Social Question

ETpro's avatar

Why not consider a REAL solution to the soaring national debt?

Asked by ETpro (34217 points ) April 23rd, 2011

Warning; I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! Read on at your own risk.

The Paul Ryan Budget Plan fixes the debt by adding $6 trillion to it over the next 10 years. Not to be outdone, President Obama’s proposal fixes it even better by adding $7.2 trillion in the same time span. There is a proposal out there from the Progressive Caucus that actually balances the budget and begins paying down the debt. Why is the press talking about how “bold” the Ryan plan to screw everybody but the powerful is, and how Obama’s plan will probably win because it doesn’t kill Medicare as we know it, but not even mentioning that a real plan that actually fixes what it claims to fix rather than making it worse even exists?

In fact, if you read about the Ryan plan in the Main Stream Media which Republicans constantly claim is liberal propaganda and not to be believed, you won’t find a word that tells what the plan really does. Every Big Lie talking point used to sell Ryan’s plan by the right (who have always hated Medicare and wanted to kill it) is just parroted by the press. Bear in mind that almost all media today is owned by a handful of huge multinational corporations who will profit handsomely if Ryan’s debt explosion plan is put into action. The money added to the debt gets transferred to the wealthy and corporations.

Ryan’s plan calls for giving seniors a voucher instead of Medicare. Supposedly, they can take that voucher, worth $15,000 per year, and buy insurance on the open market. Now I am as healthy as a horse. I haven’t been in a hospital except to visit sick friends in almost 50 years. I have no preexisting conditions. I went out to shop for healthcare insurance when I was 62 years old, and Blue Cross wanted $30,000 per year to cover me. Imagine the cost for someone in their 70s with serious preexisting conditions. Most seniors have enough wrong with them that private insurers wouldn’t sell them a policy at any price. A senior living in an assisted care facility would go through $15,000 every 3 months. Do you seriously think United Healthcare, Inc. is going to cover them for just $15,000 when they know that they will pay out 4 times that much even if the insured doesn’t have a heart attack or stroke, or fall and break a hip?

As I mentioned above, there is a REAL Budget Plan out there. It doesn’t call for slashing investment in education, infrastructure, the environment and throwing seniors off the back of the sleigh to keep the wolves away just so we can give another massive tax cut to the rich, slash corporate taxes yet again, and hand out even more big subsidies to the poor, starving Big Oil companies—the most profitable industry in the history of Earth. It balances the budget in the coming decade and begins paying the debt down, and it preserves vital investments to keep America strong and maintain its social contracts.

But unless we demand that it get attention, the Beltway Press and their Oligarch masters will make sure it dies a quiet death and we go on cutting vital investment and giving more to the billionaires till we are a banana republic mired in unimaginable debt. What do they care? They are millionaire and billionaire multinationals. They will just move on to begin the harvest of middle class money elsewhere.

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27 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Time to wipe out ‘civalization’ as we know it and start over methinks.
Back to bartering beads and berries.

I am self insured now, paying over 15K with a Blue Cross individual plan. I am only 51.Not going to be able to keep this up much longer.

JLeslie's avatar

I hear ya. It is scary. When the Tea Party started I thought good! A group who will force government to focus on the budget, use real math, and provide honest nonpolitical information to the public. Too bad that went to shit.

About health care…my husband just had a CT scan and I am so fucking pissed about the bill. $2700. My insurance negotiates a price with them that is about $2100, so I pay that. My deductable needs to be met, which was around $1,000 of this bill and then I have to pay a percentage of the balance. Anyway, I thought this price outrageous so I started calling around. The first place I called said the scan is $550 self pay, but if I have insurance it is illegal for me to self pay. Is that true? Amd why is my insurance so fuscking poor at figuring out what a commonly done serice should cost. This has happened to me before years ago, but of just paid out of pocket because my insurance was denying coverage altogether, long story. Fucking totally corrupt system, no care to chage a just amount, I swear it gives me a nervous breakdown. After I received this first answer on the price of self pay, I walked over to my husband and said I don’t know if I can pursue it, pursue fighting to have the bill reduced, because it might shorten my life to dwell on it another moment. The waste makes me sick. Let alone what it costs me, the rape of the American people can cause me to lose sleep.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie

Yep, I have a 5k deductable that I have never met yet, and, with a modest dental plan I am paying $350 a month. ‘Smartsense 5000’ haha

Nothing ‘smart’ about it.

Half the time my doc is not available and I go to a walk in clinic for stupid little issues like a sinus infection. I have been more than half tempted in recent months to just drop it and take my chances. Whats the worst that can happen?

