Ryan Budget – Bad for Veterans

Shared from VoteVets.org

Much has been said over the past few weeks about the budget proposal in the House of Representatives, offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, and backed by Republican members, but not much has been said about how it will affect our veterans.  As you know, the Paul Ryan plan will end Medicare, making it a voucher program, leaving seniors to buy their own insurance in the private system.  It will therefore end one of the most popular and successful initiatives ever offered.

This plan will also punish veterans – harshly – and it’s important that you spread the word on how it will do so.

Here are the facts:

  • Millions of veterans over 65 rely on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance for their health care. In fact, according to the last survey of veterans by the Department of Veterans’ affairs, 39.3% of veterans use Medicare, compared with 14 percent of the general population.
  • Many of these veterans are relying on Medicare as their sole health care provider.  The Ryan plan would have an immediate impact on these veterans, forcing those falling into the “donut hole” with high-cost prescription drug costs to pay more for their medications in addition to paying more for preventative health services.
  • Veterans who rely on Medicaid would not escape cuts either. The Republican plan could slash $1.4 trillion in health benefits over the next ten years. Forty-four states are already facing significant budget shortfall in Fiscal Year 2012,and the cuts could force the state to either ration health care benefits for veterans across the country, restrict eligibility rules and leave thousands uninsured, including veterans, or raise taxes to cover the shortfall.
  • Finally, many veterans rely on private insurance, mostly through their employer. Because Republicans want to repeal the recent health insurance law, these veterans will no longer have guaranteed access to health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions and may see annual or lifetime caps on coverage under the Republican budget.

In short, Republicans and Paul Ryan will strip away care for our veterans, in the name of budget cutting.  These proposals are draconian, cruel, and unfair to those men and women who put their lives on the line for this country.  But, unless we spread the word about how severely the Ryan/Republican plan will hurt veterans, most Americans won’t ever know.

Take some time to read their propaganda and get to know what they’re trying to do.  Be an informed voter, not someone who swallowed their propaganda, hook, line and anchor.


2012-GOP-Platform GOP Growth Opportunity Rpt 2009-GOP-Road-to-Recovery 2010-GOP-Better-Solutions
GOP 2012 Platform GOP Growth Opportunities 2009 Road to Recovery 2010-Better Solutions
2010-Pledge-to-America Path to Poverty v1.0 Path to Poverty v2.0 Path to Poverty v3.0
2010-Pledge to America P2P v1.0 P2P v2.0 P2P v3.0

Read/compare a few to see what you think — and if you’d like you can compare the actual budget numbers between plans here.

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Republicans Admit Intention To Sugarcoat Their Opposition To LGBT Equality

— By Zack Ford on Mar 26, 2013 at 11:47 am

The Republican Party continues to struggle with its intentions moving forward in regards to LGBT equality. In its autopsy report of the 2012 elections — its “Growth & Opportunity Project” — the gay community was the one group that the Party was not actually interested in reaching out to. Instead, the plan was to convince young people to support conservative principles even if they support LGBT rights. Since then, GOP chairman Reince Priebus has attempted to model this by citing his own marriage as an example for building bridges and suggesting Mike Huckabee, a very vocal opponent of equality, be an ambassador on gay issues.

This week, both Priebus and potential presidential prospect Jeb Bush have both been a bit more candid about their intentions to simply sugarcoat their opposition to equality so it doesn’t sound so anti-gay. Bush told Newsmax that a different tone that expresses opposition to same-sex marriage “in a civil way” that is “not judgmental” would help keep conservatives united:

BUSH: I know for a fact that as it relates to gay marriage and other social issues there is growing divergence of opinion on this. When we talk about it, we ought to talk about it with a different tone — and we ought to talk about it recognizing that there is more than one point of view, and we should talk about it in a way that is not judgmental. If we can get to that point where people who have diverging points of view and express them in a civil way, the conservative coalition can stay intact.

Priebus, in turn, told USA Today that opposition to equality can be presented with “grace and respect”:

We do have a platform, and we adhere to that platform (emphasis added),” Priebus said in an interview Monday on USA TODAY’s Capital Download video series. “But it doesn’t mean that we divide and subtract people from our party” who support the right of gay men and lesbians to marry.

“I don’t believe we need to act like Old Testament heretics,” he said, saying Republicans “have to strike a balance between principle and grace and respect.”

What the Republican Party cannot seem to accept is that no polishing of this message amounts to respect, grace, or civil discourse. Inequality is inequality, and no changes in tone can change that the GOP platform specifically calls for one group of people to be treated as second-class citizens.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

The Morality Brigade

— by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton

Robert ReichWe’re still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.

In recent weeks Republican state legislators have decided to thwart the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in “Roe v. Wade,” which gave women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception.

imageThe morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they’re born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.  

Meanwhile, the morality brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.

Despite the Supreme Court’s willingness to consider the constitutionality of California’s ban, no one should assume a majority of the justices will strike it down. The Court could just as easily decide the issue is up to the states, or strike down California’s law while allowing other states to continue their bans.

Conservative moralists don’t want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don’t give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy.

Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that’s essential to both our democracy and economy.

Three years ago, at the behest of a right-wing group called “Citizen’s United,” the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in politics by deciding corporations were “people” under the First Amendment.

A record $12 billion was spent on election campaigns in 2012, affecting all levels of government. Much of it came from billionaires like the Koch brothers and casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson —seeking fewer regulations, lower taxes, and weaker trade unions.

They didn’t entirely succeed but the billionaires established a beachhead for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond.

Yet where is the morality brigade when it comes to these moves to take over our democracy?

Among the worst violators of public morality have been executives and traders on Wall Street.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, was found to have misled its shareholders and the public about its $6 billion “London Whale” losses in 2012. 

