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My Message To Deb Fischer: You Didn't Build That

Earlier this year, the Romney for President campaign hosted a series of events centered on the theme: "We Built This." The origin of these events was a comment that President Obama made pointing out that businesses didn't build the infrastructure that they depend upon to make a profit. Romney's theme was based upon a misrepresentation of the President's remarks in the hopes of convincing voters that Obama is anti-business. What was particularly interesting about many of these events was that numerous Republican business owners featured at these events were the recipients of lucrative government subsidies, contracts and loans. Obviously, that reality rebutted the theme of the events and opened them up to charges of hypocrisy.

Deb Fischer would've fit in very well at these Romney events since she is the beneficiary of a lucrative government subsidy where she pays less than $5,000 a year to graze 1,000 cattle on about 11,000 acres of federal land. That's far less than the more than $110,000 that Fischer would have to pay a private landowner for those grazing privileges.

What this means in simple terms is that Fischer is receiving over $100,000 annually or about $325 per day in free rent courtesy of the taxpayers. Over the last 30 years, this sweet heart deal has saved Fischer around $3 million in rent payments. Furthermore, out of Nebraska's roughly 20,000 beef producers, only 136 ranchers receive the kind of subsidy that Fischer has enjoyed for all of these years.

When Senator Fischer was first asked eleven months ago about this corporate welfare she is receiving, she said she would have to "research the matter." I suppose since then Fischer has probably said we should "have a discussion about it" since she continues to collect this lucrative subsidy from the taxpayers. But at the same time of course, Ms. Fischer calls for spending cuts for everybody else. That's why Fischer has deservedly earned the moniker of the "Welfare Rancher."

This issue also exposes Deb Fischer as a phony fiscal conservative.

During the course of her campaign, she has continued to call for spending cuts but she has yet to identify a single specific spending cut that she supports. At the same time, Fischer calls for the permanent extension of the failed Bush tax cuts and says that we can balance the budget by increasing the level of economic growth and reducing unemployment.

That's the same kind of rhetoric we've heard from the Republicans over the last 30 years. The results of these vague promises to cut spending and specific promises to cut taxes have been soaring deficits. During the Reagan Administration, the national debt was tripled. During the eight years of the George W. Bush Presidency, the national debt was doubled. Obviously, Fischer supports a return to these failed fiscal policies.

Senator Bob Kerrey is the true fiscal conservative in the race. As Governor of Nebraska, he inherited a budget deficit and turned it into a surplus when he left office in 1987. When Kerrey was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988, the country was running then record budget deficits. As a U.S. Senator, Kerrey voted for deficit reduction plans from President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton that resulted in a balanced budget by the late 1990s.

A vote for Senator Kerrey is a vote for a bi-partisan approach to solving our country's fiscal and economic problems. Senator Kerrey has pledge to reach across the aisle to find solutions to our problems. His past history as Governor and U.S. Senator is proof that Kerrey will work on a bi-partisan basis to reach solutions.

In contrast, Fischer is running as a staunch partisan who will simply follow her party leader's instructions and mindlessly vote with them if she is elected to the U.S. Senate. Since it is looking increasingly likely that President Obama will be re-elected, a vote for Fischer is a vote for more job killing, partisan gridlock. Over the last year, the Republicans in Washington, D.C. have refused to allow an up or down vote on President Obama's jobs plan that would create 2 million new jobs. Our country simply can't afford four more years of that kind of dysfunction in Washington, D.C. That's why the voters should support Bob Kerrey for the U.S. Senate.

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

 

 

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Mitt Romney Is Not Fit To Be President of the United States

Yesterday's controversy over the tragic death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. diplomats tells us a lot about the character of GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney. As we all now know, Romney made the outrageous and blatantly false allegation that President Obama "sympathized with those who waged the attacks" on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Just what does this episode tell us about Mitt Romney's fitness to be President of the U.S.?