Live and make payments, or die, in which case my debt dies with me. lol

philosopher's avatar

All the Politician are morally corrupt.
The people bailed out the wealthiest companies in the US and they still got million dollar bonuses. They Scape Union workers for their greed and wish to stop funding special needs people and Health care for the elderly. We still continue to fund other nations at tax payer expense.
Congress is on vacation. If Congress was a private business would this be allowed? Most of their vacations are on at Tax Payer expense too.
Can we fire Congress and start over? Before the second American Revolution gets started. I don’t want one.
People like Walker are setting up the conditions for another Hay Market Riot and Revolution.
It seems they think no one notices what they are actually trying to do. They are Reactionary Elitist. They are truly evil.

JLeslie's avatar

Can it be just corruption? I mean some of the politicians have to be really really stupid too I think.

philosopher's avatar

@JLeslie
They lack common sense and any concept of the long term ramifications of what they do. They all Represent the Lobbyist. They hope we a dumb.
They attempt to divide and separate American’s by party. Both parties have extreme rhetoric not based on facts, truth or reality.
The Republican’s have moved too far to the R and the Democrat’s are too far to the L.
Common sense and factual documentaion usually shows a need for a moderate approach.
Some place between the extreme view points is the truth.

JLeslie's avatar

@philosopher I really believe some of them believe what they say (and then there is the majority who are sucked in by lobbyists, money, power, and so on). Its like all these mortgage brokers I know who was aware of the fine print on the crazy unethical mortgages, but they still bought the mortgages themselves. They believe the shit they sell.

everephebe's avatar

Or the solution of getting rid of currently all together? I’m all for a gift economy or the like.

JLeslie's avatar

@everephebe That would take a huge cultural shift. Don’t see that happening on a wide scale in America. Although, there is a push for charity in the country right now by some very big people who have far reaching and powerful voices. Gates, Clinton, Oprah, and others.

everephebe's avatar

Oh I meant currency not currently.^^

While charity is great and all… If the human race, (and yes, I’m including Americans in that statement) want to survive the next thousand years, or the next hundred years for that matter – we need a huge cultural shift or two. Yes… I think we should build towards abolishing money, rather than going cold turkey. But it’s an imaginary system, that has many many failures. Our consumerism will consume us, not the planet. We need to be selfish, in a completely different way. If we all work together towards a better world (less crime, starvation, war, disease, violence), we’ll have it made. I want to world to be a better place, not just for my children, but for myself dammit. And money prevents that, massively. IMO.
Education & the internet should be free at the very least.

We shouldn’t just be prospering, we should be thriving. If you have a washing machine, you should consider yourself lucky. About 2 billion people live on less than $2 a day. That sucks, we can do better than this. We are all humans, let’s look out for each other.

Cruiser's avatar

There will never be a real practical solution to anything our Government has to manage or budget for until there is campaign reform which needs to include reform lobbying or my vote is to eliminate all forms of Lobbying. Corporate influence is far too strong, far too deep and far too great. Bulldoze “K” Street and our country will have a real chance at real reform with real practical solutions to our Nations issues.

cockswain's avatar

I’m putting all this here for my (our) easy reference

Individual Income Tax Policies
• Allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012, but extend marriage relief, credits, and incentives for children, families, and education
• Immediately rescind the upper-income tax cuts in December’s tax deal
• Index the AMT for inflation for a decade (the AMT patch is fully paid for)
• Schakowsky millionaire tax rates proposal (adding 45%, 46%, 47%, 48%, and 49% top rates)
• Tax all capital gains and qualified dividends as ordinary income
• Progressive estate tax (Sanders’ estate tax, repeal of Kyl-Lincoln)
• Limit the rate at which itemized deductions can reduce tax liability to 28%for high earners
• Replace the tax exclusion for interest on state and local bonds with a subsidy for the issuer

Corporate Tax Reform
• Tax U.S. corporate foreign income as it is earned
• Eliminate corporate welfare for oil, gas, and coal companies
• Enact a financial crisis responsibility fee
• Financial speculation tax (derivatives, foreign exchange)
• Reinstate Superfund taxes

Health Care
• Enact a public option
• Negotiate Rx payments with pharmaceutical companies
• CMS program integrity and other Medicare and Medicaid savings in the president’s budget
• Prevent a cut in Medicare physician payments for a decade (maintain doc fix)

Social Security
• Raise the taxable maximum on the employee side to 90% of earnings and eliminate the taxable maximum on the employer side
• Increase benefits based on higher contributions on the employee side

