as 25 states where (mostly) Republican governors have refused to set them up. That will be a gargantuan task.

                Even worse, the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the law also ruled that state participation in the Medicaid expansion, which accounts for about half of the new insurance coverage, is optional. Currently, only 22 states have committed to the Medicaid expansion.

                Need I say more, regarding relying on Medicaid.  We need to strengthen the exchange subsidy program ASAP.

                Here's the link to the entire piece.

                Mollie

                “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

                by musiccitymollie on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 08:52:41 AM PST

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      •  Thanks for the excellent diary. I hope that they (0+ / 0-)

        listen to CAP.

        Bowles-Simpson, Domenici-Rivlin, etc., etc., are recommending that employer-paid health care premiums (group insurance) be counted as "wages," therefore raising taxes considerably on all of us who participate in an employer-based group health insurance plan.

        We must be vigilant, and send a very strong message to our congresspersons and the White House, that this is simply unacceptable.


        Mollie

        “If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

        by musiccitymollie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:16:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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