The biggest problem with Romney's allegation that Obama sympathized with the cowardly bums who attacked our diplomats was that it was simply false. The original statement that Romney responded to came out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo before the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Cairo and Benghazi. This particular statement mildly criticized a movie made in the U.S. that offended Muslims and was aimed at preventing an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The diplomats who put out this statement were in genuine fear for their lives.

In response to this statement from Cairo, the Romney campaign essentially accused the President of the United States of treason during the midst of an international crisis. Even after it was clear that the U.S. embassy statement in Cairo didn't sympathize with terrorists, Romney doubled down and once again accused President Obama of treason.

What this tells us is that when Mr. Romney was presented with a genuine crisis for the first time as a Presidential nominee, he failed the test miserably. What Romney did here was make two grossly misleading and slanderous statements in an attempt to exploit a national tragedy for partisan political gain. Romney's statement was so grotesque, virtually every Republican ran for cover and didn't back him up. Romney only received support from the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.

Senator Ben Nelson correctly blasted Romney for choosing to "take potshots for political gain" in his reaction to the deadly attack on the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Senator Nelson said it best, "They should zip their lips shut and come together as Americans and stop trying to score political points or partisan points after a tragedy. Now is a time when you see what people are truly made of. The United States needs to find these terrorists and take them to justice now."

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

 

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Does History Begin When the Republicans Take the Podium?

Earlier today, the Labor Department announced that 96,000 jobs were created in August. Obviously, the report is a bit of a disappointment and the Republicans were quick to criticize President Obama's economic policies. Are the Republicans correct that President Obama is solely responsible for the slow pace of the economic recovery? Can the Republicans' economic policies actually improve the economy's performance? Or as Vince Powers recently said, does history begin when the Republicans take the podium?

As a starting point, let's take a look at President Obama's record. Approximately 4.6 million private sector jobs have been created in the last 2.5 years. Moreover, the pace of job growth has accelerated in 2012 - the economy has created around 143,000 new jobs every month. While there is still more work to do, it is a significant improvement over what President Obama inherited. When President Obama took office, the economy was losing 700,000 jobs per month.

As I posted here recently, the Republicans bear a large share of the blame for the current slow pace of the recovery. The Republicans in the Congress haven't allowed an up or down vote on President Obama's American Jobs Act. Independent economists have said that President Obama's jobs bill would create 2 million jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to 7%. Moreover, since 2009, there have been around 600,000 layoffs in the public sector and most of those layoffs have occurred in states controlled by the GOP. During the economic recoveries during the Reagan and Bush 43 Administrations, the public sector actually added jobs. What about the Republicans' economic plans? Can they create the kind of robust recovery that our country needs? The first place to look is to examine the economic history from the last Republican President. According to the January 9, 2009, Wall Street Journal, Bush had the worst jobs creation record since Herbert Hoover. Only 3 million jobs were created during the Bush Presidency or around 31,000 jobs per month. Even if you give Bush every possible benefit of the doubt, the economy only created 86,000 jobs per month between 2002 and 2007. (Looking at Bush's record this way would be like evaluating Bill Callahan's record without taking into account the 2004 and 2007 seasons.)

The Republicans would tell you that it is unfair to look at Bush's record and that it should be off limits. But is Bush's record relevant? It is very relevant because Romney's economic platform is identical to that of George Bush. In 2004, Bush called for cutting spending, cutting taxes, deregulation and international free trade. Fast forward to 2012 and what does Romney think will improve the economy? The very same policies that Bush advocated in 2004. There isn't a dime's worth a difference between the two platforms.

What this tells us is that the Republicans want to bring back Bush's policies that resulted in the worst jobs creation record since the 1930s and an economic collapse in 2008. President Obama is like a football coach that took over a team that went 0-12 and was completely lacking in talent. By his fourth season, the team is 7-5 and playing in the Ticket City Bowl. It's progress but there is still room for improvement. On the other hand, the Republicans are like the coaching staff who went 0-12. Now these coaches are complaining that Team U.S.A. isn't in the Rose Bowl and they want their old jobs back.

