Tag Archives: Social Security

Extreme Ithaca Liberals

My congressman, Tom Reed of NY-23, has once again started his biennial smear campaign against any candidate who dares run against him. Those of you who follow Mr Reed may remember his previous campaigns in which he simply outright lied about the political positions of his opponents. Or maybe you are familiar his lockstep support of Mr Trump. With most of his financing coming from out of the district organizations and PACs , and corporate organizations like ALEC, he is very successful in flooding the mailboxes with lies and half-truths. (97% of Reed’s money comes from PACs and large donors, 2.5% from small donors). It works.

This year one of his managers  has started a website devoted to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals”, which is supposed to be an insult to his mostly  moderate, mainstream and slightly liberal opponent, Tracy Mitrano. Some of his supporters even show up at rallies with “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” banners.

I guess when you can’t run on your accomplishments all you can do is try to smear the other guy. To his credit, Tom Reed does have a couple accomplishments. He has voted to end the ACA a number of times, taking away health care from his constituents. He voted for the billionaire tax giveaway, to the tune of $1.5 trillion which I suppose does benefit a couple of his constituents here in the economically depressed western NY. And he wants to pay for that tax giveaway by cutting Social Security and Medicare. Fair enough.

But enough about Tom. Let’s investigate the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals“. Those of you not familiar with this part of the country may wonder why he uses the word “Ithaca“. After all, his opponent, Tracy Mitrano lives in Penn Yan, not Ithaca.

Well, “Ithaca” is a dog whistle for “highly educated”. Home of Cornell University. On that account Mitrano stands guilty as charged. She does have a BA, MA and Ph.D. from different institutions. As well as a JD from Cornell, (hence the “Ithaca” connection.)  While many would consider being educated a plus, I suppose to Reed and his supporters that may be a disqualifying if not terrifying quality in a lawmaker. Who knows?

But, I digress. Back to the “Extreme Liberal” part of the equation. Let’s look back over the years and see what “extreme liberals” have done for America. Or, as Tom would say, how have they destroyed America?

I offer a partial list of “extreme liberal” programs, all of which were opposed at the time by conservatives as being either “socialist” or “communist” or an infringement on “states’ rights”. I would like to see Tom respond to these extreme liberal programs and tell his constituents which ones he wants to do away with. Which ones made America a worse place to live? Here they are:

Social Security. Before the Social Security program was out in place over 50% of elderly Americans lived below the poverty level. And many more were just on the cusp.  FDR and the extreme liberals passed the program. At the time the opponents called it “communist” and predicted it would quickly lead to the downfall of America. Today, that number of elderly below the poverty level is 8%. Is that a bad thing?

Medicare. Before Medicare many elderly could not afford to purchase health insurance of any kind. The emergency room was their only option. Now all older Americans get preventative and necessary health care through Medicare. The extreme liberals made it happen.  Is that a bad thing?

Medicaid. Before Medicaid millions of poor Americans could not afford health care. Including millions of children. Now, the poorest of the poor can at least get basic preventative care and treatments. The extreme liberals passed this law. Is that a bad thing?

The ACA, (Obamacare). Before the ACA was enacted over 40,000,000 still had no heath insurance. They would get their health care at emergency rooms.. People with pre-existing conditions could not get insurance. Basic preventative care was denied to millions. Now, Mr Reed WAS able to get health care. Because of his obesity problem he and his doctor agreed to an operation.  He and his doctor thought that was the best treatment for him. Extreme liberals support that. Extreme liberals are happy that Mr Reed and his doctor were able to make that decision. Extreme liberals believe that all Americans should have access to the same quality of care. Is that a bad thing?

Social Security Disability. Before this program the disabled and children who lost a parent simply had to fend for themselves. When Tom was a little boy his father died. Luckily the extreme liberals had provided that his mother could get extra money for baby Tommy to help with the bills through the Social Security survivors program. Is that bad? Oh…by the way.. In 2015 Tom Reed  proposed a rule to stop funding the Social Security Disability program when it gets low. This has always been done by reallocating funds from Social Security. A fix that had been done under both GOP and Democratic administrations.  This rule would mandate the disability program  to cut benefits instead.

