Dad on Paul Ryan's healthcare policy


On Medicare, if Ryan is so sure his voucher program is better for seniors and the budget, why does he not have the courage to propose a clean-sweep change? It’s because he knows the voucher program will screw seniors, and the seniors know it, too, that’s why the 55 cut-off. It will do nothing to hold down cost of health care in the country (it only serves to reduce government expenditures, so Ryan and the plutocrats can pay for their tax cuts for millionaires), which continues to consume more and more of our GDP, make lots of practitioners and corporations rich while producing second- and third-world outcomes. More than likely, the private insurers will pick off the healthiest seniors, and the sickest group will quickly end up on Medicaid and further drive up that programs already soaring costs.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • redpanda

    People over here often state that tax cuts for the rich only serve to make them richer at the expense of the rest of us, while people on the Right state exactly the opposite: that without tax cuts the businesses will just move overseas to increase their profits, and so in multiple ways that money feeds back into the economy that we all participate in.

    Both both sides seem to always just state these claims as matters of fact, without seeming to ever back them up. What’s a guy like me supposed to do? I’ve ordered a couple books by different economists on various sides of some of these issues, so hopefully that will help me sort it out.

    • Josh R.

      If you get five books by economists that lean to the left, and five books by economistst that lean to the right, you’ll likely be right where you started after reading them all. The problem is that many rational arguments can be made by both sides. Everything that is being said ‘sounds’ rather convinicing. I’d suggest that you try out Economics textbooks instead. Learn the fundamentals and then go out and find actual statistics. Base your opinions on reality rather than other peoples’ opinions.

      In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they aren’t. There are oceans of variables that just can’t be accounted for in an academic vacuum.

      (I should note that I have absolutely no background in economics and that my advice is spoken from atop Mt. Stupid. This is however the path that I would choose if I ever did want to have a more informed opinion.)

    • Loqi

      You are conflating personal tax rates and corporate tax rates. Your first paragraph is quite confusing. I’ll address both.

      Corporate taxes are extremely low right now. Many of the companies that are complaining about tax rates paid laughable tax rates (one of Romney’s ads featured a CEO saying his business was at risk because of the high taxes, but looking at their tax records reveals they managed to get their tax rate to 0% – I guess they expected reverse taxes or something). Almost every country the businesses would move to has higher tax rates than we do. If taxes are too high and forcing businesses to leave now, I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t leave decades ago, when taxes were significantly higher than they are now.

      As for individual tax rates, the trickle down model has proved to be an utter failure. The average income of the wealthy has gone through the roof in the last 30 years, yet median income has gone down when adjusted for inflation. If the whole trickle down thing worked, the middle class would be swimming in money because of all the trickling. Think about it from the perspective of who spends how much of their income. How much of his/her annual income does someone making $15,000 after tax spend? Probably all of it. Now let’s say we reduce that person’s taxes so their after tax income is now 20,000. Now how much of their income are they spending? Probably still all of it. So tax revenues went down $5,000, but $5,000 went toward increasing consumer spending (“went into the economy”, as people like to say). Now imagine a person making $15,000,000,000 after tax. How much of his/her income is getting spent? Let’s say they live the most extravaggant lifestyle imaginable and spend 10,000,000,000 per year. That’s an obscene amount; nobody could actually spend money that fast, but let’s just say they can. Now let’s reduce that person’s taxes to get an after tax income of $20,000,000,000. Now how much is that person spending? Still 10,000,000,000, because they were already past the point where money had any significance. Having more isn’t going to change their spendig habits. So tax revenues went down 5,000,000,000, and consumer spending went up…zero. Obviously that’s an extreme example, but it holds true that the lower and middle classes spend a greater percentage of their income than the wealthy, so reducing taxes on the lower and middle classes is more efficient for boosting the economy than reducing taxes on the wealthy.

      • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

        Moreover, it gets the supply/demand equation right.

        The idea of giving tax breaks to the wealthy and, more importantly, to businesses, is based on the idea that businesses desperately want to hire people, but they don’t have the money available to do so. By lowering their tax burden, they’ll be able to hire more people, and therefore prosperity spreads.

        The problem with this theory is that it is based on the false premise that companies can’t hire enough people to meet the demand for their products. We have a deficit of demand right now, with the middle class unable to buy the things being made, so we have an excess of supply. That companies are making more money than they’ve made in 60 years and still are not hiring also puts the lie to this idea.

        So, if I own a bakery and I hire somebody to make cakes for me, I’m giving them money. Let’s say this person can make 10 cakes a day. Now, while I’m getting orders for 10 cakes a day, I’m golden, but when times are tough people aren’t buying cakes. I don’t need to hire another baker because I’m only getting orders for 7 cakes a day, and my current baker can cover that easily. Let’s now say that the government gives me a new tax cut on my bakery. I have more money. I can hire another baker.

        Why would I? I’m still only getting orders for 7 cakes a day. I don’t need another baker. Am I supposed to hire an extraneous baker out of the goodness of my heart?