What we need to do as Democrats is to re-elect President Obama and elect Bob Kerrey, Korey Reiman, John Ewing and Mark Sullivan to the Congress. We need to end the job killing gridlock created by the Congressional Republicans. The Congressional Republicans have emphasized party over country for four years now and have done everything they can to stifle the economic recovery. It's time to elect our candidates to the Congress who will put the American people and the country first.

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.
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Republican Rhetoric Sounds Great - If History Had Never Happened

The one thing the Republicans are great at is rhetoric, propaganda and bumper sticker slogans. It is definitely their strong suit and they're the best at it in the business. However, the Republican Party does a terrible job in everything else - especially in governing. If you believe the GOP's propaganda, you would think that they are fiscally responsible and the friend of senior citizens and the middle class. Unfortunately, a review of recent history quickly explodes that false image.

A good example where modern history isn't the Republicans' friend can be found in Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. In that speech, Romney - like many Republicans - claimed that President Obama went on an "apology tour" after he took office. However, every non-partisan fact checking source has found that claim to be false. Perhaps Mr. Romney should ask Osama Bin Laden and what's left of the leadership of Al Qaeda about that imaginary "apology tour."

Not to be out done by his running mate at the Republican Convention, GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan gave a widely panned speech full of falsehoods and misstatements. For example, Ryan criticized the President for walking away from the Simpson Bowles commission deficit-cutting recommendations when Ryan himself, a commission member, voted against those recommendations. He blamed Obama for a deficit mostly created by programs he himself voted for from two wars, two tax cuts, new Medicare benefits and the Wall Street bailout. And he repeated the tired lie about the Medicare "cuts" that are contained in Ryan's own budget plan. Other than that, it was great speech.

Closer to home, GOP Senate candidate Deb Fischer began airing an ad claiming that she opposes gas tax increases, but her record in the Unicameral shows she introduced and supported legislation to increase gas taxes at least a dozen times on two different bills as a State Senator. Moreover, Fischer's claim that she never led a filibuster of a sewer tax bill that cost Omaha residents over $300 million was debunked by several of her colleagues and past media reports.

Over in the 2nd Congressional District, Lee Terry can mislead with the best of them. You have the off-year, Washington Lee Terry and then you get the election year Lee Terry. The off-year, Washington Lee Terry fully supports the agenda of the most extreme elements of the Republican Party. That version of Lee Terry has supported efforts to privatize Social Security and turn it over to Wall Street since 2005. The election year Lee Terry always has a "conversion" on the issue of Social Security and that version of Lee Terry postures as the great defender of this successful program. However, once Terry gets re-elected he always returns to D.C. and votes with the likes of extremists like Paul Ryan and Todd Akin.

I think we can see a definite pattern here. Republican candidates hope that the voters have bad memories and forget what they've done in the recent past. The Republicans are hoping for voter amnesia this year because they know their agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy, middle class tax increases, and Social Security privatization is unpopular. The GOP knows that they can't win an honest debate on the issues. That's why we Democrats need to do a better job of getting our message out and we can start by refreshing voter memories again and again and again about the Republican' real record.

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Can Senior Citizens Afford Lee Terrynomics?

Recently, Representative Lee Terry took a swipe at his challenger John Ewing - contending that we "can't afford Ewingnomics." In this instance, Lee Terry was taking issue with Ewing's position that the failed Bush tax cuts for the top 2% of income earners should be rolled back. (Ewing favors retaining the Bush tax cuts for 98% of income earners.) That was obviously a swing and a miss by Mr. Terry. But what about Terrynomics? Can senior citizens afford Terrynomics?

The answer to that question is clearly no because Terry supports the Paul Ryan Medicare privatization plan. Mr. Terry voted for the Ryan plan in both 2011 and 2012. The Terry-Ryan plan would end Medicare's guaranteed benefit, bring back pre-existing conditions clauses and cost the average senior citizen an additional $6,000 in annual out of pocket medical expenses. A recent study by the Center For American Progress found that the Terry-Ryan plan could increase costs by almost $60,000 for seniors reaching the age of 65 in 2023.

