GOP Ignores Children Once They’re Outside The Womb

Source: National Memo

Author: Cynthia Tucker

A recent road trip took me into the precincts of rural Georgia and Florida, far away from the traffic jams, boutique coffeehouses and National Public Radio signals that frame my familiar landscape. Along the way, billboards reminded me that I was outside my natural habitat: anti-abortion declarations appeared every 40 or 50 miles.

Pregnant? Your baby’s heart is already beating!” “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. — God.” And, with a photo of an adorable smiling baby, “My heart beat 18 days from conception.”

The slogans suggest a stirring compassion for women struggling with an unplanned pregnancy and a deep-seated moral aversion to pregnancy termination. But the morality and compassion have remarkably short attention spans, losing interest in those children once they are outside the womb.

These same stretches of Georgia and Florida, like conservative landscapes all over the country that want to roll back reproductive freedoms, are thick with voters who fight the social safety net that would assist children from less-affluent homes. Head Start, Medicaid and even food stamps are unpopular with those voters.

Through more than 25 years of writing about Roe vs. Wade and the politics that it spawned, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the huge gap between anti-abortionists’ supposed devotion to fetuses and their animosity toward poor children once they are born. (Catholic theology at least embraces a “whole-life” ethic that works against both abortion and poverty, but Catholic bishops have seemed more upset lately about contraceptives than about the poor.) While many conservative voters explain their anti-abortion views as Bible-based, their Bibles seem to have edited out Jesus’ charity toward the less fortunate.

That brain-busting cognitive dissonance is also on full display in Washington, where just last week the GOP-dominated House of Representatives passed a bill that would outlaw all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. After the bill was amended to make exceptions for a woman’s health or rape — if the victim reports the assault within 48 hours — U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) withdrew his support. The exceptions made the bill too liberal for his politics.

Meanwhile, this same Republican Congress has insisted on cutting one of the nation’s premier food-assistance programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. GOP hardliners amended the farm bill wending its way through the legislative process to cut $2 billion from food stamps because, they believe, it now feeds too many people. Subsidies to big-farming operations, meanwhile, remained largely intact.

The proposed food stamp cuts are only one assault on the programs that assist less-fortunate children once they are born. Republicans have also trained their sights on Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s relentless budget-cutter, wants to turn Medicaid into a block grant to the states, which almost certainly means that fewer people would be served. About half of Medicaid’s beneficiaries are children.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act, whose name implies more medical knowledge than its proponents actually have, has no chance of becoming law since it won’t pass the Senate. Its ban on abortion after 20 weeks, passed by the House along partisan lines, was merely another gratuitous provocation designed to satisfy a conservative base that never tires of attacks on women’s reproductive freedom.

Outside Washington, however, attempts to limit access to abortion are gaining ground. From Alaska to Alabama, GOP-dominated legislatures are doing everything they can think of to curtail a woman’s right to choose. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, 14 states have enacted new restrictions on abortion this year.

That re-energized activism around reproductive rights slams the door on recent advice from Republican strategists who want their party to highlight issues that might draw a broader array of voters. Among other things, they have gently — or stridently, depending on the setting — advised Republican elected officials to downplay contentious social issues and focus on job creation, broad economic revival and income inequality. Clearly, those Republican lawmakers haven’t gotten the message.

Still, GOP bigwigs get furious when they are accused of conducting a war on women. But what else is it? It’s clearly not a great moral crusade to save children.

(Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.)

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.nationalmemo.com/gop-ignores-children-once-theyre-outside-the-womb/

Proof That Obamacare ‘Rate Shock’ Is An Ugly Insurance Company Deception

Source: Forbes

Author: Rick Ungar

“Over the past few months, the nation’s largest health insurance companies have been hard at work selling a narrative claiming that the Affordable Care Act is about to result in dramatically larger premium costs for a significant number of Americans. Indeed, the warnings have become so worrisome that the massive increases they are predicting have taken on a frightening descriptor all its own—rate shock.

