WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) on Tuesday introduced the Social Security and Medicare Parity Act in the U.S. House, a bill to close loopholes in the Social Security Act and guarantee that all married couples, including same-sex couples, receive the Social Security and Medicare spouse and survivor benefits that they have earned.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) on Tuesday introduced the Social Security and Medicare Parity Act in the U.S. House, a bill to close loopholes in the Social Security Act and guarantee that all married couples, including same-sex couples, receive the Social Security and Medicare spouse and survivor benefits that they have earned.
Following last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, the Department of Justice conducted a review to determine implementation of spouse and survivor benefits.
The review concluded that, despite Section 3 of DOMA being ruled unconstitutional, several provisions of the Social Security Act prohibit the federal government from paying same-sex married couples their earned Social Security and Medicare benefits if the state does not recognize same-sex marriage.
The Social Security Act also requires couples to be married for nine months before they can qualify for Social Security benefits, or twelve months for a retired spouse to receive benefits.
Takano’s bill would close these loopholes by:
- Repealing discriminatory provisions and allow the Social Security Administration to award benefits to any marriage that is valid.
- Allowing same-sex married couples whose marriage was prohibited by state law to use a combination of marriage time and time in domestic partnership to qualify for benefits.
- Requiring the Social Security Administration to conduct a comprehensive outreach campaign to encourage same-sex couples to apply for the benefits they may be owed.
“One year has passed since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Takano, one of only eight openly LGBT members of the U.S. Congress. “However, the Department of Justice’s interpretation of existing law means that some same-sex couples who live in discriminatory states could be denied Social Security or Medicare benefits.”
“The Social Security and Medicare Parity Act of 2014 closes that loophole and guarantees that all married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, receive the Social Security and Medicare spouse and survivor benefits they have earned,” he said.
UPDATE: Here’s the Tumblr for Rep. Mark Takano, who follows me on Tumblr: repmarktakano
Georgia, Meet Mitt Romney Lite
When Mitt Romney got pummeled in the 2012 election, the GOP was forced to reboot and consider how to attract candidates who can be more competitive. In Georgia, the GOP’s conclusion was to run an elitist millionaire with a checkered business record and an inability to understand the concerns of working families. Sound familiar?
But don’t worry, David Perdue isn’t a total clone of Mitt Romney. While Romney was serving as Governor of Massachusetts, for instance, David Perdue was busy tanking a company called Pillowtex, leaving its 7,500 workers out to dry and pocketing a cool $3.1 million in the process. It wasn’t the first batch of American jobsthat was killed under Perdue’s stewardship.
From 1994 to 1998, Perdue served as a senior vice-president at Haggar. Under his leadership, Haggar implemented an enormous shift of company employment and operations overseas. Thousands of American workers lost their jobs, and nearly 50% of the company’s domestic workforce was laid off, but Perdue brushed it off as being “in the best interest of the company.”
To wrap up his tidy business career, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that while Perdue was the CEO of Dollar General, female store managers were discriminated against and paid less than men. Dollar General ended up paying $15.5 million toward the members of the class action lawsuit, and in a separate case, it was forced to pay nearly $74,000 to a former employee after a district court found that she was fired for taking time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.
So this is David Perdue’s business career–the one that he claims qualifies him to be a United States Senator. And he feels very qualified indeed: he previously attacked Karen Handel for being just a “high school graduate,” going on to say, “I’m sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex. There’s only one candidate in this race that’s ever lived outside the United States.”
The worst part is this: from what little glimpse we have into Perdue’s stated policy positions, they are exactly as you would expect from his self-interested business career. Massive tax cuts for wealthy folks like himself and corporations, while increasing the tax burden on working families. Opposition to raising the minimum wage. Opposition to extending unemployment insurance for job seekers. Cutting Social Security and Medicarebenefits for seniors.
David Perdue has had it pretty good. And he wants to make life even better for himself at the expense of Georgia’s working families.
