GOP to propose eliminating Medicare, replace it with voucher-like subsidies

From The Daily Kos:,-replace-it-with-voucher-like-subsidies

ByJed Lewison for Daily Kos
Mon Apr 04, 2011

No exaggeration here: On Tuesday, the GOP will officially propose eliminating the current Medicare system by 2021, replacing it with a system of subsidized private insurance in which Medicare beneficiaries would get the equivalent of vouchers to cover a portion of their premiums.

At least on paper, the proposal would save money, but only because it increases voucher funding more slowly than the cost of health care, guaranteeing that at some point, seniors wouldn’t be able to afford to get insurance—assuming that they could even find an insurer interested in covering the elderly.

Republicans say that the plan won’t impact the cost or quality of medical care, nor will it leave any seniors with inadequate coverage. But they are also careful to say that their plan would not take effect until 2021, so it would only impact people who are 55 and under.

But if they really believe their plan would be so great for seniors, why wait until 2021? Why not just do it now? I could see needing two or three years for implementation, but 10 years? C’mon, guys. It’s obvious that the only reason you’re exempting people who are 55 and older from your proposal is because you know that anybody who actually spends any time thinking about it (like, for example, people who are close to Medicare eligibility) will quickly understand that this proposal is a complete joke.

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I Have Been to the Mountaintop

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Don’t Call Me Transgender

It has nothing to do with Elitism.

It has a lot to do with not wanting to be retroactively relabeled with the new and supposedly improved marketing label chosen by an identity politics movement that doesn’t much represent me.

Show a little freaking respect if you want my support, all you have to do is add the words  “transsexual and” to “transgender”.

Stop assuming you interests are my interests.

Stop assuming I share your identity.

I know identity politics requires me identify as transgender in order for me to support the rights of transgender and transsexual people, but I consider identity politics to be ghettoizing as well as a path to preordained failure.

Identifying as transgender is not a prerequisite to my supporting  an inclusive ENDA and other measures that will improve the lives of people who are transgender.  Indeed my main concerns regarding ENDA measures are their short-comings.  The ENDA measures I have seen seem to mostly protect privileged professional transgender people who transition later in life.  They do nothing to help those who are part of the permanent under-class due to impoverished childhood in communities with the worst, most economically deprived schools.  Or for the obvious transkids driven from schools.

Nor does ENDA address the matter of a “living wage”.  What good is a McJob if you can’t afford housing with what it pays?

However what is pissing me off the most these days is how Transgender Inc seems to think that attacking Gays and Lesbians for prioritizing marriage equality is a winning strategy.

I’m a lesbian, an old one in a long term relationship.  My best moment of the day, was getting the mail and discovering the corporation that makes a very expensive drug that I require and do not have insurance to cover has decided to give it to me for free. I know it is sop to the poor and uninsured, aimed at preventing law suits and demands for serious regulation, but it means I get a drug I need to control my cholesterol.

Like many older lesbian and gay folksI worry about how lesbian and gay couples are treated if one gets ill or how we are abused by the legal system should one partner die before the other.

But more than anything else I am pissed of that I am supposed to identify with a label that did even exist until I was long past surgery and most of the BS that accompanies being transsexual.  Further I am supposed to embrace that label at a time when Transgender Inc is attacking the Lesbian Community.

Fuck you I’m a lesbian.

Transgender Inc has been big on labeling transsexuals who reject the transgender label as separatists.  Now it is Transgender Inc.’s turn to wear the separatist label.

I always considered the transgender movement a Johnny Come Lately to Gay/Lesbian politics.  Go your own way if you want.

I just don’t think I’ll be joining you…  I have different issues like marriage equality and a lot of issues specific to older workers and the working class in general.

Besides I’m an old dyke and I don’t fit either the desirable marketing demographic set of either Gay/Lesbian Inc or Transgender Inc.

Why We Have to Raise Taxes on the Rich

From Robert Reich:

Monday, April 4, 2011

It’s tax time. It’s also a time when right-wing Republicans are setting the agenda for massive spending cuts that will hurt most Americans.

The vast majority of Americans can’t afford to pay more. Despite an economy that’s twice as large as it was thirty years ago, the bottom 90 percent are still stuck in the mud. If they’re employed they’re earningon average only about $280 more a year than thirty years ago, adjusted for inflation. That’s less than a 1 percent gain over more than a third of a century. (Families are doing somewhat better but that’s only because so many families now have to rely on two incomes.)

