ELDER MUSIC: 1945 Again
It is Such a Relief to be This Old

High Stakes for Elders (and Some Others)

It's hard to keep up with the federal government these days, isn't it. Every day brings news of so much legislation passed and so many executive orders signed that it all blurs together.

But there are serious things going on that can dramatically change how we live and cost us a lot of money too. Here are three recent events of importance to elders you should know about.

TRUMP DEFUNDS PLANNED PARENTHOOD
And he did it in secret last week. We all know how much he likes to show off his signature, but he signed this bill behind closed doors with no cameras present.

Here's what the bill is about:

As an aside, both President Trump and Jake Tapper in that clip get it wrong when they imply that Planned Parenthood is only for younger women. Aside from birth control information, pregnancy-related services and abortion (which is somewhere between three and 10 percent of Planned Parenthood's services), most apply to both men and women of all ages. Here are some examples:

⚫ Breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer screenings
⚫ Testicular cancer, prostrate cancer clinics
⚫ Cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure screenings
⚫ Flu vaccines
⚫ Vasectomies

FYI, Vice President Mike Pence made the tie-breaking vote when this bill passed in Congress and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called the legislation “a major pro-life victory.”

According to a Government Accountability Office report [pdf] released in March 2015 that looked at data from 2010 to 2012, 80 percent (of Planned Parenthood clients) had incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

Most now have nowhere affordable to go for these medical services.

MICK MULVANEY AND SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY
Remember when then-candidate Trump repeated at many rallies that he would protect Social Security without cuts? He may or may not stick with that because he appointed South Carolina Representative Mick Mulvaney to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Mulvaney, who is a fierce advocate of deep spending cuts, was a member of a conservative bloc that pressed for slashing federal spending more deeply than House Republican leaders preferred, and established himself as one of the most outspoken of the anti-Washington movement in Congress.

Here is what he said to host John Dickerson on the CBS Sunday show Face the Nation last month:

Let me repeat that for us in print:

“Do you really think," Mulvaney said, "that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so.”

Tell that to the 17 percent of Social Security beneficiaries who are disabled workers or their dependents – 10.6 million in 2016.

Apparently, the president shot down any of Mulvaney's proposed changes to Social Security but a couple of weeks later, Mulvaney told CNBC reporter John Harwood in an interview:

”I continue to look forward to talking to the president about ways to fix that program. Because that is one of the fastest growing programs that we have. It's become effectively a long-term unemployment, permanent unemployment program.”

Oh, I see now. Mulvaney believes disabled workers are lazy deadbeats. Social Security could use some fixing and there are years of research with some excellent choices. Mulvaney's is not one of them.

MICK MULVANEY AND MEDICARE/MEDICAID
In that same interview, Harwood asked if it will be possible in a Trump administration, given Trump's vows to protect Social Security and Medicare, for Congress to “go after” Medicare:

”I think the message to the House and Senate is, 'Look, you go do what you think is best,' said Mulvaney. “And I voted for Medicare premium support in the past when it was part of the Ryan budget. My guess is the House will do either that or something similar to that. [emphasis mine]

“Premium support” is Republican code for voucherizing which is the same thing as privatizing. As Trudy Lieberman explained in the Joliet Herald-News last week:

”The amount of 'support' and how well it would keep pace with medical inflation would be buried in the details Congress would hash out.

“Today, the government provides the benefits for hospital and physician care for most Medicare beneficiaries, but that could change with more privatization. There already is a lot of privatization in Medicare...

“In a totally privatized arrangement, there may be no standardized benefits, and seniors would choose from a menu of insurance company options much the way drug plans are sold today.”

All of which - the Planned Parenthood legislation already in place and the Mulvaney Social Security and Medicare plans - means money out of the pockets of the poor, middle class and elders transferred directly into rich people's pockets.

The president has reversed himself on so many campaign promises already that we would be foolish to trust him on Social Security and Medicare. When it is expedient, he will embrace the mainstream Republican philosophy: more for me, less for you.

Meanwhile, your senators and representatives are in their home states for the rest of this week. It would be good to give their local offices a call and let them know how you feel about Director Mulvaney's plans.

Comments

We must work to unseat as many Republicans in Congress as possible in 2018.

Who are these people???

The future does not look good for the majority of people. Control of everyone's lives seems to be the vision ---- The middle ages comes to mind.

