Trump Cuts Medicare and Social Security in 2020 Budget.

131

If re-elected, President Donald Trump has budgeted to cut Medicare by $848 billion. He will cut Medicaid by $1.5 Trillion and cut $25 billion from Social Security.  Forbes, the magazine for and about global corporations and the rich, which annually publishes the list of 400 richest Americans, says that we need not be worried. They are not cuts exactly. Trump is just moving money to other places.

Here’s the truth. Trump is cutting Medicare “provider payments” by about $545 billion. While that is not cuts to you, it is cuts to hospitals and doctors and services. The funds making up the rest of the $845 billion, are simply being transferred out of Medicare to be used for other things. While they won’t be deducted from Medicare, they’ll be deducted from HHS programs, other programs that serve Americans. This means that there will be about $300 billion less of those funds in the Medicare budget. So that means reductions in government funds to hospitals for Graduate Medical Education, to aid medical school graduates, residencies and fellowships. Hospitals will lose funding to support those programs. The question becomes, is this money better used to give tax cuts to billionaires or to finish off the education of surgeons and medical specialties? And who wil pay the shortfall?

How do you think private hospitals will recoup the money? If something is a hundred dollars, and Trump now only pays them $50 for the government’s share instead of $75, whom do you think will make up the extra $25?  You will. The hospitals will absorb a very small amount, and your Blue Cross/Blue Shield Medicare Gap plan premium will go up. So long as we have a hospital system designed to make profit, s— under our for-profit care system it must–to cover the difference.

Multi-Millionaires, Billionaires and corporations had their taxes cut. That resulted in a trillion dollar deficit every year for as long as those tax cuts are in effect. And every year, the average American is going to go further into debt. You will pay the shortfall in Medicare costs. As with most things involving Trump, there is no magic. His Manhattan real estate was subsidized by hundreds of millions in tax breaks, which meant cuts to services and increased taxes for the average New York citizen. When New York City government complained, he had Roy Cohn sue them for hundreds of millions and start a campaign of harassment and vilification of the Mayor and his staff.

Today your taxes may be a little lower than they were. But health insurance premiums are going up. Medicare premium increases in 2020 exceed Social Security cost of living increases. There are 11 million Americans on Medicaid and Medicare, “dual eligibles” they are called, the retired among the working poor.

Medicaid is a program that serves those in the lowest income levels. These are the poorest of the working poor. In states where Medicaid was not picked up income levels are set too low and, because there are not subsidies for these individuals, premiums are totally unaffordable.

We know what Trump, billionaire inheritance baby, thinks of health care.  Here’s what he did in last year’s budget, in 2018 for the 2019 Budget, according to the bi-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:

“The budget doubles down in both areas.  It cuts Medicaid and subsidies for private coverage in the marketplace by $763 billion over the next decade, with cuts reaching $172 billion annually by 2028.Most significantly, it embraces the ACA repeal bill sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy, Lindsey Graham,Dean Heller, and Ron Johnson (the “Cassidy-Graham” proposal), then cuts funding for health coverage programs well below the already shrunken levels in that bill.”

“The Trump proposal eliminates the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults and its subsidies that help low- and moderate-income people obtain marketplace coverage, replacing this funding with a block grant whose funding would fall further and further behind current-law funding each year.  The proposal also imposes a per capita cap on federal Medicaid funding for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.”

This quote from CBPP merely points out that these cuts to the Trump 2020 budget are not an aberration. He did it in 2019. Remember, Trump held a party at the White House when the Republicans in the House of Representatives finally succeeded with a vote to repeal Obamacare. Millions of Americans only have health care only because a dying John McCain, voted, with his final vote, to retain it. All other Republican Senators voted to repeal Obamacare, and all its protections, leaving Americans with no coverage at all. It may seem cruel and stupid.

Those are the facts. Republicans feel that taxes are paid by the rich. The rich, who already have quite affordable health care and Republicans who have created the best health care for Congress, feel that tax revenues should be as little as possible. Revenues should flow from business to individuals in whatever formula that those who run the companies feel it should. A large number of Americans have voted in those people and the vast majority of Americans now must live under what many people would call repressive rules.

