Some politicians want to raise the Medicare age, which would save little money for the government and be painful for seniors. In Politico this morning, progressive Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) flatly objected to the idea and castigated its proponents:
“That is such a Washington, Heritage Foundation construction,” Brown said of raising the eligibility age.
Reminded that some of his own colleagues are open to it, he shot back: “They’re wrong.”
And he wondered, speaking of both Democratic and Republican advocates of such reform, “Do they not ever talk to factory workers, construction workers, people that work in diners?”
Raising the Medicare age would cost seniors approximately $11.4 billion annually.
Click here to pledge to hold any Democrat who agrees to a deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits accountable.
There are now multiple press reports that President Obama will agree to a fiscal deal that enacts a so-called “Chained CPI” to calculate Social Security and veterans’ benefits. Under this plan, “a person age 75 in the future will get a yearly benefit that’s $653 lower after ten years of chained CPI than that person would get under the current formula. An 85-year-old will have $1,139 less to live on.” This represents a huge cut to benefits.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told Congressional Quarterly (subscription only) that he doesn’t like the idea of the chained CPI “at all” and that his colleagues “overwhelmingly” agree with him:
Democrats sharply criticized the idea on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, but several said they hoped the White House could create a cushion to soften the impact on the neediest beneficiaries.
“I don’t like it at all,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, adding that his colleagues “overwhelmingly” agreed with him on the issue.
President Obama’s historic endorsement of marriage equality earlier this year is just one indication that America is moving towards giving full rights to its citizens of all sexual orientations.
But most of the Republican Party continues to oppose equality. Ohio Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel is one of these Republicans who opposes marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
Eight members of Mandel’s extended family have just written him an open letter condemning his anti-equality views. These family members note that two of Mandel’s cousins are lesbians, and that he is failing to support their rights. Below is the letter in its entirety:
Open Letter to Josh Mandel, Republican Candidate for U.S. Senator from OhioDear Josh,
Four years ago you came into our family. We still remember the excitement surrounding your wedding, and how happy our family members were as they described it afterwards. So we were deeply saddened when you announced during your October 18th debate with Senator Sherrod Brown that you believe only some people should share this right to marry the person they love, while others should not.
Your cousins, Ellen Ratner and Cholene Espinoza, are among the many wonderful couples whose rights you do not recognize. They were married almost eight years ago in Massachusetts, at a time when it was the only state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage. Their wedding, like yours, was a beautiful and happy occasion for all of us in our family. It hurts us that you would embrace discrimination against them and countless other loving couples in Ohio and around the country.
We are equally distressed by your belief that gay men and women should not be allowed to serve openly in the military. Like you, Cholene spent many years in the armed forces. A graduate of the Air Force Academy and an accomplished pilot, she became the second woman in history to fly the U-2 reconnaissance plane. And yet, you have argued that she, like many gay and lesbian soldiers, should be forced to live a life of secrecy and lies.
Josh, as you know, our roots are deep in the Cleveland area and we have friends and family we love throughout Ohio. This family is sprawling and diverse, but it has always believed strongly in the values of equality and inclusiveness. Your discriminatory stance violates these core values of our family. Nevertheless we hope that over time, as you advance in years and wisdom, you will come to embrace the values of inclusiveness and equality as well.
Michael Ratner, Bruce Ratner, Karen Ranucci, Pamela Lipkin, Rebecca
Ratner, Elizabeth Ratner, Patrick Markee, Jacob Ratner, Ana Ratner
Ohioans don’t have to wait for Mandel to evolve from his anti-gay views. His opponent, bold progressive Senator Sherrod Brown (D), fully supports marriage equality.
Last night, bold progressive Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) faced off with his right-wing challenger Josh Mandel.
At one point, the debate host Chuck Todd asked both candidates if they would be open to raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare, which would amount to a huge cut to benefits for both programs.
