Tag Archives: Paul Ryan

NOT CAN,BUT HOW? THE BUDGET AND DEFICIT REDUCTION,By Louise Annarino,November 9,2012

9 Nov

NOT CAN,BUT HOW? THE BUDGET AND DEFICIT REDUCTION,By Louise Annarino, November 9, 2012

At President Obama’s first press conference he stated a willingness to consider any idea which fairly addresses the nation’s fiscal needs. However, he clearly and unequivocally asserted that taxes on earnings above $250,000 must be increased. He went further asking congress to immediately extend tax cuts on earnings below $250,000 rather than waiting for negotiations on deficit reduction and balancing the budget plays out,stressing the need for stability and certainty for small business owners.

In effect, the president seeks to stabilize small businesses and encourage their creation and expansion, and continue tax policies which economists agree will stimulate middle class spending, and which will help those small businesses grow. This is basic and sound fiscal policy upon which any honest politician, of either party, could easily agree. The only reason Boehner might not agree is to use the middle class and small businesses as a political tool to continue to shelter wealthy supporters and their corporate interests, at the expense of average Americans.

Republicans also make no secret of their intention to eliminate, starve into extinction, or privatize the social safety net: social security,medicare,medicaid,food stamps,WIC,unemployment compensation etc.

Will Rep. Boehner insist on continuing tax breaks for Big Oil while  delaying the Social Security retirement age for a woman who stands on her aching feet all day at a cash register, or a mechanic whose arthritic hands can no longer twist a wrench without pain, or a security officer who must chase a teen robber up and over a fence? Or will he agree instead to lift the cap on FICA taxes,increasing contributions from higher income earners? Such choices matter.

Will Rep. Boehner insist the Ryan Budget must be accepted in whole or in part before the House is willing to even consider the President’s Jobs Bill? Will veterans continue to wait for House Republicans to approve a veterans’ jobs program included in the president’s bill? Will farmers wait for House Republicans to pass the Agriculture Bill unless it contains Ryan’s proposed cuts of $1.6 billion dollars a year (four times the amount spread over five years in the bi-partisan bill passed by the Senate) to food stamps, WIC (women,infants and children),and meals on wheels for seniors and the disabled? Why must we wait?

What can we do to put a stop to such nonsense? ASK our Republican representatives and senators to answer questions regarding their positions on specific cuts. TELL our Democratic representatives and senators that we expect them to stand strong and speak out on our behalf. Remind both that they will soon be up for re-election and that we will not forget what they do.

The news pundits,once again,focused on whether a deal can be reached with Boehner since Obama is willing to compromise, discussing the need for Democrats to give a little. Chris Mathews even suggested the president should appoint Mitt Romney Secretary of Business, chuckling that he would not do so, but should do something like this…throw Boehner a bone? No,such talk is throwing over an election, throwing over the middle class. The first person Andrea Mitchell interviewed for reaction to Obama’s press conference today was  House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (D-SC) who concurred that when negotiating everything must be on the table. Feeling a bit nervous, I listened  to him then suggest that even social security would have to be reworked because we want  it and programs such as medicare and medicaid to be there in the years ahead. Okay, I thought, that is a no-brainer. But then he suggested one likely change is delaying the age at which one may receive benefits. There are alternatives methods to reducing program costs which don’t deprive people of, or delaying access to, benefits they have a right to rely on, and which they desperately need to survive with dignity.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps are not frills. They are not “stuff.” These programs are life support. We are not a poor nation;we are a very rich nation. Budgets define our priorities in this country; and, not our wealth. We can reduce the deficit and balance our budget over time. Either party is capable of doing so. The real issue is not can we do so; but how we do so. Hopefully, we do so while maintaining life support for the aged, the disabled, the hungry, the unemployed, the uneducated, and even the planet itself. We count on our president and our Democratic senators and congressmen to remember this, and to fight for us. John Boehner will be fighting for his political life, and the survival of his party; but, unless I miss my guess,not for us.

Central Ohio Contact List ( Rep.Joyce Beatty (D-OH) info not yet available):

 

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)

(202)225-6205

(202)225-0704 Fax

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH)

3000 Corporate Exchange Drive,Suite 310

Columbus, Ohio 43231

(614) 523-2555.

(614)818-0887 Fax

 

Rep. Steve Stivers

3790 Municipal Way
Hilliard, OH 43026
(614) 771-4968
(614) 771-3990 Fax

Joyce Beatty for Congress

233 S High St Ste #300

Columbus, OH 43215

614-600-4231

beattyforcongress@gmail.com

 

Senator Rob Portman

37 West Broad Street,Room 300

Columbus, OH 43215

(614)469-6774

Toll-Free: 1-800-205-6446

 

Sen. Sherrod Brown

(614) 469-2083

(202)224-2315

Toll Free : 1-888-896-6446

 

 

 

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RACIAL SHAME IS THE NAME OF THE GAME,By Louise Annarino,October 26,2012

26 Oct

RACIAL SHAME IS THE NAME OF THE GAME,By Louise Annarino,October 26,2012

“Ms. Annarino, are you white?” asked the toddler leaning against my back as I sat on the ground, her hands over my eyes so I could not see her. “Yes, I am,” I answered. What prompted such a question I pondered. I was new to her neighborhood, a neighborhood which housed a single white family composed of a mother and her three children, among the families of two-hundred plus African-American children who spent most of their day on the playground I supervised. The only other white adult I saw all that summer was the mailman. This little girl only knew I looked different. When she heard talk about “the white girl down at the playground,” she looked for the one girl who looked different. She made no judgments about me. My color was simply an identifier.

