Saturday, September 27, 2008

Republican Agenda: Avoid Responsibility

Over the past twenty eight years of Republican dominance the main goal has been to take the burden off the executive class and place it on people riding in coach. It's called "risk shifting" or "cost shifting" but you might as well call it what it is: avoiding obligations. Obligations that have been key parts of the social contract for generations. Obligations we are owed because we have paid for them. Basic job security, retirement security, health insurance, a clean environment, well-funded public schools, a safe infrastructure; these things used to be part of the contract people made with their society, with their government and their employers. We work hard, but there certain things we expect in return. This was the world we lived in during the post FDR years, the best years America ever had. The Republican mission over the past generation has been to pull it all down. Helped by their corporate backers and lobbyists they have succeeded. The money is gone. They have submitted their bill, and it is enormous.

"So this is how the "ownership society" works. We own all the bad stuff."

"Like On Wall Street, Current Health Care Policy Privatizes Profit And Socializes Risk"

"Gaming-the-system-for-profit has spawned the $20 billion annual insurance subsidiary known as "denial management" - health insurance middlemen whose sole purpose is to search claims for excuses to delay, deny or renege on reimbursements. Furthermore, thirty percent of provider health claims are initially denied, requiring multiple resubmittals."

"Denial Management Industry Grows Amid Debate Between Health Insurers, Physicians Over Claims"

"Almost 1/3 of every health care dollar goes to CEO’s, stockholders, marketing, duplicative claim processing, and insurance companies generally fighting patient claims. This compares to just 3.2% overhead costs for U.S. Medicare, a single payer system that virtually all seniors agree should be maintained.

"Each year, one million families go bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills."

"Scott Stoermer, a spokesman for the League of Conservation Voters, said that shifting cleanup costs from industry to taxpayers was already a potent political issue in certain Congressional districts and was likely to become more so in the current atmosphere of corporate scandals.

''This is all about government letting corporations get away with things that hurt average Americans and leave taxpayers to foot the bill,'' Mr. Stoermer. ''It's not just about cleaning up toxic waste, it's about fairness and which side are you on.''

"Efforts to replace public institutions with market mechanisms shift the burden of life’s many risks disproportionately to those without substantial private wealth. The loss of life and livelihoods after Hurricane Katrina was increased, thus, by decisions to cut public investment in social services, physical infrastructure, public communications and public administration. As is often the case, the burden fell disproportionately on racial minorities, women, and children."

"Contingent workers--contractors, freelancers and "temps"--have become increasingly common in the work force... Contingent-worker arrangements come in many forms but have a common theme: a company gets the benefit of a worker's labor without the normal employer burdens by shifting them to some other party."

"No, it's not your imagination: Employers this year continued to shift more of the cost of health care to their employees."

"Every Wal-Mart store employing 200 or more people costs taxpayers more than $420,000 in government social services used by employees whose low wages and unaffordable health insurance mean they largely subsist among the ranks of the working poor."

"The currently favored response to rising insecurity is to throw more tax breaks and individual accounts at Americans to encourage them to save and invest on their own. This may help the privileged, but it won’t provide strong guarantees of economic security to ordinary Americans, who are just barely staying afloat. Nor will it stop the huge shift of risk onto these hardworking families as jobs, health care, and retirement all become less secure. Quite the opposite: “The Ownership Society” is akin to throwing a lead weight to a drowning man, on the assumption that now he will really have an incentive to swim."

"The availability and affordability of coastal wind insurance has become a serious and growing economic problem, and something’s gotta give. Unfortunately, most legislative efforts and proposals to address these problems are based on shifting risk away from coastal property owners and on to the government – they're nothing more than broad-based transfers of risk to taxpayers. Florida, which arguably faces the greatest challenges, has turned to the state-owned Florida Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to assume significant amounts of coastal wind risk."

The Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Page- Jay S. Fishman - August 27, 2007

"In its [2006] budget, the Administration proposes net federal Medicaid funding cuts equal to $14 billion over the next five years and $35.5 billion over ten years through a combination of legislative changes and regulatory action. [1] These reductions follow on the heels of significant federal Medicaid cuts ($4.9 billion over five years and $26.5 billion over ten years) enacted as part of the budget reconciliation bill signed into law on February 8."

"Companies Dump Pension Obligations on Taxpayers"

"Bush is going to leave Iraq for the next president to clean up"

"Bush is expected to hamstring the next president with a record federal budget deficit "

Meanwhile Bush's war––McCain's war––costs American taxpayers $12 billion a month. Much of it goes into the pockets of private contractors.


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