Medicare

The Contradictory Public Opinion Polls On Midterm Elections Of 2014

With 30 days to go to the Midterm Elections of 2014, the public opinion polls are again proving how unreliable they really are!

The Republicans are claiming, and many polls are indicating, that the party of obstruction and negativism; the party that wishes to privatize Social Security and Medicare; the party that denies Medicaid coverage to millions in many states; the party that has no alternative to ObamaCare; the party which has demonstrated racism, misogyny, nativism, and lack of concern for the middle class; the party which is promoting religion in government which the Founding Fathers opposed; the party which refuses to cooperate even on the ISIL (ISIS) crisis by coming back to Washington to debate and vote on what should be done; the party which has lied consistently and assumes that the American people are dupes who will accept any propaganda they spew forth; somehow is going to win control of the US Senate, and retain most Governorships, despite their pitiful record of being captive to the Tea Party Movement!

On the other hand, the Democrats, who should be proud of what has been accomplished by the Obama Administration, and the kinds of principles they espouse, is running scared, even though many polls indicate that the Senate will stay Democratic, and that most incumbents will win their reelection campaigns, and that the Democrats will take away the Tea Party Governorships of many Republicans.

While no one can say for sure, 30 days out, that the Democrats will perform well, it is hard to believe that the middle class of America, the women, the minority groups, labor, environmentalists, and other progressive groups will not realize the importance of voting, in order to guarantee the long range success of the Obama Presidency, which has now presided over 55 straight months of job growth, a record in modern times, and this pointed out by the conservative journal, FORBES Magazine!

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill Of Rights (January 11, 1944) Not Yet Achieved In 2014!

Now that THE ROOSEVELTS series on PBS, the seven part series presented to the nation by the great documentarian Ken Burns, is over, many thoughts and emotions cross one’s mind.

FDR offered so much to the nation in his New Deal, and in his leadership of the struggle against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in World War II.

But what struck this author more than any of this, while watching this 14 hour series over the past week, is an often forgotten speech, the State of the Union speech of January 11, 1944, delivered by FDR in a joint session of Congress.

The speech dealt with the issue of a “Second Bill Of Rights”.

FDR knew that the Bill Of Rights had made America the beacon of the civilized world, with the basic civil liberties it granted to all Americans.

But FDR was looking ahead to the end of World War II, and envisioned a nation that would extend the concept of a bill of rights to other issues that affected all Americans.

So FDR called for a future guarantee of everyone having a decent job with a living wage; a guarantee of decent housing for all Americans; a guarantee of a decent supply of food, clothing, and leisure for all; a guarantee of a decent education providing opportunity for all to advance; an expansion of Social Security beyond the beginning of the concept nine years earlier in 1935; and  provision for a decent health care system for all Americans.

Now 70 years later, none of these have been accomplished, although Social Security has improved tremendously for the elderly, and for women who are widowed and children who lose a parent or are orphaned: Medicare has done so much to help the elderly and disabled; and ObamaCare, under great duress, has provided health care for millions of Americans who never had health coverage before.

But yet, conservatives and Republicans are out to make Social Security and Medicare privatized, and want to destroy ObamaCare!

But we have too many people who cannot find work, due to the Great Recession of George W. Bush and cannot even gain extension of the New Deal concept of unemployment compensation; many Americans live in substandard housing; many people go hungry and live in dire poverty; many have to work multiple jobs and cannot have time for leisure, with most Americans not able to have vacation time, less than any European democracy, or Canada or Australia;  and many children are denied a good education system and can only gain minimum wage employment as adults.

The right wing extremists are trying to destroy the New Deal and Great Society reforms, and return American to a century ago before there was social justice and economic opportunity and political reform offered, starting with the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

How can any decent American not rise up in protest and anger at the selfishness and greed of the elite one percent and their propagandists, who do not care what happens to anyone other than their own class?  Why is acquisition of obscene wealth and power so important that these right wingers have no humanity, no common decency, no desire to see their fellow Americans have a chance to succeed as they were given?  Why is the hatred of taxes so vehement, as if one can take his or her wealth to the grave, or give it in obscene amounts to offspring who will never know responsibility or the virtue of accomplishing on their own?  What is wrong with this nation, that 70 years after the “Second Bill of Rights” speech of FDR, we have made very little progress on the goals of the speech, and have even backtracked on them, and we have evil forces wanting to destroy the most significant programs of the New Deal and Great Society?