This was not the case within my white community. Race and color were not simply used as an identifier; but also used as instruments of power and self-aggrandizement. Noticing and or pointing out skin color and race was done  in a derisive manner, accompanied by stereotypes, meant to make the speaker feel superior. It was ugly. It made me cringe. It made me feel ashamed to be part of this tribe.

Children’s tribal instincts were strong back then. There was only 1/2 hour of the nightly news each evening to connect us to the larger world outside our neighborhoods. There was no internet, no cable news, no electronic social media like Facebook. My connection to larger world weakened my tribal ties. My mother was from New York City, not small-town, Ohio. We spent summers there with cousins who lived in the projects among people of every religious faith, every race and ethnicity, and every color. It was magnificent! When I saw racism I was perplexed. How could anyone believe these stereotypes?  I still ask the same question 60 years later. Racist beliefs make even less sense today, when we have access to more information and greater racial interaction.

We now are interconnected with the entire world, and yet, we cling to tribalism. The racism Obama volunteers experienced while canvassing in 2008 has intensified. It has become an accepted political strategy of the Republican party. There was a time in this country when racists would be shamed by the larger white community in the north. Visiting the south thirty years ago, I was surprised by the lack of shame, and the unwillingness to challenge racism  by those who knew better. Now, white Americans both north and south are shameless. Racism may be in its final throes but it is still too easily spread.

I have written often on this blog about the racism displayed during this campaign. It is now so overt I don’t even feel the need to repeat what you are seeing and hearing as examples. But, tonight I felt compelled to remind us all that it is not President Barack Obama who has created racial division in this country; but those who say he has done so. The very act of  calling Barack Obama racist is racism itself. The next time you hear someone like Palin use words “shuckin’ and jivin'”, John Sununu suggest Colin Powell supports the president because both are black and  he “wish(es) (Obama)knew how to be an American”, Newt Gingrich/Sean Hannity/and other Republicans say Obama is the “most racially divisive political figure”, and Trump says Obama is “lazy,slick and un-American”  remind yourself how RACIST this is…and how useless.It does nothing to help America select the best leader for this country. It is used to distract us from the discussion.

Racism is a grand distraction from a failed campaign. It has been used to some effect for many years. It is not a fluke, but a planned strategy. I won’t hold my breath while waiting for Mr. Romney, nor Congressman Ryan to find the moral courage to stop their campaign from using this tired old strategy and speak out against it. If they think it can improve their chances at the polls, they will continue to use it, and their supporters will continue to give racist tactics tacit approval. It is shameful.

 

 

MIRROR,MIRROR ON THE WALL,By Louise Annarino,October 26, 2012

26 Oct

MIRROR,MIRROR ON THE WALL, By Louise Annarino,October 26,2012

 

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of us all?”  Have you ever forced yourself to stare into your eyes while looking in a mirror? Common knowledge tells us that our eyes are the mirror of our souls. Most of us look in a mirror only to make sure every hair is in place, nothing is stuck in our teeth, or our tie is centered properly. We seldom really look at our selves. Too often we squirm away from what we see of ourselves. Soul searching is uncomfortable.

 

People are not fixed in space and time, but move within a forever-changing creative energy. This is what makes getting to know another person so interesting. We are in the final days of getting to know candidates for public office. The image we each create for ourselves, which makes it sometimes difficult to look at ourselves in the mirror, is similar to what the campaign staff attempts to do for each candidate. And, too often, those candidates find it difficult to look at themselves in the mirror. It is the rare person, and the rare candidate, who consistently stays true to the soul he or she sees when they force themselves to look in the mirror. Some candidates seem incapable of soul-searching.

 

A spate of political ads are out now which feature an individual or family telling us what a great guy Mitt Romney is, describing a specific kindness he has shown, or assistance he has provided. These ads should be comforting and assuring. They are meant to counter the ads by former workers who lost jobs when Mr. Romney through Bain Capital shut down a factory, shipping workers’ jobs overseas. But, is an act of kindness to one person enough to counter the cold calculation which led to huge losses suffered by thousands of workers? Is kindness to individuals enough to counter the threatened loss of social security, medicare, Obamacare, equal pay for women, women’s control over their own health care decisions, PELL grants, veteran’s disability benefits, the post office, Amtrak etc. which the Romney-Ryan budget promises to cut,affecting all of our countrymen?

 

I am glad to hear of Romney’s acts of kindness. He can look in the mirror and see his goodness as he contemplates these kind acts. But what does he see in the mirror when he contemplates cutting off such kindnesses to the other 98% of us through his budget?