The Voting Rights Act. Many states, especially in the south, had laws designed specifically to keep African-Americans from voting. Poll taxes. Literacy tests. Grandfather clauses. Simply refusing to register blacks. The voting Rights Act changed that, trying to make sure all citizens can vote. The extreme liberals made that happen. Was that bad?  (Evidently so, since many states have re-instituted voter suppression laws now that the Supreme Court has overturned parts of the Act.)

Equal Accommodation Laws. After World War 2 men who fought and were injured fighting totalitarian governments came home. Some of them were told they could not eat in restaurants. Could not use the bathroom. Could not drink from the water fountain. Could not sit at the lunch counter. Had to ride in the back of the bus. Could not buy a house in this neighborhood. Could not send their children to the good school. Could not enter the university. The extreme liberals thought that was wrong and changed the law to prevent discrimination based on skin color. Was that bad?

I could go on and on and on, Food Stamps, Environmental Protection laws, minimum wage laws, worker safety laws, etc.  The bottom line is that most of the progress we take for granted in our daily lives was due to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” types.

So when Mr Reed’s supporters show up with signs and post websites about those “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” we might take a moment to ponder what our society would look like today without Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Minimum Wage Laws, the EPA, The ACA, Voting rights and a host of other programs we take for granted as normal.

Tom Reed would take those programs away if you give him the chance to do so. He is not an “Extreme Ithaca Liberal“.

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Filed under Democrat, Elections, GOP, government, healthcare, liberals, Politics, Republicans, Social Security, Society, Tom Reed, Trump, United States, US

May Day 2040

May 1st. May Day. A celebration of the working people of the world. A celebration of worker’s rights. Passing largely unnoticed. A peek into  the future…Here is May Day, 2040.

Little Bobby and Little Suzie: Tell us a story Grandpa. A story.

Grandpa: Well. Today is May Day. So let me tell you about it. Once there was a time when unions and….

Bobby: (interrupting)..what’s a union?

Grandpa: A  union was an organization of working people. They got together to try to get good wages and working conditions and things like that.

Suzie: But isn’t that illegal, Grandpa?

Grand: NOW it is. But then it wasn’t. You see in the Bill of Rights every person had the right to “free association”. That meant that he could form unions. So workers did just that. Back then it wasn’t illegal.

Bobby:  But workers aren’t persons, Grandpa. I learned that in my “America is For Christians” History class.

Grandpa: That is true. But, once upon a time workers WERE considered to be persons. Then the Supreme Court said that corporations were persons. Then another Supreme Court said that ONLY corporations were persons. So that’s why workers are no longer persons.

Suzie: Grandpa. were YOU ever a person?

Grandpa: Oh yes. I was a person for a long time. And I worked as a union member until they were made illegal by President Rand Cruz.  And I paid Social Security…

Bobby: Social what, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Social Security. It was a little bit of money you paid every paycheck and then when you retired you would get some money to live on. But that is all gone now. Many corpora..er..persons…had religious objections to paying any tax. So that ended.

Suzie: What’s “retired”?

Grandpa: Retirement? It used to be that when you were 55 or 60 or 65 you could quit working and just live on pensions and social security. back when people were persons.

Bobby: But grandpa you are almost 90 and you are still working. When will you retire?

Grandpa: No one retires any more, Bobby. It is bad for corporate investment. When they eliminated the minimum wage they eliminated retirement. BUT, in the good old days, people could relax a little as they got older. Those days are gone.

Bobby: But Grandpa, our history teacher told us that only lazy people retire and want money for working. Anyway, she said that only persons have rights, not people.

Grandpa: Well, Bobby, she is right that people are no longer persons under the law. The  Supreme Court has ruled that there are only 3 categories of legal “persons”. No one else has any rights.

Suzie: What are the three categories, Grandpa?