But wait. Aren't those over the age of 55 not affected by the Ryan plan? We've heard that from Mr. Terry when he tried to explain his two votes for this regressive legislation that ends Medicare as we know it. That talking point is false because the Terry-Ryan plan will abolish the health care reform law passed in 2010. That will have a direct impact on today's seniors because it brings back the "doughnut hole," which requires seniors to pay 100 percent of any prescription costs after the annual total reaches $2,840 and until it hits $4,550. This change would cost Nebraska seniors around $16 million in 2012 alone.

If Lee Terry were to get his way and the Terry-Ryan plan became law, Nebraska seniors would also lose access to a host of preventive-care benefits in the health care law, including free wellness visits to physicians, mammograms, colonoscopies, and programs to help smokers quit. So, the next time Lee Terry tells you that his Medicare privatization plan doesn't affect today's seniors, please tell him to do a little fact checking before he makes that claim again.

Terry's phony claim that Medicare wouldn't impact current seniors isn't the only bogus thing Mr. Terry has said about Medicare. Terry claimed that Ewing supported a $716 billion "raid" on Medicare that slashed payments to doctors and other providers to pay for the law.

These so-called "cuts" in Medicare that Terry described are largely cuts in the Medicare Advantage Program - which was a boondoggle for the private insurance industry. Mr. Terry also didn't tell us that those same Medicare "cuts" are contained in the Terry-Ryan plan.

What about John Ewing? Does he support senior citizens? The answer is yes. Ewing has promised us that he would oppose Medicare privatization and that he would keep our promises to senior citizens.

On August 27, Ewing introduced a three point plan that would save Medicare. Ewing said one part of his plan would allow the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan. That is not permitted under current law. The change, he said, could save up to $24 billion annually. The other parts of Ewing's plan would strengthen Medicare's fiances by ending overpayments to health insurance companies and cracking down on Medicare fraud.

I believe the answer is clear. Senior citizens can't afford Lee Terrynomics. Re-electing Mr. Terry to the U.S. House of Representatives could potentially cost seniors thousands of dollars.

John Ewing is the genuine friend of senior citizens since he is opposed to Medicare privatization and supports a plan that shores up Medicare's finances. I would submit that the senior citizens of the 2nd Congressional District can't afford not to elect John Ewing to Congress!

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

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Bob Kerrey Shines In Debate

The first U.S. Senate debate is in the books and we can safely say that former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey came across as the best informed candidate with genuine solutions to the problems we face. In contrast, State Senator Deb Fischer largely stuck to the tired GOP talking points that she has been repeating over the last several months and once again, didn't get specific about how she would solve many of our problems.

The approach of the candidates on the issues of fiscal responsibility and entitlement reform provided a good example of the differences between the two candidates. Kerrey talked about his specific plans to save Social Security and Medicare and reiterated his support for the Simpson Bowles budget plan.

In contrast, Fischer refused to identify one single, specific spending cut she would support to reach her goal of reducing federal spending to 18% of GDP. Instead, she talked about how we could allegedly reduce the deficit by increasing economic growth and creating more jobs. Fischer's rhetoric on deficit reduction is identical to the kinds of things of things we heard from other Republicans while the deficit exploded during the last three Republican Presidencies.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the debate was that Fischer came out against the Ryan Medicare privatization plan and budget. In my opinion, this promise isn't very credible in light of the fact that Fischer continues to run as a hard core, partisan Republican. For example, during the debate, Fischer disagreed with Kerrey's proposal to create a non-partisan Congress similar to the Nebraska Legislature.

Fischer's extreme partisanship sends the signal that she will simply do the bidding of her party leaders if she should get elected. The Republicans have said that the passage of the Ryan budget will be the first order of business if they should win the elections. It's hard to imagine that Fischer could stand up to the leaders of her party on the GOP's most important piece of domestic legislation.