At the heart of the health insurers’ retelling of the Chicken Little story is a regulation promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services a few months back limiting what a health insurer can charge a 64 year old to three times what they charge a 21 year old. Currently, the average bump for older participants is typically five times that of the younger customers—although there are examples where the increase can reach ten times what is paid by the young immortals buying coverage.

As a result of the lower premium prices that will be paid by older participant, the expectation—one created by the large insurance companies—is that the youngest participants will have to pay significantly more to make up the difference.

Now, The Urban Institute—an organization so clearly bi-partisan that even the most suspicious partisan would encounter extreme difficulty making a case for bias—is out with a study that states that the ‘rate shock’ argument is “unfounded”, particularly when applied to the millions of Americans in the individual market.

As noted in the report summary:

“Overall, we find that loosening the rate bands from 3:1
to 5:1 would have very little impact on out-of-pocket
rates paid by the youngest nongroup purchasers, once subsidies are taken into account. This is not only the case for all likely purchasers, but also for two populations of particular concern: the 10 million 21-27 year olds who are currently uninsured and the 3 million who currently have nongroup coverage.”

By suggesting that the insurance company claims are merely ‘unfounded’, The Urban Institute is being quite kind as I would suggest a far harsher explanation for their scare tactics.

What the insurance industry is not telling you—as revealed by The Urban Institute study—is that the overwhelming majority of young people who would be charged a higher premium to make up for the lower premiums to be paid by their elders will either be covered by the premium subsidies offered via the insurance exchanges or eligible for Medicaid under the expansion of the program extending health coverage to those earning 133 percent above the federal poverty line.

Therefore, as clearly stated by the report, the lowered premium costs to the oldest participants in an insurance plan would have very little impact on out-of-pocket rates paid by the youngest nongroup purchasers.” 

According to the study, here are the estimates:

  • 92 percent of people ages 21 to 27 projected to buy an individual plan in an exchange in 2017 are expected to have incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty line, so they would be eligible either for Medicaid (if their state expands it) or for substantial subsidies to help pay premiums in the exchange.
  • Similarly, 88 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds projected to buy a plan in the exchange are expected to be eligible for premium subsidies or Medicaid.

In addition to the above statistics, The Urban Institute study highlights the fact that of the 961,000 young adults between the age of 21 and 27 who currently buy their own health insurance as an individual and make too much money to qualify for premium subsidies or Medicaid, a full two-thirds are 26 years old or younger and are in families receiving employer coverage. Accordingly, these kids can receive health insurance coverage under their parent’s employment policy as Obamacare requires that insurers allow parents to add their kids who are under 26 to their employment based health care plan.

While any new law as significant as the Affordable Care Act creates questions and concerns, the false campaign being waged by the health insurance companies is a prime example of an industry using fear as a tool to get the government to change a regulation that they don’t like.

There remain questions as to the impact the rate band limitations will have on businesses that provide health insurance to employees—particularly those with a younger employee base. However, the expectation is that—given the reality that businesses tend to have a ‘spread’ in the age of employees—things should average out. Under the current structure, businesses are paying less in premium contributions for younger employees but considerably more for older employees. Under Obamacare, the prices will rise at the younger end of the scale but decrease significantly for older workers.

For this reason, the primary concern has been focused on what the changes will mean for younger health insurance customers who purchase individual policies.

As The Urban institute study makes crystal clear, the ‘rate shock’ controversy has far more to do with insurance company lobbying efforts and far less to do with the reality of what health insurance will cost for millions of young Americans.

Contact Rick at thepolicypage@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter andFacebook.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/03/26/proof-that-obamacare-rate-shock-is-an-ugly-insurance-company-deception/

 

The morning after

From:The New Republic

By: Johathan Cohn

“The pundits are unanimous. Mitt Romney had more energy, offered more specifics, and may even have come across as more empathetic. I agree and polls suggest voters saw it the same way.

The debate may not change the dynamics of the election. But if I knew nothing about the candidates and this was my first exposure to the campaign, I’d think this Romney fellow has a detailed tax plan, wants to defend the middle class and poor, and will take care of people who can’t find health insurance.

