Fortitudine et Prudentia

Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

Why Didn’t Paul Ryan Fight to Save the GM Plant in Janesville?

In News and Opinion on September 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm

People put their hopes and dreams into politics because politics is a forward looking vision and we all want to be on the best path going into the future. But arguments for the future should not be based on misrepresentations of the past.

Recently, the Republican national Committee put on a fairly good convention showcasing a series of Romney supporters and future leaders of the party. The Republicans put out their best and brightest and made their case for the future.

Ann Romney and Marco Rubio stood out at the convention and gave grand slam speeches that pulled you into their lives and explained why they believe what they believe and why they believe Mitt Romney is the better choice in this upcoming presidential election.

Mitt Romney did a fairly good job at “humanizing” himself which was the bar he had to get over. Romney did a fine job. He didn’t need to swing for the fences he just needed to play it safe and he did that well.

Clint Eastwood was something else and truly something to see. But when it comes to Paul Ryan’s speech exuberance turned into exaggeration.

The Vice Presidential hopeful delivered a full throated and impassioned speech making his case for why Mitt Romney and himself would be the better choice going forward. The only problem with the speech is it was fallacious at times. Among the false accusations and misleading stands Mr. Ryan took were misrepresentation of a work requirement to receive federal welfare benefits and a half-truth of Ryan’s support of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission’s suggestions. But nothing was more contentious as Ryan’s assertion that a General Motors factory, that was shut down in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, was the president’s fault.

According to Politifact The General Motors plant in contention was built in 1918 and has produced tractors for farming, automobiles commuting, and army tanks for war but most importantly that factory produced well-paying middle class jobs for Americans. That factory produced the American Dream – A means to owning a home, raising a family, sending your children to college, and retiring with dignity and security. In essence Ryan was pinning the crumbling American Dream on the President and using the Janesville plant as a metaphor. Which would be fair play except for the fact that that plant began closing before President Obama took office and was running a skeleton crew filling the last orders for light duty trucks when Obama assumed office.

Ryan laid the responsibility for the plant’s closing and subsequent jobs loses on Obama because in 2008 the then Senator Obama visited the Janesville plant while campaigning for president.

While at the plant Senator Obama stated, “And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years.  The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it’s where it will thrive.  I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that’s the future I’ll fight for as your president.”

And this is the basis for Ryan’s fallacious claim: Because Senator Obama believed if the government was there to support the auto industry in 2008 that plant would be there for another hundred years. Mr. Ryan was part of the government in 2008 and was the congressional representative for Janesville during that year. Why didn’t Mr. Ryan use the government to support the workers of Janesville and fight for the funds to retool and retrain the workers of his hometown’s GM factory?

If Ryan cares so much about auto workers now why didn’t care about them in 2008?

As president, Obama did fight for the future of the auto industry and auto workers. President Obama battled against Republican opposition and against Paul Ryan himself to save auto manufacturing in the Midwest. Obama pushed for a bail-out for the auto industry in 2009 and won and America won and American manufacturing won and auto workers won. But for all the efforts and struggles of the 2009 auto bail out it was too late to save the Janesville plant that produced its last Tahoe and laid off the majority of its work force on December 23, 2008.

At the eight minute mark in the video below Congressman Ryan states in 2008 that the Janesville Plant will be closed by December 23rd.

The video below is of the last Tahoe  built in Janesville being raffled off by Fagan Chevrolet with a dated banner from December 23, 2008.

Of this video Fagan Chevrolet wrote – We were lucky enough to have the last Chevrolet Tahoe built at the Janesville, WI assembly plant. Fagan Chevrolet Cadillac would like to thank all the workers that put their hard efforts in day in and day out to make these great vehicles. We sure will miss having G.M. here in Janesville.

-Ray Reilly

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Medicare – Ryan’s Vouchercare & Why You Should Care

In News and Opinion on August 16, 2012 at 12:09 am

If you’re an American and you’re planning on living until you’re 65 then this election is very important to you.

For the eternal optimists among us retirement is something far off into the future that we don’t consider daily but as sure as birthdays add up retirement is coming and with retirement comes healthcare needs. Coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, medical devices, and therapy is not cheap. In 2010 The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated it costs the government $11,743 per enrollee for annual coverage in Medicare. That covers Jazzy scooters, home health aides, and enough prescription drugs to fill a fisherman’s tackle box for all of America’s retired population.

Currently Medicare is funded by the tax payers who aren’t retired yet. Tax payers pay into the system until they retire then when they retire the younger tax payers pay for the Senior’s coverage. Taxpayers pay a whopping 1.45% of their income toward Medicare that their employers match dollar for dollar. That should be spelled out to dispel any notion of a typo – Medicare is taxed at one point four five percent of income.

For retirees Medicare is not a free ride. Currently there are monthly premiums for Doctor and prescription drug coverage but overall retired citizens are very happy with their Medicare and the system as whole. As a matter of fact they are happier with their healthcare coverage than people with employer based insurance.

It’s a good deal. Pay a measly 1.45% of your income during your working years and retire secure with great insurance you are most definitely going to need.

But there’s an onion – Medicare is going broke.

But Medicare has always been going broke. According to Patricia A Davis of the prestigious Congressional Research Service the current solvency projection of Medicare extends until 2024 which is in line with the average insolvency projections of 11.8 years historically.