Defense Savings
• End overseas contingency operations emergency supplementals starting in Fiscal Year 2013, providing $170 billion in FY2012 to fund redeployment, while saving more than $1.8 trillion from current law spending levels over ten years.
• Reduce baseline defense spending by reducing strategic capabilities, conventional forces,
procurement, and R&D programs

Comprehensive Jobs Program
• Invest $1.45 trillion in job creation, education, clean energy and broadband infrastructure,
housing, and R&D
• Infrastructure bank
• Surface transportation reauthorization bill ($213 billion)

cockswain's avatar

Briefly, (since I haven’t much time), I think you’ve written an excellent question. This proposal has some solid endorsements, and at a glance I see no glaring problems with the concept. However, I have to laugh and be sad at how unrealistic passing such a bill would be. I’d love it if this was enacted, but good luck instating a public option. And the individual and corporate tax reforms? Half the nation will just scream “job killing”, and the corporate influence will have congress by the balls every step of the way.

I hope this discussion has developed when I can get back.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Bottom line… unless we stop spending the people’s money that we don’t even have yet, and stop printing more paper money in a sad attempt to pay down the debt via monetary inflation, we will all soon be so far in debt that we will never get out and inflation is going to devalue the dollar until it’s worthless.

JLeslie's avatar

@everephebe Oh. Currency. LOL. Are you the person I was talking to about the BALLE system of living? Where every job is worth the same? An hour of work done by a doctor equals an hour of work by a French teacher, by a handyman, by an accountant, etc?

I realize charity is not the same as what you were/are suggesting, but I think this charitable mindset is the first step towards what you are looking for. It feels like there might be a fantastic thing that is about to happen. Concentrated efforts have greatly changed some parts of our globe. There is a strong enough belief among many that everyone doing well is better than some doing better than ever necessary and others living in squalor. That it actually improves the living conditions and lives of everyone to have everyone live in safety and health.

You have a Gene Rodenberry mindset, I like it. I hope it can really work in practice. I certainly don’t think communism or socialism has worked so far, so something has to be a little different about this new system, something I think that has not been figured out yet.

everephebe's avatar

@JLeslie That wasn’t me. :D I agree socialism and communism have not worked in the past. Time for a new idea. Something like a permaculture, a closed loop, an ecosystem.

JLeslie's avatar

@everephebe Here is a link to balle; small commnities around America are doing it. I think it was 60 Minutes that I first learned of it. They had a show about these communities that basically worked as I mention. A doctor might see a patient, and the doctor earns one point lets say, a point is an hour (I am making up the point thing because I don’t remember exactly how it is tallied) and then she can use the point to buy a service from someone else wo partcipates, might be for plumbing, maid service, dentist appointment, whatever. All of the people wprk for money as well, it is just in addition to or an alternate way to be paid, the entire economy of the commu ity does not work on the system.

ETpro's avatar

Thanks to everyone who has contributed their ideas and vented their frustrations.About the medical frustrations, @Coloma‘s experience highlights just how irresponsible and damaging to seniors the GOP Budget with its privatization of Medicare would be. It’s NOT saving medicare, it is abolishing it. @JLeslie‘s problems with the CT scans are just one more example why we do not want to throw seniors to the private sector wolves.

Funny, the whole rest of the developed world views healthcare as a basic right of all citizens, and they provide it at costs far lower than the USA. Yet for all the money we throw at healthcare, we rank 37th in the world in healthcare outcomes. We’re sandwiched between the developing nations of Costa Rica and Slovenia below the entire rest of the industrialized world. And it’s because we insist that healthcare is not a right, it’s something only those who can afford it should have. The riff-raff can just die, and good riddance. Compassionate Conservatism my ass.

In fact, what’s going on now isn’t conservatism at all. Conservative is preserving existing institutions and preferring tried and true solutions wherever possible. What’s going on mow with the new GOP is Union busting, privatization of virtually all government services, and an attempt to dismantle public education and the entire social safety net. The new GOP rulers of Michigan have given their Governor the power to appoint a private financial manager to take over any town or city in the state that he says is in financial crisis. His appointed financial manager can privatize schools, sell off public assets at no bid contracts, fire all elected officials, overturn any existing contracts and rule by decree. This isn’t conservatism, It is radicalism. It is increasingly fascist corporatism. As Mussolini said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

And as more and more Americans come to see what it is, it’s going to be stopped. It has to be, because it is unsustainable. It will destroy everything wholesome and good about America.

@CaptainHarley is wrong to say we are broke. That’s the litany of the corporatist—theire excuse for cutting everything the government does so it can be outsourced to them, and so they can get additional massive subsidies and tax cuts. We have to stop spending on everything but them. Well no, we don’t. Corporate America did fine before we instituted corporate welfare.

