The Watering Hole, 1/11/17: Making America Great Again, Part 1

In reviewing the latest draft bill to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, cut taxes for the top 1%, shift Medicaid expenses to the States and privatize Medicare, this author came across a provision that has, as yet, to receive any attention from the mainstream media.

The bill calls for mandatory sterilization of all children born in the United States. However, parents can avoid having their children sterilized by paying a fee that reflects the costs to society for raising that child. The fee is based on the parents’ socio-economic status, and ranges from $0.00 to over $400,000.

Low income and minority parents pay the fees at the upper end, because research conclusively establishes it costs society more to raise their children. They tend to rely on Medicaid for medical expenses; food stamps to feed their children; their children attend public schools and more frequently are incarcerated. On the other hand, affluent parents’ children attend private schools, have health insurance, and have lower incarceration rates.

Since this is pushed through in a budget reconciliation bill, it cannot be filibustered. Sources close to Trump indicate he will sign the bill the minute it hits his desk.


The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 13th, 2012: Retirement Plan?


Since I apparently did not inherit my parents’ excellent habits of saving money and planning for the future, my own idea of a comfortable retirement depends, for the most part, on winning big in the lottery. Yes, I have a 401K plan which, when I finally pay back the loans I’ve taken out against it, might (with care) get me through two years of retirement. So it looks like I’ll have to keep working until I either go blind from staring at a computer all day (too bad my health insurance doesn’t cover eyeglasses), or until I hit the big one. Medicare and Social Security had better be alive and well when I’m finally forced to retire!

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss any topic you’d like!

SUNDAY ROAST: You Can’t Hide – – Those Ryan Eyes

Created for TheZoo by Paul Jamiol
All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Paul Jamiol
Jamiol’s World




The Watering Hole – Saturday, Aug 18, 2012 – Soledad O’Brien, GOP Lie Detector

It’s been a while since I had any desire to tune into CNN, but thanks to Soledad O’Brien, there’s a chance slightly better than a snowball’s in Hell that I might start watching again. Soledad has been doing something lately you don’t often see on the TV machine – challenging Republican lies. And boy, do they get testy when you do that. This past Tuesday she nailed former NH Gov John Sununu, a former GHW Bush Chief-of-Staff who resigned after misusing government resources to conduct personal business, over his lie that the Romney Medicare plan is not being turned into a voucher program. Apparently the word “voucher” must not have tested well with focus groups when used in conjunction with Medicare (as opposed to when used with “school choice”) because the Republicans insist that it is not a “voucher program,” it’s a “premium support program.” The government will give seniors a fixed amount so they can go out on the free market and buy their own Medicare plans. That fixed amount in known in reality-based circles as a voucher. Notice how testy Sununu gets when Soledad points out the facts. He starts name-calling, and saying she’s just mimicking the White House. (Actually, she’s mimicking the CBO.) How mature.

The next day, she got in to a heated discussion with Romney Surrogate Liar Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m sorry, with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m never going to get this post finished if I keep doing that. Try again.

She got into a discussion with T-Paw, who tried to milk an old Washington trick to “prove” his point. The controversy centered around the Washington definition of the word “cut” in relation to spending and budgets. For those who don’t know, whenever someone proposes reducing the amount of money by which a government program will increase spending, it is called, by both political parties, a “cut.” They do it so they can say, “The other guy wants to cut Medicare!” (Or Education, or Defense, or whatever.) They say this even if the actual amount of money to be spent increases! And, of course, both sides do this because they know the American public doesn’t understand what they’re really saying. They hear “spending cuts,” and they think spending will actually go down. It doesn’t. It just goes up by less.

Which brings us to yesterday and an interview with Rep Jason Chaffetz. This time they were back to whether or not the Romney plan is a “voucher” program or a “premium support” program. Like his fellow Romney surrogates before him, Chaffetz just flat out denies the meaning of words in order to claim he’s right and she’s wrong. It’s another favorite tactic of Republicans – just say the opposite of the truth and claim that whatever the other person is saying is “simply not true.” Keep in mind that their goal is not to win the argument, which they can’t because they don’t have the facts on their side. Instead, the goal is to confuse the American people enough so they don’t believe the side that is telling the truth. The fact is that Obama’s plan saves money by reducing fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare spending. So the Republicans want to make people believe anything but that. And that’s pretty much how they approach any political argument.

If Soledad O’Brien keeps this up, I may just start watching CNN again. At least, I will when she’s on.

[H/T Pete, who brought Soledad O’Brien’s exploits to my attention.]

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.]

Under Their Scheme

Please don’t sue me, Disney. I just wanted to warn people about the dangers of what the Republicans are trying to do, and I thought a catchy little tune might help. This also happens to be one of my all-time favorite Disney songs.