The Tea Party Out To Destroy All Progress Since 1900! Progressives MUST Fight To Retain Social Justice And Economic Advancements!

America has changed so much in the past 114 years, from the time of the Progressive Era, through the New Deal, the Great Society, and the time of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter. George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

America at the end of the Gilded Age was a selfish, greedy nation of the few elite wealthy victimizing the rest of American society.

But then came Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on big business; showing concern for labor; promoting the Food and Drug Administration; and vastly extending the concept of protection of the environment and conservation.

Then came Woodrow Wilson, who gave us the Federal Reserve Banking System; the Clayton Anti Trust Act; the Federal Trade Commission; and the first national labor laws.

Then came Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, changing our lives long term with Social Security; public works programs; bank deposit insurance; stock market regulations; the Tennessee Valley Authority; Federal Unemployment Compensation; and labor laws which gave workers and labor unions the right to collective bargaining.

Then came Harry Truman, who promoted integration of the armed forces and Washington, DC; advocated for national health care; and emphasized the need for national commitment to education.

Then came Dwight D. Eisenhower, who enforced civil rights enforcement; promoted federal aid to education; the development of an interstate highway system; and the development of a national space commitment.

Then came John F. Kennedy, who advanced civil rights; promoted the space program; started the Peace Corps; cracked down on the steel industry;  and advocated national health care for the elderly.

Then came Lyndon B. Johnson, who promoted massive civil rights laws; successfully passed Medicare and Medicaid; pursued a War on Poverty; massive increases in federal aid to education; began a national commitment to environmental and consumer legislation; and appointed the first African American to the cabinet and to the Supreme Court.

Then came Richard Nixon, who signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and attempted wage and price controls to keep down the inflation level.

Then came Jimmy Carter, who further promoted civil rights; saw the need for an Energy Department; and became the third best environmental President after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

Then came George H. W. Bush, who signed into law civil rights legislation to promote disabled people.

Then came Bill Clinton, who promoted civil rights advancements; a greater commitment to education; and attempted a national health care program.

Finally came Barack Obama, who brought about ObamaCare; promoted great environmental expansion; advocated for equality of gays and lesbians including gay marriage; and started to take moves toward immigration reforms.

So much has been done by these twelve Presidents to advance social justice, and economic reform—eight Democrats and four Republicans.

But now, the 2014 Republican Party has been hijacked by the Tea Party extremists and the right wing radio talk shows and Fox News Channel and the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, and they have declared war on all humane, decent actions that have taken place in the past 114 years, including advocacy of destroying Social Security and Medicare and getting rid of national parks and all labor reforms and the rights of women and the poor!

This is all very shocking and unbelievable, but the battle for progressivism and the retention of the great work done from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama must be forthright and the battle for the future has just begun.  The Republican Party needs to be smashed and reconstituted, if the nation is to grow in the 21st century, rather than move backwards to the 19th century!

The Die Is Cast: The Key Senate Race And The Key Gubernatorial Race Of 2014!

As we look forward to the fall, and just two months until the Midterm elections of 2014, it is clear that there are two key races that will determine a lot of the future of American politics.

One is a Senate race, and the other is a gubernatorial race.

The Senate race is that of Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky against his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the election which is likely to determine if the Republicans win Senate control. It is a very expensive and bitter race, and pits the oligarchy and right wing conservative agenda against a young woman, half McConnell’s age, who is dynamic and charismatic and could be a great leader in the Senate, if only she can overcome the 30 year seniority of McConnell, who has shown no concern about the struggles of his state, and particularly of the large white population in the coal mining industry.

