Trump Is Going After Health Care. Will Democrats Push Back?

Source:NY Times

Author:

Emphasis Mine

Where should Democrats head after their recent electoral rout? As it happens, coming fights about federally subsidized health insurance offer the party a golden opportunity to engage people far beyond its urban strongholds, in communities that will be hard hit by Republican plans to shrink Medicaid, privatize Medicare and eliminate the taxes that pay for Obamacare subsidies.

Donald J. Trump won the Electoral College, and Republicans maintained congressional majorities, because of overwhelming victories in small cities, outer suburbs and rural counties. Yet the president-elect and the Republicans are poised to deliver blows to the social fabric and economic underpinnings of those very communities. Along with Representative Tom Price, Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, congressional Republicans say they want to move quickly to revolutionize all types of federal health insurance spending, using special procedures that require only 51 votes in the Senate.

Congress will be asked not only to cut the taxes levied on businesses and the rich to finance Obamacare benefits for 20 to 30 million low and middle-income Americans; Republican leaders also plan to slash federal commitments to Medicaid, giving states the authority to shrink this health care program for the poor and elderly. And Republican House members, led by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, seem determined to abolish traditional Medicare insurance for retirees and replace it with “premium vouchers” that would throw older Americans on the mercies of private insurance markets and require them to pay more for their care.

Trump voters will be especially hard hit if just part of this sweeping agenda comes to fruition.

Conservatives often point to poor blacks and Latinos as the primary beneficiaries of federal health insurance programs. But such rhetoric obscures the enormous importance of Medicaid, Medicare and Obamacare subsidies to economically struggling white Americans living in small cities and rural areas. In Pennsylvania, where Mr. Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton with overwhelming support outside big cities, about 17 percent of residents are 65 or older, above the national average. Meanwhile, some 16 percent of Pennsylvanians benefit from Medicare, and 18 percent from Medicaid. With the bulk of Medicaid going to elderly and disabled residents, that program is the single largest federal subsidy flowing into the Keystone State.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would also hit Pennsylvania hard. Under the act, some 468,000 low-income Pennsylvanians had gained Medicaid coverage by August 2016, and another 439,000 bought private coverage on the Obamacare marketplace, with more than three-fourths of those people getting tax credits averaging $251 per month. Health care is often sparse in nonurban areas, and the providers that do exist depend on federal insurance programs that help many patients pay for care. If radical Republican cutbacks in federal contributions to health insurance are enacted, Pennsylvania hospitals and health care businesses will lose vital revenues, leaving many lower-income and sick Pennsylvanians at risk of losing access to care.

This is the case in other states as well, meaning many rural and small-town Trump supporters may soon see that Make America Great Again means accelerating economic decline and social devastation. Mr. Trump shows little understanding of the intricate interplay of subsidies and rules in the health care system, and probably has no inkling that federal taxes collected from liberal states like California, Massachusetts and New York heavily subsidize vital health services, businesses and family benefits in the very places that voted heavily for him. In delegating plans for huge health care cutbacks to hard-right congressional Republicans, he will be hurting his own base. But will Mr. Trump suffer repercussions if the Republican Congress plows ahead? Its proposed changes are unpopular — including repealing the Affordable Care Act, which only one in four Americans support — and eliminating benefits usually arouses anger in the affected groups. But political punishment will not be automatic, because Democrats currently have little organized presence outside urban areas. Small cities and rural areas are overwhelmingly represented in Congress and state capitols by Republicans, who will do all they can to displace blame.

For the Democratic Party, the coming Republican assault on public health insurance represents a huge political opportunity. But to seize it, the party will have to beef up state committees and place a priority on activating volunteer supporters everywhere — getting people to write messages to local newspapers and social media sites, and reach out to hospitals, health care providers and nonprofits to beat the drums about losses the Republicans are inflicting. Even if Democrats cannot soon win outright majorities beyond their urban base, they must be actively involved in communities damaged by Mr. Trump’s false campaign promises.

Democrats cannot just defend Medicare; they must loudly point out that repealing Obamacare means eliminating the taxes that subsidize health care for low- and middle-income people. That huge and immediate tax cut for the rich would lead to the demise of subsidized health insurance for millions of less privileged Americans in rural, suburban and urban communities. Proclaiming this truth could help Democrats gain a new hearing from many Trump voters. But it remains to be seen whether the party can rise to the challenge of showing up everywhere.

See:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/opinion/trump-is-going-after-health-care-will-democrats-push-back.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_ty_20161221&nl=opinion-today&nlid=67843644&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Here’s How 7 of Bernie’s Economic Proposals Would Radically Improve the Majority of Americans’ Lives

Source: AlterNet

Author: Gerald Friedman Dollars and Sense

Emphasis Mine

No one should be surprised by the popular support that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has attracted in his run for president as a democratic socialist. Nor should we be surprised that he has drawn attacks charging that his policies will bankrupt the United States. Sanders’ proposals for infrastructure, early-childhood education, higher education, youth employment, family leave, private pensions, and Social Security would total over $3.8 trillion over 10 years. While this is a large number, it would be barely 6% of federal spending for 2017-2026.

Apart from any benefits these programs would bring directly, their cost would be reduced in four ways: Two operate by offsetting current spending and tax policies—either replacing existing federal spending or reducing tax breaks currently subsidizing private spending. The other two, which account for over 70% of the cost reduction, are the “dynamic effects” of increased economic growth—boosting tax revenues and reducing federal safety-net spending when the economy expands.

A quarter of new spending would be offset by savings and by faster economic growth. (See Figure 1.) The ongoing effects of the Great Recession that began in 2007 have left many resources underutilized. By putting unemployed workers and discouraged workers (who have stopped looking for jobs) back to work, the Sanders program would increase economic activity and government revenues while reducing spending on safety-net programs like Supplemental Nutrition.

Taking these dynamic effects into account, the net cost to the public treasury would be about $2.7 trillion, instead of $3.8 trillion, over 10 years. That is, over a quarter of the total tab would be offset by reductions in other forms of government spending and by increased tax revenue derived from faster economic growth.

Each of the seven spending proposals would benefit from offsets and dynamic effects. (See Figure 2.) Universal childcare and free college tuition, for example, would replace existing spending on programs for childcare assistance and much of the spending on Pell Grants for students at public colleges, spending on infrastructure would offset some required maintenance spending, and raising Social Security benefits would allow some seniors to avoid dependence on Supplemental Nutrition (SNAP) and other safety net programs. The programs would also increase tax revenues by eliminating some existing “tax expenditures”—tax breaks that subsidize private spending—like deductions for employer-provided child care.

The programs would accelerate the recovery from the Great Recession. (See Figure 3.) Eight years after the beginning of the Great Recession, the American economy remains depressed. While the economy has been growing steadily since the end of 2009, output remains nearly 5% below capacity. Only 59% of the adult population is employed, down from over 63% before the recession and the lowest level in 30 years.

I estimate that, due to increased government spending, the Sanders program would increase GDP growth rates for 2017-2026 enough to result in a projected GDP in 2026 $4 trillion higher than without the programs.

The Sanders program would add six million new jobs. (See Figure 4.) The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that, due to sluggish economic growth, the percentage of the working-age population employed will fall between now and 2026, from 59% to 57%. The Sanders program would directly create jobs in infrastructure, in child-care services, in higher education, and for young people. It would also create additional jobs indirectly, as the newly employed and others spend their additional income. All told, I calculate that the program would raise employment by six million jobs by 2026.

Government spending would decline relative to GDP within the decade. (See Figure 5.) Federal spending would initially increase faster than GDP under the Sanders program. After 2021, however, federal spending would be lower as a percentage of GDP than it would be under Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections, because of the strength of the economic recovery engendered by the Sanders stimulus. This is actually a conservative estimate of the boost to GDP because it does not include the productivity-raising effects of infrastructure spending and increased education.

Gerald Friedman teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author, most recently, of “Reigniting the Labor Movement” (Routledge, 2007).

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/heres-how-7-bernies-economic-proposals-would-radically-improve-majority-americans?akid=13995.123424.I4YXYv&rd=1&src=newsletter1051042&t=14

Sanders’ Address on Democratic Socialism: Amazing and Blacked-Out

Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the one percent.

Source: RSN

Author: Scot Galindez

Emphasis Mine

At Georgetown University on Thursday afternoon, Bernie Sanders outlined his vision of what democratic socialism is. Earlier that morning, Hillary Clinton gave an address on fighting ISIS. MSNBC showed all of Hillary’s speech but ignored Bernie. There has been some media coverage of the speech, but nobody cut live to Sanders like they did for Clinton.

I did see more coverage of the lead carnival barker, Donald Trump, saying he would implement a registry for Muslims, while one of the most important, substantive speeches of the election cycle was almost ignored.

The media blackout of Sanders is not going away anytime soon. Bernie supporters must go around the media and use the social media to help the campaign get their message out. Share stories widely, support independent media, help Bernie 2016 TV get off the ground. If we don’t do these things, we will surely be watching Hillary Clinton win the nomination.

Luckily for those of us feeling the bern, Georgetown University streamed the speech on Ustream. I watched the stream on Bernie 2016 TV with nearly 3,000 others using Twitter and other platforms to discuss the speech as it took place. People were very excited as Bernie laid out his vision.

Bernie opened by invoking the vision of FDR:

In his inaugural remarks in January 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt looked out at the nation and this is what he saw.

He saw tens of millions of its citizens denied the basic necessities of life.

He saw millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hung over them day by day.

He saw millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.

He saw millions lacking the means to buy the products they needed and by their poverty and lack of disposable income denying employment to many other millions.

He saw one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.

And he acted. Against the ferocious opposition of the ruling class of his day, people he called economic royalists, Roosevelt implemented a series of programs that put millions of people back to work, took them out of poverty and restored their faith in government. He redefined the relationship of the federal government to the people of our country. He combated cynicism, fear and despair. He reinvigorated democracy. He transformed the country.

And that is what we have to do today.

A tall order for sure, but the time has come for another transformation. FDR’s “economic royalists” are today’s Wall Street ruling class that needs to be challenged before they consolidate more power. The Billionaire class owns the media and increasingly owns the government. Establishment politics will do nothing to curb their greed. It’s time to fight back.

Bernie went on to say:

And, by the way, almost everything he proposed was called “socialist.”

Social Security, which transformed life for the elderly in this country was “socialist.” The concept of the “minimum wage” was seen as a radical intrusion into the marketplace and was described as “socialist.” Unemployment insurance, abolishing child labor, the 40-hour work week, collective bargaining, strong banking regulations, deposit insurance, and job programs that put millions of people to work were all described, in one way or another, as “socialist.” Yet, these programs have become the fabric of our nation and the foundation of the middle class.

Thirty years later, in the 1960s, President Johnson passed Medicare and Medicaid to provide health care to millions of senior citizens and families with children, persons with disabilities and some of the most vulnerable people in this county. Once again these vitally important programs were derided by the right wing as socialist programs that were a threat to our American way of life.

That was then. Now is now.

Prior to World War II and McCarthyism, socialism was not a dirty word. Many American icons were self-described socialists. Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Margaret Sanger, John Dewey, W.E.B. Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, James Farmer, and of course Martin Luther King, whom Sanders quotes further down in the speech.

In 1952, a young King wrote in a letter to Coretta Scott: “I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic.” In a 1966 speech to his staff, King declared: “Something is wrong … with capitalism. Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.”

Next time your conservative friends slam socialism as unpatriotic, remind them that the author of the pledge of allegiance, Francis Bellamy, was a socialist, a Christian socialist known for his fiery sermons on economic justice.

Back to Bernie:

Today, in 2015, despite the Wall Street crash of 2008, which drove this country into the worst economic downturn since the Depression, the American people are clearly better off economically than we were in 1937.

But, here is a very hard truth that we must acknowledge and address. Despite a huge increase in technology and productivity, despite major growth in the U.S. and global economy, tens of millions of American families continue to lack the basic necessities of life, while millions more struggle every day to provide a minimal standard of living for their families. The reality is that for the last 40 years the great middle class of this country has been in decline and faith in our political system is now extremely low.

The rich get much richer. Almost everyone else gets poorer. Super PACs funded by billionaires buy elections. Ordinary people don’t vote. We have an economic and political crisis in this country and the same old, same old establishment politics and economics will not effectively address it.

If we are serious about transforming our country, if we are serious about rebuilding the middle class, if we are serious about reinvigorating our democracy, we need to develop a political movement which, once again, is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation. The billionaire class cannot have it all. Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the one percent.