Problem is, this isn’t my first exposure to the campaign. I happen to know a lot about the candidates. And I know that those three things aren’t true. Romney has made promises about taxes that are mathematically incompatible with one another. He’s outlined a spending plan that would devastate the middle class and (particularly) the poor. And his health care plan would leave people with pre-existing conditions pretty much in the same perilous situation they were before the Affordable Care Act became law.

My standard for candor in politics is whether candidates have offered the voters an accurate portrait of what they’ve done and what they are proposing. Tonight, Romney did precisely the opposite. And that really ought to be the story everybody is writing, although I doubt it will be.

Some details:

1. Taxes. President Obama repeatedly described Romney’s tax plan as a $5 trillion tax plan. Romney repeatedly took exception. The figure is correct. Romney has not given many details about his tax plan, but it’s possible to extrapolate from his promises and the Tax Policy Center, a project of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute, did just that. Crunching the numbers, they determined that his proposed rate cut would cost… $5 trillion.

Romney has said he would offset those cuts by closing loopholes. The Tax Policy Centerhas analyzed that promise and found that it is mathematically impossible, unless Romney raises taxes on the middle class or lets his tax plan increase the deficit—neither of which Romney has said he’s willing to do. Romney has challenged the Tax Policy Center conclusion and did so again tonight, referring mysteriously to “six studies” that supposedly prove he’s right. He’s also been cryptic about what deductions he’d cut and, tonight, even suggested maybe he’d back away from some of the cuts if the numbers didn’t add up—although, as always, he was so vague that the statements could mean absolutely nothing.

I wish Obama had pressed him on this inconsistency even more directly than he did: “OK, governor, you say you can offset the $5 trillion cost of your tax plan. Tell us how, with real numbers. Are you getting rid of the home mortgage deduction? The exclusion for health insurance? Be straight with the American people about what you are proposing.” Obama didn’t do that, but it’s a question Romney has never been willing to answer.

2. The deficit and spending cuts. Asked by moderator Jim Lehrer how he’d cut the deficit, Romney outlined his plan for cutting spending. It included three main provisions.

First, Romney said, he’d repeal the Affordable Care Act. He’s serious about that, I presume. The problem is that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care law reduces the deficit. Repeal it and the deficit goes up. Then Romney said he’d review programs and cut all that are non-essential, singling out PBS. Well, fine. That’s pennies on the budget. It wouldn’t be nearly enough to make a meaningful dent in the deficit.

After that, Romney mentioned “turning programs over to the states.” Here there is real money, particularly if Romney includes Medicaid, which will soon eclipse Medicare as the government’s most expensive health insurance program. But Romney suggested this would work because the states are more efficient. This is what he usually says. The implication is that the states can spend a lot less on the programs without dramatically reducing services.

That’s nonsense. Medicaid already pays less than every other insurance program, private and public. Cutting more from the program would inevitably force states to reduce whom or what the program covers. A year ago, when the House Republicans proposed a similar scheme, a Kaiser Family Foundation report by Urban Institute researchers crunched the numbers and determined that the Medicaid cut would mean between 14 and 27 million people would lose health insurance.

By the way, the researchers assumed states would deal with declining Medicaid money exclusively by cutting eligibility for the able-bodied and non-elderly. In fact, most of the program’s money goes to the disabled and elderly. Most likely, they’d feel at least some of the pain.

3. Medicare: Over and over again, Romney attacked Obama because the Affordable Care Act reduces Medicare spending by $716 billion. As you probably know by now, Paul Ryan’s budget made the exact same cut. And less than a year ago, Romney was praising this budget to the hilt.

But there’s another problem here: Romney’s own budget numbers don’t add up. Remember, he’s promised to cap non-defense spending at 16 percent of GDP. And he’s said he won’t touch Social Security. If he walls off Medicare, too, that would mean even sharper cuts across the board. How sharp? The Center on Budget and Policy Prioritiesran the numbers. If Medicare is getting that $716 billion back, he’d have to cut other programs by an average of a third by 2016 and in half by 2022. Non-discretionary defense spending, which “has averaged 3.9 percent of GDP and never fallen below 3.2 percent,” would fall to 1.7 percent.