Probably, however, the most expensive single race will be that of former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who served as a Republican from 2007-2011, left the Republican Party, lost an Independent candidacy for the Senate against Marco Rubio in 2010, and then switched to the Democratic Party in 2012. Republican Governor Rick Scott will have tons of money, including his own wealth, to throw against Crist, and this is a classic struggle of a former Governor against a sitting Governor. Scott has been absolutely the worst Governor in America, and there are plenty of candidates for that description! He has done great damage to the environment and to health care and education, and is seen as a true detriment to the state, which is heavily Republican in its legislature, but is turning to Charlie Crist to try to revive the Democratic Party fortunes in the future. Scott also was involved in Medicare fraud, but avoid prison by paying heavy fines, but he should never have been allowed to run for public office after that massive health care scam!

Florida is the largest state to have a truly competitive gubernatorial race, as California with Jerry Brown and New York with Andrew Cuomo do not have really such a situation, and Texas might, with Wendy Davis challenging Greg Abbott, but the polls indicate Florida is a true tossup, as is the Kentucky Senate race.

So these two races are the key ones to focus on, as they will determine a lot of the political future of the next two years!

Lyndon B. Johnson Commemoration Of 106th Birthday

The 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born on this day in 1908, and he has undergone much attack in the four decades since he passed away in 1973 at the age of 64.

There is no question that LBJ divided the nation by his ill conceived escalation of the war in Vietnamese, which still haunts millions of Americans who lost a loved one, or who have suffered with the psychic and physical wounds of war.

But LBJ cannot be forgotten for his tremendous advancements in civil rights; in fighting poverty; in establishing Medicare; promoting environmental reform and consumer protection; promoting a massive expansion of educational opportunity; establishing immigration reform; establishing the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation; promoting the creation of PBS and NPR; and supporting the establishment of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.

So while LBJ did the nation wrong by the war in Vietnam, his domestic reforms, collectively known as the “Great Society”, brought about the greatest improvements in domestic life since the New Deal of FDR, and has not been matched since by any President.

So this is a day to remember and to honor LBJ for his accomplishments, while acknowledging his shortcomings!

Mitch McConnell’s Plans For The 114th Congress: Total Deadlock And Stalemate!

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky made it clear at the time of the inauguration of President Barack Obama in January 2009 that his party would refuse to cooperate with the President on any legislation or policy.

Now, facing a tough reelection battle against Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell is pledging that if his party wins the Senate majority, and the House stays Republican, that he will promote massive budget cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency, and attempting again to destroy ObamaCare. He would attach these changes to budget bills, and if Obama vetoed, then we would have another government shutdown, as disastrous as the last one was for the Republican Party and the nation!

This is ever more reason why Democrats, progressives and liberals, and independents MUST come out enmasse on Election Day to prevent a GOP Senate majority, as that will also mean no replacement on the Supreme Court if anyone leaves, which is likely, in 2015 or 2016.

Ironically, this kind of behavior would likely reverberate on the Republicans in 2016, when two thirds of the Senate seats up for election would be their party, but the attitude seems to be one of total warfare and destruction while they have control.

The Republican Party is becoming totally nihilistic and anarchistic, not worthy of the long history of the party of Lincoln, TR, and Ike!

Tea Party And Republican House Want Radical Changes In Medicare And Social Security!

Leave it to the Republican Party, and particularly its Tea Party extremists, to propose, as part of the House of Representatives budget proposals, to raise the eligibility age for future retirees for Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Presently, one must be 65 to gain Medicare, and the proposal is to raise it to 67!

Presently, one must be 67 to gain Social Security full benefits for future retirees, and the proposal is to raise it to 70!

This is pure right wing radicalism, by a party which overwhelmingly, in its past, opposed both Medicare in the 1960s and Social Security in the 1930s, when they were first made law!

These two programs are the most popular social programs, brought to America by the Democratic Party under Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and have had a lot to do with the growth of the middle class and a sense of security for the elderly!

Instead of raising the Medicare tax slightly, and raising the limit on Social Security to at least $250,000 income, instead of $117,000, insuring the viability of these programs long term, instead the GOP wishes to make life harder for those nearing retirement age, forcing many to work longer years full time, rather than having some time to enjoy life and take life easier after decades of toil, many of them often working at low wages, exploited by corporations and employers in general, who have an anti labor attitude!