Now that sums it all up. Are we ready to follow Bernie’s lead and take our country back? It’s time to get off the sidelines. Bernie needs all of us to have his back. He is fighting the bankers, today’s robber barons. They are not going to just roll over, they are fighting back and they will get dirty. We need to be prepared to take them on and defeat them.

I’m not one to say that this is our last chance; progress can help us move forward in the future. But we have not had a better chance to take on the ruling class, and it may be a long time before we have a vehicle like we have now. Let’s not blow it.

We need to create a culture which, as Pope Francis reminds us, cannot just be based on the worship of money. We must not accept a nation in which billionaires compete as to the size of their super-yachts, while children in America go hungry and veterans sleep out on the streets.

Today, in America, we are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, but few Americans know that because so much of the new income and wealth goes to the people on top. In fact, over the last 30 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth – trillions of wealth – going from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent – a handful of people who have seen a doubling of the percentage of the wealth they own over that period.

Unbelievably, and grotesquely, the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns nearly as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

Today, in America, millions of our people are working two or three jobs just to survive. In fact, Americans work longer hours than do the people of any industrialized country. Despite the incredibly hard work and long hours of the American middle class, 58 percent of all new income generated today is going to the top one percent.

Today, in America, as the middle class continues to disappear, median family income, is $4,100 less than it was in 1999. The median male worker made over $700 less than he did 42 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. Last year, the median female worker earned more than $1,000 less than she did in 2007.

Today, in America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, more than half of older workers have no retirement savings – zero – while millions of elderly and people with disabilities are trying to survive on $12,000 or $13,000 a year. From Vermont to California, older workers are scared to death. “How will I retire with dignity?” they ask.

Today, in America, nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty and over 20 percent of our children, including 36 percent of African American children, are living in poverty — the highest rate of childhood poverty of nearly any major country on earth.

Today, in America, 29 million Americans have no health insurance and even more are underinsured with outrageously high co-payments and deductibles. Further, with the United States paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, 1 out of 5 patients cannot afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors write.

Today, in America, youth unemployment and underemployment is over 35 percent. Meanwhile, we have more people in jail than any other country and countless lives are being destroyed as we spend $80 billion a year locking up fellow Americans.

The bottom line is that today in America we not only have massive wealth and income inequality, but a power structure which protects that inequality. A handful of super-wealthy campaign contributors have enormous influence over the political process, while their lobbyists determine much of what goes on in Congress.

Amen. Now this is leadership. No empty soaring rhetoric. Bernie Sanders is speaking truth to power. The comparisons to FDR are coming into focus for me. This guy is ready to transform our country in the same way Roosevelt did with the New Deal. Leaders like this come about once in a generation.

We can’t afford to wait for another leader emerge who is ready to take on the ruling class. We need to rise up now! As Bernie regularly says, “Think big, it’s not time to play it safe.” Incremental change won’t work; we need to take bold action.

In 1944, in his State of the Union speech, President Roosevelt outlined what he called a second Bill of Rights. This is one of the most important speeches ever made by a president but, unfortunately, it has not gotten the attention that it deserves.

In that remarkable speech this is what Roosevelt stated, and I quote: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men.” End of quote. In other words, real freedom must include economic security. That was Roosevelt’s vision 70 years ago. It is my vision today. It is a vision that we have not yet achieved. It is time that we did.

In that speech, Roosevelt described the economic rights that he believed every American was entitled to: The right to a decent job at decent pay, the right to adequate food, clothing, and time off from work, the right for every business, large and small, to function in an atmosphere free from unfair competition and domination by monopolies. The right of all Americans to have a decent home and decent health care.

What Roosevelt was stating in 1944, what Martin Luther King Jr. stated in similar terms 20 years later, and what I believe today is that true freedom does not occur without economic security.

People are not truly free when they are unable to feed their family. People are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity. People are not truly free when they are unemployed or underpaid or when they are exhausted by working long hours. People are not truly free when they have no health care.

Free the people!!! I have been poor so I understand where FDR, Dr. King, and Bernie are coming from. I know what it’s like to suffer because I couldn’t afford health care. I know what it’s like to not be sure if I could find a warm place to sleep or a warm shower. I was in America, but I was not free. I was prisoner to just finding what I needed to survive. I was not happy. Life was a chore. All around me I saw great wealth. I often wondered, what did I do wrong to deserve to be punished?

I fought back. I became an activist. I worked with Mitch Snyder, Phil Berrigan, William Thomas and others who helped me get back on my feet. Then I met Marc Ash after the stolen election and decided the most effective thing I could do was help build an independent media organization.

While I am doing better, I have not forgotten what it is like to struggle, not from paycheck to paycheck but from day to day, hour to hour. We must stand up for those still struggling hour to hour. They need us to transform America into a country that puts human need above corporate greed.

So let me define for you, simply and straightforwardly, what democratic socialism means to me. It builds on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans. And it builds on what Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1968 when he stated that; “This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.” It builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.

Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.

Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.

It is a system, for example, which during the 1990s allowed Wall Street to spend $5 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions to get deregulated. Then, ten years later, after the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior of Wall Street led to their collapse, it is a system which provided trillions in government aid to bail them out. Wall Street used their wealth and power to get Congress to do their bidding for deregulation and then, when their greed caused their collapse, they used their wealth and power to get Congress to bail them out. Quite a system!

And, then, to add insult to injury, we were told that not only were the banks too big to fail, the bankers were too big to jail. Kids who get caught possessing marijuana get police records. Wall Street CEOs who help destroy the economy get raises in their salaries. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant by socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.

In my view, it’s time we had democratic socialism for working families, not just Wall Street, billionaires and large corporations. It means that we should not be providing welfare for corporations, huge tax breaks for the very rich, or trade policies which boost corporate profits as workers lose their jobs. It means that we create a government that works for works for all of us, not just powerful special interests. It means that economic rights must be an essential part of what America stands for.

It means that health care should be a right of all people, not a privilege. This is not a radical idea. It exists in every other major country on earth. Not just Denmark, Sweden or Finland. It exists in Canada, France, Germany and Taiwan. That is why I believe in a Medicare-for-all single payer health care system. Yes. The Affordable Care Act, which I helped write and voted for, is a step forward for this country. But we must build on it and go further.

Medicare for all would not only guarantee health care for all people, not only save middle class families and our entire nation significant sums of money, it would radically improve the lives of all Americans and bring about significant improvements in our economy.

