Only You Can Save Medicare & Social Security

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has always wanted to privatize Social Security and Medicare. It has been an Ayn Randian dream of his since entering politics. It is rather hypocritical of him considering he benefitted from Social Security and like all of us, has family members receiving Medicare. Mr. Ryan likes to talk about his plans, but he is always vague about the benefits his plans would have for ordinary Americans. He usually leaves it at “saves taxes” and people can take care of themselves, invest wisely and then moves on. He will lecture people about his plans both on the campaign trail and to the Republican caucus but he will never “debate” his plans with someone with a different point of view. Typical for a conman one would think.

Paul Ryan has publicly said that he now has a mandate to phase out (or privatize via vouchers) Medicare in 2017. He needs to be reminded the Republicans may have kept control of the House and Senate and Donald Trump won the White House but the GOP lost seats in both chambers of Congress, Democrats still received a higher number of votes than Republicans and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for President by 2 million. Not much of a mandate if you ask me.


Anyhow, here’s where we currently stand with both Medicare and Social Security:

A total of 53.8 million Americans collect Medicare. Of them 44.9 million collect because they are over 65 and 8.9 million collect for disabilities. 53.5 million collect Medicare Part A, 49.3 million collect Medicare Part B, 16.2 million collect Medicare Part C and 40.5 million collect Medicare Part D. There is currently $280.5 billion in the Trust Fund and Medicare takes in $599.3 billion annually in tax revenues. The average Medicare recipient collects $12,179.00 a year in benefits. These recipients for the most part have substandard fixed incomes with little to no money to spare.

A total of 65.8 million collect Social Security. Of them 45.1 million collect due to retirement and 20.7 million collect due to being disabled. There is $2.6 Trillion in the Social Security Trust Fund that will pay full benefits for another 20 years if nothing is done. After that a reduced benefit can be paid out for another 55 years. It is noted the easiest fix to ensure complete Social Security solvency is simply lifting the FICA cap from Payroll Taxes currently set at $114,000.00 a year. The average amount of benefits for Social Security is $1,239.04 a month and the average recipient has little to no savings, pensions, 401(K)s to supplement this amount.

Party membership has absolutely no impact on whether you collect Social Security or Medicare. Any changes to either program impacts every family in this nation regardless of race, income, religion, ethnicity, or savings.

Now to be fair, currently Ryan is only talking about Medicare not Social Security. We know Ryan still wants to phase out and privatize Social Security, but he remembers that when George Bush won reelection in 2004, he said he had a mandate and took to the road to sell privatizing Social Security to the public. Didn’t go so well because both Republicans and Democrats contacted their Republican and Democratic representatives in Congress and told them in one unified voice, “No fucking Way!” and the plan was dead on arrival. However, Ryan has been secretly giving it life support since then.

Ryan’s plan for Medicare hasn’t changed. He wants to phase it out and replace it with a private medical voucher system much like private schools. This is the plan he advocated for as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Now you don’t have to be an economics major to understand that all vouchers do is supplement the wealthiest from paying tuition or in this case medical care, at the expense of the middle and working class who don’t have enough money to pay for private schools or medical services with the vouchers provided.

In short, under Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand plan, the majority of Tax Payers will assist the wealthiest of Americans to offset their medical costs while they receive nothing in return to help defray their costs in a completely privatized system.

The Ryan plan provides the elderly an $8,000.00 yearly voucher for healthcare in the private system. Bear in mind, healthcare costs and pharmaceutical costs continue to rise above the rate of inflation. Also keep in mind (as noted above) the Ryan Plan will cut over $4,000.00 in government subsidies provided the elderly and disabled while these individuals only on average collects just over $1,200.00 a year to pay for housing, food, transportation, heat, cooling, you name it. They would have to pony up another $4,000.00 a year on a fixed income just to be where they were before and even under Medicare and Medicare supplemental plans, they still have additional costs not covered at all.

Until at least 2018 the Republicans will continue to control Congress. Further they now have a Republican President. We can no longer count on President Obama to veto such bills coming from Congress. We are back in 2006 with a Republican President and a Republican Congress trying to screw the majority of the American People by taking away something that has worked so well for millions only because Wall Street wants the money in both the Medicare and Social Security Trust funds to line their pockets.

I have proposed that instead of just allowing Paul Ryan to lecture his caucus and tell only part of the story to the American People to sell his idea he be willing to fully debate the entire story, facts, figures and all before someone like Bernie Sanders on live television so the constituents in both parties can see what is being proposed and if it is in their best interest or not. Of course it is unlikely this will occur so we must contact our family and friends and have them contact each member of Congress telling them in no uncertain terms you will support any privatization of your Medicare or your Social Security. We stopped them before we can do it again.

Everything Paul Ryan and the Republicans are pushing for involves leaving your retirement income and healthcare in the hands of Wall Street and the whims of the Stock Market. Imagine if Bush was successful with Privatizing Social Security and all these retired folks suddenly had to deal with the crash of 2008. Paul Ryan is a big fan of Health Savings Accounts which guess what, rely on the whims of the Stock Market. You get my point?

Without President Obama, we can only rely upon ourselves to hold Congress accountable. Doing or saying nothing is cutting our own financial and medical throats.

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Moving Forward

It is natural and patriotic to revere our founding fathers and their wisdom in creating the Constitution and I’m one who does. However, they were products of their time and certainly were not saints and could not see into the future. Among several issues that plague us today are two serious issues that impacted the outcome on Election Day and does not bode well for our nation in the future.

