Am I Politically Stupid?

Capital_Building

 Aging & Attitude

“Hardball” with Chris Matthews is on the television as I join Mr. Wonderful on the couch to snuggle.  The urgent tone in Matthew’s voice compels me to listen. A heated discussion about Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as a VP running mate is taking place, analyst predict Ryan’s budget cuts will intensify the political fight over Medicare.

By commercial time I feel stupid, have difficulty following the ping-pong conversation and question what I can follow, as not making sense.

What fight over Medicare? Every republican in the House and Senate, including Paul Ryan signed into law Obama’s cuts to Medicare Providers (insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes and drug companies).

Oops, right the 2012 budget was never passed on July 31st, a continuing resolution was approved.

“Oh wait, wait, don’t tell me,” Romney says he will not sign the bill into effect if elected.

After the break I turn up the volume and lean in to concentrate.

Chris Matthews introduces Ezra Klein,a political columnist for the Washington Post, and David Leonhardt, Washington bureau chief of New York Times, to clarify the politics of scaring people especial baby boomers.

Matthew insists Leonhardt delineate Obama, Romney and Ryan on Medicare for viewers.

Delineate sounds dangerous and I am nervous but Leonhardt delivers the difference clearly, with a smile. It is simple without all the political double talk.

  • Obama keeps a single payer government system with cuts to provider management and an emphasis on quality care in the future.
  • Paul Ryan voted yes for all of Obama’s cuts (“only because Obama did first”) but in ten years wants to move to a voucher system, aka, premium support e.g. a check sent to Mr/Ms Senior Citizen to shop around for a provider.
  • Romney wants the voucher system in ten years, but not the cuts in the 2013 Budget/ resolution deal, he will veto when brought to a vote in March 2013 if elected. (Republicans are foxy.)

Ezra Klein confirms the points and reiterates that Obama makes modest changes, the voucher plan is radical; and all three politicians predict the same path of growth in Medicare but look for savings in very different ways for the entitlement program.

The term entitlement blurs my mind and triggers thoughts of stupidity.  I know I’m entitled to Social Security and Medicare benefits because for the past fifty years I and my employer have contributed to the fund. We had a deal; give Uncle Sam part of your pay weekly and the money will be returned for retirement and medical coverage.

Why do I feel caught with my hand in the cookie jar?

Wait, wait don’t tell me, I’ll get my money back but what is left will not cover the costs of Medicare so  cuts are mandatory.

Let me get my pea size brain around this with an analogy I can relate to.

I put aside $100 to buy a dress, when I go to buy the dress it costs $115. There is  only $55 in the kitty because my sister Judy borrowed money to buy designer shoes, consequently, the dress costs too much. If Judy returns the designer shoes the dress becomes affordable.

Wait, wait don’t tell me, Judy has already worn the shoes so I have to shop around for a much cheaper dress (something under $55); what retires, now fifty-five will do in ten years according to a voucher plan.

Am I stupid or are people fifty-five and younger being thrown under a bus?                                                                                                     …just asking

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97 thoughts on “Am I Politically Stupid?

  1. Oh, Claudia, congrats, my friend! I LOVE your post–especially the line, “Deliniate sounds serious . . . .” Hilarious–and so, so true! Well done. Have you recovered yet from all of these comments?
    Hugs,
    Kathy

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  2. Clarification gathered from comments; Social Security monies currently paid in are not being invested (that was wishful thinking) they fund current payouts. Regarding defining SS as an an entitlement, whatevere it’s called I’m entitled to it…claudiajustsaying

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  3. Love this post! I don’t feel like we under 55 are politically stupid as much as we are politically numb. We see there are problems, we can read between the lines and the rhetoric, but we have yet to come up with a comprehensive solution. It is such a complicated, interlocking, overwhelming issue, that I feel most of us don’t know where to start. Keep up your great writing.

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    • Coming changes to Medicare will beeinft some recipients but will make coverage more expensive for people with higher incomes. Thanks in part to this year’s health-care overhaul, everything from beeinfts and enrollment rules towards the quantity of choices available is going to be affected beginning Jan. 1.

