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.
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
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.