 

Whom do we know who can look in the mirror with a steadfast gaze? Whom do we know who can look in the mirror with a forward-looking vision of what is possible when we empower the 98% to share in the wealth of America; rather than await and give thanks for the largesse doled out one-man-a-time by the 1%? Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

SACRIFICING WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND RAPE, By Louise Annarino,October 25,2012

26 Oct

Sacrificing Women,Children and Rape,By Louise Annarino,October 25, 2012

The chart below by Brainwrap ,published today at Daily Kos illustrates how the GOP reframes the violence against women we call rape as simply another method of conception rather than criminal behavior. If rape is discussed as a method of conception rather than criminal violence it allows Republicans, Roman Catholic bishops, and others to exclude its consideration as a reason to allow an abortion exception for rape victims. After all, why should we allow abortion for any mere act of conception? Once we describe the question as one 0f conception only we can forget

about the need to protect women and to keep them safe. Thus, we are free to  criminalize abortion, even in the case of rape. Consequently, the  only person in need of our protection is the fetus; not the mother.

This is not new; nor is it necessarily partisan politics. Too often and for too long, we have allowed men to define rape as a sexual act, rather than a violent criminal act. Susan Brownmiller wrote of this   dismissive rhetorical formula in her book AGAINST OUR WILL: Men, Women And Rape, 1975 ,she wrote “Rape is a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” I would add that rape is also used against children. Wrongly defining it affects children as well as women.

Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is not a method of conception. Rape is an act of violence meant to intimidate, control, and weaken women and chldren. It is an act of domination and control by violent attack. It is often, though not always, perpetrated against women. Men can also be raped. Rape is a crime committed by an individual, or by a group of individuals (gang rape) which is not uncommon, nor rare.

Recently, we have learned that children are often victims of rape by priests, clergy, Scout leaders etc. Unfortunately, those who knew of these rapes perceived and reacted as if the incidents were sexual acts rather than violent criminal acts which should have been immediately reported to the police for criminal prosecution. Instead the rapist priest or troop leaders were re-assigned as if the behavior could be stopped by removing the rapist from the temptations of his sexual partners. Rape is never a sexual act. It is an abuse of power meant to dominate and control another human being. It destroys human beings. It is violent. It is terrifying.It is soul destroying. I live with its memory every day, and dream it every night.

The position of the Republican party is that a woman who is the victim of a criminal rape should be forced to give birth.Vice President Paul Ryan and at least 12 of 28 Republican Senate nominees, including Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel running against Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown take this position. Paul Ryan redefines rape and dismisses it is an act of criminal violence when he articulates this position,”I’ve always adopted the idea, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.” But defining rape by criminalizing abortion this way vaccinates the horror of rape and re-injures its victims by denying the reality of their experience. It demeans  the victim and dismisses the crime. Ignoring the victim of a crime, re-victimizes the woman or child who has been raped.

During the past weeks as I heard the comments listed in the above chart, I found it difficult to sleep,eat,laugh and feel safe. I felt re-injured. I felt terror lurking beneath my skin, ready to bring me down. By calling rape “another method of conception” my experience with violent sexual assault was transformed into an innocuous,even harmless, sexual encounter. In effect, we are being told, “We see no reason why you should ask to be protected or kept safe from a mere method of conception. Asking us to do so, asking us to ALLOW you any CONTROL over your own safety, security or life itself will soon be a criminal offense, because we intend to make abortions,even in the case of rape, illegal. Women who are victims of the violent crime of rape are being told that we are the real criminals.

Why do Republicans need to define rape this way? To connect rape to contraception via  an act conception. Thus, they can justify access to birth control, allow employers to refuse to offer contraceptives coverage in insurance plans, to justify Catholic hospitals and clinics refusal to allow insurance company policies for their employees to cover contraception. Rape is yet again being used to dominate and control women, to intimidate us and bring us in line by redefining it as a method of conception. We feel re-injured by the Republican positions because we are being re-injured! These men declared their power over women and children in a new way; by refusing to allow us even the right to define our victimization as violent crimes. Any woman or parent of children should think long and hard before voting for ANY candidate who calls rape a method of conception.

The chart above paints a rosy picture of what Republicans intend for women and children. It seems to describe the types of rape. However, it is far worse. more insidious, and far more dangerous to our safety  because it does not merely define the type of rape; it removes the core, elemental use of violence which is at the heart of rape; instead defining it as an act for sexual pleasure or conception, not an act to dominate, threaten and control. Rape cannot be a crime if it just another method of conception, as defined by Paul Ryan, Josh Mandel, and the Republican platform. Women and children will lose their right to be safe, maybe even their lives, to protect a fetus and to insure continued male domination.

President Obama’s comments on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno explain why he deserves our support, “I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas. Let me make a very simple proposition: rape is rape. It is a crime.This is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s healthcare.”

DEFICIT LIVES,By Louise Annarino, October 14, 2012

14 Oct

DEFICIT LIVES, By Louise Annarino, October 14, 2012

The effort to make Americans fear deficit-spending could be better used discussing what we should do to stop deficit-living. Core areas of our cities, small towns and rural areas are struggling to survive. Poverty has dug a hole, a social and personal deficit, in which large groups of our populace reside. The stimulus has stopped the slide into the hole for most, offered a hand up and out for many, but too many see no way out.