Trump cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, in his 2020 budget. His plan is to send the money in bloc grants to the states, particularly to the states where governors have already denied Medicaid to 2.5 million of the poorest Americans

That Trump lied about providing good, reliable health care should come as no surprise. For eight years, the Right Wing needed no excuse to find any tiny hint of a lie in the policy or statements by President Obama. The media reported what were often lies without any interpretation or explanation. The frequent accusations or implications by Republicans or Fox News were usually the result of some Republican’s  making a change to a law, often to enrich some billionaire, and then using  a prior statement by President Obama about the law to accuse him of a “a lie.”

Trump lied about his whores, his taxes, his Cabinet, his wealth, his wives and his attempts to bribe foreign leaders. Even the virtually oblivious national press has counted an unprecedented 9,000 lies by this President! There is a printed, published 2020 budget that calls for $848 billion in cuts to Medicare, an astounding $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, There is an additional $25 billion in cuts to Social Security. If you want to know the truth, read the 2020 Budget bill. Trump hired the guys who wrote it, and he signed it.

Donald Trump sees himself as one of the privileged few who have, as their birthright, a superior position in society. He was born rich. his wealth is largely in New York City real estate which has appreciated at about the same rate as gold. Even his bankruptcy surrounding foolish, ill-advised moves into Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos, did not prevent his remaining assets from growing into the thousands of millions.  The fact is, however, that we do not know the truth. He has hidden his tax returns, which may or may not be his right, as President. We don’t know his real assets or his debts.

When Trump took office, the economy had been growing every month for 79 straight months, virtually the entire presidency of  President Obama. Unemployment was at an almost unheard of rate of 4.3%, down from 10,8% when he walked through the door of the White House in 2009. Despite this flourishing economy and against the advice of most economists and the reluctance of most CEOs of major corporations, Trump cut taxes.

As a result, as every study shows, the Trump tax cuts, in an economy already growing without them, did virtually nothing for government revenues except reduce them. We now have not only trillion-dollar deficits again, like those left by Bush and Cheney, but we have them projected for a decade!

Why do Trump and the Republicans not care about the escalating, troubling national debt? The answer is very simple. They intend to solve the problem by cutting “entitlements.” Trump doesn’t even bother to hide it

Corporations got a huge tax cut and a provision that helped them return cash held abroad back to the United States. With most 70% of corporate stock in the hands of the top 1% of income earners, Corporations used the money from those windfall tax cuts to buy back stock. Because about 70% of all corporate stock is held by the top ten percent, this increased the income inequality in the country. According to the bi-partisan Tax Policy Center, the Trump tax cuts gave a windfall of $69,660 to those making $1,000,000 but only $870 to those earning between $50,000 and $75,000.  Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are particularly sensitive. The United States is already has the fourth highest measure of income inequality among the OECD countries, the advanced countries of the world, after only Chile, Mexico and Turkey. It should not be necessary to point out that it was our Chicago-school, Conservative economists who gave Chile its economic roadmap. And Mexico has long had the kind of inherited wealth and economic policies that not only drive people to the U.S. but mirror the kinds of policies growing here. And Turkey ,it should be clear by now, is a dictatorship in which Erdogan will do whatever is necessary to stay in power.

. The cuts in Social Security will cut funds for the most vulnerable…the disabled. Many of these are the elderly, the intellectually handicapped, people, victims of accidents, shootings, and debilitating diseases. As it is now, the disabled must often wait as long as a year before receiving help from the government. Trump’s plan is to transfer Medicaid from a specific program for which states receive almost complete compensation to a plan of simple block grants to the states to be used any way they see fit. How would that work?

Well, the status of health care for the poor isn’t all that great as it is. For example, there are still 14 states that do not offer Medicaid. As one might expect, most are in the Deep South. The states are North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.  In the Northwest and Upper Midwest, there are Wyoming, South Dakota and Wisconsin (although Wisconsin offered Badgercare, a substitute.) Three states planning expansion in 2019 are Nebraska, Utah and Idaho. That will reduce the number without Medicaid to 11 and states with some kind of Medicaid plan for the working poor to 39.