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  4. Cartoonmick,
    Thanks for commenting. I checked out your blog and the issue of copyright and the internet. I guote and give credit for thoughts and ideas but the pics and cartoons, assumed it’s okay to cut and paste because the image can be. The cartoon in this piece appeared in the Houston Chroncle, should I have cut & pasted it?

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    • Hi Claudia, I would imagine the copyright for that cartoon is held by the cartoonist, Nick Anderson. If not, then the Houston Chronicle would probably hold it. If you’re making money from your Blog article, then the right thing to do would have been to contact the copyright holder and seek permission to reproduce it. You may or may not have to pay for that reproduction. In either case, yes, credit should be noted for it in you Blog article.

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  5. If you can mentally put aside the seriousness of what politicians should be doing, you can gain great entertainment from them.
    They talk in circles, obviously don’t really know that much about the topic they’re discussing, and will invariable end up with at least 1 foot in their mouth.
    As I always say,,,, It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

    I earn good money from our politicians. The more they stuff up, the more I earn.

    I do this with my Political Cartoons. You can see samples of these, and other cartoons, on my blog.

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  6. I don’t follow American politics but it seems to me that both sides of your political divide want to cut back on Medicare. Have I got it wrong? And if I’m right, who do you vote for?
    In Australia, many of us don’t care for our leaders or the policies of the oppositing parties. It’s confusing for us, also.

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  7. I’m with you on the confusion about their positions on different topics. I find it incredibly irritating that they don’t just give an opinoin and stick to it, putting the rhetoric aside! Grrr…

    Cheers to you for the great article,
    Courtney Hosny

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  8. I am totally overwhelmed and honored to have been Freshly Pressed. Thanks for your likes, comments and open discussion. This is the closest I’ll get to feeling like a movie star…claudiajustsaying

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  9. Loved your piece, and look forward to seeing more of your work, I will definately be back =)

    I’m an aspiring author if fiction and Ive started posting my first book (and several poems) as I write it, if you have time, or are bored and would care to take a look, I would appreciate it, especially any advice or critism you could give me would be groovacious =) FEEDBACK APPRECIATED MASSIVELY!!!!

    groovyscone.wordpress.com

    Peace, Love, Happiness, Jah Protect

    Scone

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  10. Oh how I loved this post – its like reading my own internal monologues when watching the news! As someone who is both under 55 and working in Europe (in politics go figure…) it always scares me to think how I would deal with healthcare back home in the States. Yes, Europe is in debt, but at least the debt here goes towards social programs.

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  11. “Am I stupid or are people fifty-five and younger being thrown under a bus?”

    America is by its own people thrown under a bus. Truth, law and justice is gone. Obama’s illegal presidency was the last nail in the coffin.

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  12. I don’t think you’re politically stupid. If all those you’ve identified on television talk shows, including the actual candidates themselves, actually made their logic understandable, they will not have done their job. They intentionally mislead us. Every argument contains a thread of truth, so that it can be justified to anyone who dares to question its truthfulness. I think we’re all at their mercy. At this point in time, my feeling is that the “conservative” people in this race are totally devoid of any compassion, and that the Congressman who accused the Republicans of having a health plan than required that when “we get sick, we die as quickly as possible,” actually had it right. Beware the rich, they only want to get richer through the acquisition of your dollars!

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  13. If your sister pays back the amount she borrowed with interest, regardless of what she bought and wore, there shouldn’t be a problem. The problem is, she doesn’t want to pay it back. Which is really what is going on here. Those who want to destroy Social Security and Medicare want to default on the loan we made to them. Like you said, we are entitled. We paid into it. It’s not welfare.

    They don’t want to pay us back. Straight up.

    One of my many blog posts written about the SS and Medicare issue.

    Damn straight, I’m entitled!

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    • What confuses me is this: why aren’t we calling all the tax breaks for the wealthy “entitlements”? They seem to feel they’ve earned them and are entitled to them. Why are entitlements only for those whose incomes are not in the millions? I liked your post on the subject, by the way, Carissa, just couldn’t comment on it. Thanks!