How did we get here, with holes so deeply torn in our social fabric that the middle class has fallen through those holes along with the impoverished? When we did we stop building and strengthening America so all of us could keep the American Dream alive? Instead we allowed charlatans in the think-tanks, lobbyist firms, and the media to paper over the holes, and keep us entertained so we would not notice that the pretty prints they used were mere paper. It started out slowly, but with fall after fall widening the holes entire sections of the fabric split wide open, until the entire fabric was in danger of slipping out of our hands. President Obama took a firm grip, and sewed stimulus patches made of strong material over the holes, all the while warning us that the cloth was worn and need to be replaced; that the holes had so weakened the fabric that major change was needed,and that the fabric could otherwise tear again. But those who met secretly during his inauguration to plot his own down-fall through those holes, pledged to keep them open.

Republicans blocked President Obama’s efforts to select and install a new fabric to support our lives. Many confuse this fabric with the ‘safety net’ strung below it; but, it is not just the safety net which is in danger from Republican policies and the Romney-Ryan Budget, it is the entire fabric strung above the net. Yes, the safety net is struggling; but, not because it was not well-designed, nor well-built, but because it is overloaded by those who fell through holes in our social fabric. It was never intended to hold so many of us. The one way we can relieve stress on our safety net is to replace the social fabric and pull as many Americans off the safety net and back up into the middle class as we possibly can. This is what President Obama intends to do, what he has been doing, and what he will continue to do if re-elected. We must cast our vote to re-elect him president, and cast our vote to elect Democrats to the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and to state offices who support his vision and will work with him to get the job done. What we do not need are those who insist we cannot replace nor repair the whole cloth; but, must simply remove people from the safety net through privatization of medicare, social security etc.

The National Poverty Center reports that the poverty rate was  22.4 percent, or 39.5 individuals during the 1950’s. “These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent.” http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/.

I still recall the photos of starving children, eyes wide with uncertainty, on the porches of Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta which stirred President Lyndon Johnson to declare a War on Poverty in the 1960s, which led to the decline of poverty. President Ronald Reagan’s stance in the 1980’s was that we had lost the War on Poverty;and, that social safety net benefits did not justify its cost. We soon saw poverty levels increase.This Reaganomics view of poverty prevails today. But a new paper from Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan says it’s missing everything. “We may not have won the war on poverty, but we are certainly winning,” they write. When they looked at poorer families’ consumption rather than income, accounted for changes in the tax code that benefit the poor, and included “noncash benefits” such as food stamps and government-provided medical care, they found poverty fell 12.5 percentage points between 1972 and 2010.” In effect, they are explaining that the safety net does work.

The problem is NOT the safety net but growing income inequality in our social fabrichttp://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-12/record-u-dot-s-dot-poverty-rate-holds-as-inequality-grows During the last decade the highest quintile of earners saw their real income rise 1.6% and the top 5% saw their incomes rise 4.9%, while the middle class saw their incomes decline 1.9%. The very lowest incomes, those in the safety net, saw their incomes stay the same. None of this data means the income of those in the safety net is adequate. Nevertheless, the extremely poor (those with less than 1/2 of official poverty level earnings), remained at 6.6% of the population. The middle class has not fallen that low because President Obama’s policies stopped the fall. As more people returned to work in a steady rise over the past nearly 4 years, the fabric of America grows stronger as well.

More is yet to be done, as President Obama reminds us. We cannot reduce the deficit and continue Bush tax breaks for top earners. In fact we must increase their income tax rate,including an increase on capital gains. The estate tax must not be eliminated but increased for those at the highest earning bracket, who are the only persons currently required to pay estate tax, it having been eliminated for lower income earners decades ago. And we must end the round of ceaseless war which benefits military contractors, and corrupt government officials at home and abroad. President Obama, as Vice-President Biden affirmed in his recent debate with Congressman Paul Ryan insists that American troops will be out of Afghanistan in 2014. He suggests that we instead, rebuild America’s education and transportation systems, repair and further develop American infrastructure, invest in small business development and manufacturing, research and develop green and innovative technologies, reduce and redesign our military capabilities for more cost effective security at home and abroad.

We can do all this and reduce the economic deficit. But, we must also end our willingness to overlook poverty, especially for those most greatly affected by it, our women and children.We cannot grow our economy when our children are not given the tools they need to compete and succeed. The National Poverty Center reports: “The poverty rate for all persons masks considerable variation between racial/ethnic subgroups. Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics greatly exceed the national average. In 2010, 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians.

Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty. (See the U.S. census chart below)

“There are also differences between native-born and foreign-born residents. In 2010, 19.9 percent of foreign-born residents lived in poverty, compared to 14.4 percent of residents born in the United States. Foreign-born, non-citizens had an even higher incidence of poverty, at a rate of 26.7 percent.” http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/.

Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2010
Category Number (in thousands) Percent
All children under 18 16, 401 22.0
White only, non-Hispanic 5,002 12.4
Black 4,817 38.2
Hispanic 6,110 35.0
Asian 547 13.6

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, Report P60, n. 238, Table B-2, pp. 68-73.

Those like Paul Ryan who argue we must reduce the deficit by reducing the safety net, decreasing income and benefits, weaken labor unions, reduce the size of government and lay-off government workers, privatizing government responsibilities as means to reduce government costs are “whistling Dixie” in more ways than one. Paul Ryan voted for unfunded Medicare Part D, which President Obama, unlike President Bush, has now included in his budget and improved through Obamacare by closing the donut hole. Including this expense within the Obama budget is really a disclosure of previously hidden Bush budget expenses. This is also true for the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which were passed as emergency measures, not budget items; included by President Obama in his budget and added to official budget deficit figures, but not done so by President Bush.

One must also note that Bush war-funding was historically unprecedented. To pay for World War II, Americans bought savings bonds and put extra notches in their belts. President Harry Truman raised taxes and cut nonmilitary spending to pay for the Korean conflict. During Vietnam, the US raised taxes but still watched deficits soar. President Bush did nothing to control the burgeoning deficits of war. Republicans and Democrats, unwilling to leave troops in the field without funding, settled with uncompromising Republican leadership and allowed this strategic undercounting of the deficit to go unabated and continued to vote for emergency war-funding, outside the regular budget bills. The willingness to kick the can down the road has become a hallmark of Republicans as they block every Democratic bill to increase jobs, reduce deficit, and stimulate the economy during the Obama administration. They are not ashamed , but proud of this tactic in their strategy to make  President Obama a one-term president. In the recently released video of Mitt Romney talking with his well-heeled donors in May he takes this tactic a step further,when he said the Palestinians were not interested in peace, the chances of a peace agreement was remote and the whole issue should be kicked down the field. Kicking problems down the field seems to have become an accepted Republican strategy. The Bush tax cuts added some $2.8 trillion to the national debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Congressman Paul Ryan voted for those cuts. To his credit, Ryan also backed the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout, most of which has been paid back, and the auto bailout.http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/. I mention this because it is disingenuous and hypocritical to blame the deficit on President Obama and democrats in Congress.

I first noticed this Republican disregard for current reality and for balanced budgets during 6 months of debate over Medicare reform in early 2003. I had falsely believed that Republicans were fiscally more conservative than Democrats. Clearly,I was wrong. Reagan, I was aware, had little to no regard for fiscal responsibility, but he had once been a Democrat after all !

Like many others, I saw the need for prescription coverage for seniors and hoped new legislation would allow the government to negotiate for lower costs and formulary control similar to V.A. cost-control efforts. Big Pharma lobbyists blocked, and continue to block such an effort. The bill came to a vote at 3 a.m., just minutes before it was scheduled to close, the clock was stopped for 3 hours with the bill losing, 219-215 while Republicans on the floor, and including President Bush by phone, strong-armed congressman to change their vote. “Then-Representative Nick Smith (R-MI) claimed he was offered campaign funds for his son, who was running to replace him, in return for a change in his vote from ‘nay’ to ‘yea.’ After controversy ensued, Smith clarified no explicit offer of campaign funds was made, but that he was offered ‘substantial and aggressive campaign support’ which he had assumed included financial support.” http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/.

At about 5:50 a.m. the bill passed the House 220-215. The bill itself was finally passed in the Senate 54-44 on November 25, 2003, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 8. Now, Romney and Ryan threaten to eliminate Obamacare and its improvements of medicare, including Part D; plan to privatize medicare and social security. If these programs are more costly than they need be it is because of Republican refusal to rein in excess costs businesses extract from the program.

Medicare Part D did provide prescription coverage but did not reduce costs as much as it could have because of what it failed to include: it prohibits the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies, and it prevents the government from establishing a formulary. It did, however, provide a subsidy for large employers to discourage them from eliminating private prescription coverage to retired workers (a key AARP goal). Obamacare now provides subsidies to small businesses which makes their overall provision of health care insurance affordable. Efforts to include negotiating costs for drugs under Obamacare was blocked by Republicans.

Clearly, it is not Obama’s efforts to reduce medical and insurance costs which makes these medial social fabric programs a drain on government coffers, but the effort of Republicans to protect and expand financial gain of private service providers. President Obama and Congressional Democrats do not seek unfair advantage over private providers; but seek to stop unfair advantage, fraud and abuse by such providers. Obamacare is already predicted to save medicare $716 billion in such provider and insurance company abuses. That money is being channeled to provide more preventive, cost-free health care services for medicare users. This is how we create a stronger social fabric for the middle class. Improving and increasing medicaid coverage is another part of strengthening American fabric.

During an economic downturn, individuals lose jobs, incomes drop, state revenues decline, and more individuals qualify and enroll in Medicaid which increases program spending. However,data indicate that declines in state revenues were a much more significant factor for state budget gaps than increases in Medicaid spending. “Total state revenues dropped by 30% in FY 2009 compared to total Medicaid spending increases of about 7.6% in that year,” http://www.kff.org/medicaid/upload/7580-08.pdf.

