It’s heeeere! Call now!

Here it is, the attack on our earned benefits. Please, keep calling. The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414. The comments line is 202-456-1111.

Numbers for the Senate are hereNumbers for the House are here.

President Obama on Wednesday unveiled a $3.77 trillion spending plan that proposes modest new investments in infrastructure and education, major new taxes for the wealthy and significant reforms aimed at reducing the cost of Social Security and Medicare.

“Our economy is poised for progess, as long as Washington doesn’t get in the way,” Obama said in announcing his budget plan on the South Lawn of the White House. He said his budget represents “a fiscally responsible blueprint for middle-class jobs and growth.”

“We don’t view this budget as a starting point in the negotiations. This is an offer where the president came more than halfway toward the Republicans,” a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity to detail the forthcoming document.

“So this is our sticking point,” the official said. “And the question is: are Republicans going to be willing to come to us to do serious things to reduce our deficits” – including raising taxes on millionaires.

So far, senior Republicans have rejected the proposal, which would sharply increase both spending and deficits next year over current projections. While the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecasts $3.6 trillion in outlays in the fiscal year that begins in October, Obama calls for $170 billion more.

And while the CBO forecasts a deficit of $616 billion in 2014, Obama calls for a larger gap between spending and revenues of $744 billion, administration officials said, or 4.4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The budget gap would narrow over the coming decade, shrinking to 1.7 percent of GDP by 2023, when the national debt would also be shrinking as a measure of the overall economy.

But Obama proposes to lop only about $600 billion off projected borrowing over the next decade — trillions of dollars less than the austere, balanced-budget package that House Republicans endorsed earlier this year. While Obama proposes $1.8 trillion in new savings and tax revenue over the next decade, much of the money would be dedicated to replacing the sequester, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that went into effect March 1.

Obama’s deficit-reduction plan mirrors the offer he made in December to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. At the time, Obama called for $1.2 trillion in new taxes. The fiscal cliff deal included roughly $600 billion in new revenues over the next decade, with the bulk of the money coming from higher rates on households earning more than $450,000 a year.

[…] As he has in the past, Obama proposes to slice $400 billion from federal health programs, primarily Medicare, with the bulk of the cuts falling on drug companies and other providers. But Medicare beneficiaries would also take a hit, through higher premiums for couples making more than $170,000 a year and inducements for low-income recipients to use more generic drugs.

And for the first time, Obama formally proposes to slow the growth in Social Security benefits by applying a less-generous measure of inflation to programs throughout the federal government. The change would trim cost-of-living increases by roughly 0.3 percent a year, saving the government about $130 billion over the next decade.

White House officials said the new inflation measure — known as the chained consumer price index, or chained CPI — would not apply to programs for the poor, such as Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, and would be adjusted to reduce the impact on people 77 or older.

The deficit-reduction plan mirrors an offer Obama made in December to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. At the time, Obama called for $1.2 trillion in new taxes, but the fiscal cliff deal included roughly $600 billion in new revenues over the next decade, with the bulk of the money coming from higher rates on households earning more than $450,000 a year.

Obama’s decision to include chained CPI in his budget proposal has infuriated many Democrats, and a number of liberal lawmakers protested the Social Security cuts Tuesday at the White House. Republicans, meanwhile, who have pressed the president to put the change on the table, have so far dismissed the offer as too “modest” to justify GOP support for higher taxes.

Another reason to love Big Pharma

Don’t worry, we can always up Granny’s deductible to cover the costs. Ha ha ha! Remember when Obama was going to fix this, and allow Americans to buy Canadian drugs? Good times!

The 11 largest drug companies have made $711 billion in profits in just a decade, largely due to overcharging Medicare, which does not seek out competitive prices and uses taxpayer funds to support Big Pharma.

Since Medicare is prohibited from purchasing drugs based on their cost, its prescription drug program has been making large payouts to drug companies that have overcharged the program for years, according to an analysis by Health Care for America Now (HCAN).

Endless, severe thunderstorms?

It was 84 yesterday, might go to 90 today. And now, I get this wonderful news!

Scientists who probe the atmosphere is search of tomorrow’s weather have already picked up signs of major heat waves looming for American cities, particularly eastern ‘burgs like Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.


Now NASA is giving us a heads-up that residents of yet more cities might soon face increased risks of getting frizzled by lightning or charley-horsed by walnut-sized hailstones. The space agency has released new weather models based on a 2007 study by Purdue University’s Robert Trapp, who examined what might happen if the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gas were to continue increasing until the end of the century. Trapp’s evidence suggested that by the late 21st century the United States (and no doubt other places) will have many more days with ideal conditions for severe thunderstorms – you know, the ones with towering convective clouds and associated “high-impact weather such as destructive surface winds, hail and tornadoes.”


It slices! It dices!

And the chained CPI is also a back-door tax increase on the working poor! Via Digby:

Most of you know that the Chained-CPI is a cut in Social Security, disability and retirement benefits. But how about this?

Yeah, it’s a backdoor tax increase that falls disproportionately on those making between 20 and 50 thousand dollars a year:

The group getting the biggest tax hike is families making between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Their increase is almost six times that faced by millionaires. That’s because millionaires are already in the top bracket, so they’re not being pushed into higher marginal rates because of changing bracket thresholds. While a different inflation measure might mean that the cutoff between the 15 percent and 25 percent goes from $35,000 to $30,000, the threshold for the top 35 percent bracket is already low enough that all millionaires are paying it. Some of their income is taxed at higher rates because of lower thresholds down the line, but as a percentage of income that doesn’t amount to a whole lot.

All told, chained CPI raises average taxes by about 0.19 percent of income. So, taken all together, it’s basically a big (5 percent over 12 years; more, if you take a longer view) across-the-board cut in Social Security benefits paired with a 0.19 percent income surtax. You don’t hear a lot of politicians calling for the drastic slashing of Social Security benefits and an across-the-board tax increase that disproportionately hits low earners. But that’s what they’re sneakily doing when they talk about chained CPI

Oh, and let’s not forget. That tax hike, by law, goes to pay for George W. Bush’s wars not to shore up Social Security. And since these benefits cuts only add a very small amount to the Social Security trust fund, we’ll be back with another campaign to cut more within a couple of years.

You need to call, even if your rep is a Republican. Please call again today:

Numbers for the Senate are here

Numbers for the House are here.

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