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      • Maybe I should open the comments again! Entitlements should not be confused with welfare. It is a deliberate obfuscation by those determined to undermine SS and Medicare. Entitlements are not handouts.

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      • Agree with you completely! I think we should change the word “entitlements” to “earned and paid for benefits”, that way there can be no confusion what we’re talking about!

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  14. As people (of all ages) continue to get more informed about what the western medical model truly is (monetizing symptoms), they will continue to opt out and avoid it. By 2005, more dollars went to uninsured holistic and preventative health care than insured allopathic treatments. That’s a lot of dollars. I feel for those who can’t see through the Medicare/Obamacare paradigm and believe anything that emanates from them. What have they ever done right?

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  15. Excellent analogy at the end! That is certainly what seems to be happening. I feel like there’s so much to keep up with when following politics that it’s almost impossible unless you make a full time job out of it. I think you captured that thought well as you tried to break down the episode of Hard Ball you were watching. Well done!

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  16. Great post! Very entertaining and definitely shows you are not stupid. I am far from being politically savvy, but I admire those who can understand and question our system. Congrats on being freshly pressed! You’ve just inspired me to do some research on the topic 🙂

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  17. Under the bus at 55. I am glad I am 59, almost 60. There is still a chance for me.

    Vouchers – Great idea; horrid implementation. The amount of the voucher will not be enough for any reasonable amount of coverage. That is the problem with vouchers. Nothing will be done to keep insurance carriers from ripping off customers and providers from over-charging.

    Vouchers are similar to coverage from the company I used to work for before early/forced retirement: 90 % of cap towards medical care. That cap went to ZERO and 90% of ZERO is ZERO.

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  18. This has got to be one of the most entertaining looks at Medicare and entitlements that I’ve read – thank you! The 55+ set aren’t being thrown under a bus, they will actually be ok under Romney/Ryan. The problem will be that the nature of the voucher system they would implement would mean that by the time people my age (I’m 28) are ready to make use of the system I’ve been paying into, it won’t work for me. What’ll happen is that, in year 1, the voucher will cover the cost. In year 10, a future congress might keep the amount the same (or decrease it) meaning that it won’t cover the cost. And the percentage that people will need to make up out of pocket will increase. All of a sudden this is a program that only the wealthy can afford and, voila, another “welfare” program that doesn’t actually do anything for those in need. That is the fear of their plan.

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  19. The young are in serious trouble. That is why they need to just cash me out for my dollar for dollar contribution to medicare and Social security now and then let the paramedics sort it out. a veiled attempt at population control maybe?

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  20. I totally understand everyone’s concerns and comments…but I must say that as a mass population we can’t expect politicians and the government to solve our issues. We must make changes within ourselves and our lifestyles so that we do not become victim to these changes. It’s never too late and for those of us who are under the age of 40, we can help our elders and our future by being responsible for our own lives, taking control of our own money, creating our own economy by seeking multiple income sources instead of depending on 1 job, becoming more active in our communities to promote better living, etc. But it’s something we must stand for together in order for us to bring change.

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  21. Pingback: Am I Politically Stupid? | My Fantastic Life

  22. This is exactly how I feel when I hear about politics. I get so upset about things like Medicare. That’s OUR money, the whole employed workforce pay into that, and people like my parents have been paying into it for years and are not able to get their own money they put in. It’s ridiculous and upsetting. Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

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  23. In truth it’s not really very complicated at all. Our whole world is now being thrown under a bus simply because the politicians we continue to elect have been approved, groomed and are funded to ensure that they all serve a small self-select group of private interests. These same financial and corporate interests also own and control most of the mainstream media outlets, along with, under the cover of foundation funding, many of the supposedly independent policy-forming think tanks. This complete stitch-up permits the uber-rich to rule over us like the bandits they truly are.

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  24. Claudia – Yes. We’re screwed. I suppose we should all hope we die while we still have jobs, but the way this whole thing is working out, we’ll probably work until we die, anyway.

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  25. They Romney-Ryan plan throws everyone under the bus. Current seniors will be affected in 10 years when those under 55 stop paying into the system. That weakens Medicare funding even more. Medicare will quickly fail and 75-year old seniors will be forced to buy insurance on their own. Everyone will be on vouchers.