Today, 50 states plan or are implementing a new policy to control medicaid costs in multiple areas. State revenues have shown positive growth fro the last 7 quarters, as the unemployment rate continues to drop (now 7.8%) and the GNP continues to improve. States must continue to make delivery of service changes designed to improve care and control costs, thanks to Obamacare. Its “maintenance of eligibility” requirements generally prohibit states from restricting Medicaid eligibility or tightening enrollment procedures. Obama’s focus on wise and educated restructuring of programs for maximum efficiency and best practices in care delivery are another part of strengthening the American fabric.

But, and this is important, these improvements take time. They must however occur if the American Dream is to survive. While government works to  balance budgets, streamline and improve services, reduces fraud and waste it must never forget the impact of income inequality on those African-American, Latino and immigrant single-mothers. we must help them raise their children out of the safety net and up onto the social fabric of the middle-class. We must provide preventive health care, women’s reproductive health care, and children’s health care to everyone in America. We must be certain every child is well-fed, provided with stimulating day-care and pre-schools to ready them for a top-notch education. They need warm clothes for winter, safe after school and summer programs, neighborhoods free of crime and violence. We must not only show them a way out of poverty, but strengthen and empower them to follow the path. I am reminded of the United Negro College Fund motto “ A Mind Is a Terrible Thing  to Waste.” Our American middle-class motto must be “ A Child is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”  President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden would weave this motto into the fabric of America. They will not kick American children down the road, until the deficit is paid off. They will not continue and increase income inequality with tax relief to those who don’t need it. They will reduce the economic deficit AND the human deficit, by reducing income inequality.  That is how we strengthen the American fabric for all of us.

HE HAD TO TAKE THE FIRST PUNCH,By Louise Annarino, October 11,2012

13 Oct

HE HAD TO TAKE THE FIRST PUNCH, By Louise Annarino,October 11,2012

This is what DAGOS and WOPS are taught by their 1st. generation immigrant mothers: “Never start a fight. Take the first punch. After that fight back.” I cannot speak for African-American parents because I am white. But, I can speak to the innate racism of white people because I am white which means I am a recovering racist; and for white bigotry because I have experienced it as a 2d generation Italian immigrant, a woman, and a Roman Catholic. I know the anger I swallowed when seeing Nazi swastikas painted ten feet tall on the wall of my Catholic high school gymnasium, when being spit on for being a dirty fish-eater, when being ignored by store clerks who waited on everyone who came after me when I was in my school uniform, for being refused interviews for jobs unsuitable for a woman, for being paid less than male colleagues with less education and experience while  performing the same job, when being dismissed by police officers when reporting a rape. Such experiences do not simply slide off a person, even one who quietly takes punch after punch. They settle deeply in the sinew and bone, weigh heavy on the soul, and slow down our response to future acts of bigotry.

Those who routinely suffer bigotry but want to make a good life for themselves and their children do what all ambitious but good people do. They become educated, self-aware and well-mannered, They learn patience and an ability to address bigots with dignity, kindness and a sense of common humanity. Often, this creates an illusion that bigotry is acceptable, even expected. It is neither. Why, then acquiesce in the face of bigotry? Why remain silent? In the Jim Crow south, African Americans faced not only the institutionalized racism of realtors, bankers, and politicians; but, public shaming, physical violence, severe injury, and even death for not moving off a sidewalk to allow a white man to pass, for keeping one’s head up and looking a white man in the eye, for using a white-only drinking fountain, or merely for showing up at a poll to vote.

We have learned that racial bigotry and jim Crow is not just a southern thing, but persists throughout this country. It has become institutionalized within our political parties, rather forcefully within the Republican Party whose policies do not attract diverse membership, and which seems to have succumbed to Teapublican leadership. The Democratic Party’s diverse membership subdues the racial bigotry within; but we must admit it still taints every white American, despite out best efforts. This is why I call us white Americans recovering racists, resisting our innate bigotry one step at a time.

We watched president Obama take the first punch during the first debate. We watched him looking down as the white man aggressively put him in his place. We cannot know why he did not vigorously fight back. But I know that had he done so he would have been attacked far more bitterly than Vice-President Joe Biden has been attacked for his vigorous effort  to keep straight the record of the Obama-Biden administration’s policies. Biden is being derided for is behavior, He is called rude for being a happy warrior, for immediately refuting each lie as it was spoken, for laughing at the most ludicrous comments by Congressman Ryan.

Can you imagine what President Obama, whom the right-wing Republicans define as a socialist-fascist-communist,un-American devil, would have been called? I know what white men call strong, assertive African-American men with the audacity to look them in the eye and challenge them. We all do. An African-American man, too often, must take the first punch;especially, if he is seeking the votes of the  3% undecided white voters. We saw the injustice of lies directed against him for what it is, an attack on at least 47% of us.

Some of us became angry with the president for taking those punches;because, we could feel them in our own gut. But, could we have done better with a first punch? Anyone who really understands what bigotry lay behind the demeaning language and verbally intense attack,anyone who had personal experience with such attacks would have shut down an immediate response to develop a strategy to emerge unscathed. Obama did not give Romney a chance to  define his image. An angry Black thug would not appeal to that 3%.