Grandpa: Let me see if I remember. Who now has rights…Corporations, of course…and Born Again Christians…and the third…I remember now…fetuses and embryos. No one else has rights.

(Dad, Bobby and Suzie’s father enters.)

Dad: Okay kids, time to let Grandpa go to bed. He has a 10 hour shift tomorrow.

(Grandpa trudges off to his cot in the basement.)

Suzie: I like Grandpa’s stories.

Dad: Well, honey, remember Grandpa doesn’t always remember things correctly. He was what they used to call a “socialist”. He still thinks that people should be persons. He thinks that ppeople are more important than corporations. But he is old, so, we can humor him.

Bobby: Can we stay up late and watch the hologram?

Dad: Nope, You both need to study. I looked at your test schedule and there is a very important Science test tomorrow. You know what that means, don’t you?

Bobby and Suzie in unison: Memorize Leviticus.

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Filed under economics, May Day, pensions, retire, Social Security, workers

Contestant #2: Dr. Rand Paul’s Prescription: Take A Vague and See Me in the Morning

(This is the second in a series of biased reports about the potential candidates for the presidency. As these giants among men proclaim their desires to be the most powerful human being on the planet I will attempt to file a short report on each).

Rand Paul, son of former Texas congressman Ron Paul, announced today that he was willing to serve as president of the US. A major surprise to all Buddhist monks still alive in Tibet. To anyone else, not so much.

As with all candidates the best thing to do is to start with their own websites. On his website Dr. Paul stresses the fact that he is a doctor. A doctor of ophthalmology and that he does good works. That is very noble. And humbling. But for some reason in his bio he fails to mention his board certification. Dr Paul was certified once to practice his “doctoring” by the ABO (American Board of Ophthalmology). But something happened. And he let that certification lapse. So, he was then certified by the NBO (National Board of Ophthalmology), a group NOT recognized by the (ABMS) American Board of Medical Specialties, the national group that certifies the legitimacy of boards. Why not? It was just a board made up by some doctors. UH. Actually, Rand Paul was the president of the group that certified Rand Paul, with Kelly Ashby Paul (Rand’s wife) as vice-president of the group and Rand Paul’s father-in-law as secretary. But, he WAS certified to practice, at least by his kinfolk. (For some reason that NBO was dissolved in 2011).

So, what would a Rand Paul Presidency look like?

Rand Paul’s’ website (www.randpaul.com) has about 16 issues. I will focus on only 4. You can read the rest. Good luck.

Sanctity of Life. Rand believes in the sanctity of life. Well. That is good news! He defines “life” as existing at conception. He says that American women have murdered over 50,000,000 CHILDREN since Roe v Wade. (Did I forget to mention that he is doctor, yet he thinks an embryo is a child?). He opposes all abortions. Period. He thinks states should be able to make any laws they want in this regard . So, I guess you might say that Rand is not a real fan of the US Constitution. A Dr. Rand Paul presidency would not enforce Roe v Wade. I think. He is vague on that point.

Health Care. Dr. Paul wants to repeal Obamcare. And replace it with…. what we had before Obamacare…only better. A market driven system. He knows that a market driven system works because…uh…it left 40,000,000 Americans (real people this time, not embryos) without health insurance. He is rather vague on details. But a Dr. Rand Paul presidency would put the patient first, by eliminating the ACA.

Taxes. President Dr Paul hates taxes. He will institute a 17% tax rate for all businesses and people. His plan is called the EZ Plan. It is EZ to understand because he has no other details. It is EZ Vague. Would current tax breaks for corporations remain? Would breaks for agribusiness remain? Personal deductions? Long on vague, short on details. But, the plan does call for the elimination of Social Security taxes for the middle and lower classes (Not sure where the income levels fall on middle class. That part is…uh…vague). So, no more payments would be going into Social Security from younger workers. So, depending on his exemption plan, a Dr Rand Paul presidency would see a significant decrease in taxes for the super rich. Not so much for the poor.

Which leads us to….
Social Security.
Dr President Leader Rand Paul has a plan for Social Security.

