Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address: Tragedy Has Many Faces

 by Dr. Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

On February 12, 2013, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. He concluded with an emotional appeal for gun control, repeating a call for Congress to at least put the matter of gun control to a vote after referencing the Newtown, Ct., tragic massacre of 26 children and other recent acts of gun violence in the US. It was an emotional high point of his address, and a very moving moment.

But there was another reference in his speech that also addressed life and death matters, potentially impacting not 26 but hundreds of thousands of those other of America’s most vulnerable—our senior population.

Earlier in his address, Obama declared “the biggest cause of the nation’s long term debt” was “medical for the aged”, in other words, Medicare. Saying this, Obama repeated his remarks of January 1, 2013, when he publicly declared on TV, while supporting the agreement in Congress to raise token taxes on the wealthiest 1%, that Medicare was the biggest contributing source to the deficit and debt.

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Boehner’s Failure and the road ahead- Trumka

English: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and ...

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement on House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “Plan B” failure and the latest fiscal developments:

Speaker Boehner’s failure last night should be seen as one thing: A reset button to listen to the will of the American people. The slate is clean and we call on the President to come forward with an offer that reflects the reasons he won the election. Across the country working people continue to demand no tax cuts for the richest two percent and no benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. At this point, cuts to the Social Security COLA to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent should be off the table. The President and Congress have no obligation to radical Republicans who have no ground to stand on. What they do have is the backing of millions of hardworking women and men tired of being held hostage by far right-wing Republicans who clearly have little interest in governing.

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Reject the Fiscal Cliff, Tax the Rich

Invest in Infrastructure and Services

Democratic Socialists of America logo

Democratic Socialists of America logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 A statement of the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America

November 20, 2012

 DSA rejects the “fiscal cliff” hysteria of the corporate establishment and the pressure for a “Grand Bargain” that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. While unemployment remains high and economic growth slow, the government should not impose austerity measures that reduce essential programs that benefit the middle and working classes and that further shred the safety net for the most vulnerable. Rather, government policy should prioritize investments in job creation, public education and healthcare reform, while raising essential revenues by taxing the large corporations and wealthiest citizens who can afford to pay.


Immediately after the election, Wall Street-backed foundations such as Third Way and the Concord Coalition organized a “Campaign to Fix the Debt” to spin the election results as a mandate for a “bi-partisan” focus on reducing the deficit as the highest national priority. For decades the billionaire Pete Peterson has funded groups that claim that the universal entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare are bankrupting the nation and that their future growth must thus be drastically trimmed.  These neoliberals scored an initial success in 2011 when the Simpson-Bowles Congressional Commission put to a vote a long-term “budget compromise” that would have instituted three times as much in budget cuts than in tax increases. But despite President Obama’s evident willingness to reach such a one-sided compromise, Tea Party insistence on no tax increases, even on the wealthiest, scuttled the deal. The “resolution” of this manufactured, alleged “budget crisis” was to postpone a decision on further deficit reduction until the end of 2012, hence the contrived “fiscal cliff.” Continue reading

Medicare cuts are not acceptable !

Against Congressman Lungren

by Duane Campbell

The Alliance for Retired Americans, affiliated with the AFL-CIO and some twenty unions, held a Town Hall Meeting on the Crisis in Social Security Funding today in in the Rancho Cordova (Sacramento,) California district of U.S. Congressman Dan Lungren. Some 80 people turned out to analyze the attacks on social security and Medicare in the Ryan Republican Budget. Speakers from OWL (Older Women’s League) , the Alliance and Health Access as well as retirees from numerous unions discussed the attacks on Medicare, on Medicare, and the current Republican imposed crisis of refusing to increase the debt ceiling. Analyses of the effects of the proposed Medicare cuts and Medicaid cuts to the specific 3rd. Congressional District of California were shared. The current Congressperson in the 3rd. in Republican Dan Lungren who barely survived a close election challenge in 2010. Literature on each of these topics can be found at the Alliance web site at http://www.retiredamericans.org.
The meeting was attended by at least 80 people. The great majority were over 50 years of age and affiliated with unions. The Ryan Budget bill was described by speakers as an assault on Medicare and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act of 2009. Speakers also discussed the Republican sponsored effort to pass a regressive Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Speakers argued that the Republicans are holding the country hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling; they will only do so if the federal government caps domestic spending at a fixed percentage of GDP and passes a balanced budget amendment. Both of these policies would have disastrous long-term results for the U.S. economy. The Republicans also refuse to raise taxes, even by permitting the last set of “temporary” Bush-era tax cuts to lapse. Continue reading

The Attack on Social Security Is About to Intensify

By Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

The current offensive underway against Medicare by Paul Ryan and the House Republican majority is well known. Less well known is the somewhat hidden undermining of Medicare in the 2010 Obama health bill, that will take effect in a few more years and cost retirees a significant increase in out of pocket costs and caps on benefits. In contrast to Medicare, Social Security retirement and disability programs were, according to the Washington political consensus, to be delayed from cuts until after the November 2012 elections. But there is new evidence that the growing coziness between Obama and mainstream Republicans, on the one hand, and corporate interests on the other is about to result in a new offensive against Social Security before the 2012 elections. What this means is that the ‘old age retirement’ benefits fund as well as the ‘disability insurance’ fund programs of Social Security are now, like Medicare, about to become prime targets for cuts in the 2012 budget this fall.
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Teapublicans, Timidcrats, and the $14.3 Trillion U.S. Federal Debt

by Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

President Obama on April 13 gave another of his now notorious ‘maybe this/maybe that’ speeches. Raise taxes on the rich, he said. But in the same breath announced “everything’s on the table”. This time the subject was the U.S. debt and deficits, as he responded to the policy gauntlet thrown down by the ‘Teapublican’ party..

The previous Friday the Democrats blinked once again and then caved in once more to the Teapublican deficit cutting offensive. After several weeks of so-called ‘hard bargaining’ between the two parties in Congress, a compromise was reached. Some compromise. Two weeks ago the Democrats moved from their initial position of $6 billion in spending cuts to $11 billion, then moved their position a third time to $22 and finally a fourth time, with no Teapublican counter, to $38.5 billion. They ended up a mere $1.5 billion short of the position of House Speaker, John Boehner, and his fiscal wrecking crew’s initial $40 billion position at the outset of negotiations, thus earning themselves the new appellation of ‘Timidcrats’. As a former union contractor negotiator, this writer would love to face the Timidcrats across the bargaining table.

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