People who get sick will not have to worry about paying a deductible or making a co-payment. They could go to the doctor when they should, and not end up in the emergency room. Business owners will not have to spend enormous amounts of time worrying about how they are going to provide health care for their employees. Workers will not have to be trapped in jobs they do not like simply because their employers are offering them decent health insurance plans. Instead, they will be able to pursue the jobs and work they love, which could be an enormous boon for the economy. And by the way, moving to a Medicare for all program will end the disgrace of Americans paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

Democratic socialism means that, in the year 2015, a college degree is equivalent to what a high school degree was 50 years ago – and that public education must allow every person in this country, who has the ability, the qualifications and the desire, the right to go to a public colleges or university tuition free. This is also not a radical idea. It exists today in many countries around the world. In fact, it used to exist in the United States.

Democratic socialism means that our government does everything it can to create a full employment economy. It makes far more sense to put millions of people back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, than to have a real unemployment rate of almost 10%. It is far smarter to invest in jobs and educational opportunities for unemployed young people, than to lock them up and spend $80 billion a year through mass incarceration.

Democratic socialism means that if someone works forty hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty: that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage – $15 an hour over the next few years. It means that we join the rest of the world and pass the very strong Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation now in Congress. How can it possibly be that the United States, today, is virtually the only nation on earth, large or small, which does not guarantee that a working class woman can stay home for a reasonable period of time with her new-born baby? How absurd is that?

Democratic socialism means that we have government policy which does not allow the greed and profiteering of the fossil fuel industry to destroy our environment and our planet, and that we have a moral responsibility to combat climate change and leave this planet healthy and inhabitable for our kids and grandchildren.

Democratic socialism means, that in a democratic, civilized society the wealthiest people and the largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes. Yes. Innovation, entrepreneurship and business success should be rewarded. But greed for the sake of greed is not something that public policy should support. It is not acceptable that in a rigged economy in the last two years the wealthiest 15 Americans saw their wealth increase by $170 billion, more wealth than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans. Let us not forget what Pope Francis has so elegantly stated; “We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”

It is not acceptable that major corporations stash their profits in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens to avoid paying $100 billion in taxes each and every year. It is not acceptable that hedge fund managers pay a lower effective tax rate than nurses or truck drivers. It is not acceptable that billionaire families are able to leave virtually all of their wealth to their families without paying a reasonable estate tax. It is not acceptable that Wall Street speculators are able to gamble trillions of dollars in the derivatives market without paying a nickel in taxes on those transactions.

I couldn’t interrupt Bernie on that roll. Democratic socialism in other words is economic and social justice. It’s my belief system. It is what William Thomas dedicated his life to when he vigiled in front of the White House for years for nuclear disarmament. Thomas, as we called him, saw that greed was destroying our country. Mitch Snyder fasted many times to draw attention to the plight of the homeless and build the largest homeless shelter in the United States within a few blocks of the Capital. He understood that he had to fight the greed of the ruling class that was neglecting those in need. Phil Berrigan was a Christian who understood that the war machine was taking resources that could be used to help the poor. They were my mentors. I know that they would be backing Bernie if they were alive today. Well, maybe not Thomas, it would have been hard to get him to trust a politician.

But Bernie is not a traditional politician, he is a public servant who wants to build a just society. If you feel burned by Obama, Bernie is no Obama. Obama ran and governed as an establishment centrist. Those terms are far from any words I would use to describe Bernie Sanders. Have faith, we can trust Bernie.

Democratic socialism, to me, does not just mean that we must create a nation of economic and social justice. It also means that we must create a vibrant democracy based on the principle of one person one vote. It is extremely sad that the United States, one of the oldest democracies on earth, has one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major country, and that millions of young and working class people have given up on our political system entirely. Every American should be embarrassed that in our last national election 63% of the American people, and 80% of young people, did not vote. Clearly, despite the efforts of many Republican governors to suppress the vote, we must make it easier for people to participate in the political process, not harder. It is not too much to demand that everyone 18 years of age is registered to vote – end of discussion.

Further, it is unacceptable that we have a corrupt campaign finance system which allows millionaires, billionaires and large corporations to contribute as much as they want to Super Pacs to elect candidates who will represent their special interests. We must overturn Citizens United and move to public funding of elections.

If we don’t get the money out of politics, and don’t bring people back into the process, we might as well elect a king or queen and stop having elections. They are a waste of our time and money.

If we continue to sit on the sidelines, we might as well just let the oligarchy take full control. Heck, we might even get lucky and royalty will throw us some big crumbs. I’m just kidding, trying to motivate those who think the system is beyond hope. I believe, as Bernie says, that if we stand together there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

So the next time you hear me attacked as a socialist, remember this:I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.

I believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America instead of shipping jobs and profits overseas.

I believe that most Americans can pay lower taxes – if hedge fund managers who make billions manipulating the marketplace finally pay the taxes they should.

I don’t believe in special treatment for the top 1%, but I do believe in equal treatment for African-Americans who are right to proclaim the moral principle that Black Lives Matter.

I despise appeals to nativism and prejudice, and I do believe in immigration reform that gives Hispanics and others a pathway to citizenship and a better life.

I don’t believe in some foreign “ism,” but I believe deeply in American idealism.

I’m not running for president because it’s my turn, but because it’s the turn of all of us to live in a nation of hope and opportunity not for some, not for the few, but for all.

Now that is change we can believe in. One reason we can believe it is he tells us that he can’t do it alone. Democratic socialism is not something we should fear. What we should fear is unchecked crony capitalism. If we let the billionaire class consolidate their power, America will become an oligarchy and Democracy will no longer exist. We need socialism to save America.

Author’s note: Next week I will look at the rest of the speech, which focused on ISIS and foreign policy. The transcript I used for this article was from his remarks as prepared for delivery. –SMG


Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador’s slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush’s first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

See: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/33596-focus-sanders-address-on-democratic-socialism-amazing-and-blacked-out.

8 Reasons White People Get Suckered by Racial Demagogues Like Donald Trump

Donald Trump has written a virtual textbook about the worst aspects of right-wing American politics.

Source:AlterNet

Author:Chauncey DeVega

Emphasis Mine

Donald Trump is not a riddle, a monster or a mystery. Trump has many antecedents in American history, and his ascendance was the wholly predictable result of a broken political culture.