Perdue Opposed Raising The Federal Minimum Wage, And Said Obama’s Push To Raise Minimum Wage Was A Sign Of Broader Economic Problems. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Georgia’s five best-known Republican Senate candidates voiced unequivocal opposition Tuesday to raising the minimum wage, striking a clear contrast from Democratic hopefuls in what could be a preview of a general election clash. The five contenders blasted President Barack Obama’s call to raise the $7.25 hourly minimum wage to $10.10 as counterproductive, dishing out red meat to a sympathetic crowd at a National Federation of Independent Business forum. […] Former Fortune 500 executive David Perdue said Obama’s push is a broader sign of mounting economic problems.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/19/14]
All Five Republican Candidates For Senate Opposed Raising Minimum Wage. During the National Federation of Independent Businesses Georgia Small Business day forum, all five Republican candidates for Senate indicated they opposed raising the minimum wage. [National Federation of Independent Businesses Georgia Small Business Day, 2/18/14]
Perdue Opposed Extending Unemployment Insurance. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Six of the leading GOP hopefuls each vowed to reject calls to extend unemployment insurance and vote against a comprehensive immigration overhaul gelling in the Senate.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/28/14]
All Five Republican Candidates For Senate Opposed Extending Federal Unemployment Benefits.During the Mayor’s Day Senate Forum in Atlanta, all five Republican candidates for Senate raised their hand to indicate they opposed extending federal unemployment benefits. [Mayor’s Day Senate Forum, 1/27/14]
Perdue Supported A National Sales Tax That Would Also Apply To Online Purchases, As A Replacement For The Federal Income Tax. According to Northwest Georgia News, “However, Perdue did say during a forum that he supports a national sales tax to replace the income tax and that it should apply to online purchases. Dickey argues that is not a new tax and that it wouldn’t amount to an increase the way Perdue wants to structure it.” [Northwest Georgia News, 6/19/14]
Video: Perdue Supported The Fair Tax. According to Hayden Collins’ interview with David Perdue, Perdue said, “Clearly, a Fair Tax in my mind, is a better solution than what we have now. And I think it warrants an active debate; I would support that debate over what we have now. And to be very direct, if I had a choice between a Fair Tax and what we have now, I would absolutely vote for a Fair Tax. I think there may be some hybrids in there that actually help us incent the economy in ways that maybe a Fair Tax we need to improve on, but clearly, it is absolutely a better alternative than what we have now.” [Hayden Collins Radio Program Interview with David Perdue, Accessed 9/29/13]
- Critics Said Fair Tax Would Primarily Benefit The Rich. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Even with the subsidies to poor families, critics argue, the tax would primarily benefit the rich because they save the largest share of their income.” [Los Angeles Times, 12/24/07]
SOCIAL SECURITY & MEDICARE
Perdue Supported Cutting Social Security And Medicare Benefits For Future Beneficiaries. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, “Perdue’s solution is honoring the obligations to anyone already receiving Social Security benefits, but changing the benefits for anyone coming into the workforce. ‘Their deal is going to have to be different,’ he said. Perdue would make the same changes to Medicare.” [Marietta Daily Journal, 2/16/14]
Pillowtex’s Revenues And Stock Price Dropped Dramatically Under Perdue
Under Perdue, Pillowtex Lost $27.6 Million Over Seven Months And Declined To The Verge Of Bankruptcy. According to the Tennessean, “Pillowtex proceeded to lose $27.6 million over the past seven months of 2002 and failed to meet certain requirements with lenders, bringing the company to the verge of another bankruptcy filing.” [Tennessean, 4/4/03]
Under Perdue, Pillowtex’s Stock Price Fell From $7.50 To $0.18. According to the Tennessean, “Its stock price has fallen dramatically as well, from approximately $7.50 when Perdue joined to 18 cents when Pillowtex announced his resignation on March 18.” [Tennessean, 4/4/03]
SunTrust Analyst Patrick McKeever: “[Perdue’s] Eight Months At Pillowtex Were Marked By A Further Deterioration In (Financial) Fundamentals And A Plummeting Stock.” According to the Tennessean, “The ult circumstances at Pillowtex raised the eyebrows of Dollar General analyst Patrick McKeever. ‘While Mr. Perdue spent four successful years at Reebok before Pillowtex and has an extensive background in consumer products and consulting, his eight months at Pillowtex were marked by a further deterioration in (financial) fundamentals and a plummeting stock,’ said McKeever, with SunTrust Equitable Securities.” [Tennessean, 4/4/03]
Pillowtex Employees Accused Perdue Of Being An Absentee CEO As The Company Failed
Pillowtex Workers Accused Perdue Of “Disappearing” While The Firm Was Failing. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “As he attempted to drum up a potential buyer for the plant, some company workers accused him of disappearing. The Charlotte Observer reported that some staffers referred to him as ‘Oz’ in a nod to the elusive wizard.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/9/13]
- Perdue Spent Much Of His Time At Pillowtex Traveling The World In Search Of A Buyer.According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The experience still weighs heavy on Perdue. Speaking publicly for the first time about his tenure there, he said he appealed to the company’s owners at Oaktree Capital to amp up their investment but that his request was declined. He spent much of his time at the firm’s helm traveling the globe seeking a buyer.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/9/13]
- Perdue’s Replacement At Pillowtex Said “I Have Been Effectively Operating As CEO” For Some Time. According to HFN, “Gannaway said Perdue has accepted another job outside the home textiles business and added that ‘I have been effectively operating as CEO’ for some time.” [HFN, 3/24/03]