Yet even as their share of the nation’s total income has withered, the tax burden on the middle has grown. Today’s working and middle-class taxpayers are shelling out a bigger chunk of income in payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes than thirty years ago.

The top 1 percent’s share of national income has doubled over the past three decades (from 10 percent in 1981 to well over 20 percent now). The richest one-tenth of 1 percent’s share has tripled. And they’re doing better than ever. According to a new analysis by the Wall Street Journal, 2010 total compensation and benefits at publicly-traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record in 2010 — $135 billion. That’s up 5.7 percent from 2009.

It’s just the opposite for super rich.

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NAACP and AFL-CIO connects MLK, unions

From The Charlotte Post:

N.C. marches highlight collective bargaining rights

by Sommer Brokaw
Published Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP and the AFL-CIO will also honor Martin Luther King and as stand up for public service workers’ rights at a rally and picket line on April 4.

The “We Are One” rally will begin at noon at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., where he had gone to stand with sanitation workers who were demanding the right to bargain collectively for improved working conditions. The workers were trying to form a union with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Those workers’ message was: “I am a man. I have rights. I am human, and I am equal to you in many ways. I may not have political power, but I’m human and have rights and ought to be respected,” according to James Andrews, president of the North Carolina American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations.

There will be 15 minutes of silence at the April 4 rally outside of the state capitol in Raleigh to depict the message sent by those 1,300 sanitation workers. “We will also be sending the message that Dr. King lost his life by being in Memphis standing with them,” Andrews said.

“Just a few months ago Americans came together as one nation working together at 10-2-10 to show unity and solidarity,” said Rev. Kojo Nantambu, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, referring to the tens of thousands of people who marched on Washington for living wages, quality schools, and public employees’ bargaining rights.

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A Primer on Class Struggle

From Common Dreams:

by Michael Schwalbe
Published on Thursday, March 31, 2011 by

When we study Marx in my graduate social theory course, it never fails that at least one student will say (approximately), “Class struggle didn’t escalate in the way Marx expected. In modern capitalist societies class struggle has disappeared. So isn’t it clear that Marx was wrong and his ideas are of little value today?”

I respond by challenging the premise that class struggle has disappeared. On the contrary, I say that class struggle is going on all the time in every major institution of society. One just has to learn how to recognize it.

One needn’t embrace the labor theory of value to understand that employers try to increase profits by keeping wages down and getting as much work as possible out of their employees. As the saying goes, every successful capitalist knows what a Marxist knows; they just apply the knowledge differently.

Workers’ desire for better pay and benefits, safe working conditions, and control over their own time puts them at odds with employers. Class struggle in this sense hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s inherent in the relationship between capitalist employer and employee. What varies is how aggressively and overtly each side fights for its interests.

Where else does class struggle occur? We can find class struggle wherever three things are at stake: the balance of power between capitalists and workers, the legitimacy of capitalism, and profits.

The most important arena outside the workplace is government, because it’s here that the rules of the game are made, interpreted, and enforced. When we look at how capitalists try to use government to protect and advance their interests — and at how other groups resist — we are looking at class struggle.

Capitalists want laws that weaken and cheapen labor. This means laws that make it harder for workers to organize unions; laws that make it easier to export production to other countries; laws that make it easier to import workers from other countries; laws and fiscal policies that keep unemployment high, so that workers will feel lucky just to have jobs, even with low pay and poor benefits.

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Rep. Jim McDermott Addresses Attack on Poor Women

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When Pigs Rule

From Common Dreams:

by David Michael Green
Published on Monday, April 4, 2011 by

Imagine you were a pig.

As a pig, you would care about nothing besides getting fat.

If you could get fat by eating the food shares of other animals, you would readily do so.

If you could get fat by eating up your own little piglet children’s future, you would do so.

If you could get fat by eating your whole farm into ruin, you’d munch right through it without another thought.

Indeed, if you could get fat by scarfing up so much food that you literally imperiled the entire planet, you would not only do so, but you would criticize and mock those who had the temerity merely to point out the consequences of your actions and thereby interfere with the conquering of your global comestible empire.