The mostly old Confederate states have a system in which the average income above which individuals cannot receive Medicaid-like support is about $9,000 (actually $8,935 for a family of 3, according to the leading authority on these matters, the Kaiser Family Foundation.) So, apparently if both parents are working and making even as little as $9 per hour, they are ineligible for any kind of support by those state governments. And the lowest average estimate of a  for a minimal family health insurance plan is about $1,168 per month, or roughly a third of the gross monthly income of that family.

 

According to Republicans and Trump, only about 3 people out of a hundred are out of work but forty out of a hundred live in poverty, which is a family of four living on less than $25,000 a year. Trump and his Cabinet and the Republicans in Congress consider them worthless, inconsequential, unless they are needed to vote for some billionaire-pandering Republican Senator. This is always the mythical Republican welfare fantasy, lazy, undisciplined people, living off others.  That kind of person, in a society with 87% of people employed, are barely a wisp of smoke. The working poor are not the problem. They are America. We have ten times more people who actually work 40 hours a week who cannot find an affordable place to live than we have people standing around on street corners.In California, some major corporations have actually donated millions of dollars to communities to build low-cost housing to alleviate homelessness among low-income workers.

Trump, who has lied over 9,000 times, now promises that he will protect “pre-existing conditions” somehow as part of a non-existent health care plan. Remember this: his plan, and that of the Republicans, did not protect people with pre-existing conditions in 2017. It was only by the grace of God and Senator John McCain’s final vote in the Senate that it was defeated and people with pre-existing conditions still have health care under Obamacare.

Trump hated John McCain, ostensibly because McCain was an authentic hero, shot down over Vietnam serving his country, a POW for many years. Trump apparently claimed that a heel spur was serious enough to keep him from service in Vietnam, although it did not prevent him from playing baseball. McCain intensely disliked Trump’s lack of ethics.  McCain’s family forbade Trump from attending McCain’s funeral.

Why this is so important?

About a third of all retired individuals rely on Social Security for most of their income… about 30 million Americans.  The income scarcity in old age does not stop there. According to the Century Foundation, the bottom 80% of American families lost almost 40% of their net worth in the Great Bush/Cheney Recession of 2007-2009. A net worth of $200.000 fell to $120,000 after the Bush/Cheney Great Recession.  According to the Wharton School of Business, approximately one out of five people were losing their jobs in the heart of the Great Depression, which economists apparently consider lasted only from approximately December of 2007 to June of 2009. Many people, including small businessmen will tell you that it lasted far longer than that.

The poor and the Middle Class were shedding assets and jobs and health care and savings at an alarming rate. Others, the top income families, with jobs and solid assets but lower prices on homes and other costs of living saw their assets grow.  By comparison, the wealthy lost just 17.7% from $563,000 to $463,000 in the Great Recession. The amount was not only a smaller percentage but these families, for a variety of reasons, a larger percentage of stock ownership being one, had a faster and much higher return of net worth.

What does all this have to do with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? Cuts in those programs make life much harder for the Middle Class and the lower-middle working class. The struggle to stay above water grows more challenging. Those at the bottom cling to their homes and dread the loss of any income forcing them further into debt. Fewer than one of ten individuals in the lowest income levels will ever make it into the top ten percent. The poor have no money and less access to education.

Four out of ten people in the economy are unable to save anything at all.  At slightly above the middle, on the income scale,  savings are possible. At upper middle class levels, savings top out at ten or eleven percent. At the top, two out of ten people save up to 23% of income. So, unless you are an exceptionally frugal person, you need to be near the top of the income scale to start saving money on any scale. Therefore, it is the sheer lack of ability to save that makes Social Security and Medicare so important. Of course Medicare and Medicaid and any kind of health insurance can save any family, wealthy or poor, from economic disaster. But Social Security is particularly important, because so many people in the Baby Boomer generation, by 2009, were beginning to enter retirement, and with the Great Recession many were taking early retirement.  They more often than not had no pension and 401Ks, after the Great Recession, were greatly reduced, as were home equities. Still others, too young to retire, were laid off and used up much or all of their meager assets to survive until they reached early retirement age. Many elderly who were laid off never work full time again.