This is an issue for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond, that under no circumstances will there be a radical change in Medicare and Social Security allowed, because of the greed, selfishness, and lack of concern for the average American by the elite upper class that votes Republican, and victimizes the rest of the population!

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Rousing Speech On “Eleven Commandments Of Progressivism”!

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, on a book tour for her recent publication, but also rousing progressives with her inspiring ideas, gave a speech last week at Netroots Nation, the progressive gathering often seen as the alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held annually.

Warren summarized the views of those who are progressives and liberals, including:

The need for regulation of Wall Street.

The belief in science, and its role in preserving our environment.

Neutrality on the internet, not favoring powerful corporations.

Raising the minimum wage, therefore allowing a full time worker to avoid living in poverty.

A livable wage for fast food workers, with public support for them being demonstrated.

The avoidance of crushing college loan debt for students, by arranging realistic debt payments.

Protection of Social Security, Medicare, and pensions, so that retired workers can live in dignity.

Equal pay for equal work for men and women.

Promotion of equality in marriage, including gay marriage.

The need for immigration reform, as immigration is part of the story of American history.

The belief that women should control their own bodies, and corporations should not control the private lives and medical care of any of their workforce.

Also, her conclusion about conservatives is so appropriate, that they will do whatever they need to do to protect their own interests, and would say to all of the rest of us that you are on your own!

The Legacy Of Robert F. Kennedy Being Fulfilled By Barack Obama

June 6 is not only the anniversary of D Day in 1944.

It is also, sadly, the 46th anniversary of the death of Robert F. Kennedy, the former Attorney General under his brother, John F. Kennedy, and Senator from New York, who was seeking the Presidency in 1968, when he was assassinated by a Palestinian Christian immigrant, Sirhan Sirhan, shortly after winning the California primary, part of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

While there was no certainty that RFK would have been the Democratic Presidential nominee in 1968, beating out the eventual nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, it is felt by many historians and scholars that RFK would have been the nominee, and likely, would have defeated Richard Nixon and George Wallace, the two opponents of Humphrey in 1968, and become our 37th President of the United States!

The thought is that RFK would have promoted the cause of civil rights, concern about the poor, be an advocate of the environment, expanded Medicare to more than the elderly, had the backing of labor, and overall, extended the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson, much like Humphrey believed. RFK also wanted to end the war in Vietnam, and keep America out of foreign wars unless it affected the national interest in such a manner that we could not avoid engaging in war!

So, in many ways, he would have advocated in his time for what Barack Obama has stood for and advocated as President of the United States four decades later!

So we can say that Barack Obama is fulfilling the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy in a masterful and dignified manner!

50 Years Ago Today, “Great Society” Speech Of Lyndon B. Johnson!

A half century ago, on this date, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave a commencement address at the University of Michigan, on the six month anniversary of his becoming President, due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Instead of just stating that he would finish the work of John F. Kennedy that had been left undone, LBJ enunciated the greatest series of domestic reform goals ever formulated, more than the New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt thirty years earlier, particularly in the “Second New Deal” legislation of 1935-1936.

What followed in 1965-1966 was the most productive Congress in American history, the 89th Congress, with the FDR 74th Congress the second most productive ever in American history.

We saw the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, the War on Poverty, education legislation, consumer legislation, environmental legislation, immigration reform, and so much else that advanced the American domestic agenda!

While we celebrate that 50th anniversary, one must realize that we have taken many steps backward, and no worse than the present 113th Congress, the absolute worst ever in American history in taking care of the nation’s domestic agenda.

And this comes just four years after the end of the 111th Congress under Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the most productive since the 89th Congress, during the first two years in office of Barack Obama.

The nation has been poorly served, and we have backtracked on so much that had been done under FDR and LBJ!

This is a tragedy, the extent of which we will not fully realize for many years, and it is a moment to commiserate and to mourn what mean spirit and lack of compassion can do to undermine the “American Dream.” Government activism has been rejected for a harsh, individualistic, libertarian mentality that favors leaving those less fortunate to the “wolves”.