Perdue Did Not Attend The Textiles Market As Pillowtex CEO, Despite Pillowtex Being A Textile Company. According to HFN, “Perdue and Gannaway, both textiles industry outsiders, joined Pillowtex right as the company was exiting bankruptcy proceedings last year. Perdue kept a very low trade profile and in fact never attended the textiles market last fall.” [HFN, 3/24/03]
Perdue Resigned In March 2003, After Seven Months On The Job. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “He resigned in March 2003 after seven months on the job.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/9/13]
Perdue Received Over $1 Million In Compensation From Pillowtex In January 2003, Two Months Before Leaving The Company And While He May Have Been Negotiating With Dollar General
Perdue Received Two Compensation Payments In January 2003 Totaling Over $1 Million
Perdue Received $312,500 From Pillowtex In January Of 2003, Two Months Before Leaving The Company, “As A Bonus For His Services During 2002.” According to Pillowtex’s corporate filings with the SEC, Perdue received $312,500 “As A Bonus For His Services During 2002.” [SEC Corporate Filings for Pillowtex, “Form 10-K - Annual report (Section 13 and 15(d), not S-K Item 405),” 3/28/2003]
Perdue’s Compensation Included “A Grossed-Up Cash Payment In The Amount Of $700,677,” Paid In January Of 2003, “To Be Applied Towards The Tax Obligation Of Mr. Perdue Resulting From The Issuance Of 101,215 Shares Of Common Stock As Part Of His Signing Bonus.” According to Pillowtex’s corporate filings with the SEC, Perdue’s additional compensation included $700,677 which was “to be applied towards the tax obligation of Mr. Perdue resulting from the issuance of 101,215 shares of Common Stock as part of his signing bonus.” [SEC Corporate Filings for Pillowtex, “Form 10-K - Annual report (Section 13 and 15(d), not S-K Item 405),” 3/28/2003]
July 2003: Pillowtex Filed For Bankruptcy. According to Daily Deal/The Deal, “The company sold the bulk of its operations to GGST LLC for $128 million in cash in an October 2003 auction. It sold the rest of its assets in multiple follow-up auctions. Pillowtex filed on July 30, 2003, one year and two months after emerging from its first bankruptcy.” [Daily Deal/The Deal, 4/27/05]
July 2003: Four Months After Perdue Left Pillowtex, The Company “Abruptly Closed” And Laid Off 7,650 Employees Nationwide. According to the Charlotte Observer, “Perdue was CEO of the former Kannapolis textile giant from mid-2002 to March 2003. Pillowtex abruptly closed in July 2003, laying off 7,650 people nationwide, including more than 4,000 in Cabarrus and Rowan counties — part of the largest single job loss in the history of North Carolina and the textile industry.” [Charlotte Observer, 7/27/13]
- Pillowtex Layoffs Left 4,800 North Carolina Workers Unemployed, The Largest Permanent Layoff In State History. According to the Independent Tribune, “Pillowtex ceased operations in July 2003. Plant One in Kannapolis, the former Cannon Mills, had been in operation since 1906. About 4,800 people were laid off — the largest permanent layoff in North Carolina’s history. The Pillowtex closing slammed the economy of Kannapolis and Cabarrus County, since it was the largest economic engine in the county at the time. [Independent Tribune, 5/6/10]
Salisbury Post: Pillowtex Was “Duped” By Perdue
Salisbury Post Editorial: Pillowtex Was “Duped” By Perdue, Believing He Had A “Midas Touch” Before His Departure. In an editorial, the Salisbury Post wrote: “A search firm helped the Pillowtex board lure him away from Reebok International to turn things around at the Kannapolis company and make the most of its brands. Anyone who has followed Pillowtex knows the story. Perdue took office July 1, 2002, and left in March 2003 ‘to pursue other interests.’ Within two weeks, Dollar General announced it had ended its six-month search for a top executive by choosing Perdue as its new CEO. Pillowtex directors must have thought they were investing in a solution, that Perdue had a Midas touch. They were dazzled and maybe dazed, and in the end they appear to have been duped. Decisions like this help explain what went wrong at Pillowtex, and why thousands of former employees are now looking for a job.” [Salisbury Post via Associated Press, 10/22/03]
Charlotte Observer: Perdue “Made Critical Miscalculations”
Charlotte Observer: Perdue “Made Critical Miscalculations And Missed Opportunities To Combat The Growing Import Problem” In Pillowtex’s Final Years According to the Charlotte Observer, “After its collapse, company leaders and politicians were quick to blame pressure from low-cost imports for its demise. But Perdue and three other men who ran the company in its final years made critical miscalculations and missed opportunities to combat the growing import problem, an Observer investigation found.” [Charlotte Observer, 7/27/13]
Industry Analysts: “Shortsightedness And Management Mistakes” Caused Pillowtex’s Collapse
Former Company Executives And Industry Observers Pointed To Pillowtex’s Sluggish Adaptation To A Changing Textile Market, As Well As Irresponsible Acquisitions, As The Cause Of Its Collapse.According to the News & Record, “In the weeks since Pillowtex collapsed, everyone from Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. John Edwards to the laid-off workers in the unemployment lines seem to have agreed on one thing: it wasChina’s fault. Pillowtex, the thinking goes, was simply the latest in a long line of companies to succumb to the onslaught of cheap imports from countries with a fraction of U.S. labor costs. But, former company executives and industry observers, contacted by the News & Record, say foreign trade was just one element in a broader trend of shortsightedness and management mistakes that eventually led to the downfall of one of the country’s largest textile companies. Management that was slow to adapt to changes in the home textile industry, a series of costly acquisitions that created huge debt but little profit, and a weak strategy exiting the company’s first bankruptcy, in 2002, all led to Pillowtex’s demise, executives and observers said.” [News & Record, 9/28/03]
Kingston Attacked Perdue For Pillowtex Record And Claimed He “Mismanaged Pillowtex.” According to the Charlotte Observer, “Kingston later ran an ad with a young child named ‘Davey’ in a full diaper, stuffing his face with cake as a narrator intoned, ‘Perdue chewed up businesses. Eight thousand jobs were lost … David Perdue. Something doesn’t smell right. …’ The ad, and another one making similar claims about Perdue ‘mismanaging Pillowtex,’ were faulted by FactCheck.org and PolitiFact Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s independent, fact-checking arm, for inaccuracies.” [Charlotte Observer, 7/21/14]
Kingston Said Perdue Took A Golden Parachute “On The Way Out The Door.” According to the Florida Times-Union, “He focused his sights on Perdue, a political newcomer running on his strengths as a chief executive of companies like Reebok and Dollar General. Kingston, though, zeroed in on Perdue’s seven-month tenure at the head of Pillowtex, a North Carolina textile firm with shaky finances that wound up closing with 4,000 workers losing their jobs in 2003. That was at a time when any textile company that hadn’t failed or moved overseas was struggling. ‘We have one candidate who has a long history of laying off people, hundreds — indeed, thousands of jobs — and taking golden parachutes on the way out the door,’ Kingston said. ‘Well, that doesn’t create jobs and wealth in Georgia.’” [Florida Times-Union, 5/2/14]
Perdue Served As A Senior Vice-President At Haggar Between 1994 And 1998. According to MSNBC, “When Perdue arrived at Haggar Clothing Co. in 1994, the historic menswear company was struggling. Revenues were down, old reliable products like suits were in decline, and competitors like Levi’s were muscling in on their department store sales. As senior vice president, Perdue was in charge of international operations at Haggar and later domestic operations as well.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
- Perdue Oversaw Haggar’s “International Operations” As Senior Vice-President, As Well As Domestic Operations Later In His Tenure. According to MSNBC, “When Perdue arrived at Haggar Clothing Co. in 1994, the historic menswear company was struggling. Revenues were down, old reliable products like suits were in decline, and competitors like Levi’s were muscling in on their department store sales. As senior vice president, Perdue was in charge of international operations at Haggar and later domestic operations as well.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
Perdue Was Hired To Oversee “All Haggar Manufacturing Outside Of The United States.” According to Southwest Newswire, “Perdue will be responsible for all Haggar manufacturing outside the United States, which currently accounts for over 60 percent of production, including both company owned facilities and contractors.” [Southwest Newswire, 8/30/94]
Under Perdue’s Leadership, Haggar Closed Factories In America And Outsourced Production Overseas “Where Labor Was Cheap And Regulations Were Less Restrictive.” According to MSNBC, “When Perdue arrived at Haggar Clothing Co. in 1994, the historic menswear company was struggling. Revenues were down, old reliable products like suits were in decline, and competitors like Levi’s were muscling in on their department store sales. As senior vice president, Perdue was in charge of international operations at Haggar and later domestic operations as well. Under his watch, the company did what so many clothing manufacturers did at the time: closed down factory lines in America and outsourced production overseas where labor was cheap and regulations were less restrictive.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
Perdue Said Haggar’s Shift From U.S. Operations To Operations Overseas Was In The Company’s Best Interests. According to MSNBC, “In an interview, Perdue said he and his colleagues approached the factory closings with a ‘social conscience,’ but determined the move abroad was in the best interest of the company.” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
- Perdue Said “The Mexican Product Had An Advantage” Over A Product Made In South Texas, Because The “Cost Sheet” Of A Mexican Product Was Less Expensive. According to MSNBC, “‘We very definitely looked at trying to maintain as much volume as we could [in America],’ Perdue told MSNBC. ‘The problem was if you looked at the cost sheet of a product made in Mexico versus a product made in South Texas … the Mexican product had an advantage.’” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
- Perdue Claimed That Haggar’s “Shift To Factories Abroad” Was Unavoidable Due To Declining Sales For American-Made Products, Cheap Clothing From Competitors, And NAFTA. According to MSNBC, “Perdue said Haggar’s shift to factories abroad was the unavoidable result of several factors, including declining sales for some of the company’s American-made products, increasingly cheap clothing from rivals who had outsourced production earlier, and the 1994 ratification of NAFTA, which reduced duties on Mexican-imported goods. ‘We fundamentally restructured a company for survival,’ Perdue said. ‘Another way to look at this is we saved a couple thousand jobs.’” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
- Perdue Argued That Haggar’s Outsourcing Represented A “Fundamental Restructuring” Of The Company In Order To Survive, And Therefore “Saved A Couple Thousand Jobs.” According to MSNBC, “Perdue said Haggar’s shift to factories abroad was the unavoidable result of several factors, including declining sales for some of the company’s American-made products, increasingly cheap clothing from rivals who had outsourced production earlier, and the 1994 ratification of NAFTA, which reduced duties on Mexican-imported goods. ‘We fundamentally restructured a company for survival,’ Perdue said. ‘Another way to look at this is we saved a couple thousand jobs.’” [MSNBC, 4/18/14]
In 2006, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Found That Female Store Managers At Dollar General Were Discriminated Against And Paid Less Than Similarly Situated Male Managers.According to Mother Jones, “But Perdue’s record on women’s issues—specifically, whether women are entitled to equal pay for equal work—is far from clean. In 2006, three years into Perdue’s four-plus years as Dollar General’s CEO, federal investigators at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that female store managers who worked for the company he ran ‘were discriminated against,’ and ‘generally were paid less than similarly situated male managers performing duties requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility.’” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
In 2007, Thousands Of Female Managers Joined A Class Action Wage Discrimination Lawsuit Against Dollar General. According to Mother Jones, “A year later, separate from that investigation, thousands of female managers who were paid less than their male counterparts joined a class action suit against the company—which Dollar General eventually settled, paying the women more than $15 million.” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
- Dollar General Allegedly Set Up A Pay System That Permitted Stereotypes About Men And Women To Be Used In Judging Their Pay. According to Mother Jones, “‘Dollar General has set up a pay system which permits stereotypes about men and women to be used in judging their pay, performance, and salary needs,’ female Dollar General managers claimed in sworn statements. ‘This includes stereotypes about men being the breadwinner, head of the household, or just more deserving because they are men.’” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
The EEOC Issued Right-To-Sue Notices, Addressed To Perdue, Beginning In 2007. According to Mother Jones, “The EEOC, which must green-light pay discrimination lawsuits before they can proceed in federal court, began issuing right-to-sue notices addressed to Perdue beginning in 2007. Dollar General’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for that year—Perdue’s last year with the company—stated, ‘The Company believes that the case is not appropriate for class or collective treatment and that its policies and practices comply with the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. The Company intends to vigorously defend the action.’” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
As Part Of A Settlement, Dollar General Paid $15.5 Million Towards A Fund For Members Of The Class And Millions More In Legal Fees. According to Mother Jones, “The next several years saw more failed attempts by Dollar General to convince the court to decertify the class. In early 2011, the company allowed the case to go to mediation. A year later, the court finalized Dollar General’s agreement to pay $15.5 million toward a fund for members of the class, $2.8 million for a claims administrator, and $3.25 million in attorneys’ fees. The company also committed to altering its employee compensation policies.” [Mother Jones,5/21/14]
Dollar General Sued For Firing Another Female Employee For Taking Time Off Under The Family Medical Leave Act. According to Mother Jones, “In another case, a district court forced Dollar General to pay nearly $74,000 to Martha Bryant, a diabetic employee it fired in 2004 for taking time off under the Family Medical Leave Act. Dollar General argued that the law does not prohibit retaliation against employees who take FMLA leave. Dollar General appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld the district court’s judgment against Dollar General.” [Mother Jones, 5/21/14]
Perdue Endorsed The Government Shutdown. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Former Secretary of State Karen Handel has been running as a non-congressional candidate, but endorsed the shutdown and its aim. So did David Perdue, a former Dollar General chief executive, who has raised more cash than anyone in the GOP race but Kingston. Perdue reported $800,000 in contributions — plus $1 million out of his own pocket — raised as of Sept. 30.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/20/13]
Perdue Opposed Bipartisan Deal To End Government Shutdown. According to the Associated Press, “All eight Republicans favor repeal of Obama’s health care overhaul. All oppose abortion rights. All three congressmen voted against the bipartisan deal to end the partial government shutdown last fall, and Perdue, Handel and the lesser-known candidates all say they’d have voted the same way.” [Associated Press, 1/27/14]
Video: Perdue Said That Shutting Down The Federal Government “Doesn’t Bother Me A Minute – But If You Want To Shut It Down, Shut It Down.” According to a speech by David Perdue at the Henry County GOP Meeting, “Shutting this government down doesn’t bother me a minute. But if you want to shut it down, shut it down. They didn’t do that. Second thing is, I don’t care what you do, you can’t play around by even backing into a failed threat of defaulting on the federal debt. Cannot do that. […] We can’t play around with that.” [Video – David Perdue Speech At Henry County GOP Meeting, 1/7/14]
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) plans to move forward with Medicaid expansion even without lawmakers’ support, the governor announced on Friday. The battle over Medicaid expansion has been particularly contentious in Virginia over the past several months, as McAuliffe been unable to convince the GOP-controlled legislature to move forward with implementing the policy even though it has bipartisan support in the state.
The governor announced his decision to expand Medicaid unilaterally during a press conference on Friday. He said he will use his executive power to expand Medicaid administratively, and asked the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to draw up plans for that project by the beginning of September. “I am moving forward,” he said, noting that lawmakers’ continued refusal to extend health care to an estimated 400,000 of the state’s poorest residents sends him “to bed every night with a pit in my stomach.” He called the GOP’s decision to block Medicaid expansion “unconscionable.”
Earlier this week, the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Jeff Schapiro laid out what an administrative expansion might look like. Essentially, McAuliffe could enlist private businesses to execute the public program, a so-called “public-private partnership.” It’s a method the state has used before to finance a highway.
Although the governor wasn’t explicit about the specifics of his plan, he did say that he’s been consulting with the attorney general every step of the way, and “whatever we do will be in full compliance with the attorney general’s office.”
After the GOP took control of the state Senate earlier this month — in a dramatic turn of events that may have involved an illegal bribe to get a Democrat to step down — Virginia lawmakers rushed to pass a budget that explicitly bans the state from expanding Medicaid. Republicans say that the expansion is too expensive and that it’s irresponsible to pour more money into a broken government program.
But McAuliffe announced on Friday that he plans to veto that provision, along with several other line items in the budget that he doesn’t want to approve. The political fight over the state’s budget has been threatening a government shutdown, so McAuliffe opted for line vetoes rather than rejecting the entire proposal outright.
Across the country, GOP-led resistance to Medicaid expansion is leaving an estimated 5.8 million impoverished Americans without any access to affordable health care whatsoever. Meanwhile, the states that have agreed to expand the public program are seeing dramatic drops in their uninsurance rates and significant boosts to their budgets.
Associated Press: Transgender people receiving Medicare may no longer be automatically denied coverage for sex reassignment surgeries, a US Department of Health and Services review board ruled Friday in a groundbreaking decision that recognizes the procedures as a medically necessary and effective treatment for individuals who do not identify with their biological sex.
Ruling in favor of a 74-year-old Army veteran whose request to have Medicare pay for her genital reconstruction was denied two years ago, the agency’s Departmental Appeals Board ruled that a three-decade-old HHS rule excluding such surgeries from the procedures covered by the national health program for the elderly and disabled was unjustified.
Reasonable people who don’t follow politics closely can be forgiven for dismissing Democrats’ focus on the Koch brothers as just a political tactic– not unlike the Republicans’ attacks on George Soros. They’re all rich and politically active. So what?
Senator Bernie Sanders begs to differ–and so should we. Sanders points out that the brothers are worth 80 billion dollars (including an increase of 12 billion in the last year alone), and he points to the extent of their involvement in the political process–and the degree to which they have used their enormous resources to misinform and confuse, most recently funding political spots that flat-out lie about the Affordable Care Act, which–along with Medicare and Medicaid– they are intent upon repealing. (I guess when poor people get health care, it offends their peculiar version of justice.)
David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980. And Sanders suggests we take a look at the platform on which he ran:
- “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
- “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
- “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
- “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
- “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
- “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
- “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
- “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
- “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
- “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
- “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
- “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
- “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
- “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
- “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
- “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
- “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
- “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
- “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
- “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
- “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
- “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
- “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
- “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
- “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
- “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”
The Koch brothers want to repeal every major piece of legislation that levels the playing field or protects the middle class, the elderly, children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country, and thanks to Citizens United and McCutcheon, they can spend unlimited amounts of money to buy the American government they want.
They’ve realized that the Libertarian party can’t deliver their particular version of “liberty”–but properly funded, they hope the GOP can.
They may be right.
The two programs are now a staple of American political culture. But a backward glance at the political environment during their inception reveals equally fierce, ugly antipathy from conservatives — including screaming warnings that they’d be ruinous to freedom.
During the 1935 debate over Social Security, Republicans likened it to slavery and dictatorship.
"Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought here so insidiously designed as to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers and to prevent any possibility of the employers providing work for the people," said Rep. John Taber (R-NY).
"The lash of the dictator will be felt," said Rep. Daniel Reed (R-NY), "and 25 million free American citizens will for the first time submit themselves to a fingerprint test."
Rep. James W. Wadsworth (R-NY) cautioned that passage of Social Security would open the door to a government power “so vast, so powerful as to threaten the integrity of our institutions and to pull the pillars of the temple down upon the heads of our descendants.”
Three decades later, when Medicare was first conceived in the early 1960s, the public was deeply divided, and similar warnings were voiced. Embodying the conservative movement’s sentiments at the time was Ronald Reagan, who taped a recording on behalf of the American Medical Association warning that the program would, quite simply, lead to the destruction of freedom.
"If Medicare passes into law, the consequences will be dire beyond imagining," Reagan said. If opponents failed to scuttle it, he warned, "One of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, in 1964, likened Medicare to free vacations and beer. “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind,” he said, “why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink?”
Half a century later, Republicans loudly and proudly proclaim their support for both programs, and are loathe to admit their party ever opposed them.
But history repeats itself. In 2010, Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act — the largest expansion of the safety net since Medicare — following a similarly intense debate. Democrats heralded it as a step toward a more humane society, and Republican opponents warned it would pose a grave threat to economic freedom. Unlikely Social Security and Medicare, Obamacare failed to win over even a fraction of Republicans, who were reduced a small, deeply ideological rump in both chambers of Congress after two landslide elections for Democrats.
This week, Obamacare took a leap toward sustainability as it crossed the milestone of 7 million insurance sign-ups. Even as conservative wonks concede that the program is probably here to stay, the residue from the hyper-partisan and polarizing debate lingers, and Republicans remain committed to dismantling it. But if past is prologue, over time as the coverage expansion and benefits fully take effect, the fatalistic warnings will fizzle and Republicans will come to terms with the new health care program.
"In politics, losses always worry people more than abstract future gains entice them. Now, every vote to repeal or eviscerate Obamacare risks offending millions – and the potential to arouse pushback will only grow," argued Theda Skocpol, a Harvard professor, sociologist and liberal author. “This story isn’t like Social Security, where most potential beneficiaries saw few gains for two decades. Affordable Care is already a massive presence in U.S. health care. It cannot be rolled back and those who keep championing that Lost Cause will do so at rising political peril.”
h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM
Married same-sex couples will now have full access to Medicare benefits, regardless of which state they live in.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that same-sex spouses will be recognized in administering several aspects of the Medicare program, regardless of where the couple lives. CMS works with the Social Security Administration to conduct eligibility determinations and to enroll seniors and individuals with certain disabilities in the program. Social Security updated their own marriage recognition policies earlier this week to streamline the handling of marriage-based claims involving transgender people. The announcement is the latest step implementing the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Social Security will now begin processing Medicare enrollment, requests for Special Enrollment Periods, and requests for reductions in late-enrollment penalties for many same-sex spouses. Eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B coverage is particularly important for these families, who are disproportionately likely to be uninsured. Medicare Part A coverage is often available without paying a monthly premium, making it important for the many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who struggle to afford coverage.
CMS’s decision also impacts some people who previously applied for a Special Enrollment Period but were denied eligibility because of DOMA. For some of these couples, Social Security will be able to approve a second request for a Special Enrollment Period, giving more immediate access to Medicare coverage.
For couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions this announcement offers some, but not all of the same opportunities for enrolling in Medicare coverage. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are not recognized for the purposes of Special Enrollment Periods for applicants 65 or older, but for those applicants with disabilities who are under 65, Special Enrollment Periods are available as long as the applicant has coverage through their partner’s current employer.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS have been acting to implement the Windsor decision since last year, expanding coverage for many same-sex couples. HHS announced last month that plans sold through Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act must offer coverage to all same-sex spouses starting in 2015. In September of last year, CMS sent a letter to state Medicaid directors granting discretion to recognize same-sex marriages according to the laws of their state.
Read the full Medicare announcement here.
The House Budget Committee chairman’s newest budget blueprint would make seniors pay more for their health care.
On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his new budget blueprint for fiscal year 2015. It contains many of the same cuts to social safety net and low-income assistance programs as his previous proposals — including sweeping changes to Medicare that would turn the health care program for the elderly into a “premium support” plan that forces American seniors to pay more for their coverage.
Ryan’s new Medicare proposal hews to the same basic structure as his previous premium support plans — in essence, a system of insurance vouchers. Under the plan, future Medicare beneficiaries would have the option of choosing between traditional fee-for-service Medicare or a list of private health plans and receive a subsidy to help pay the chosen policy’s premium. Unlike previous Ryan budgets, however, seniors who are currently 55 or younger would be forced into this alternative system, likely breaking a pledge House Republicans made last year promising that current 55-year-olds would be able to stay on traditional Medicare.
Ryan emphasizes that his proposal still gives seniors the choice of remaining in regular Medicare. But what he doesn’t mention is that his plan makes Medicare so expensive that millions of seniors will likely be forced to switch into the private plans. While Ryan employs a different type of bidding system for private health plans under his 2015 blueprint that softens his plan’s topline effect on beneficiaries’ costs, an earlier Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of Medicare premium support systems found that plans such as Ryan’s would increase traditional Medicare premiums by a staggering 50 percent.
The millions of seniors who are forced over to private plans would also find themselves with different doctors and narrower coverage networks under Ryancare — ironic considering Republicans’ unabashed outrage over news that the Affordable Care Act had canceled about three or four million skimpy insurance policies. But unlike Obamacare, Ryan doesn’t require his replacement private plans to have a more robust base level of consumer protections and benefits than beneficiaries’ previous coverage.
Low-income seniors would be particularly hurt by the Ryan approach to Medicare since it would also raise the Medicare eligibility threshold. Since Ryan’s plan also dismantles Obamacare, including the health law’s Medicaid expansion, this would be a major blow to the poor and elderly who are just on the cusp of Medicaid eligibility. These people would be unlikely to qualify for Medicaid absent the ACA’s expansion and many of them would be forced to continue working simply for the sake of retaining their employer-sponsored coverage, a phenomenon known as “job lock.” Seniors who aren’t lucky enough to receive employer coverage would have to try their luck in an individual market absent Obamacare’s consumer protections and industry reforms, meaning they may be charged exorbitant rates for having poor health or denied health insurance altogether.
A full CBO analysis of Ryan’s new budget plan is necessary in order to evaluate its overall effect on seniors. But the blueprint Ryan released today suggests that it boils down to seniors paying a bigger chunk of money for their care or having fewer coverage options.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama’s upcoming budget proposal will not include his past offer to accept lowered cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs. Those had been a central component of his long-term debt-reduction strategy.
Officials said Thursday that those potential reductions in spending, included in last year’s Obama budget, had been designed to initiate negotiations with Republicans over how to reduce future deficits and the nation’s debt. But Republicans never accepted Obama’s calls for higher tax revenue to go along with the cuts.
One official said the offer would remain on the table in the event of new budget talks but that it would not be part of the president’s formal spending blueprint for fiscal 2015.
The official was not authorized to comment by name on the budget plan before its March 4 release and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
The decision to drop the cost-of-living proposal was essentially an acknowledgement that Obama has been unable to conclude a “grand budget bargain” with Republican leaders, even by including in his previous budget plan a benefit reduction opposed by many Democrats.
While Democrats will cheer the new decision, Republicans are sure to portray the White House move as abandoning any commitment to fiscal discipline.
The new Obama proposal would eliminate congressionally mandated automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to continue kicking in through 2015 by adding $56 billion to the budget, evenly divided between military and domestic spending. That increase would include money for what the White House calls an “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.”
H/T: Huffington Post
Source: The Huffington Post
On his radio show yesterday, Bryan Fischer called for ending Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, as well as the elimination of the minimum wage … all in order to help the poor and those struggling to make ends meet, of course.
So logically this discussion resulted in Fischer eventually calling for a return to an electoral system in which only people who own property can vote.
"You know, back in the day, in the colonial period," Fischer said, "you have to be a landowner, a property owner to be eligible to vote and I don’t think that’s a bad idea. And the is very simple: if somebody owns property in a community, they’re invested in the community. If they’re renters, they’re going to be up and gone; they could leave the next day … [P]eople that are not property owners - it’s like people that pay no taxes, they have no skin in the game. They don’t care about the same things that somebody does who is rooted in the community."
From the 01.14.2014 edition of AFR’s Focal Point:
More delusional advice from Bryan Fischer.
h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW
Two million people visited HealthCare.gov on Monday, the ostensible deadline to sign up through Obamacare for health coverage that starts in January, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The administration announced Monday, though, that anyone who enrolled in coverage by the end of the day Tuesday would still be covered on Jan. 1. After Tuesday, the earliest that one’s coverage would start would be Feb. 1.
The high volume forced CMS to deploy the website’s queueing system, which asked a total of 129,000 people to come back later to complete their application.
CMS said that traffic remained high Tuesday, though not as high as Monday, and the queueing system had not been activated.
From House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa to a regional Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator during testimony regarding federally paid navigators who are helping Texans access insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act:
Darrell Issa: A shill shilling for shills.
The group Third Way got sternly rebuked for its scurrilous attack on Elizabeth Warren, by several of its honorary co-chairs among others. But it would be a shame if the conversation stopped there. The real issue here is not Warren, but rather economic populism as a legitimate political strategy for progressives. Third Way says it isn’t one; it couldn’t be more wrong.
Start with how Americans feel about inequality today. Ina newly released Bloomberg poll, by 64-33 percent they endorsed the idea that the country no longer offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead. In the same poll, by 68-28 percent, they said the income gap between rich and poor is growing. And Americans overwhelmingly believe these trends are bad for the country.
So progressives are on firm ground when they denounce these trends and pledge to address them by overwhelmingly popular measures like raising the minimum wage, creating jobs through infrastructure spending, safeguarding Medicare, and expanding Social Security. Third Way, by contrast, suggests that progressives rally around massively unpopular policies like cutting Social Security and Medicare to address a non-existent fiscal crisis. To say this is bad advice is to considerably understate the case.
Even worse is Third Way’s insistence that progressives should never utter a discouraging word about big banks or the one percent. This is stupefyingly poor advice — as Judd Legum and Adam Peck have shown here, these policies are extremely popular.
But it’s about more than just the polling numbers on individual policies. Polling consistently shows that one of the biggest obstacles to building support for government action is the perception that government favors the wealthy and corporations, not the middle class. And topping Americans’ list of economic goals is the simple idea that the economy should work for everyone, not just the one percent and CEOs. It would be political malpractice not to acknowledge these sentiments and use them to promote a conversation about who government serves — far better turf for progressives than conservatives’ preferred debate about the size of government.
So going into 2014, progressives should intensify their advocacy for the 99 percent and be unafraid to link their campaigns and policies to a broad economic populism. This is their great weapon in a campaign season where the GOP hopes to put Democrats on permanent defense through their relentless attacks on Obamacare. But the best defense is a good offense, and a sturdy economic populism is Democrats’ best bet. With such an approach, combined with an economy that finally seems to be getting into gear, Democrats have an excellent chance of beating back the GOP’s bid for unified control of Congress, not to mention setting themselves up for a successful election in 2016.