Under the Obama administration’s constant month-over-month growth of the economy, despite Republican obstruction at every turn (for example, record numbers of filibusters by Republican Senators) the wealthy, whose assets were contained to a much larger degree in stocks, recovered more rapidly.The stock market returned and hit new record highs.  Meanwhile, even the recovery did not prevent 46 million Americans from falling below the poverty level. Most of these people had no savings and now were worried either about losing their homes, their principal asset, or retaining any value in it. Housing did not return to pre-Recession values for five years after the Great Recession, by which time it was too late for millions of Americans who lost their homes to foreclosure

Today, thanks to about $12 trillion added by the policies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and the trillion-dollar deficits left for President Obama in 2009,2010, 2011 and 2012 (until he could whittle it down into the “mere” hundreds of billions, our national debt, federal government debt, is about $21 (including the first of the Trump trillion-dollar deficits)

The personal debt of Americans is far higher, about $27 trillion, than public debt, which should alarm anyone concerned about the future. And that is partially because we Americans have very little savings. Many Americans say, even in this time of a booming economy, that they still cannot afford to miss two paychecks or they could be in serious financial trouble.  What’s more, while American incomes have risen, they have not risen as fast as inflation, not as fast, that is, as the cost of living.

Let’s take an example from some statistics from the Bureau of Census. The average price of a new home 20 years ago was about $194,000. Today that house should sell for approximately $300,000. Instead the average price of that same house is about $377,000. The importance of this fact is that it explains why Americans are in such debt. Home prices, auto prices and other costs have increased beyond the rate of increase in wages for most salaried individuals. The core cost of living has increased by about 47% in the last 20 years. But increases on essentials, like housing and automobiles, and other costs not in core CPI,  like energy and education and communication, have also grown faster than incomes. The huge $1.2 trillion in student debt is partially a result of this situation.

What can be done? There is no way to look at the current economic conditions and the economic events of the last 20 or even 40 years without making one clear statement. In the last several decades, anyone who voted Republican voted clearly and obviously against his or her own personal financial interests. The Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare, the one successful program in cutting health care costs. Even with the amendment by Senator Marco Rubio that not only raised premiums but even caused health insurance companies to suspend service in some states, the results of Obamacare have been life changing for millions of Americans.

The actions by Senator Mitch McConnell to withhold the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice for an entire year resulted in the anti-labor, anti-worker appointment of Judge Niel Gorsuch. In addition, the resulting appointment of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court then provided the corporate-favoring Republicans, including those who might be said to be anti-feminine, the opportunity to do what they like to do…support large corporations over labor. So, at best, the Supreme Court under Republicans will vote against pro-labor initiatives. At worst, it might support lawsuits filed by Right Wing governors to attack Medicaid, the minimum wage, union organization and immigration amnesty.

The answer is, of course, (and this is unavoidably partisan) to vote Democratic. The Democrats gave the people The Affordable Care Act. They gave and continue to try to improve upon Medicare and Medicaid. And Democrats gave the people Social Security. The Democrats have campaigned on a $15 minimum wage, proposing a change from the current ridiculously low $7.25 for many, many years. Republicans have blocked it. Democrats are the ones proposing Medicare-for-All, an affordable (despite what you hear) program to bring healthcare to everyone while lowering costs in the long run. None of this is Socialist. It is all Populist, within a Capitalist system, arising from the wishes of the People and responding to the needs of the People. The national debt of the United States is $20 or $21 trillion but the accumulated wealth of the country is about $115 trillion. The top 20% of Americans own about 80% of that wealth, or roughly $92 trillion in assets. There is no question that the top 1% to 5% of Americans, who have incredible inherited wealth as well as corporate ownership, i.e., ongoing wealth, can easily provide somewhere between half and two-thirds of any shortfalls in revenues in the changeover from private to public health care. Only voting Democratic can achieve these levels of participation. Republicans owe their political positions to the Republican Super-Pacs, made up of Right Wing billionaires, owners of the major corporations and possessors of the huge fortunes in this country.