For progressives and those others worried about America’s deep political rot, “Trumpmania” represents a supreme and rare teachable moment, one that exposes the racism, authoritarianism, and socio-political anxieties of white movement conservatives in the post civil rights era and the age of Obama.

In many ways, Donald Trump has written a virtual textbook about the worst aspects of present-day, right-wing American politics. This book, if ever published, would include the following important concepts.

1. White identity politics. Donald Trump has been endorsed by prominent white supremacists and white nationalists as their chosen candidate.

(Political socialization begins in the home. According to recently discovered news reports from 1927, Trump’s father was likely at least a sympathizer with, if not a member, of the Ku Klux Klan.) From the end of the Civil Rights Movement onward, the Republican Party has used a strategy of white grievance mongering known as the Southern Strategy to mobilize its voters.

As a complement to the Southern Strategy, since the election of Barack Obama, the right-wing Fox News hate media has obsessively channeled racist narratives such as “birtherism,” “black crime,” and most recently the lie that the Black Lives Matter movement is an anti-white hate group.

The Republican base is almost entirely white, increasingly alienated and upset about the perceived decline in white people’s political and social power, and feeling under siege in a country that is becoming more racially diverse. Donald Trump has combined the old fashioned racism of overt white supremacists with the modern white racist “dog whistle” politics of the Republican Party. He is the new face of American white identity politics in the 21st century.

2. Right-wing producerism. Donald Trump has presented himself as an “everyman” who can speak for the “regular” people who feel alienated and frustrated by the Washington D.C. “insiders” who do not look out for the “little guy.” This is the crudest form of populist politics. Trump then aims his supporters’ anger towards an enemy: immigrants from Mexico who are coming to American to supposedly steal jobs while they rape and murder white women; or the Chinese he presents as a stereotypical devious and sneaky “yellow peril” Asian foe that only Trump can outmaneuver and conquer.

In this script, Donald Trump then promises to protect benefits like Social Security and health care, while creating a more fair tax code for “hardworking” (white) Americans who are under siege by “parasites”, i.e. the poor on one extreme, and the corporate monied classes on the other. Trump’s “makers and takers” language is then mated with hostility to some type of Other in order to excite and mobilize conservatives via right-wing populist zeal.

3. Herrenvolk politics (a system in which minorities are disenfranchised while the ethnic majority holds sway). Donald Trump is using white identity politics to win supporters. Combining overt and subtle racism, part of Trump’s appeal is that he promises to protect the resources and democratic rights of white Americans against their supposed exploitation and theft by non-whites. This is one of the foundations of right-wing producerism.

In the right-wing conservative imagination, real Americans are “hard working,” “Christian” and “white.” Their rights and privileges are to be protected at all costs against lazy black and brown people who are welfare queens, thugs or “illegal” immigrants. The social safety net—while torn at by the 1 percent and right-wing plutocrats—exists to serve white people and “real Americans” before any other group.  As was seen in Nazi Germany, South Africa, Israel, and other racist apartheid societies, the State exists to provide support and service to the “ingroup” or “master race” while the “outgroup” is denied the same benefits and rights. This is the core of Donald Trump’s herrenvolk appeal.

4. Social dominance behavior. Donald Trump’s supporters are drawn from the same core of aggrieved and angry white voters who comprise the Tea Party wing of the GOP. Research on this group shows that they are racially resentful, fearful of social change, hostile to people who are not like them, believe in natural hierarchies and order, seek out strong leaders, are deferent to authority, and exhibit a type of “bullying politics.” In many ways, Trumpmania is a frightening reflection of the authoritarian values that have infected American conservatives.

5. Know-Nothings. Donald Trump’s nativist, xenophobic and racist politics are the latest version of the 19th century American political movement known as the Know-Nothings. The Know-Nothings 1856 party platform included demands that “Americans must rule America; and to this end native-born citizens should be selected for all state, federal and municipal offices of government employment, in preference to all others…”

This is not unlike Trump’s ginning up of white anxiety and violence towards non-white immigrants.

6. The strong father and “manliness.” Donald Trump repeatedly talks about “strength” while slurring Barack Obama and other political enemies as “weak” or as “pansies.”

Trump is also not limited by what the right-wing sees as “weak” “liberal” notions of “political correctness” as he insults women and throws verbal bombs at any person who disagrees with him.

Right-wing ideologues and authoritarians idolize the strong father figure, one who often uses punitive means of discipline to maintain high levels of control over his wife and children. (The right-wing’s latest slur, “cuckservative,” also reflects their anxieties about white masculinity, race, and sexual potency.)

Donald Trump uses gendered language because America’s political class often defaults to a framework where the Democrats are framed as being weak, feminine or too intellectual. By comparison, the Republicans are depicted as strong, manly and decisive.

Donald Trump is playing the role of strongman for the right-wing ideologues and movement conservatives who are aroused by such a figure because the latter fulfills a psychological need for security and protection in a world they view as dangerous and changing too rapidly. His name-calling, bullying swagger, and indifference to norms of comportment and reasonable behavior are central to Trump’s popularity.

7. Performance art and spectacular politics. Donald Trump’s political success is a product of reality television show culture.

Reality television shows are scripted. The genre is wildly popular among American viewers because it is part of an “empire of illusion” that distracts and confuses the public while allowing them to live out their fantasies and wish fulfillment.

In keeping with that dynamic, Trump’s obsessions with “ratings” and public opinion polls that supposedly show his “popularity” are the result of a broken civic and moral culture that equates “likes” on Facebook or “votes” on American Idol with substantive measures of virtue or human value.

Ultimately, Donald Trump is using his background as a reality TV show host, business celebrity, and fan of professional wrestling to engage in a type of ridiculous and exaggerated performance art that mocks the notion of normal politics. Because Trump is not interested in normal politics—Trump is reality TV mixed with professional wrestling—he is relatively immune from derailment or substantive engagement by the news media or his political rivals in the Republican Party.

8. Conspiracy theories and the paranoid style. Donald Trump was one of the most prominent advocates of “Birtherism”—a belief that Barack Obama, the United States’ first black president, was somehow not eligible for the office because he is not a “real” citizen.

This is an absurdly racist claim; nevertheless it is one that is still believed by 66 percent of Trump supporters and 45 percent of Republicans. Birtherism was the first of many conspiracy theories that would be invented by the right-wing media in the age of Obama. Obsessions about Planned Parenthood, ACORN and Benghazi would follow. These delusions are part of a long pattern of right-wing paranoia that Richard Hofstadter detailed in his landmark 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.”