He wants to fix Social Security by increasing the retirement age and means testing. OK. I’ll bite the means testing. I agree that millionaires like John McCain should not be dipping into the pot. Postponing retirement? Doesn’t that just prevent younger workers from getting started? This would apply only to younger workers, so us old fogeys would still get our benefits. …But…wait…In Dr President Excellency Paul’s TAXES plan (see above) he called for eliminating billions of dollars in payments to Social Security. How does that work? Billions less coming in but more going out? Does Mr Dr His Holiness Paul know how Social Security even works? Does he know that payments made today go to today’s retirees? By what magic will SS take in billions less and pay out more? THIS is how he “fixes” Social Security? With magic?

Dr Paul’s lack of real solutions comes through loud and clear. He attacks the “Washington Insiders”, of which he is a part, but offers no real alternatives. Lots of “plans” and ideas and slogans.

All in all, Dr Mr Rand seems to have the same “prescription” for America as other GOPers. Not all that different. Gives homage to the religious right. Wants freedom from paying taxes but not freedom for women to control their own bodies. Has magical thinking when it comes to Social Security financing. A man who will keep it vague in hopes of not exposing the shallowness of his thought processes. Or, who has a real agenda he refuses to share.

Once, in order to be “certified” to practice medicine Rand Paul simply created his own certification board. I suspect the only way the doctor will ever be POTUS is if he “creates” his own country. Then his wife could be vice president again.

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Filed under ACA, Congress, economics, Elections, GOP, healthcare, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Senate, Taxes, tea party, US

I’m Entitled…A Deal’s A Deal

Some states, New Jersey and Michigan come to mind, have decided that pensions for teachers and other public employees are too costly. So, they have cut back. Changed the rules. Old people have become too expensive. People retired, thinking they had a deal. Then the rules were changed. After the game was over.

First, a true story. A guy who delivers my firewood also takes down trees. I’ll call him Luke. I asked Luke to look at a massive cherry tree in my yard and he said he could take it down for 50 bucks. That was a good deal. A 30 minute job. Luke came back in his coveralls with his chain saw and well, it wasn’t as easy as we thought. The tree got caught up. He had to take down another maple next to it. Then he cut up the trunk into usable pieces for me. Took about 2 hours.

Now, it comes time to pay Luke. I give him the $50 and try to give him more. No. He won’t take it. I said, look, you took down two trees, cut them up, the job was much bigger than we thought. Take some more money. No. Luke would have none of it. His exact words. “A deal’s a deal”. End of discussion.

I taught in NY schools for over 30 years. Put money into the retirement system. Every check. My wages were so low that, as a professional teacher there were years when my family was eligible for welfare. WIC. A college degree, graduate school, a teaching certificate all lead to welfare subsidy. Which is okay. I knew what I wanted. Worked every summer to make ends meet. But I paid into the retirement system. Every check. Social security. Every check. Medicare. Every check. Just like public employees in Michigan and New Jersey and Wisconsin and Kansas and every other state in the union.

Am I ENTITLED to my retirement check? You bethcha. I paid in and took lower wages for a reason. A deal’s a deal.

I started working at 16. Paid Social Security. Paid Medicare. Paid federal taxes. Paid state taxes.
Now I am retired and I get free money from Uncle Sam. Social security every month. Now I am on Medicare. Am I one of Mitt Romney’s 47% ? ENTITLED? You betcha. I deserve it. A deal’s a deal.

I get more than a little irritated at the “young gun” GOP governors who are trying to balance their budgets by stripping pensions and retirement plans. Cutting taxes on the better off citizens and taking dollars out of the pockets of retirees. They have no clue. They have no understanding of what people in the past gave up to get those guaranteed pensions. They have no shame. They have no integrity.

They are deaf to the basic contract. They do not believe that “A deal’s a deal”.

Maybe I should order them some firewood. And have Luke deliver it. Maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Luke would rub off . But I doubt it.

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Filed under Christie, Debt, economics, Economy, Education, GOP, government, neoconservatives, Republicans, Taxes, tea party