That’s simply not realistic. I have no problem believing Romney would cut domestic program deeply; his willingness to endorse the kinds of cuts he has specified, to Medicaid and food stamps, tell you everything you need to know about his priorities. But these figures are the stuff of fantasy. Either Romney can’t restore the Medicare dollars as he says or he’s not living up to his promises on deficit reduction.

The real shame of the exchange was that Romney’s own plan got so little attention. Again, I wish Obama could have pressed Romney harder, or explained more clearly, why the voucher scheme he proposes would likely end the guarantee Medicare now makes to seniors—and why current retirees, as well as future ones, would feel the impact.

4. Health care and pre-existing conditions. Yeah, this was the part when I jumped out of my chair. Obama said that Romney’s alternative to Obamacare wouldn’t protect people with pre-existing conditions. Romney said it would. Sorry, but Romney is just plain wrong here. I’ve written about this before, so I’m just going to quote something I wrote previously:

Romney, like most Republicans, has long favored “continuous” coverage protection. But, for complicated reasons … this protection is relatively weak unless it includes the sort of substantial regulation and subsidies that Romney, like most Republicans, has opposed. As a result, such protection would do very little for many of the people who need it most. Among other things, as Sarah Kliff points out … “There are tens of millions of Americans who lack continuous coverage.” (A typical example would be somebody who lost a job, couldn’t keep making premium payments, and let coverage lapse.)

For people in this situation, Romney and the Republicans have traditionally said they favor coverage through “high-risk pools.” But high-risk pools are basically substandard policies: Although they cover catastrophic expenses, they leave people exposed to huge out-of-pocket costs. They also tend to be underfunded, because they cost a lot of money but serve only a small number of people. …

So what would this mean in practice? Imagine for a second that you have cancer, diabetes, or Parkinson’s. With the coverage you’re likely to get form a high-risk pool, chances are that you’ll continue to struggle with medical bills. You’ll end up going into financial distress, just to cover your health are costs, unless you decide to start skipping treatment. And that’s obviously not a very good idea. These policies are better than nothing, for sure. But what you really need is comprehensive insurance and way to pay for it—in other words, the kind of protection that the Affordable Care Act will provide, starting in 2014, unless Romney and the Republicans repeal it.

I don’t want to pretend Obama was always as forthright as he could have been, any more than I want to suggest he was the more adept debater tonight. At one point, Obama talked about letting tax rates on higher incomes return to Clinton-era levels as essential to reducing the deficit. That’s true. But a truly serious approach to deficit reduction would let all taxes, even those on more modest incomes, return to Clinton-era levels (albeit after the economy is on sounder footing). Obama decried Romney’s plan to leave seniors “at the mercy of the private insurance system” but those are strong words from a guy whose own health care plan relies heavily on insurance plans, albeit with a lot more regulation than most conservatives like.

Still, these are tiny transgressions compared to Romney’s, which also included misleading statements about the origins of the deficit and claims of a jobs plan that is, if anything, even more unspecific than his tax plan. And I worry that nobody will call him on it.

As part of its post-debate analysis, ABC News asked correspondent Jonathan Karl to play the role of fact-checker. He picked out one statement from each side and rated it “mostly false.” But the Obama statement Karl picked was the description of Romney’s tax plan as costing $5 trillion—a figure, again, that comes straight from the Tax Policy Center. That’s not “mostly false.” If anything, it’s “mostly true.” Then Karl talked about Romney’s pre-existing condition promise, which really is “mostly false.” Sigh. ”

Update: Steve Benen and Greg Sargent noticed the same thing, so that’s a start.

follow me on twitter @CitizenCohn

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/108125/romney-debate-details-tax-medicare-pre-existing-contradictions-deceptions#

The Facts Behind Romney and Ryan’s Medicare Lies

First and foremost, the Ryan plan, in any form, would mark the end of Medicare as we know it—as a guarantee of health coverage for senior citizens

From: workingamerica blog

By: Seth D. Michaels

N.B.: A concise, lucid explanation of what they say, what they mean, and what we need.