Under Their Scheme
Original words and music “Under The Sea” by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, 1989
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2011

Sebastian (spoken): Ariel, listen to me. The Ayn Rand world is a mess
Life under their scheme is deader than anything you’d want out there

(singing) The sequence is always greener, in somebody’s else’s take
You dream about growing up there, but that is a big mistake
Just look how their view confounds you, they scare you and want you poor
Such powerful things astound you, what good is they working for?

Under their scheme, under their scheme
Medicare’s deader, not getting better, take it from me Continue reading

Sunday Roast: How would the GOP Medicare disaster plan affect you?


Democrats Henry Waxman and Frank Pallone have put together a handy dandy map where you can find out exactly how the GOP voucher plan for Medicare and GOP cuts to Medicaid would affect you — district by Congressional district.  Click here to go to the maps, and simply click on your Congressional district to read a detailed report.  If you can’t pick out your district on the map, you can find your Representative’s name in the lists below the maps.

Reps Waxman and Pallone put it quite succinctly:

“The Republican’s budget would end Medicare as we know it. It also slashes Medicaid programs that cover millions of seniors in nursing homes and provide basic coverage for tens of millions of children,” they write. “These Republican proposals would have a devastating impact on every congressional district in the country for generations to come.”

Life is tough out here for the bottom 98%, and I am sick to death of these Republican assholes doing EVERYTHING they possibly can to make life even harder.

This is our daily open thread — What do you think about the state of this country?

Keep the Government’s Hands Off My Medicare and Social Security!

The Teabagger’s concerns aren’t too far off the mark. With an eye on running for Governor of California, Senator Diane Feinstein has unveiled a plan to create a super-commission tasked with gutting the country’s most popular and effective social programs, Social Security and Medicare.

According to the article on Credo, Calfornia’s senior Senator is willing to cripple the federal government by blocking any increase to the debt ceiling unless she gets her way. And her way is to create a commission that’s given extraordinary legislative powers:

“The commission would be able to offer legislation in both chambers of Congress that could not be filibustered or amended and that would pass on simple majority vote.”

So, it appears that Democrats can operate with resolve. Rather than make Social Security solvent by removing the cap upon which wages can be taxed – Income over $100,000 per year is Social Security Tax-Free – meaning the wealthy get a tax break, but not the minimum wage earner — Senator Feinstein would cut benefits to retiree’s whose sole income is Social Security.

Now, I must admit, I am a bit biased against Senator Feinstein. She lost my vote when she voted for a Constitutional Amendment aimed at restricting a particular form of political speech, flag burning. But she’s revealing her true Corporate Colors now.

And, one more thing to think about. If a super-commission can be created and given the powers to introduce legislation that cannot be filibustered, cannot be amended, cannot be blocked:


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Rachel Maddow Shows How John McCain Will Lose Florida

Wall Street Journal is reporting McCain plans to cut Medicare to cover his Health Care Plan. The cuts are going to be $1.3 trillion according to McCain Campaign officials. John McCain made his biggest mistake to date. Just when he sends Sarah Palin, pit bull, to Florida to try and gain some of the ground they have lost. McCain Campaign did not do their homework again-there are over 3.2 million Floridians covered by Medicare!!

Another Bush Plan Failing – Go Figure

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Audits of Medicare drug plans lacking

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer Fri Aug 22, 5:51 PM ET

WASHINGTON – Nearly three years into the Medicare drug benefit, federal officials have yet to ensure that private drug plans enacted programs to deter fraud and abuse, government investigators say.

About 24 million people are enrolled in Medicare drug plans subsidized by the federal government. The plans are required to develop programs to stem improper spending, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has not conducted audits to ensure those programs were up and running properly. That lack of oversight “risks significant misuse of funds in this $39 billion program,” the Government Accountability Office said in a report to be publicly released Monday.

To get a better handle on that risk, the GAO looked at whether five unnamed insurance plans met requirements for participation in the drug benefit. For example, the companies must have effective training programs for workers that address pertinent laws and discuss common fraudulent schemes. Only two companies fully met that requirement.

The results were better for some of the other requirements. All five companies were in compliance with having written standards for detecting and preventing waste and abuse.

Investigators recommended that Medicare officials make timely audits of the plans’ fraud prevention programs. Medicare officials replied that, while they have not yet conducted onsite audits, they asked plans to complete a self-assessment survey. They also noted that Congress capped funding for its auditing programs at $720 million in 2003. So, they’ve focused on addressing complaints.

With inflation, the funding cap amounts to doing more oversight with fewer resources. The cap “has seriously degraded CMS’ ability to meet its responsibilities in combating fraud and abuse,” said Kerry Weems, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the companies are acting as federal contractors and should be meeting all conditions for doing business with the government.

“This is unacceptable. Some plan sponsors are dragging their feet on required anti-fraud prevention, and CMS is letting them get away with it,” Grassley said.


On the Net:

Government Accountability Office: