Entitlements

Club for Growth on Ron Paul

Just like in 2008, the Club for Growth is putting together a series of white papers on candidates running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. We’ve already covered their reports on the records of Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. We missed the report on Michele Bachmann, but you can read that here.

Last week, the Club for Growth released the white paper on Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX),who fares well against President Barack Obama in a hypothetical matchup and is making Iowa and the Ames Straw poll priorities for his campaign.

The Club notes that Paul has received better than average ratings on their own scorecard, and they’ve gradually increased over the last five years. And while his record on spending is “impressive,” including votes against Medicare Part D, raising his own pay, TARP, the stimulus and other wasteful spending.

They also point out that Paul was once a stalwart in voting for amendments to strip wasteful earmarks out of spending bills; however, he has changed his tune recently:

No debt agreement over the weekend

Most of the weekend went by without word of anything resembling a deal on raising the debt ceiling. House Republicans kicked around a short-term hike, but Senate Democrats and the Obama Administration threw cold water on the idea.

The desire to come to an agreement has been expressed on both sides. Speaker John Boehner, who has earned kudos for his performance during these tense last few weeks, was very straight-forward with his caucus yesterday on the need for something that can pass both chambers, especially as markets begin to react to the stalemate. According to The Hill, Boehner wants an agreement today.

Gang of Six gains some steam, but agreement far off

The Gang of Six spent most of Wednesday making the case for their deficit reducation plan to members of both parties and the media, but it seems that they’ve hit a snag as liberals in both chambers expressed opposition, not to mention that conservatives are less than thrilled over the revenue increases that the proposal would bring.

Others are expressing concern with the lack of details in the proposal. Chris Edwards, an economist with the Cato Institute, highlights this compared to the detail oriented plan separately put forward by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK):

The “Gang of Six” senators has released an outline of budget reforms that would supposedly reduce deficits by $3.7 trillion over 10 years. Revenues would rise by at least $1 trillion, while spending would be theoretically trimmed by various procedural mechanisms. The plan promises to “strengthen the safety net,” “maintain investments,” and “maintain the basic structure” of Medicare and Medicaid, which doesn’t sound very reform-minded to me.

The Gang of Six plan is a grander version of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s recent debt-limit proposal, which was aimed at putting off any spending cuts. The Gang outline has a few specific cuts, but the document mainly consists of promises to restrain spending and raise taxes in the future.

Gang of Six plan gets nod from Obama

There was a breakthrough of sorts yesterday with the Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of Senators, that agreed to $3.7 trillion deficit reduction plan that they believe can break a filibuster in the chamber. The proposal was viewed favorably by President Barack Obama. Even Larry Kudlow, host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report, had nice things to say about it.

White House continues Social Security scare tactic

Most of us following the budget debate know that President Barack Obama’s threat to hold Social Security payments hostage is empty. The Treasury Department will have the cash flow available to make these payments. Really what this fight over the budget has done more than anything else is expose the myth of the Social Security Trust Fund, but no one is paying attention to that.

The administration needs a scare tactic and they are taking full advantage of it. This weekend on CNN’s State of the Union, White House Budget Director Jacob Lew wouldn’t answer a direct question on prioritizing payments, including Social Security:

Alan Grayson plans comeback (hilarity will no doubt ensue)

Hoping he can manage to get a favorable district during reapportionment, Alan Grayson, who was fired by the voters of Florida’s Eighth Congressional District last year, announced yesterday that he will make another go of it in 2012:

WFTV learned on Monday that former U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson is running for office again.

On Monday, Grayson said he doesn’t plan to do anything different. He said he’s running again because of all the people who have reached out and asked him to. Grayson already raised nearly $100,000 in donations before filing his paperwork on Monday.

“We need somebody who’s gonna stick up for what’s right. Somebody with guts,” Grayson said.
[…]
Grayson said his approach this time around depends on the circumstances, but for the sake of supporters who sent him donations before he announced he’s running again, he said he has no plans to hold back.

“We’re fighting for our survival. We’re fighting for our jobs, our homes. We’re fighting for Social Security and Medicare,” said Grayson.

Grayson may not be running for his old seat with redistricting under way right now, he may end up running for a newly created seat for Orlando. It’s still to early to know who he will be running against.