“It took approximately five minutes after the announcement of Paul Ryan as the Republican running mate for the spin to begin. Anxious to pre-empt a conversation about Ryan’s plan to end the guarantee of Medicare, the Mitt Romney campaign ison the air with some (strikingly dishonest) Medicare ads of their own. They have plenty of money to advance this message, so it’s worth unpacking what’s really going on.

First and foremost, the Ryan plan, in any form, would mark the end of Medicare as we know it—as a guarantee of health coverage for senior citizens. Instead, it would give older people a voucher to go buy their own private insurance. The Ryan budget would also increase the eligibility age, delaying the time when retirees could get Medicare. That’s the proposal the U.S. House voted on and passed in March and it’s the model Ryan has continued to promote even as he’s suggested possible tweaks.

So let’s move on to the claims the Romney campaign is making. The Affordable Care Act is paid for partly through billions in future savings—about $700 billion over 10 years in reduced payments to health insurance companies and providers. A lot of that money stays in the Medicare system, by paying for free preventative care for seniors and closing the prescription drug “doughnut hole.” The attack leveled by Romney, Ryan and their allies—an attack that’s Jonathan Cohn rightly called “astoundingly cynical”—is that this constitutes a massive cut to Medicare.

But here’s the catch: in the Ryan budget that passed, these future savings are included, even as the rest of the ACA is repealed. So the same reductions that the Romney campaign is complaining about were voted on and approved by Ryan and virtually every House Republican.

In the ACA, the cost savings that come out of Medicare go back into the health care system. In the Ryan budget, they’ll be needed to pay for the massive tax cuts proposed in that plan. Cohn notes that not only does this money get pulled out of providing health care entirely, but the attack the Romney campaign is making is a “brazen misrepresentation of reality.” Or, to say it in fewer and shorter words, “a lie.”

The Ryan plan doesn’t replace the guarantee with the vouchers for 10 years, so that major change doesn’t immediately affect today’s retirees. But the repeal of the ACA’s provisions on prescription drugs and preventative care absolutely will. If those provisions are gone, seniors who are on Medicare now will be paying hundreds of dollars more out of pocket. Ryan’s cuts to Medicaid, which many seniors depend on for nursing home care, would also have a big impact—his proposed cuts to Medicaid and the repeal of the ACA Medicaid expansion are a big and under-covered change in his budget. Some 6 million of today’s retirees depend on Medicaid and could lose out under Ryan’s plan. This is what was in the Ryan budget the House passed, and he hasn’t backed off of this at all.

What’s more, if Ryan’s plan kicks in ten years from now, today’s Medicare beneficiaries will getan unpleasant wake-up call as the voucher plan starts to erode the program:

In 2022, when the limited-subsidy program would be introduced, seniors who qualified for traditional Medicare would be allowed to switch to the new program. If healthier or younger beneficiaries make the change to lower their out-of-pocket costs, those still participating in Medicare would be part of an insurance pool that is less healthy and more expensive. To cover those higher per-person costs, Medicare might well be forced to either raise premiums or limit reimbursements to health care providers—which could prompt many to stop taking Medicare patients.

Romney has suggested he may back off of the Medicare savings that Ryan included in his original budget. But in that case, the Ryan budget math gets even more implausible. And by the standards Romney has laid out for how he wants his budget to work, Medicare would have to be slashed either way. That these cuts to programs for vulnerable people would be required in order to pass his huge tax cuts for the rich adds insult to injury. As Derek Thompson notes, Romney’s proposals “have clear and inevitable conclusions: Tax cuts for the richest and spending cuts for the poorest.”

It’s hard to overstate how hypocritical and dishonest the new Romney-Ryan attacks over Medicare are, coming from two people who have pledged changes so radical that they’d leave it unrecognizable.

Emphasis Mine

see::http://blog.workingamerica.org/2012/08/15/the-facts-behind-romney-and-ryan%E2%80%99s-medicare-lies/

Three Reasons Why It’s Better for the Economy if the Super-Committee Fails to Get a Deal

By Robert Creamer, HuffPost

“Last Thursday’s Washington Post headline blared: “Debt panel’s lack of progress raises alarm on Hill.”

