That was the point

Paul Ryan wanted to run up the deficit with their tax bill, so they’d have an excuse to go after Social Security and Medicare, so here we go.

If no one does anything, the fund will still cover 79%. All they have to do is raise the cap on the wealthy.

Pete Peterson meets St. Peter

DealBook Briefing: Remembering Pete Peterson and His Long and Winding Career

The man who’s done so much to attack Social Security and Medicare is gone. Via the American Prospect:

Name, please?

Peter G. Peterson.

And what makes you think you deserve admission to the Pearly Gates?

I’ve led a virtuous life, made billions, and gave most of it to charity.

What sort of charity?

Well, I gave over $1 billion to create the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, to warn Americans about the dangers of deficits and debts, and the excesses of Social Security and Medicare.

Yes? And where’s the charity part?

Too much spending will bankrupt America, especially the dreams of the young.

I’m just a saint, not an economist. But are you saying that it’s Social Security and Medicare that are destroying the life chances of the young, rather than—oh, I don’t know—college debt, insecure jobs, unaffordable housing, the very rich taking more than their share?

My one regret on Earth was that the young people just wouldn’t listen to what I was telling them.

And where did you say you made your money?

That would be private equity.

We have a saying around here: It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than—

I know … than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

You’ve heard that one.

Yes, and I thought that if I just warned people against the perils of Social Security and Medicare, the Almighty would appreciate my virtue.

It’s kind of a stretch, Pete.

Well, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

Sure, fire away.

It looks pretty fine up here. Who pays for all of this?

The Almighty forgives us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Don’t you think that’s kind of profligate?

Well, we do have other, more austere quarters that might suit you a lot better.

About that nursing home arbitration rule

You remember Trump owns a nursing home, right?

In the past, most contracts that families were required to sign with the nursing homes they were placing their loved one in had binding arbitration clauses. By signing these contracts, families basically signed away their right to bring a civil case against the nursing home if something detrimental happened to their loved one.

Last year, a new rule went into effect that gave that right back to nursing home patients and their families. They were no longer forced to settle through arbitration if their loved one had suffered abuse, neglect, sexual assault, or wrongful death. This new rule was ordered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

In response, the nursing home industry filed a lawsuit, claiming that the CMS did not have the authority to make that rule change. A judge issued a preliminary injunction until the case could be heard in court.

It looks like that will not be happening, however, as the CMS recently announced it would not be fighting the lawsuit, but will instead reverse the rule, claiming that it put an “unnecessary burden on nursing homes.”

The only requirement of the binding arbitration clause now is that it needs to be in clear and easy to understand language. In addition to the for-profit nursing homes, there were other businesses and organizations who were in favor of mandating binding arbitration, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. All of these groups argued that lawsuits were costly and time-consuming.

However, the majority of public comments made in favor of keeping the rule came directly from nursing home abuse victims and their families, who share details of horrific abuse and neglect that were inflicted upon elderly patients. A spokesperson for CMS said the agency was reviewing all public comments pertaining to said abuses and negligence. They have three years to issue a final rule; however, the spokesperson said that it may be issued sooner.

Upon hearing of the agency’s decision to reverse their rule, Attorney Darryl Kogan commented, “This is appalling. Without the threat of having to answer in a court of law, nothing holds these facilities accountable. The terrible abuses our seniors suffer need to stop and this is not going to help.”

Ryan’s new sneak attack on Medicare

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand fanatic, never tires of trying to shred the government safety net. His latest scheme involves reaching across the aisle — all the way to the Senate, actually — to a so-called Democrat who shares Ryan’s passion for privatization:

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is teaming up with Paul Ryan, the House’s top budget guy and the author of the GOP’s controversial budget which proposes phasing out traditional Medicare and replacing it with a private plan… The move makes Wyden the first elected Democrat to endorse creating a premium-support system to compete with traditional fee-for-service Medicare…

The policy… allows insurers to compete with traditional Medicare turning Medicare essentially into a public option on a private insurance exchange. Wyden and Ryan would give patients subsidies that could be applied to either private insurance or fee for service Medicare…

Unlike previous plans, those subsidies would rise and fall with the cost of the plans themselves — not at a fixed rate below the explosive rate of health care inflation… This plan relies mostly on the theory that competition among insurers could hold down costs — a proposition with little evidence behind it — and would therefore save the government much less, if any, money at all.

The talking points for selling the Wyden-Ryan plan sound a lot like Mitt Romney’s plans for Medicare, so don’t be surprised if Ryan endorses Romney for president. Let’s hope voters can see past the smoke and mirrors of these cold-blooded frauds.

Just say no, in person, to betrayal of New Deal

Here’s part of an e-mail I recently received from Barack Obama’s spin doctors:

David —

As someone who got his start as a community organizer, President Obama’s entire career has revolved around the idea that ordinary people working together can do extraordinary things. So I hope you can take part in marking his 50th birthday… This Wednesday, August 3rd, campaign volunteers will get together for house meetings in all 50 states. We’ll plan local events… and talk about how to spread the word about the President’s accomplishments…

Can you attend a house meeting…? RSVP now.

I replied with this:

What are “the president’s accomplishments?” His unprecedented (for a Democrat) efforts to tear down the social safety net that evolved from the New Deal? To my shame, I voted for Obama, but I’m certainly not going to help celebrate his ongoing dismantlement of the Democratic Party.

But there’s a better way to express discontent about Obama’s refusal to back tax hikes for the rich and his unwillingness to defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Simply show up at one of the house meetings and tell those present what you think of his ongoing cave-in to right-wingers.

Click here for the meeting closest to you.