Fischer not only misled on the Ryan plan, she also was less than honest on another aspect of the Medicare issue. During the debate, Fischer several times mouthed the misleading Republican talking point that Obama Care "robbed" Medicare of $716 billion. Several non-partisan fact checking sites have proven that allegation is false. These so-called "cuts" in Medicare that Fischer described are largely cuts in the Medicare Advantage Program - which was a boondoggle for the private insurance industry. Fischer also didn't tell us that those same Medicare "cuts" are contained in the Ryan plan.

Medicare wasn't the only issue in which Fischer was less than truthful with the voters. During the debate, Fischer denied that she led a filibuster on a bill that would've exempted $325 million in sales taxes for Omaha area residents. However, some of her colleagues in the Legislature and several media reports indicate Fischer did indeed lead a filibuster that raised taxes on Omaha area residents.

Quite simply, Kerrey out performed Fischer. He displayed a superior command of the issues and offered up bona fide solutions to the serious problems now facing the United States.

In contrast, Fischer just offered up a series of partisan talking points and tried to obfuscate her record in the Nebraska Legislature. In the final analysis, the voters can select a candidate who is willing to cross party lines to solve problems or choose a candidate who will perpetuate the partisan gridlock in Washington. In the end, I'm confident that Nebraska voters will send Bob Kerrey back to the U.S. Senate.

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

 

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Returning Lee Terry To Washington To Cut Spending Would Be Like Bringing Back Pederson, Callahan and Cosgrove To Run The Nebraska Football Program

Representative Lee Terry has been running a new ad in which he claims that Washington "borrows and spends too much money" and that we should "cut spending now." In the tag line of the advertisement, Terry alleges that John Ewing would just "charge it" when it comes to new spending. Is Terry a credible advocate of fiscal responsibility?

Just what is Lee Terry's record on spending?

Unfortunately, Lee Terry's record on spending is abysmal. He is a member of one the most irresponsible Congressional majorities in history. I say let's start out by taking a little trip down memory lane in our effort to fact check Terry's ad.

In 2000, the U.S.A. had a record annual surplus of $236 billion and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected a surplus of $5.6 trillion over the next ten years. By the end of 2008, that same Congressional Budget Office was projecting a $1.3 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009. What went wrong? Why this huge turn around for the worse in our nation's finances?

The reason for the huge change of fortune for the worse was the irresponsibility between 2001 to 2009 of Lee Terry and his fellow Republicans. During this period of time, Terry voted for two tax cuts (that largely went to the wealthy), two wars, the Medicare Part D program and the Wall Street bailout. All of this deficit-exploding legislation was put on the national credit card. As Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stated about those days: "It was standard practice not to pay for things." During that irresponsible spending and borrowing spree, Mr. Terry voted to add $10 trillion to the national debt!

As we can see, Mr. Terry is a spending and fiscal responsibility hypocrite. Apparently, spending and deficits only matter to Terry when we have a Democratic President in office. Returning Terry to Washington to cut spending would be like if Nebraska hired Steve Pederson, Bill Callahan and Kevin Cosgrove to run the Nebraska football program. Terry has absolutely no credibility on spending and the deficit, and his ad should be called out for its blatant falsehoods.

We should contrast Terry's sorry record with John Ewing's tenure as the Douglas County Treasurer where policies he championed are now saving the taxpayers over a million dollars per year. It's not just enough to show up and cast votes, Nebraskans deserve someone who will actually take action - like John Ewing did.

It's also growing increasingly evident that the voters of Nebraska Congressional District Two are catching on to Terry's undistinguished record. A recent poll taken there indicates that Ewing has whittled Terry's lead down to only 46% to 40%. Whenever an incumbent polls at less than 50%, that means that incumbent is in trouble. What this means is that we have a very winnable race in Congressional District Two. It is time for us to redouble our efforts and work hard to elect a true fiscal conservative - John Ewing - to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.