We knew this was coming. Just days after having his ass handed to him by Daniel Webster, his Republican opponent, Grayson hinted that he would run again.

Obama offers cuts to entitlements, GOP not taking tax loopholes off the table

While House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) signaled yesterday that closing tax loopholes wouldn’t be off the table for his caucus, President Barack Obama will offer Medicare and Social Security cuts as a way to break through the ice to reach a compromise on the budget and debt ceiling deadlock that has leaders from both parties working overtime:

As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.

“Obviously, there will be some Democrats who don’t believe we need to do entitlement reform. But there seems to be some hunger to do something of some significance,” said a Democratic official familiar with the administration’s thinking. “These moments come along at most once a decade. And it would be a real mistake if we let it pass us by.”

Rather than roughly $2 trillion in savings, the White House is now seeking a plan that would slash more than $4 trillion from annual budget deficits over the next decade, stabilize borrowing and defuse the biggest budgetary time bombs that are set to explode as the cost of health care rises and the nation’s population ages.

New twist to ObamaCare

Nancy Pelosi famously said that we needed to pass ObamaCare to find out what was in ObamaCare.  They did that.  So what do we find out is in the law?  Well, it seems that a buttload of people who don’t qualify now can qualify for Medicaid under the new law according to a report by the Associated Press.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.

The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department.

After initially downplaying any concern, the Obama administration said late Tuesday it would look for a fix.

Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps the time to have fixed that was before this thing got crammed down the American People’s throats! Here we are with the budget problems we currently have, and we get a massive expansion of Medicaid and no one noticed?  How much of an oops is it going to take here for people to realize there’s a problem with the way we create laws in this country?

The AP report details how this seems to have happened.  Basically, today we consider Social Security as income for determining eligibility for Medicaid.  Under the new health care law, that no longer is the case.  The complexity of the law probably contributed to this going under the radar until just now.

Voters not buying Democrats Medicare scare tactics

It has been conventional wisdom that Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan hurts Republicans and gives Democrats an advantage in the 2012 election. However, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll suggests otherwise:

Wall Street Journal/NBC poll asks Americans whether they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who “supports changing Medicare for those under 55 to a system where people choose their insurance from a list of private health plans and the government pays a fixed amount, sometimes called a voucher, towards that cost.”

The results: 38% are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports Ryan’s Medicare reform, 37% are less likely to vote for that candidate, while 18% say it makes “no difference” in determining their vote, and 7% are not sure.

If that number stands, that’s pretty great news for Republicans.

And one could even quibble with the question wording. It uses the much feared “voucher” word, which Ryan’s reform technically isn’t. And it simply says future beneficiaries could put their voucher toward “private health plans,” potentially leaving the wrong impression that some seniors could be denied coverage in the open marketplace. The private plans would be regulated by the government and required to offer coverage to all beneficiaries.

Is Pawlenty on the rise?

Earlier today, I noted the importance of Iowa to Tim Pawlenty’s hopes to capture the Republican nomination. And we’re there is going to be a lot of emphasis on that fact over the next two months, it’s worth noting that he had an excellent week last week:

A successful economic speech, one rival’s campaign implosion and another’s decision to skip an influential Iowa straw poll have given Tim Pawlenty a very good week.

His campaign hopes to keep the momentum going, getting the traction its needs to catapult the relatively unknown former Minnesota governor into a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

The mass staff resignations from Newt Gingrich’s campaign, combined with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s decision to skip Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll, gives Pawlenty an opening on which his campaign could capitalize.
[…]
The Pawlenty campaign’s gameplan has always relied on seizing moments in the race to help build the Minnesotan’s image and popularity.

Pawlenty was the most immediate beneficiary of the Gingrich implosion. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), who was Gingrich’s campaign co-chairman, jumped to Pawlenty’s campaign following the mass resignations of the former Speaker’s staff.

Conservatives have also been swooning over Pawlenty after his “Better Deal” speech in Obama’s backyard, at the University of Chicago, on Tuesday. The plan, which would eliminate a number of deductions while slashing the top individual and corporate tax rates, won crucial praise from the right, whose support Pawlenty will need in the primaries.

 
 


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