    The problem with the Romney-Ryan belief in the free market is that we just tried that with the “Medicare Advantage” plans. They were an experiment to see if the private market could do it better than the government. Medicare Advantage plans were subsidized by the federal government–and even with that subsidy, private insurance didn’t work. Obamacare got rid of those subsidies.

    http://www.barackobama.com/truth-team/entry/how-obamacare-strengthens-medicare-advantage/

    Vouchers are not the answer. They are just a backdoor way to end benefit programs without being honest or upfront about it. The entire cost is slowly transferred to the individual. Seniors will pay more. Their children will also pay more–for themselves-and for the financial support they will need to give their parents.

    Yes, Obamacare does cut payments to providers, and 15% of hospitals may stop taking Medicare patients. I’d still rather have the 85% who will take Medicare patients than deal with a private insurance company whose only goal is to make money by denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, or cancelling my insurance when I need it the most.

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  26. “By commercial time I feel stupid, have difficulty following the ping-pong conversation and question what I can follow, as not making sense.”

    That’s the point — why do you think they engage in that style of discourse? Because it confuses the shit out of people until they tune out. By commercial time, you feel stupid because that is what you are supposed to feel. Stupid, confused, and fearful … and ready to let the powers that be make all the decisions for you.

    Like you, I am also getting older and having hit middle age, I am less willing to sit there and let the media assholes treat my brain like silly putty. Just turn the stupid babble-box off. You’ll feel much better. If you MUST stay in touch with current events, there are far better ways to do it than to let some ex-frat-boy rant about politics just like that dude who used to be in charge of wrestling used to rant about that.

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    • Thanks for commenting I checked out your blog and when I thought “About Pedaling” would be about bicycles, realized, other than ranting, we have different interest….Just Saying

      ________________________________

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  27. No, you are not being thrown under the bus. You are being told your bus is headed towards a fiscal cliff, and you can either: a. Stay on, or B. Get off, choose the next government bus on the way, or take this voucher and use one of these private bus companies — you decide. The most intelligent argument a I heard referring to The Affordable Care Act and Medicare addressed the issue of a shortage of doctors. We already know the baby boomers are coming into their Medicare years, but compounding the problem is adding millions of participants who will pay NOTHING. That doctor you love so much will now be shared with an undocumented day worker who pays nothing into the system. The argument is, well, he’ll go to the emergency room anyway. Not always true, and not as often. A major medical center near me stopped taking my premium health insurance because they have a recent influx of Medicaid patients, and Medicaid pays more. The government pays MORE! Opening it up to competition — across state lines — would reduce costs for all. With the government, there is NO competition. Fed up with the DMV, well what’s the alternative? The one department that did experience competition — The United States Postal Service — is losing billions because the competition (FedEx, UPS) is doing it better and cheaper. I would like to hear Intelligent plans from both sides, and not just scare tactics. Thanks for getting me all worked up — good post.

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    • Fed Ex and UPS are cheaper because they cherry-pick the services they provide. They would have a harder time clearing a profit if they had to also deliver EVERY letter for a reasonable (i.e. anyway near what we Americans are used to) price. It is possible there is the same flaw with any SPECIFIC example you might use.

      And I have no time to have a long discussion on this because I have to go to work now. I had to get a job because it offers a group insurance. I could not get ANY other insurance. Why? I wish I knew. I have never spent the night in a hospital, my only pre-existing condition is migraines, which I no longer have and which never cost my insurance co. any money (I have always been well under the deductible).

      I am a retired baby boomer, with enough money for a comfortable, secure living. But, the ONLY way I could get ANY health insurance (I checked years ago and even at crazy rates, I was turned down) was to get a job (one of the few anymore) that has a group insurance plan to buy into.

      IS this right in the ‘Richest Country in the World’?

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  28. You are not stupid! R&R want you to be stupid so you will believe them, but you hit the nail on the head! Good thing nails don’t need to see a doctor when they get hit because R&R want to make it more and more difficult than it already is.

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  29. You’re right.