At the time of our founding, it was accepted that only white educated male property owners had the ability and intelligence to govern our republic. We were not founded as a full fledge democracy but rather a Representative Republic. In that republic white males would have the right to vote for their local representation, but as a compromise between the fledgling states and the views of the time, they would not be allowed to vote directly for the President of the United States. Instead they could vote for qualified and able “Electors”  in a process determined by the individual states, who would in turn select our President and Vice President. Further, again because of the views that uneducated people were not qualified to make important decisions and again as a compromise to the States, nothing in the Constitution actually guarantees individual voting rights. The mechanism for voting is still up to the purview of the states. Some Band-Aids have been amended to the constitution to address voting rights, but nothing that absolutely guarantees it or how elections are ran.

So because individual states have the full authority to determine how Electors are selected for the Electoral College and the fact that there is nothing specific or concrete in our Constitution guaranteeing each citizen the equal right to vote throughout the country, we have an 18th Century compromise still in effect that has twice now in the past 16 years allowed a President to be selected who lost the national popular vote, Al Gore and now Hillary Clinton. Due to the gutting of the legislative “Voting Rights Act” individual states were very successful in suppressing minority votes on false pretense of “Voter Fraud” to facilitate appointing Electors and impacting local elections too. I asked a Trump supporter on Twitter to explain to me why in this day and age why a vote from a rural state carries more weight in selecting a President than a vote from a densely populated state? Why shouldn’t all votes across the nation be the same in selecting a national leader? Representation in Congress is one thing but this is the leader of the entire nation, so why is geography more important than individual views and rights on a national level? Of course he had no response.

The fact of the matter is however that he is right, whether you like it or not, agree with it or not, citizens in sparsely populated Red states, though their numbers represent a fraction of the overall population, have more say in selecting the President than all the people in the Blue coastal States who by the way pay the Federal Taxes those in the Red states depend upon to meet their budgetary State needs. Whether you think it’s fair or not, under our current system it is the law.

There is a lot of blame to go around for the election results. Polling interestingly has shown that a full 20% of those who voted for Donald Trump have an unfavorable opinion of him and don’t trust him. The issue was they felt worse about Hillary Clinton. Polling of Trump supporters clearly show that the majority of them are actually doing very well currently and they will acknowledge he is a liar, unqualified and not fit temperamentally to be president but he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. We can debate the issue of why Clinton was the Democratic Nominee but the fact remains she was, she received more popular votes than Trump and the attacks against her were hyped and unfounded. The Electoral College and the lack of critical thinking skills of the voters have given us Donald Trump. Perhaps to some degree the founders were right about the voter. Problem is the Republican Party have molded this loophole in the Constitution to their advantage and this must end.

Although it would be time consuming and very difficult the only solution to this problem in the years to come will be a Constitutional Amendment to not only eliminate the Electoral College but also make voting an equal right enjoyed by all United States Citizens with the same privileges and responsibilities regardless of who they are or where they live. As you know the process is long and is always an uphill battle. Now as someone pointed out to me on Twitter today, “Why would the GOP allow such an amendment to be presented?” That is a good point. Basic Civics tells us that Congress presents and votes on any amendment to the Constitution, it is then voted on in both chambers and must pass with two-thirds of the vote, be signed by the President and then sent to all State Legislatures where it must be ratified by three-fourths of the States.

Now with the Republicans controlling each branch of our Federal Government and most of the States why would Republicans even initiate such an amendment since the Status Quo has worked so well for them?

That is a fair question. The problem and solution lies with We the People. Over 60% of Americans polled stated they wanted a third party candidate to run in 2016. They state that the problem is the system is rigged to only permit a two party system. Well, that’s not quite it. It’s not rigged, it’s that way by design going back 240 years. You cannot have a viable third party candidate run and win in a system that relies on the Electoral College and a Constitution that does not clearly state that a vote is a sacred right that cannot be suppressed and the results cannot be manipulated with. In short we need to start adopting more of a Parliamentary system to get past the current two party system but that can only happen with a Constitutional Amendment and national laws governing the election process and validity.

It’s all good and fine to complain about the current system, we hear these complaints every two years but we spend too much time shouting in the streets, on social media and when we complain to our representatives, we only complain to the ones who share our party affiliation. We spend too much time preaching to the choir than trying to convert the sinner.

This entire election process clearly showed that majorities of both Republican and Democrats don’t trust their nomination process and we already know Independents and those aligned with Third Parties agree. But again the problem is Constitutional. So to effect a change, to get this addressed in Congress to begin and eventually ratify an amendment we must act on what unites 60% of us, changing the constitution and taking our demand straight to Congress and our State Legislatures. Don’t look at these representatives as Republicans or Democrats look at them as members of Congress who must serve you. Organize, lobby and push a change of the system at a constitutional level. Let them know you will not support anyone, whether they share your party affiliation or not with campaign donations or more importantly your vote.

Doing nothing will get you no results. That is the problem with our system. Those who affiliate with Republicans only get active every two years while Democrats only get active every four years and we always fight the wrong battle to effect change. You really want a third party? Be that party yourself and get active to push an amendment. Oh, and it doesn’t end there. As a nation our views are not being heard by our representatives. Why should they listen to you if you won’t be heard? In your silence they only have to listen to their big money supporters and they use that money to lie to you. Get informed, get organized and get active or this repeats time and time again. This has to start somewhere.