I am afraid the corner has been turned and we have entered a new era. They have been planning this for years and the glee they show as they destroy so many lives is daunting.

The slide will take awhile and no one will feel motivated to actually stand up until it is impacting their lives and then it is too late.

Sorry--- Debbie downer here.

I have been very active in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area at both protests and town halls. I can tell you from first hand experience my Congressman David Schweikert and my Senator Jeff Flake are arrogant and tone death to disagreements with their points of view. Both persons have voted consistently with the Paul Ryan agenda and President Trump's agenda. I'm now focusing with groups that are working hard to prepare to get these two people out of office. I believe our only hope is that not too much damage is done before 2018.

Victoria...
No apologies for "Debbie downer." I'm at least as far down that path as you.

I read all this with a heavy heart and strong sense of outrage on -
behalf of American people; and with fear, dread and anger
for myself and other people in the UK because where the US leads,
the UK follows - poodle like - closely behind.

Indiana is having the same issues with their Republican Congresspeople as Arizona. Not listening. No town hall meetings, no replies to any communications, etc. Just do not care. I doubt even major pain in the state due to Republican actions will unseat a Republican in Congress. State is just too Red.

Indiana voted Trump due to Pence, jobs, and anti-abortion (so defunding PP is ok with them until they figure out all the rural areas will be w/o health care as the state won't back fill behind PP with other care). But the congress folks think voting was for all the Republican ideas so any dissent is ignored because it does not fit what they think the people want or what they want.

This state is so backward and still living in the 1930's in some respects. Virtually any progressive idea gets voted down in the State legislature. The federal Republican Congress folks are no better. We are working hard to keep the one Democratic congressman in office in 2018.

I agree with Victoria that they have been working for years (many years) for this to happen. The outright grins and glee evidenced at the election outcome was hard to overlook. But slowly, slowly they're chipping away at these programs and many people are not paying attention OR refuse to believe it is happening. I, too, live in a red state and feel that it's futile to contact congressmen. But we can work to influence the election in 2018 along with other like-minded voters.

I personally wish government would get out of all our healthcare. When we allowed government to take our money so that we would be taken care of, we soon found our healthcare was not nearly as good as it once was. I am lucky to get five minutes in the office with my doctor because he is having to give the government all kinds of information about me. No, government healthcare is not the answer. Planned Parenthood should never have received government funds and social security is still secure. It may get changed, like being older when people start to get it, but that is to be expected as there will be more older people than younger people in the future. I don't think Indiana is a backward state at all. We have very low property taxes, pretty good schools, and most of us are proud of Mike Pence and what he is doing.

Staying vigilant around issues relating to Social Security and Medicare is becoming a full time job. I never felt this way when Obama was president. I would like to wake up and not have to be so concerned about whether these benefits (not entitlements) are okay.

The other BIG Republican attack on Social Security is a plan to reduce or eliminate payroll deductions. This will be billed as a "tax reduction" but will effectively end fiscal support of Social Security by putting Social Security funding under congressional control. Social Security was set up as a payroll deduction for exactly that reason - to keep it safe from congressional Republicans and other conservatives who would like to "fix" it.

People need to get out and vote and all this gerrymandering needs to be fixed. Obama and Schwarzenegger have both made fixing gerrymandering a priority. Improvement in these two areas would make a tremendous difference for the positive. We must all do what we can. Never give up. Remember more people voted for Hillary.

Don't ever, ever think that Mike Pence and Paul Ryan will vote in your best interests—their vote is always to promote their regressive agendas. Judging by what happened with Planned Parenthood, Disability Insurance and Medicare are in grave danger as well. I'm a Canadian, but I'm watching from the relative safety of our Northern border, afraid that whatever nastiness is influencing your government's policies, it will seep over to us. It's a small world, after all.

I'm off this morning to annoy Diane Feinstein. She'll probably end up voting with other Democrats to protect as much as she can in this wrecking Congress, but she always needs to be put on notice by her constituents.

Giving up is not an option.

I've been following and voting for Diane Feinstein (California) ever since she ran for Supervisor in SF. After all, we are of almost the same age and have lived in the same place all these years.

She's made of tempered steel, and with one or two mistakes (IMHO), has made a priority of fairness and equality, including fighting for those of us who made it to where the benefits (not entitlements) of Social Security are our bought-and-paid-for safety net.

I am glad to see there are differences of opinion in this comment section, because without discussion we will not come to a reasonable solution to the immense problems that now confront us.

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