The right-wing media and the Republican Party’s embrace of conspiracy theories and paranoid delusions contribute to a broken political system because too much time is spent on the absurd instead of doing the work of real governance. The conspiracy fantasies of Donald Trump and the American right-wing constitute an alternative reality that is immune from facts. Consequently, these beliefs function as a type of religious cult where faith—what is a belief that cannot be proven by ordinary means—is substituted for empirical reality.

Donald Trump’s “birtherism” alternate reality is compelling and exciting for those who believe in it. Such conspiranoid delusions are dangerous because they create extreme political polarization, a political system that cannot fulfill its basic functions, encourage violence, and tear at the common beliefs and values that create a sense of political legitimacy and community in the United States.

Informed citizens can create positive political change. An ignorant public can be easily swayed, manipulated, and duped to act against their self-interest and the Common Good.

Donald Trump is a charismatic figure who embodies the fears, hopes, and anxieties of an aggrieved and frustrated white America. He is the hero they are desperate for. He is a product of a particular coincidence of broken politics, an irresponsible Fox News echo chamber media, and a scared and racially resentful public.

Chauncey DeVega’s essays on race, politics and popular culture can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com/. He is a regular guest on Ring of Fire Radio and TV, and hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Follow him on Twitter.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/8-reasons-white-people-get-suckered-racial-demagogues-donald-trump

 

10 Ways to Make The U.S. Economy Work for Everyone, By Bernie Sanders

A forthcoming book compiles Bernie’s words and solutions

source: Chelsea Green  Publishing  via AlterNet

Author:Jonathan Tasini

Emphasis Mine

(This article is excerpted from The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America by Jonathan Tasini (Chelsea Green Publishing, September 2015) and is published here with permission of the publisher. The book will be available nationwide on September 8th, which is Sanders’ birthday. For more information.)

“What a lot of people are feeling [about Sanders] is that there is somebody speaking to their issues. I think that’s why you’re seeing so many people come out. People are sick and tired of corporate America, both Republican and Democrat.”

—Troy Jackson, a logger from Allagash and former majority leader of the Maine Senate

Everyone cares about how the government spends its money, especially people who embrace the idea that smart, progressive government is a force for good. From the time he was watching taxpayer money as mayor of Burlington right up through his service in the House and Senate, Bernie has always looked for the proper balance between, on the one hand, strong, effective programs that look out for the people and, on the other, financing those programs by asking people who earn more to pay their fair share.

Even before his current campaign for the White House, Bernie thought through, in ten easy steps, a plan to meet human needs by raising hundreds of billions of dollars from the wealthy and corporations, and by reducing wasteful spending. Not a single dime from the list below would come from working people. —J.T.

Ten Fair Ways to Reduce the Deficit and Create Jobs

At a time when we are experiencing more wealth and income inequality than at any time since the 1920s, and when Wall Street and large corporations are enjoying record breaking profits, I believe that we should be asking the very wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes. That way, we will not only lower the deficit but we will bring in enough revenue to invest in our economy and create the millions of new jobs we desperately need.

From both a moral and economic perspective, we must not balance the budget on the elderly, the children, the sick, working families, and the most vulnerable.

Here are 10 examples of how we can raise revenue and reduce spending in a fair way.

1. Stop corporations from using offshore tax havens to avoid U.S. taxes. Each and every year, the United States loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues due to offshore tax abuses by the wealthy and large corporations. The situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is now the “home” to more than 18,000 corporations.

The wealthy and large corporations should not be allowed to avoid paying taxes by setting up tax shelters in Panama, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas or other tax haven countries. The first bill that I introduced in the Senate (the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act) would raise more than $580 billion over the next decade by eliminating the most egregious corporate offshore tax haven abuses.

2. Establish a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculators. Both the economic crisis and the deficit crisis are a direct result of the greed and recklessness on Wall Street. Creating a speculation fee of just 0.03 percent on the sale of credit default swaps, derivatives, options, futures, and large amounts of stock would reduce gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the job-creating productive economy, and reduce the deficit by $352 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

3. End tax breaks and subsidies for big oil, gas and coal companies. If we ended tax breaks and subsidies for big oil, gas, and coal companies, we could reduce the deficit by more than $113 billion over the next ten years. The five largest oil companies in the United States have made over $1 trillion in profits over the past decade. ExxonMobil is now the most profitable corporation in the world. Large, profitable fossil fuel companies do not need a tax break.

4. Establish a Progressive Estate Tax. If we established a progressive estate tax on inherited wealth of more than $3.5 million, we could raise more than $300 billion over 10 years. [I] introduced the Responsible Estate Tax Act that would reduce the deficit in a fair way while ensuring that 99.7 percent of Americans would never pay a penny in estate taxes.

5. Tax capital gains and dividends the same as work. Taxing capital gains and dividends the same way that we tax work would raise more than $500 billion over the next decade. Warren Buffett has often said that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. The reason for this is that the wealthy obtain most of their income from capital gains and dividends, which is taxed at a much lower rate than work. Right now, the top marginal income tax for working is 39.6%, but the top tax rate on corporate dividends and capital gains is only 23.9%.

6. Repeal all of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax breaks for the top two percent. In January, Congress finally repealed the Bush tax breaks for the top one percent—households making more than $450,000 a year. But the Bush tax breaks have been continued for the top two percent—households with incomes between $250,000 and $450,000 a year. Repealing the Bush tax breaks for all of the top two percent would reduce the deficit by about $400 billion over the next decade. After President Clinton increased taxes on the top two percent, the economy added over 22 million jobs. After President Bush reduced taxes for the rich, the economy lost over 600,000 private sector jobs.

7. Eliminate the cap on taxable income that goes into the Social Security Trust Fund. If we are serious about making sure that Social Security can pay all of the benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 50 to 75 years, we don’t do that by cutting benefits, we do that by scrapping the cap on taxable income so that a millionaire and a billionaire pay the same percentage of their income into Social Security as someone making $40,000 or $50,000 a year. Right now, someone who earns $113,700 a year pays the same amount of money in Social Security taxes as a billionaire. This makes no sense. Applying the Social Security payroll tax on income above $250,000 would ensure that Social Security remains solvent for the next 50 years. This plan would only impact the wealthiest 1.3 percent of wage earners; 98.7 percent of wage earners in the United States would not see their taxes go up by one dime.