Things have changed as a result. Americans have given our African-American president permission to fight back and to throw punches at the white candidate. It should not be necessary for him to get our permission. Racism creates ridiculous rules. He will, never the less, be attacked much more severely than Vice-President Biden has been today. However, now we white voters are ready to see such attacks for what they really are: just as unfair and dishonest as Romney’s policies and tactics for taking back the White House.

I cannot speak for the president, for what he felt, or what his response meant to him. But, I know what it meant to me. Time to fight, Mr. President. We have your back.

OBAMA IS EASY TO FOLLOW:,By Louise Annarino, October 9,2012

9 Oct

OBAMA IS EASY TO FOLLOW, By Louise Annarino, October 9, 2012

 

Let’s talk about the safety nets Romney-Ryan (even Bill O’Reilly – http://voice4america.com/articles/2012/10/08/the-rumble-2012-bill-oreilly-vs-jon-stewart.html ) would shred. As a newly licensed attorney working at The Columbus Legal Aid Society during the Carter and Reagan Administrations, I represented those who had been wrongfully denied safety net benefits such as food stamps, Aid to Families With Dependent Children or AFDC, and General Relief. I understood the value of these programs. Having been terminated from my earlier job as a social worker at Marysville for  Women Maximum Security Prison and wrongfully denied Unemployment Benefits I relied on general relief and food stamps (I could eat), a compassionate landlady willing to defer rent (I did not become homeless) until my appeal had been heard, and a bank manager willing to refinance and defer my car payments ( I could continue my job search) for 3 months.

 

My former employer justified my termination and attempted to block my unemployment benefits because of the Black Studies programs I had implemented, and the trusting willingness of inmates to use me as an intermediary during their prison take-over. After a 3 month wait for a decision on my appeal regarding unemployment benefits, the appeal board found no wrongdoing on my part and granted full benefits. Until then, I had to rely on the social safety-net many of my fellow citizens rely on today.

 

Each month I stood on line with hundreds of other food stamp recipients to prove my income source, cost of rent/utilities/medical expenditures etc. The longer I was on public assistance the less money I received since I became poorer, and could pay fewer bills. I was no longer able to afford a doctor visit or fill my prescriptions for IBS, and had my phone disconnected. Consequently, I had fewer receipts to prove expenses. The amount of food stamps declined, but I still received $111 per month in General Relief benefits(this amount has barely risen in 30 years). These programs have been altered in scope, purpose. TANF (block grant program to help move recipients into work and turn welfare into a program of temporary assistance) program description by Franklin County Jobs and Family Services actually contains a statement “this is not an entitlement.”  As if the working poor feel entitled to ANYTHING.

 

I was very appreciative of the safety net. And,I was lucky. I was soon back on my feet with a job managing a Walden Book Store, while I continued looking for a job in my professional field, Student Personnel Work in Higher Education. Others who had been standing in line with me every month were not so lucky. They had children so could not afford to take a job paying less than their AFDC  and lose medicaid coverage for their kids.

 

Who were these persons? Women and children, the mentally and physically disabled, the elderly, those between jobs and ineligible for unemployment benefits or appealing benefit denials. They became my clients when I joined Legal Aid. It was difficult enough to help them when Carter was president; whenReagan was elected it nearly became impossible.Reagan defined those using the safety nets “Welfare Queens”. If such a majestic  figure lived among my clients I never saw hid nor hair of her. I saw poverty which made me weep:

-a 48 year old man who looked 90 after working in the mines since he was 16 years old, fighting for Black Lung Benefits. His one room shack on Columbus’ south side lacked insulation and drywall; winter wind pushed through every crack, robbing the makeshift coal-fired iron stove he used for cooking and heating of any warmth. He slept on an uncovered box spring, without a mattress, sheets or a pillow. His only furniture, a small square table and a single hard chair, greyed with use. He insisted I sit on the chair while he stood during our interview, and I drank the coffee he brewed just for me from his single tin cup. By the end of that day, my colleagues and I had brought in a spare mattress, sheets,blankets, a pillow, plates and cups. When I won the appeal for food stamps and  Black Lung benefits he brought a gift he had made for me to my office, a blue teddy bear stuffed with dried grass. He was a noble man, not a welfare queen.

 

-a 97 year old woman whose earliest memory was of her legs dangling as she sat at the back edge of the wagon carrying her family west to Nebraska Territory. When I won her food stamps appeal, she invited me to share the first baked potato she had been able to buy in years. She was overjoyed at her stocked pantry and asked me to celebrate with her. She was a noble woman, not a welfare queen.

 

-a 76 year old recent widow facing eviction after the bank foreclosed on her home by summary judgement. Her husband had handled all finances. They lived on their social security,reduced by his death. When a bank sent her a credit card in the mail,she misunderstood and thought it was somehow related to her husband’s insurance pay-out. She used it to but gifts for her grandchildren, which she had never before been able to afford doing; and gifts for the nursing staff and others who had helped he through her husband’s illness. Within the first month she had used the entire limit stated and stopped using the card. Then the bills came. Then the demand letters, Then the foreclosure notice. Then the lawsuit. Then the eviction notice. She told no one, ashamed of her naivety and ignorance of financial matters. A  visiting neighbor caught her crying one day and called me. I filed an appeal and the bank settled  the appeal by agreeing they would not act upon their lien on her un-mortgaged property until her death. She could remain in her home until she died. She was a noble woman, not a welfare queen.