        That’s where the trickle down model falls apart. If, on the other hand, you provide services for the poor and middle class that they would have otherwise had to pay for out of pocket (let’s say they now have an extra $60 a month because contraception coverage is mandated), that frees up more money for them to buy other things. Like my cakes. Now I’m getting orders for 15 cakes a day because people can afford them. Not only am I making more money, but I *have* to hire another baker just to keep up with the demand.

        See where I’m going with this?

        • b00ger

          So much correct think in so little space. Kudos to you.

          • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

            Thank you. I was afraid I was a little rambly.

  • John Eberhard

    My friend Abbott Kaplan says it this way: Ryan’s trying to pit folks over 55 against everyone else with his “don’t worry, it won’t affect you” ploy. What he ignores or just doesn’t get is that pretty much all of us over 55 folks know and care for someone under 55 and we old folks
    are not interested in selling out our posterity. What’s really troubling about the I-got-mine-screw-you attitude is that Ryan appears not to see anything wrong with it. Maybe that mindset is one of the things that differentiates radical right-wingers from the rest of us.

    • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

      While I would agree that most people over 55 care about somebody under 55, the ones who vote don’t seem to give a shit. I once read a description of the economy of today as a “going out of business sale for the Baby Boom generation,” and the voting trends of older people for the past 30 years or so seems to indicate that. Baby Boomers were left a bustling infrastructure, good social programs, and a robust economy. Unfortunately, somewhere around the “greed is good” 80′s, there was this collective decision to pretend that they worked for everything and therefore should give nothing to their kids.

      I’m not specifically targeting you, John, or even a whole lot of seniors, but I think it’s important to note that the ones who do the most voting as a block genuinely feel like they accomplished everything on their own and therefore are determined to leave nothing to what they consider their lazy progeny (well, not *their* progeny, but those other people’s kids). That’s what Ryan is trying to exploit with his plan that somehow will pay for all those tax cuts by not saving a dime on his Medicare cuts for ten years.

      Ultimately, the Ryan plan and its supporters are just magical thinkers, no different from theists. There is a vast interconnected web of behaviors and beliefs that are all required to maintain a sense of personal worth, and this is part of it. They have to believe that they can get Medicare because they paid for it, but nobody else should because those other people didn’t. It’s vital to feed their sense of superiority and dogged determination to deny that their parents set them up for life.

    • machintelligence

      John Eberhard:

      What’s really troubling about the I-got-mine-screw-you attitude is that Ryan appears not to see anything wrong with it. Maybe that mindset is one of the things that differentiates radical right-wingers from the rest of us.

      I always thought that it was the Rand school Libertarians who had the motto “I’m fine, fuck you very much”.

      • redpanda

        It seems like there is a lot of crossover between those two groups.

  • Chuck Miller

    It’s called spending through the tax code and both sides do it, and both parties use different terminology. When Democrats propose it Republicans call it “welfare” or “entitlements” while Republicans call theirs “vouchers”, or “tax breaks”. In the end, they all transfer money from tax payers to beneficiaries. Looking at it another way, it makes no difference if someone receives a government check for $1,000 or a “voucher” or other provision that reduces their taxes by $1,000. Either way, the deficit is increased by $1,000.

    I’ll site just one example of a tax provision that the GOP loves that amounted to $98.6 Billion last year. It may shock you to learn that it all went to middle class and, to a lesser extent, wealthy individuals. It’s the mortgage interest deduction. In order to get this deduction one must own a home, have a mortgage on that home, and pay enough in interest and other deductible items to exceed the standard deduction. If you own your home free and clear, or pay too little in interest because you live below your means too bad, you don’t get it, but your neighbor does and in essence, the government “transferred” some of your wealth to them.

    It can be argued that the wealthy have benefited more from “spending through the tax code” and that “wealth transfer” has occurred and it moved in the direction of the top income earners, the one percent and the fortunate 400 who benefited the most in good times and bad.

    The big problem with Ryan’s voucher proposal is that it guts Medicare and reduces the benefits to the level of a “discount coupon”. The end result is that millions who paid the medicare tax through payroll deduction will be screwed. The wealthy, they will make out just fine.

  • smrnda

    Supply side economics is just ridiculous. If you give a tax cut to a business, they now are making more money than before without having to invent in new workers or new facilities. You don’t expand a business just because you have more money – you only expand in any way when there is increasing demand, and that can only happen if rich people see that people with less money than them have money to spend. Give a business a tax break in a recession and that not going to increase jobs.

    A problem is that in the last 30 or so years, people who make money off investments and other forms of passive ownership have profited at the expense of workers – one reason is declining strength of unions, but even those weren’t that strong in say, the late 70s. Another is that employers have shifted away from full time jobs with benefits to busting workers to part time level (think Wal Mart.) Globalization could be partly to blame, along with a minimum wage that’s not worth much, but overall it’s the owners putting a squeeze on workers.

    I think a factor in the indifference of seniors to the next generation is changing demographics. A lot of white seniors could care less if America goes downhill when they die since they look at it as a nation that’s no longer the “America” they knew and loved.