Mandel tried to weasel out of answering the question, saying that he was open to making changes to the programs for younger people but would not specify whether he would make these exact changes.
When it came time for Brown to answer, he didn’t waver. He blasted the idea of raising the retirement age and eloquently explained that working-class people can’t work any longer:
BROWN: Here’s why I wouldn’t raise the retirement age, the age for Medicare eligibility. I met a woman in Youngstown a few months ago. Who said, ‘I’m 63 years old I don’t have health insurance, I just want to stay alive until I turn 65 so I can get health insurance.’ If you raise the retirement age…maybe if you dress like this, if you’re the state treasurer, you’re a U.S. Senator maybe it works, but for a whole lot of working Americans it doesn’t.
TODD: But does it work for anybody?
BROWN: No, you don’t! You don’t. … On Social Security, I would not raise the retirement age, because working people, construction people, people who work in diners can’t work until they’re 70! … I would think of raising the [payroll tax] cap.
Brown’s answer hit the nail on the head: raising the retirement age would hit working-class people the most, whose life expectancy actually hasn’t increased very much in recent years. Lifting the payroll tax cap and making the wealthy pay a little bit more would keep Social Security solvent for the rest of our lifetimes.
Josh Mandel — the Republican is running against bold progressive Senator Sherrod Brown (D-MA) — released his “ten point” plan for health care yesterday. The two most specific and major ideas in Mandel’s plan are the following: re-instating $716 billion in wasteful and inefficient subsidies for private insurance companies in Medicare while repealing the Affordable Care Act, and block-granting Medicaid.
The first is self-explanatory. The Affordable Care Act reduced subsidies to private insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, which saves taxpayers money and does nothing to reduce Medicare benefits. Republicans have seized on this to misleadingly claim that Obama cut Medicare, and are serving their insurance company paymasters by trying to repeal this reform.
The second idea, however, is both newer and incredibly dangerous. Block-granting Medicaid would eliminate the current financing structure where the federal government picks up 50 to 75 percent of each state’s Medicaid costs. Instead, it would dramatically decrease the amount of money that the federal government spends on the program and would give states flexibility to drop more Medicaid-eligible patients altogether.
PCCC plans to make hundreds of thousands of calls for Elizabeth Warren’s Massachusetts Senate race. Another top priority is Alan Grayson’s House race in Florida. Call Out The Vote will also help Sen. Sherrod Brown’s re-election effort in Ohio and Tammy Baldwin’s Senate campaign in Wisconsin. On the House side, calls will go out for Rob Zerban, who is trying unseat Paul Ryan, Annie Kuster’s campaign in New Hampshire, and several other progressive candidates. [more]
Does Josh Mandel support the auto rescue? He’ll get back to you on that.
Out of any of the federal interventions into the economy over the past four years, one of the most successful was the auto rescue, which is so popular that a Romney adviser even ludicrously tried to claim that it was Mitt Romney’s idea (remember that the candidate wrote an op-ed titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt“).
It’s notable that Ohio Republican Josh Mandel — who is trying to defeat bold progressive incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown (D) — can’t even take a position on it.
The Vindicator newspaper (Youngstown, Ohio) asked Mandel six times whether he would’ve supported the auto rescue, and each time he dodged the question:
Asked a half dozen times using different scenarios, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, wouldn’t give a yes-or-no answer as to whether he supports the $82 billion federal government bailout of the American auto industry.
During a Wednesday editorial board meeting with The Vindicator, Mandel was repeatedly asked the question.
Each time, Mandel either said it was wrong for the bailout to not help Delphi salaried retirees — who lost their health and life insurance and had their pensions cut by 30 percent to 70 percent — or dismissed various scenarios offered by the editorial board’s members as not being legitimate questions.
It’s kind of a given that a U.S. Senator should be able to tell you whether or not they would’ve supported a major policy like the auto rescue.
UPDATE: Here’s the video of Mandel dodging the question for five minutes:
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