In fact it is far better for everyday Americans if the so-called Super Committee fails entirely to get a deal.

The overarching reason is simple: any deal they are likely to strike will make life worse for everyday Americans — and worsen our prospects for long-term economic growth.

Of course that’s not the view of many denizens of the Capitol who are still obsessed by the notion that it is critical for the Congress to produce a “compromise” that raises revenue and cuts “entitlements.” There are three reasons why these people are wrong:

1). Any deal would likely slash the income of many everyday Americans. You could design a plan to substantially reduce the deficit without big cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. My wife, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who served on President Obama’s Fiscal Commission, designed just such a proposal last year. And, of course, Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit in the first place.

Unfortunately, however, in order to get Republican support any large-scale deal in the Super Committee would almost certainly require big cuts in either Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid — or all of them. Substantial cuts in any of these programs will make life harder for everyday Americans and reduce the likelihood of long-term economic growth.

Without a “deal” in the Super Committee, the current budget plan does not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — and that’s a good thing.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly Social Security check now averages the princely sum of $1,082 — or about $13,000 per year. Next year, for the first time since 2009, payments will increase by $39 per month to offset inflation, but $18 a month of that increase will go right back out the door in the form of Medicare premium increases.

Already under current law, Medicare Part B premiums, that cover services like doctors, outpatient care and home health services, must be set annually to cover 25% of program costs. And remember that Medicare recipients aren’t getting an “entitlement” — they are getting an earned benefit that they paid for throughout their working lives. The same, of course, is true of Social Security.

Mean while, Medicaid is the principle means of assuring that America actually begins to provide health care for all — including nursing home and home care.

The problem with medical care costs isn’t that “greedy” seniors and others are gobbling up too much care. The problem is that the costs of providing care are going up too fast. In fact, the per capita costs of providing health care in America is 50% higher than anywhere else on earth, and the World Health Organization only ranks health care outcomes as 37th, in the world.

Medicare is actually the most efficient means in the American economy for providing health care. Any action by the “Super Committee” that reduces the percentage of Americans on Medicare — say, by raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 — would cost the American economy.

  • According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, if such a proposal were operational in 2014 it would raise total health care spending in America by $5.7 billion per year.
  • This is so because, while it would save the Federal government a net of about $5.7 billion ($24 billion savings in Medicare payments largely offset by $18 billion of increased Medicaid payments and subsidies to low-income participants in exchanges), it would also generate an additional $11.4 billion in higher health care costs for individuals, employers and states — resulting in a net cost to the economy of $5.7 billion.

The one thing you could do to cut Medicare costs without hurting ordinary families or the economy as a whole is to require Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies for lower prices the same way the Veterans Administration does today. That would cut hundreds of billions in costs to the government over the next ten years, but don’t expect the Republicans to include that as an acceptable cut in “entitlements” as part of a Super Committee deal.

Of course, America has no business cutting the income of seniors who get $13,000 a year in Social Security payments regardless of anything else that is in a deal. The deficit problem should be fixed by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share and by jobs plans that put America back on a path of sustained economic growth. And we have no business reducing access to health care for everyday people so that CEO‘s can fly around in their corporate jets, oil companies can keep their tax breaks, or Wall Street hot shots — who we all bailed out just three years ago — can pack in their huge bonuses.

Even if a Super Committee proposal includes increases in revenue to the government from millionaires and billionaires, that is not reason that normal people — whose real incomes have dropped over the last decade — should also be called upon to “share in the sacrifice.”

The problem isn’t that everyday Americans are gorging themselves on excesses that “America can’t afford.” The problem is that Wall Street, the financial sector and the 1% have gobbled up all of the increases in economic growth that the country has produced over the last two decades.

That has meant that the standard of living for normal people has been stagnant. But just as problematic, it has lead to a stagnant economic growth. Since the incomes of everyday people haven’t increased at the same rate as increased worker productivity, there simply haven’t been enough new customers to buy the new products and services that American businesses produce. That is the formula for recession and depression. And that’s just what happened.