    I don’t plan to rely upon the government for benefits of any kind – even if, by law, I have to pay into Social Security anyway! I may as well be flushing money down the toilet. Most of our politicians are no better than thieves.

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  30. No you are not stupid. It is true that the elderly and people older in years 50 and older not just 65 and older are being thrown under the bus. Especially with this new Obamacare health care rationing law that is going into effect. The elderly and young children will have the hardest time getting healthcare. Romney and Obama are the same thing. Take a look at both of their records, on what they have done not what they claim they will do. Romney bankrupted the state of Massachusetts with his version of Obamacare. Obama doubled our national debt! Obama refused to release his birth certificate for years after elected, he finally did do this.

    Yet, Obama has still not released his college records. Something that has been demanded to be released for as long as the birth certificate. Romney is not a conservative, look at his record. He supports same sex marriage and he supports abortion. Even if he will not bring that up during the election nor will FOX News. Every tv news channel is biased. The truth is found by reading newspapers. I do not support Romney or Obama but if I had to pick one, I would pick the devil in office we already know than the devil running that we don’t know because Obama is black and a white win would inspire race riots and more racial tension all across the nation. Something that we do not need because regardless of who wins the country is still going to continue down the path we have been on for the last decade.

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    • The only people being thrown under the bus are those who aren’t bright enough to plan for their retirement early on. If you are in your twenties you have more than enough time to plan your retirement, or, you can be like millions of other folks who will blow their money on garbage and wake up one morning wondering how they are going to survive at age 65. If you think for one second that SS is going to help you in your senior years now or later you are sadly mistaken. No one who is healthy and working should even consider SS as a retirement nest egg.

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      • social security was never meant to be a nest egg. it was set up to be an insurance program that you pay into to ensure against abject poverty for seniors. the idea was that people work their entire lives for their families and country that they should not have to spend their last years on earth unemployable, homeless and starving. it is a safety net that creates a floor seniors cannot fall below. it is meant to protect the dignity of those who work their whole lives. of course, one should save, but many people, especially those making below the poverty line, may not be able to save enough. many people need to rely on social security and medicare, which they paid into their entire lives, to help them through their golden years.

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      • And by your comment you assume people below the poverty line will never climb above that? Are people not responsible for there own poor decisions? This is of course providing they are not mentally ill or suffering from some health issues that cause them to have permanent disabilities. Just because someone is below the poverty line today is no excuse for them to remain there forever. Social Security should never be something a person should rely on. People don’t need excuses for their poor planning, especially young people who have their entire lives ahead of them.

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  31. Personally, I think the growing void in the center of the political spectrum is throwing EVERYONE under the bus, except maybe those who make more than $100k a year, but they’ll get theirs eventually too. And I’m much younger than 55 so I still have decades left to be thrown under the bus.

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  32. I’ve been blogging about politics for about three years, and I can sympathize with you completely. Every now and then I suddenly stop and ask myself, “What the hell just happened?”

    Both parties have nearly given up the pretense that they have any interest in what’s good for America. Their only interest is keeping their jobs and power and the ability to game a corrupt and corrupting system to hold on to their jobs and power a little longer.

    Right now the country is deep in debt, and we are borrowing $0.40 out of every dollar we spend. Isn’t that sort of like running up your credit card to buy mustache wax? I mean, seriously, can we figure out what is absolutely necessary rather than what is just nice to have?

    And the other major complaint I have about our government is the common practice of ignoring the Constitution. The founders created a set of laws to make sure that the government didn’t run roughshod over the people the way King George did back in 1776. With all these czars and cabinet secretaries that say they’ll put “boots on the necks” of those who disagree, I don’t see that we’re being all that protected.

    If these things are really necessary, but the Constitution says the government can’t do them, what are we to do? Well there is a way to do both. It’s called an amendment. Why don’t those people in Congress or the White House who feel strongly that something needs doing just propose an amendment and have done with it?