Our debt is less than 90% of our GDP. After WWII, it hit 120% of GDP, and we paid it down. To put that debt level in perspective, let’s think about an individual family. They earn $100,000 a year, and after saving up, they buy a $500,000 house with $100,000 down. They have a mortgage debt that is 400% of their “GDP”. Does that mean they are broke? Of course not. A house, if you stay in it and pay it off, is one of the best investments most of us make in life.

Same goes for a kid graduating from Med school. They probably have student loans 200% of their annual earnings. That means the new doctor is broke? Rubbish! Their education is an investment that will pay off over their entire working career.

We do need to reign in spending on things that aren’t investments in the future, or part of our social contract as a nation of people that care about one another. But we don’t need to let people starve in the streets and live in tent cities just so corporations can be exempt from all taxes and billionaires can pay less as a percentage of wage than hamburger flippers just starting out at a fast food joint. If that’s the plan for cutting spending—rob from the poor to spend on the rich—count me out.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@ETpro We’ll see, I suppose. I honestly hope you’re correct, but I fear you’re wrong! : ((

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro But, it still sickens me that even with medicare there are is money spent that is ridiculous! Most complain medicare does not oay enough for serices, or doctors complain, amd it is true for some things. But, the corruption among the doctors is disgusting. My MIL had a doctor bring her into the office unnecessarily for tes results and when she asked the doctor why she had to come in, the doctor flat out said, “it doesn’t cost you anything medicare pays.” everyone cries about how people will get free medical care on the backs other citizens, but the truth is any system that has billing for services a problem.

Also, I really question the cost of tuition in general. I did a question a while back, and someone suggested that partof the reason tuition has skyrocketed way faster than inflation, or salaries is partly due to government loans for school. Sounded plausable.

In the end, the way I sum it up is, there won’t be a big positive change until there is some sort of integrity dome that covers the US and drastically changes things.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@JLeslie

Right you are.

Some people are saying that there’s an “education bubble” just now, rather like the “housing bubble” that caused so many problems.

JLeslie's avatar

@CaptainHarley I don’t think education is the problem, that sounds scary to me actually, to think that way. I think greed and lack of integrity is the problem.

philosopher's avatar

Why do Congressman/women still receive Cadillac insurance and free vacations at Tax Payer expense?Shouldn’t we demand this end?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@JLeslie

Actually, it’s not “education” that’s the problem… it’s those in the financial end of education who are the problem.

jerv's avatar

Actually, like many things, education alone is a multi-faceted problem.

Consider, a quality education costs enough that almost all of the people who get one fall into one of the following categories:
1) Children from rich families – that leads to Oligarchy
2) Those who get government money – You’ll see far less of that with spending cuts
3) Those in countries other than the US – Other countries take education more seriously than we do, so they are more likely to produce qualified candidates.

The net effect is that you will see fewer middle-class and low-income people getting degrees, so in order to fill jobs that require more than a high school diploma employers will either turn to the rich or outsource more than they already do. Neither of those are a good thing.

But let us look at the lower levels of education, the K-12. Increased class sizes, lack of teaching materiels due to budget cuts, politicizing things by banning sex ed, evolution, or comparative theology (which aids cultural awareness) all hamper the education of our youth. Adding to that is “teaching to the test” so that the “No Child Left Behind” crap doesn’t cut funding even further, leaving schools more concerned with their budget than with teaching. Oh yeah, there is also the high dropout rate; if the folks can’t make enough money then Junior drops out of the 11th grade to work at McDonalds.

So, @CaptainHarley and @JLeslie, both of you are right, at least as far as you go. The catch is that this is such a huge problem with so many moving parts that addressing them all in even the most cursory manner would risk overflowing the storage capacity of Fluther’s servers. (Given how cheap hard drive storage is these days, that is saying something!)

@philosopher I think the argument is that all rich people earn/deserve what they get, and since Congress-critters get fat paychecks and killer perks, they must deserve them. I could be proven wrong, of course, but only by those who feel that CEOs don’t deserve to earn more than 100 times what the average worker at heir company does (as they did back when our nation was truly prosperous) and object to their obscene compensation packages these days rather than supporting them.

philosopher's avatar

@jerv
Most of Congress deserves to be throw out of office.
We should only vote for people who take an oath to put hard working Middle Class people first, and all legal American citizens.
Congress is what should be run like a business. They talk a good line and act like spolied children. No has as much vacation time.
In private industry they would all be fired or asked to resign.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Well, now that bin Ladin is dead, we can leave Afghanistan, right? He was the reason we went there in the first place, right? That’s a nice chunk of change right there. Now if we could just find those darned WMDs…

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