American corporations are sitting on two trillion dollars of cash. The reason they aren’t hiring has nothing to do with the need for more tax breaks. What stops them isn’t lack of “confidence,” it’s a lack of customers.

For decades the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has preached the need for fiscal constraint and austerity. According to the Washington Post, now even the IMF is warning that, “austerity may trigger a new recession, and is urging countries to look for ways to boost growth.”

If you want to lay a foundation for long-term economic growth in America, the last thing you would do is reduce the income going to ordinary Americans — even over the long run. That’s not the problem — just the opposite. We do not need ordinary people to “share in the sacrifice.” We need policies that will increase the share of income going to ordinary people and reduce the exploding inequality between the 99% and the 1%.

Any deal in the Super Committee will almost certainly do just the opposite.

2.). The worst effects of sequestration could be solved without a “grand bargain”. The one big downside of a failure of the Super-Committee to act would be the level of discretionary spending cuts that would be required through the resulting sequestration. This is particularly true of cuts in education funding.

The budget deal that was struck in order to prevent Republicans from plunging America into default last summer requires an additional $1.2 trillion reduction in the deficit over the next ten years. If the Super Committee fails to agree on the distribution of these cuts, they will automatically be spread over defense and non-defense segments of the budget beginning in 2013. But there would be no cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Congress would have the ability to adjust these sequestration requirements between now and 2013, regardless. But the “fast track” authority that would require up or down votes on a proposal from the “Super Committee” would expire if the Committee cannot reach agreement by November 23rd.

The best solution to the problem of big cuts in discretionary spending would be to put together a smaller deal to raise some revenue and reduce cuts in discretionary and – if necessary — military spending — after the mandate of the Super Committee has expired.

The Congress will have a year to help solve this problem, and the pressure to ameliorate some of the cuts in military spending that have so far proved ineffective at forcing Republicans to consider big revenue increase, may be more persuasive when it comes to smaller increases as the actual date of sequestration (2013) draws near.

Of course it’s possible that the Super Committee itself could come with a small-bore deal of this sort, simply to avoid the full force of sequestration. But that would be very different than a $1.2 trillion dollar package that includes cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Progressives should avoid cuts to these programs at all costs, because any cuts that sliced Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits would require changes in the structure of the programs themselves that would last forever. Cuts in discretionary spending — as bad as they might be — are one-time events and do not fundamentally change the structure of the American social contract.

3). There is no reason for Congress to fear that its failure to act on a “Super Committee” agreement will have massive adverse consequences on “market confidence,” since the level of the deficit will not be affected. That has already been set — with a mandate for a $1.2 trillion cut. The Wall Street gang and the ratings agencies might sputter something about government dysfunction for a day or two. But the fundamentals will not be affected, since the level of government borrowing won’t be affected by whether or not there is a deal.

It’s also worth noting that even after Standard and Poor’s downgraded the U.S. debt because of the process leading up to the debt ceiling deal, it had no effect on the interest rates the government is paying for bonds. In fact those interest rates dropped to record lows. U.S. government debt remains the safest investment in the world, no matter what S&P did, and the market reflected that indisputable fact.

In other words then, Congress does not have its back against the wall like it did during the debt ceiling “hostage” crisis. When it came to the debt-ceiling deadline, failure was not an option. In the case of the “Super Committee” failure to come to an agreement is a very real option — in fact, it’s the best option.

There are some in Congress — most notably in the Senate — who truly believe that what the country needs is a “grand bargain” that cuts the deficit by making ordinary people “share in the sacrifice” even if millionaires and billionaires are asked to share some as well.

Hopefully those who are working for such bargain will be thwarted by two important political realities.

First, that cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are politically toxic. People get really angry when you take away something they have earned.

Second, the Republican’s stubborn unwillingness to give an ounce of new revenue from the pockets of millionaires and billionaires – who, after all, are the true core constituency of the Republican Party.

This time a little “gridlock” may be a good thing.”

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.

Emphasis Mine

see: /robert-creamer/three-reasons-why-its-bet_b_1030166.html