 

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Fischer's Silence On The Ryan Budget Plan Speaks Louder Than Words

It's now been over a year since State Senator Deb Fischer refused to comment on the Paul Ryan budget plan, saying she hadn't read the 50 page document and needed more time to study it. However, the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate sheds an entirely new light on this issue.

Fischer indicated her ardent support for Ryan by saying that the "Romney-Ryan ticket provides strong leadership." Kerrey campaign manager Paul Johnson followed up Fischer's remarks by saying that, "With Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket, and with Fischer offering praise for the selection, we assume she supports the Ryan Plan." That is probably a fairly safe assumption since Fischer is running as a bitter partisan and has yet to identify a Democratic Senator she could work with in Washington.

Fischer's support of the Paul Ryan budget is game changer in the election because this budget plan is extreme and outside of the mainstream. As we've discussed here recently on this blog, the Ryan plan ends Medicare's guaranteed benefit, takes health care coverage from millions of Americans, brings back pre-existing conditions clauses and cuts taxes for corporations and the wealthy. In other words, the Ryan plan cuts Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that benefit seniors, the middle class and the poor to finance tax cuts for the wealthy. And yet, the Ryan plan doesn't balance the budget until 2040.

In coming out in favor of the Ryan budget plan, Fischer once again signaled that it is party over her constituents for the Valentine State Senator. Moreover, Fischer has decided to stand with the wealthy and corporations, and ignore the best interests of her fellow Nebraskans.

It's evident that Fischer has chosen to adopt Wall Street values rather than Nebraska values.


We now have one of the defining issues in the Nebraska Senate race.

The Republicans have said that if they win the elections this fall, their first order of business will be passing the Ryan plan. What this means then is that the very future of Medicare and our social safety net is at stake in this election. Bob Kerrey opposes the Ryan plan and has pledged to make reasonable reforms in our entitlement programs to bring our budget deficits under control. If we want to preserve Medicare and other safety net programs, we will need to get behind Senator Kerrey and work hard to elect him to the U.S. Senate.

 

 

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Happy Birthday Social Security

Romney has made his intentions clear with his VP pick, let's take this opportunity to show him how much we value our social protections.

 

Today marks the 77th birthday of Social Security - the most successful government program in U.S. history.  On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act.  Social Security pays benefits to retirees, widows, the children of the deceased and the disabled.  The Act was an attempt to limit what were seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children. By signing this Act into law, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal assistance for the elderly.

Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in U.S. history.  At the time the Social Act passed, poverty among the elderly exceeded 50%.  At the present time, the poverty rate for Americans over age 65 has been reduced to 9%.

Despite Social Security's undeniable success, the right wing of the GOP has always been opposed to this program.  One of the biggest talking points from the radical right is that Social Security is going broke and that we can't afford it.  As early as 1936, GOP Presidential nominee Alf Landon said that: "If the present compulsory insurance plan remains in force, our old people are only too apt to find the cupboard bare."  George W. Bush predicted in 1978 that Social Security would go broke in 1988 unless Congress privatized the system. Moreover, present day Republicans regularly predict - as they have for over 75 years - that Social Security will go broke.

Obviously, all of these previous Republican predictions of doom and gloom about Social Security have proven to be wrong and are still wrong.  Social Security is in a position to pay out all of the promised benefits until 2033.  If the Congress does absolutely nothing, Social Security would still be able to pay out 78% of the promised benefits beginning in 2034. However, simply lifting the earnings cap on Social Security taxes would insure the financial viability of the program for the indefinite future.  Similarly, Senator Kerrey's Social Security plan - which consists of a combination of modest benefit cuts and tax increases - would also enable us to keep our promises to senior citizens.

Social Security is wildly popular because it has been so successful. However, that success is a danger to the agenda of the GOP and it's corporate allies.  The last thing the GOP wants is a program that proves the government can do things that benefit the American people. That's why the GOP has nominated a Presidential ticket determined to privatize Social Security.  If want to celebrate more birthdays for Social Security in the future, we Democrats need to remain engaged and work hard for our candidates who will defend this program that has helped millions of Americans  from the ongoing attacks from the radical right.