8. Establish a currency manipulation fee on China and other countries. As almost everyone knows, China is manipulating its currency, giving it an unfair trade advantage over the United States and destroying decent paying manufacturing jobs in the process. If we imposed a currency manipulation fee on China and other currency manipulators, the Economic Policy Institute has estimated that we could raise $500 billion over 10 years and create 1 million jobs in the process.

9. Reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending at the Pentagon, which now consumes over half of our discretionary budget. Much of the huge spending at the Pentagon is devoted to spending money on Cold War weapons programs to fight a Soviet Union that no longer exists. Lawrence Korb, an Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan, has estimated that we could achieve significant savings of around $100 billion a year at the Pentagon while still ensuring that the United States has the strongest and most powerful military in the world.

10. Require Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry. Requiring Medicare to negotiate drug prices, similarly to what the VA currently does, would save more than $240 billion over 10 years.

Bernie Facts:

• Bernie is a longtime critic of wasteful Pentagon spending and is pushing to save taxpayer money by cutting tens of billions of dollars from the military budget.

• Bernie has been perhaps the Senate’s most passionate voice for making sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. The leading organizational advocate for fair taxes, Citizens for Tax Justice, says that in many cases Bernie “has been the lone voice in the Senate fighting for legislation that would ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.”

• As part of his advocacy for a sane health care system, Bernie wants to enable Medicare to negotiate lower prices for drugs—which would save the country tens of billions of dollars.

is the National Writers Union president. For more information about the National Writer’s Union or its collective- licensing agency, Publication Rights Clearinghouse, visit .

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/10-ways-make-us-economy-work-everyone-bernie-sanders?akid=13360.123424.5LRQLA&rd=1&src=newsletter1040491&t=3

Social Security: The Surprise of 2016?

Social Security surfaced in the very first days of the campaign, thanks to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie going after the program with the zeal of a born huckster, demanding to raise the retirement age. In 2010 equivocation and deficit-reduction obsession from President Obama squandered Democrats’ good will on the subject. But this year anything less than an embrace of expansion this time is likely to leave the base unsatisfied.

Source: PortSide

Author: Robert Eskow

Emphasis Mine

The 2016 election season is just beginning, but a surprise issue is already emerging among both Republican and Democratic candidates: Social Security. Some observers thought that conservative candidates would be inclined to avoid the so-called “third rail” of American politics this time around, but the opposite seems to be true. A lot of Republicans are eager to propose cutting it, even as many progressives talk of expanding it.

Where does that leave the Democratic Party and its odds-on favorite for the presidential nomination? Will Hillary Clinton embrace her party’s growing call to increase Social Security benefits?

It’s not an extreme idea, as some would have us believe, or even a particularly “leftist” one. In fact, Social Security expansion was a key part of the Republican agenda – in 1956. This new proposal turns out to have surprisingly old roots.

The Means Testing Bait-and-Switch

First, the Republican race: Social Security surfaced in the very first days of the campaign, thanks to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie, regurgitating the corporate-funded clichés of the self-described “center,” went after the program with the zeal of a born huckster. He wants to raise the retirement age, a benefit cut which would impose a heavy burden on working Americans.

Christie also trotted out some old, discredited arguments for means-testing, adding that by opposing it “the left are defending the rich.”

Nice try, Mr. Christie, but that bait-and-switch game has already been exposed. “Means testing” would deprive billionaires of a maximum monthly benefit of $2,663 in 2014. Think they care? Proposals from “the left,” on the other hand, would either lift the payroll tax cap altogether or reimpose it on earnings above a certain amount. That would add up to a significant amount for ultra-high earners.

Now who’s defending the rich, Governor?

Christie would start his means-tested cuts at earnings of $80,000 per year – but how long would that last? Conservative groups like the Concord Coalition have proposed doing it for average incomes as low as $20,000 per year.

Christie’s “bold plan” would become a race to the bottom for the American middle class. It would also convert Social Security from an insurance plan to a welfare program based on need. (And we know how Republicans feel about welfare, don’t we?)

Pandering

Jeb Bush soon joined in the act, trying to see Christie’s cuts and raise him – with other people’s benefit money. Bush insisted that “we need to raise the retirement age, not for the people that already nearing – receiving Social Security that are already on it [sic], but raise it gradually over a long period of time for people that are just entering the system.” (There’s that Bush syntax again. Did you miss it?)

But if Bush thinks raising the retirement age is such a good idea, why not do it for people who are “already nearing” it? It’s simple pandering. Both Bush and Christie know that older voters lean Republican, and they don’t want to alienate them. Bush and Christie want to get elected – and both want to protect their rich patrons from the plan to lift the payroll tax cap.

Then came an unexpected ploy by Mike Huckabee, who is attempting to outflank his opponents from the left on this issue. “I’m getting slammed by some in the GOP ruling class for thinking it wrong to involuntarily take money from people’s paychecks for 50 years,” said Huckabee, “and then not keep the promise government made.”

By opposing all Social Security cuts, Huckabee has staked out a position which is more progressive than that of President Obama through much of his administration – or, for that matter, of Sen. Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign. That’s a politically savvy move. Voters across the political spectrum oppose benefit cuts by wide margins.

Squandering

Social Security would seem like a natural issue for the Democrats. Their party created this popular and successful program, after all, and Democrats led the fight to thwart George W. Bush’s unpopular and potentially disastrous privatization plan.

But in recent years Democrats have had a knack for giving away the advantages Social Security brings to their party. That’s what happened in 2010, after two years of equivocation and deficit-reduction obsession from President Obama squandered their good will on this issue.

Polling figures from that time tell the story: a 20-point advantage on Social Security in 2005 had been turned into a dis-advantage of several points by the time the 2010 election rolled around. That’s the year the ever-cynical and ever-inventive Republicans invented something called the “Seniors’ Bill Of Rights,” ran to the rhetorical left of Democrats on Medicare and Social Security – and recaptured the House.

Changing Places

How is this year shaping up for Democrats? Secretary Clinton had this to say when asked this week about Social Security:

“I think there will be some big political arguments about Social Security. And my only question to everybody who thinks we can privatize Social Security or undermine it in some way – (is) what is going to happen to all these people …? … It’s just wrong.”

While that’s a firmer defense of the program than she offered in 2008, it’s not likely to satisfy voters on the left – or across the political spectrum. They’re likely to remember that Barack Obama offered similar reassurances in 2008, only to reverse himself once elected.