For those of you, like me, who too often find themselves aghast at the state of our nation, jaws dropped to the floor in wonder at the astonishing capacity for American self-destruction, befuddled by the acquiescence of the victims of this pillaging, there’s your answer:  If you can imagine what it would be like to be an amoral, sociopathic, singularly focused, devoted consumption machine – that is, to be a pig – then you get it.  And then you get our America, too.

I can’t tell you how it pains me to write these words.

It pains me in two senses, in fact.  First, as a matter of personal character and conduct.  I think it’s fair to say that the people who know me would report that I am a fairly gentle soul.  I don’t prefer conflict, I almost never seek it out, and I will even sometimes avoid it when it’s stuck in my face – at least under certain conditions and in the short term.  I’m not, that is, the kind of person who feels at all comfortable referring to other people as pigs.

But I do so because I believe emphatically that it needs to be done.  I do so because of the second sense of how I am pained – for my country and for the world.  I do so, with regret for having to, and yet with even more regret that we all aren’t doing the same thing, and doing it with a fierce urgency.  For, is there any question of what has become of us?  Is there any question that the pigs now rule?

No, there is not.  Indeed, the only serious question is why we are so severely detached from reality that this society is really not even conscious of what has happened in any serious respect.  But happened it has.

The top one percent in this country used to, before the regressive onslaught that began with the Reagan election thirty years ago, account for twelve percent of all national income.  Today, they pull down more than twice that, 25 percent.  They used to control a third of all national wealth.  Today they control forty percent.  That’s just one percent of us, one person out of one hundred.

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No War but Class War

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Remembering the Real Martin Luther King

From Truth Dig:

Posted on Apr 3, 2008

Forty years after his death, Martin Luther King, one of the great prophets of American democracy, has been reduced to little more than a lifeless statue. Yet his courageous call for peace and criticism of his government at a time of war must not be lost to history.

Toward the end of his life, King turned his attention to poverty and the war in Vietnam. After giving the speech below, in which he called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” King was dropped from Gallup’s annual list of the most admired Americans and was ridiculed by the New York Times, among too many others. Soon after, he was murdered.

Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence

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Martin Luther King III Calls upon New York City to Enact a Living Wage Measure

The right wing revisionist history of Martin Luther King Jr often begins and ends with a carefully edited quote from his “I have a Dream Speech”

Today is the anniversary of his murder in Memphis.

Few people remember Dr. King was in Memphis in support of a the Memphis Sanitation Workers, who were on strike for both higher wages and dignity.

Others forget Dr. King have become increasingly out-spoken in his opposition to the war in Vietnam.

From The Observer:

April 4, 2011

Martin Luther King III complete statement:

Every year, on the anniversary of my father’s death, people pay tribute to his life and legacy-to the ideals and principles he worked so hard to achieve, not simply for the people of his time but ultimately for the many generations that would come after him.

But exactly what he was doing the day he was killed is often forgotten. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting for the creation of living wage jobs. In his view, it was both a moral necessity and a civil right that every working American should earn enough to live a decent life and not worry about basic survival. More than forty years later, we continue to fall woefully short of his vision. Far too many working people in our communities and neighborhoods across this great country still earn poverty wages instead of living wages. This is a collective failure, and we must address it together as one nation.

New York City offers a national roadmap for continuing my father’s unfinished work of economic justice. Tonight elected officials, religious leaders, labor leaders, and local community members are gathering in Brooklyn and Bronx churches for mass meetings to build the next phase of the largest citywide living wage movement in the country. In recent months, the Living Wage NYC Coalition has quickly organized and mobilized thousands of residents to push for passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act. A majority of City Council members back the legislation. Now I urge the rest to embrace it.

People see something very wrong happening: Corporations getting richer from tax subsidies offered in the name of economic development yet making people poorer with low-wage jobs. This extreme income disparity is the result of misguided public policy, and that’s why a movement has come together around getting better policy implemented: the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act would ensure that tax dollars create living wage jobs.

We need the living wage movement to succeed and spread to other parts of the country. Countless stories of the working poor today are about people making impossible choices: food or rent, clothing or electricity. When we pause over those stories, and understand their painful significance, we grasp something fundamental about a country as wealthy as ours: no working person should have to settle for surviving over living. It’s that simple.

Martin Luther King III

President and CEO, The King Center

Board Member, Drum Major Institute for Public Policy

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