This isn’t Medicare’s first rodeo with solvency. Just like any other health insurance coverage, public or private, if changes aren’t made the solvency outlook deteriorates. Healthcare companies raise premiums and change copayments as needed to stay solvent but not Medicare. Medicare slogs along like a dinosaur and this static notion of Medicare as not being adaptable leaves it open to the unfounded hysteria of inevitable extinction. Medicare is perceived as a lumbering dinosaur slogging its way off of a cliff because our government mismanages it.

Paul Ryan, now the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, is the latest opportunist to pull the proverbial fire alarm. Mr. Ryan came up with a plan to “fix” Medicare in 2010 as part of his budget entitled The Path to Prosperity. Nice name. Ryan didn’t want to fix Medicare like they do in the private sector or like as was done under Ronald Reagan’s Presidency; Ryan decided the best course of action is to hand over – the most popular and successful government program ever – to the private sector. His current boss, Mitt Romney, said he would sign Ryan’s plan into law if he became the President.

The Path to Prosperity has already passed through The House of Representatives and would surely be passed through budget reconciliation if Republicans get the majority after this election then it would be on Mr. Romney’s desk for his guaranteed signature by Spring 2013.

For a man who claims to be an “actuary wonk”, Ryan’s numbers get scary – very scary – if you plan on retiring. Under Ryan’s Plan ten years from now Medicare turns into “Vouchercare”, a system that issues American retirees coupons they can use toward the purchase of health coverage that’s similar to employer based coverage. The out of pocket costs for senior citizens would sky rocket according to the Congressional Budget Office. In 2012 the current out of pocket expense for seniors is 25% with traditional Medicare under Ryan’s “Vouchercare” the cost for seniors would rise to 68% or roughly $6,200 per year. That should be spelled out – six thousand two hundred dollars per year senior citizens would have to pay out of pocket under Ryan’s plan.

Ryan’s Medicare plan puts an unconscionable extra $400 per month expense on all retried American citizens – If you’re under the age of 55 today that means YOU and if you’re over the age of 55 today that means your children and grandchildren.

And there are unknowns with Ryan’s plan too. It’s not clear what happens to the Seniors who will not be able to afford the extra premium. Do the indigent seniors get dropped from their coverage or do they get forced into bankruptcy, nobody knows. Then there’s the question of what will be the minimum standard of coverage if Medicare gets handed over the insurance companies? What will be covered and what won’t be covered? What about Doctor and Hospital choice? Currently Medicare is accepted by most Doctors and Hospitals. Can a 93 year old navigate an HMO effectively?

There are many things that can be done rather than handing over Medicare to the insurance industry. Taxes can be raised 0.5%, the retirement age can be increased, coinsurances and deductibles can be raised, fraud, waste and abuse can be cracked down on. The practical options are almost endless. What shouldn’t be an option is giving seniors a voucher and wishing them good luck during what should be their best years of life.

-Ray Reilly

Romney/Ryan and the Road Map to Ruin

In News and Opinion on August 11, 2012 at 7:58 am

According to The Associated Press Mitt Romney is ready to roll the dice and name Paul Ryan has his VP pick today at 9am in Norfolk, Virginia. Ryan is a 42 year old career congressman who has represented Wisconsin’s first district for 6 terms and is currently considered the conservative fiscal whiz kid. Ryan, a republican, chairs the House Budget Committee and also sits on the ways and means committee. As far as money men go, Paul Ryan is it.

The pick of Ryan is a considerably bold choice by Romney because of his unconventional budget entitled, “The Path to Prosperity.” Romney has fully embraced the Ryan budget that Newt Gingrich famously called, “Right-wing social engineering.” This budget is rife with policies that go well beyond the normal bean counting people associate with budgets as it seeks to make fundamental changes in the so-called social contract of America.

At the center of the Ryan Budget are the usual suspects, healthcare and taxes. Guaranteed to  rile democrats at their core and rally the republican base this budget is the republican equivalent of “ObamaCare.”

The first cries from the left will undoubtedly be about the changes Ryan wishes to make to the government health insurance for retired Americans known as Medicare. Ryan has claimed that his budget doesn’t seek end Medicare as we know it but the changes are undeniable. Under the new guidelines of the Ryan Budget Medicare will still cover healthcare services for American Senior Citizens but with a few catches. Ryan envisions the government issuing coupons that Seniors will use toward the purchase of their health coverage and any additional costs for coverage will come out of pocket for senior citizens. In a complicated twist to this years version of the Ryan Plan a Senior Citizen can keep traditional medicare but any additional cost over 0.5% of the plan would have to be paid for by the subscriber. Bottom line – Out of Pocket expenses for Seniors will become more expensive.

Then there’s the Ryan Budget’s promise of broadening the tax base to reduce tax rates. Broadening the tax base is a simple idea, get more people to pay taxes and lower the rates. But like with the  proposed medicare changes there’s some catches. When the bipartisan Tax Policy Center looked at Ryan’s Budget they found it came up $4.6 trillion short of the current Bush tax rates over ten years. Unless Ryan addresses eliminating or reducing many deductions and credits within the tax code many middle class tax payers enjoy like the child tax credit and mortgage interest deduction the plan comes up about $6.2 trillion short of the 18% revenue of GDP the government has traditionally raised. The Ryan Tax Plan leaves a big hole and if the base isn’t broadened it will be an even larger hole.

The Path to Prosperity will be as front and center as Romney and Ryan will be from now until November. It carries with it a serious choice for the American voter and the contrast now between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama has never been more stark. To embrace the Romney/Ryan ticket is to embrace the Ryan Budget and its fundamental changes in much of the American social contract. Each voter now has a choice of whether the Romney/Ryan ticket will be a path to Prosperity or a Road Map to Ruin.