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  33. Social Security and Medicare were passed to appease senior citizens. The first few collectors of Medicare and Social Security contributed next to nothing to it. They were assured payment by taxing the workforce. As the country ages, the number of receivers goes up. Soon we won’t have enough earning people to pay for the retirees. I’m afraid this system will implode then.
    While I think Paul Ryan is nuts about a lot of things—frankly, he’s in over his head as a Veep hopeful—he has a point that unless you allow some people to get out of this system through vouchers, the entitlements will go nowhere. All they’re doing is obtaining money from youngsters at gunpoint and giving them to the older people—like a gerontocracy.
    Nice post. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed.

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    • Social Security is not an entitlement. It’s also being robbed by politicians for use on their special projects. Paul Ryan has it all figured, out unlike Obama and his nothing plan. At least Ryan has a budget plan, thats something Obama couldn’t create if his facist life depended on it.

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      • Why is social security not an entitlement? It’s easy to come up with a budget plan when you cut all entitlements without touching defense. Ryan doesn’t want churches to pay taxes. Ayn Rand, whom he claims to love, would have scoffed at Ryan. Both parties indulge in crony-capitalism. It’s just the cronies that are different.

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      • Social Security is not an entitlement because it is fully funded by employers and employees, not the government. Social Security program has an independent budget that is separate from the rest of the federal government. Calling SS an entitlement program is like calling your 401k plan an entitlement. I agree that both parties indulge in crony-capitalism.

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      • I see your point about the source of SS funds. The problem is that when the government starts printing money without gold to back it up, the money becomes fungible. Also, your payroll taxes paid today aren’t invested and handed back to you after you retire. It’s going to some current retiree. When you retire, someone else’s payroll taxes will come to you. It’s entitlement because there’s an assumption that you take care of your preceding generation and the next one takes care of you.

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  34. BLIND, MAYBE. after all watching MSDNC will do that to you.
    Anyone younger than 55 would be given an option. Either they could choose a private insurance company (similar to the Medicare Advantage program instituted in the 1970’s), or they could enroll in Medicare as a fee-for-service program that would continue to pay directly for care. The difference is they would be given a quantified amount to pay for their insurance where there would be caps depending on financial need.

    No one currently receiving Medicare would be affected and everyone else would have a ten- year window to plan for the changes ahead. This may be a perfect plan, a lousy plan or something in-between depending on your perception, but it is a plan to confront the problem.

    The President doesn’t like to speak of how he has altered Medicare, but his spokesperson, Stephanie Cutter, admitted on Face the Nation that there is a $700 billion cut to Medicare in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She stated that this was a reduction of payments to insurance and drug companies, but they are clearly cuts and they go into effect on January 1, 2013. She also stated that the President plans another $300 billion in cuts in his current plans.
    Then she says Entertainment tonight is the same as a Presidential Press conference…
    http://indyfromaz.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/lets-not-talk-facts/

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  35. Ya see that’s the problem. Those under 55 don’t realize that they are the ones who will ultimately get the ol shaft when and if these cuts take effect if the party of “no” gets in. People such as myself, over the freakin’ hill and beyond, will be dead or cut off from certain programs that we need as seniors because of govt. cuts to save money, so that they can reduce the deficit, buy more rocket fuel and help Pakistan by giving them the $3 million dollars we give to them every year. Sooo, you’re not stupid, just a lowly slug like myself and my other half who can only sit back and observe what our elected officials think is best for us. Namely…..nothing. It’s what’s best for them. Hope I made your day……as Dirty Harry would say.

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  36. don’t worry. i am definitely 100% politically stupid. and i really have no interest in being otherwise. i know that’s terrible and really closed minded and not the best thing for my future but i just feel like…no matter how hard i try, i just will not understand. judge me all you want!

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  37. I’ve been following these elections for a while now and am befuddled! Why are the politicians making everything so over complicated? Why don’t they just pick up some good medicare systems from Finland or Canada? Why aren’t they making their stand clear on things that will ACTUALLY drive employment, like outsourcing of jobs?

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  38. You got that right. You give them the money and they thinks it theirs to do as they wish… Sigh!!!

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  39. Under the Bus, the Tractor, the Lemo, the Train, the Plane and the Bulldozer!!! I’m glad I am 65.. I hope those that are 55 and younger think like you and I do because if the don’t.. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Grab a Voucher and play into their hands!!!

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