 

Then, President Reagan ordered the Social Security Administration to remove every disability recipient from the roles and require them to reapply and prove they were still entitled to benefits. He was certain that welfare fraud, and especially disability fraud, were rampant even though studies showed that the welfare fraud rate was a mere 1/4 of 1%. The Savings and Loan fraud was much more of a problem and caused huge economic losses across the country. Today, as then,Wall Street’s and the banking and mortgage systems’ fraud rate is much higher than any problems caused by safety net recipients; and, with much more severe consequences to the entire world, as we recently discovered. Deregulation of these industries opened up highways for fraud among the investors and their banks, investment houses, and mortgage companies. The impact of President Reagan’s off-the-roles disability order?

-a 37 year old blind from complications of untreated diabetes with severe heart abnormalities was removed from disability, became homeless, lost food stamps because he had no permanent address, lost medicare coverage, could not buy insulin or needles, and died from diabetic coma and heart attack. My appeals for food stamps, temporary emergency housing, and restoration of disability benefits were granted in his favor 2 weeks after his death.

 

When I listen to Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Riley state how compassionate they are, how those who DESERVE help should get it but through private enterprise not with your hard-earned tax dollars, how BIG GOVERNMENT is creating and increasing the deficit; BUT, THEY WILL NOT RAISE TAXES on the top 2% whose rate are the lowest in 30 years, how they will budget MORE money to buy military equipment but not vote to make the veteran’s safety net stronger and call it strengthening the military I want to join Jon Stewart and say  these people live on “BULL SHIT MOUNTAIN”  where welfare queens threaten their very existence. Human beings of great dignity are using the safety nets, and they deserve government support to put food in their mouths and a roof over their heads as much as those living on  Bullshit Mountain deserve tax breaks and government support to accumulate and build their wealth.

 

President Obama, those who live on “bullshit Mountain” say, stole $716 from medicare to pay for Obamacare. What they don’t say is Obama did not cut  $716 billion from medicare but saved it through reduced provider reimbursements and by curbing waste, fraud and abuse. Both Romney and Ryan agree their administration will allocate the exact same amount, $716 million from “medicare cuts” to reduce the deficit, as was done in the Republicans’ FY 2013 budget, which Ryan authored. While Romney-Ryan bemoan Big Government fraud, President Obama has been busy eliminating it.

 

How did President Obama budget that savings? He used it to pay for Obamacare. He closed the ”donut hole” created by Republican’s unfunded Medicare Part D. Medicare now provides, free or without co-pay for preventive care and tests for:

-annual wellness visit

-tobacco use cessation counseling

-screenings for bone mass measurement,cervical cancer, pap smear and cervical exam,cholesterol and other cardiovascular screenings, colorectal screenings, diabetes, HIV, prostrate cancer

-mammograms

-flu shot,pneumonia shot,and hepatitis B shot

-medical nutrition therapy to manage diabetes or kidney disease

Full details can be reviewed at http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/65-older/medicare-preventive-services/index.html

 

President Obama is not stealing from medicare since the funds remain within the budget to increase,improve,streamline and lower cost of services to the government and for recipients. It is Romney-Ryan budget which does steal this amount from medicare to pay down the deficit, so they can justify not fairly increasing taxes on the top 2%. They insist only by cutting the safety net can they reduce the deficit. President

Obama has shown us a better way! Yet, Republicans, led by Ryan-Boehner-Mitchell et al continue a disinformation campaign of massive proportions and block every effort by President Obama to improve our economy, create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure,reduce the deficit, and keep a new and improved safety-net in place. What is truly amazing is how well our president is doing despite these obstructionists.

As my friend Carol Mason wrote me this morning: “Have you read Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s book ‘No Ordinary Time’“? It is the story of FDR’s presidencies during those “unordinary times.” President Obama is, I learned, a student of FDR’s terms of office. And this “unordinary” time Obama inherited may be why he sought insight from FDR’s years and experience.

 

“…the notion that an intelligent, ethically minded leader of goodwill, planning strategically, moving within a BIG picture, hoping to solve BIG problems, would not be easy to “follow.” It’s a complicated, interconnected mess of circumstances one must navigate, to lead a country the size and scope of America. Goodwin revealed a level and almost unfathomable scope of information FDR worked with that virtually no other human being had the collective knowledge of. And it was from this unique perspective that he master-minded a strategy and led the tactical charge for pulling America out of the Depression and on the winning side of the Second World War.

 

“I trust in President Obama’s intelligence, his integrity and his desire to make change for the good. And I have seen over time, how his modest behavior, though not flashy enough for some, has–behind the scenes–gotten a lot of things done.” Carol and I agree that Obama is easy to  follow after all!