 

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Republicans Propose To Repeal Progressive Reforms Of The 20th Century

Mitt Rommey's selection of Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) confirms that the center piece of the Republican agenda is to repeal the Progressive reforms of the 20th century. The conservative wing of the GOP has opposed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid since the inception of these programs. Just who is Paul Ryan?  What exactly does he stand for?

Paul Ryan has represented a suburban district of Milwaukee since 1998. Interestingly enough, Ryan has never held a job in the private sector - his entire career has been in Congress either as an aide or a member of the House of Representatives.  In 2005, Ryan said that the radical fiction author Ayn Rand was the reason he entered politics and he requires all staff and interns to read her books. A recent analysis of Ryan's voting record by Nate Silver of the New York times indicates that he is roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann, the controversial congresswoman from Minnesota.

Ryan's radical background is certainly reflected by the extreme agenda that he supports and that has been adopted by the Republican Party. Ryan's "claim to fame" so to speak is his plan that would convert Medicare into a voucher program and would require senior citizens to purchase private health insurance. This plan would also bring back pre-existing conditions clauses.  The vouchers wouldn't keep up with medical costs and the average senior citizen would incur an additional $6,000 to $8,000 in annual out of pocket medical expenses. Thus far, none of the Ryan plan's supporters have explained how seniors will be able to buy affordable, comprehensive health insurance from the private insurance industry after pre-existing condition clauses are back.

This regressive plan would impose huge cuts in domestic spending. Approximately 62% of the spending cuts in the Ryan budget would come from government programs that help those with low incomes.  Moreover, the Ryan plan would repeal Obama Care and that would strip health insurance coverage from millions of Americans.  Passage of the Ryan plan would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times.

And it gets even worse. The Ryan plan would cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans by $1 trillion by reducing the top marginal tax rate and top corporate rate from 35% to 25%.  This plan would also establish a territorial tax system that would allow corporations to shift their profits overseas and avoid U.S. taxes altogether.

The Republicans tout the Ryan plan as a deficit reduction and balance budget plan.  However, the Ryan plan wouldn't balance the budget until 2040.  Instead, the Ryan plan is more of a blueprint for the implementation of the Republican party's radical and regressive agenda of slashing the safety net and redistributing money upwards.

The Ryan plan is so extreme that when a Democratic Super PAC informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan - while also advocating tax  cuts for the wealthiest Americans - the respondentssimply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing. Moreover, the Ryan plan was described as "radical" by none other than Former House  Speaker Newt Gingrich. (Newt Gingrich calling the Ryan plan "radical"  is like Charlie Sheen saying, "That party is too wild for me.")

Ryan's plan to transform  Social Security is as extreme as his plan to privatize Medicare.  Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan support George W. Bush's ill fated scheme to partially privatize Social Security.  This plan would divert trillions of dollars in Social Security taxes that are financing benefits for senior citizens and give them to Wall Street to invest in the stock market.  As recently as 2011, Ryan described Social Security as a "Ponzi Scheme."

This debate over the future of our social safety net will play out here in Nebraska this fall.  Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith have all voted two times in favor of the Ryan plan in the House of Representatives.  (Mr. Terry also supports the Bush Social Security privatization scheme.) Thus far, State Senator Deb Fischer hasn't taken a position on the Ryan plan.  (No surprise there.) However, I fully expect Ms. Fischer to vote in favor of the Ryan plan if she is elected since she is running as a hard core GOP partisan.

Romney's selection of Ryan has raised the stakes in this fall's elections.  The very existence of the Progressive Reforms of the 20th century that saved the middle class are on the line this fall.  What  this means is that we Nebraska Democrats have to warn our moderate friends about the GOP's truly radical and frightening agenda.  It also  means that we have to work extra hard to elect our slate of Democratic candidates.  We can count on President Obama, Senator Kerrey, Korey Reiman, John Ewing and Mark Sullivan to protect our senior citizens and the middle class from the agenda of the radical right.

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