Obama the campaigner talked of lifting the payroll tax cap to protect the program, while then-Senator Clinton said “I don’t want to raise taxes on anybody.” Clinton called lifting the cap “a one trillion dollar tax increase” and said “I am for getting back to fiscal responsibility.” She talked of a plan to “rein in the budget” – that is, to impose benefit cuts – and proposed a “bipartisan commission” to ensure that the program was “solvent.”

We know what happened next. Obama won the nomination and the presidency. He then pivoted to Clinton’s approach, by convening a bipartisan “deficit commission” empowered to look at Social Security (Social Security does not contribute to the deficit) and appointing two longtime benefit-cut advocates to co-chair it.

These reversals may give rise to greater voter skepticism this time around.

Where The Voters Are

That means generalities and vague reassurances are less likely to be effective this year, especially when Social Security has become such a hot political issue. An endorsement of its expansion represents a firmer, more concrete commitment to the program. And expansion isn’t just a nod to the “Warren wing” of the party, as pundits have suggested. It’s also a nod to voters across the political spectrum.

Social Security expansion has “overwhelming” support, regardless of party affiliation, according to political consultant Celinda Lake. Lake’s research on this issue showed that 90 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of Republicans, and 73 percent of independents support “increasing Social Security benefits and paying for that increase by having wealthy Americans pay the same rate into Social Security as everybody else.”

To her credit, Secretary Clinton has been talking a lot about wealth inequality this time around. But how is that problem addressed? One concrete way is by increasing Social Security benefits.

Where The Party Is

Anything less than an embrace of expansion is likely to leave the base unsatisfied. And a refusal to commit to expansion would put Clinton at odds with most or all of the other potential candidates currently being discussed, most of whom (including Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, and reluctant draftee Sen. Elizabeth Warren) have already endorsed the idea.

Anything less than expansion would also place Secretary Clinton to the right of Senate Democrats, 42 out of 44 of whom voted to expand Social Security in an amendment which resembled the one studied in Lake’s research.

Tell ‘Em Ike Sent You.

Come to think of it: If the Democratic nominee endorses anything less than Social Security expansion, that would place the party to the right of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Republicans.

The GOP boasted about its accomplishments in the 1956 Republican Party platform. “Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers,” said the platform, “and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million.”

Eisenhower’s platform goes on to say: “We are proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs – expansion of Social Security.”

Benefits increases? Social Security expansion? Ike’s 1956 Republicans sound a lot like today’s Democratic “Warren wing.”

If the Democrats want to win on this issue in 2016, they might be wise to follow the trail Republicans blazed for them 60 years earlier

See: http://portside.org/2015-04-25/social-security-surprise-2016

Where Government Excels

Sgt._Pepper's_Lonely_Hearts_Club_BandSource: NY Times

Author: Paul Krugman

Emphasis Mine 

As Republican presidential hopefuls trot out their policy agendas — which always involve cutting taxes on the rich while slashing benefits for the poor and middle class — some real new thinking is happening on the other side of the aisle. Suddenly, it seems, many Democrats have decided to break with Beltway orthodoxy, which always calls for cuts in “entitlements.” Instead, they’re proposing that Social Security benefits actually be expanded.

This is a welcome development in two ways. First, the specific case for expanding Social Security is quite good. Second, and more fundamentally, Democrats finally seem to be standing up to antigovernment propaganda and recognizing the reality that there are some things the government does better than the private sector.

Like all advanced nations, America mainly relies on private markets and private initiatives to provide its citizens with the things they want and need, and hardly anyone in our political discourse would propose changing that. The days when it sounded like a good idea to have the government directly run large parts of the economy are long past.

Yet we also know that some things more or less must be done by government. Every economics textbooks talks about “public goods” like national defense and air traffic control that can’t be made available to anyone without being made available to everyone, and which profit-seeking firms, therefore, have no incentive to provide. But are public goods the only area where the government outperforms the private sector? By no means.

 

One classic example of government doing it better is health insurance. Yes, conservatives constantly agitate for more privatization — in particular, they want to convert Medicare into nothing more than vouchers for the purchase of private insurance — but all the evidence says this would move us in precisely the wrong direction. Medicare and Medicaid are substantially cheaper and more efficient than private insurance; they even involve less bureaucracy. Internationally, the American health system is unique in the extent to which it relies on the private sector, and it’s also unique in its incredible inefficiency and high costs.

And there’s another major example of government superiority: providing retirement security.  

Maybe we wouldn’t need Social Security if ordinary people really were the perfectly rational, farsighted agents economists like to assume in their models (and right-wingers like to assume in their propaganda). In an idealized world, 25-year-old workers would base their decisions about how much to save on a realistic assessment of what they will need to live comfortably when they’re in their 70s. They’d also be smart and sophisticated in how they invested those savings, carefully seeking the best trade-offs between risk and return.

In the real world, however, many and arguably most working Americans are saving much too little for their retirement. They’re also investing these savings badly. For example, a recent White House report found that Americans are losing billions each year thanks to investment advisers trying to maximize their own fees rather than their clients’ welfare.

You might be tempted to say that if workers save too little and invest badly, it’s their own fault. But people have jobs and children, and they must cope with all the crises of life. It’s unfair to expect them to be expert investors, too. In any case, the economy is supposed to work for real people leading real lives; it shouldn’t be an obstacle course only a few can navigate.

And in the real world of retirement, Social Security is a shining example of a system that works. It’s simple and clean, with low operating costs and minimal bureaucracy. It provides older Americans who worked hard all their lives with a chance of living decently in retirement, without requiring that they show an inhuman ability to think decades ahead and be investment whizzes as well. The only problem is that the decline of private pensions, and their replacement with inadequate 401(k)-type plans, has left a gap that Social Security isn’t currently big enough to fill. So why not make it bigger?

Needless to say, suggestions along these lines are already provoking near-hysterical reactions, not just from the right, but from self-proclaimed centrists. As I wrote some years ago, calling for cuts to Social Security has long been seen inside the Beltway as a “badge of seriousness, a way of showing how statesmanlike and tough-minded you are.” And it’s only a decade since former President George W. Bush tried to privatize the program, with a lot of centrist support.

But true seriousness means looking at what works and what doesn’t. Privatized retirement schemes work very badly; Social Security works very well. And we should build on that success.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/10/opinion/paul-krugman-where-government-excels.html?_r=0