This is the same JPMorgan that’s lead the charge against the Dodd-Frank Act, designed to protect the public from another Wall Street meltdown and taxpayer-funded bailout.

Lobbyists for the giant banks have been systematically taking the teeth out of Dodd-Frank, leaving nothing but the gums.

The so-called “Volcker Rule,” intended to prevent the banks from making risky bets with federally-insured commercial deposits – itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act – still hasn’t seen the light of day.

Last week, Republicans and Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee passed bills to weaken Dodd-Frank – expanding exemptions and allowing banks that do their derivative trading in other countries (i.e., JPMorgan) to avoid the new rules altogether.

Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in its entirety, as part of their budget plan.

And still no major Wall Street executives have been held accountable for the wild betting that led to the near meltdown in 2008. Attorney General Eric Holder says the big banks are too big to prosecute.

Why doesn’t the morality brigade complain about the rampant greed on the Street that’s already brought the economy to its knees, wiping out the savings of millions of Americans and subjecting countless others to joblessness and insecurity — and seems set on doing it again?

What people do in their bedrooms shouldn’t be the public’s business. Women should have rights over their own bodies. Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

But what powerful people do in their boardrooms is the public’s business. Our democracy needs to be protected from the depredations of big money. Our economy needs to be guarded against the excesses of too-big-to-fail banks.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller,Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at http://www.robertreich.org.

7 Deadly Amendments That Would’ve Protected Dirty Energy And Trashed The Climate

— by Ryan Koronowski, Tiffany Germain, Guest Blogger, Dan Weiss, Guest Blogger and Jessica Goad

Over the weekend, Senate Democrats passed a federal budget for Fiscal Year 2014. In order to do so, Senate rules allow for consideration of any amendment that is brought to the floor. Senators introduced hundreds of amendments, which resulted in a “vote-o-rama.”

Many conservatives offered amendments to undermine existing and potential public health safeguards, particularly those that would attempt to reduce climate pollution. Below are seven deadly amendments to curtail protection for our children’s health and heritage. As usual, these conservatives are focused on protecting dirty energy companies profits at the expense of public health.

  • Blunt #261: This amendment would have blocked future legislation to impose a carbon tax or fee to reduce industrial carbon pollution and raise revenue. Specifically, the amendment would create a “point-of-order” against any carbon tax measure that could only be overcome with a three-fifths vote of legislators. While it would have been a mostly symbolic move, the fossil fuel industry’s friends in the Senate are reiterating their opposition to government action on climate pollution. However, the impacts of climate change have already been felt across the country — in 2011 and 2012, the United States suffered from 25 climate related storms, floods, heat waves, drought, and wildfires that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, with a total price tag of $188 billion. The Blunt amendment would allow these damages and costs to grow unchecked. Result: FAILED 53-46
  • Coats #514: This amendment would have struck down key Clean Air Act protections by authorizing the President to exempt any industrial facility from complying with air toxics standards for two-year periods. Essentially, the amendment would have given a free pass to coal-burning power plants from EPA’s 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which were put in place due to the well-documented health risks of mercuryarsenic, and the millions of pounds of additional hazardous chemicals. Methylmercury from coal pollution accumulates in fish, poisoning pregnant women and small children. Mercury can harm children’s developing brains, including effects on memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills. Upgrades to the aged and dirty coal plants will also significantly reduce harmful particle pollution, preventing hundreds of thousands of illnesses and up to 17,000 premature deaths each year. “The ‘monetized’ value of these and certain other health benefits would amount to $37–90 billion per year,” the Environmental Protection Agency determined. Republicans are once again trying to protect the dirty energy industry over our children’s health. Result: FAILED 46-53
  • Alexander #516: This would “repeal … the wind production tax credit.” The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity to encourage investment in clean wind energy. A CAP analysis determined that “wind power helps lower electricity prices.” Along with state renewable portfolio or electricity standards, the PTC has enabled “the wind industry … to lower the cost of wind power by more than 90% [and] provide power to the equivalent of over 12 million American homes.” A Navigant Consulting analysis predicted that eliminating the PTC would cost 37,000 jobs. Some argue that we should end tax provisions for clean technologies, including wind. However, this ignores the fact that the oil and gas industries have received $80 in support for every $1 for wind and other renewable energy sources over the past 95 years. In addition, the Alexander amendment would ignore the annual $4 billion in special tax breaks for big oil companies. Result: Did not come to the floor for a vote.
  • Inhofe #359: This amendment would “[prohibit] further greenhouse gas regulations for the purpose of addressing climate change.” This would have prevented the EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act as interpreted by the Supreme Court, which ruled that EPA is required to regulate carbon and other climate change pollutants that endanger public health and welfare. EPA proposed the first carbon pollution standard for new power plants in 2012. After it is finalized, EPA must set limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants — responsible for two-fifths of U.S. carbon pollution. Such reductions are essential to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Result: FAILED 47-52
  • Cruz #470: This radical amendment would have limited the amount of land owned by the federal government in each state. It is yet another attempt by Republicans to give federal public lands over to states or private companies so as to better exploit them, and is in line with recent efforts of House Republicans to sell off “millions of acres” of public lands to private companies. Despite what this amendment implies, public lands provide tremendous economic benefits to local communities. For example, recreation and other uses of the 500 million acres of public lands managed by the Interior Department contributed two million jobs and $385 billion in economic activity in 2011. Result: Did not come to the floor for a vote.
  • Vitter #544: This amendment would have dismantled the president’s authority to protect America’s historical and natural treasures under the Antiquities Act. Since it was passed in 1906, 16 out of 19 presidents have used the act to protect places like the Statue of Liberty, Muir Woods, the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Acadia. Just this week it was reported that President Obama would create five new national monuments including Delaware’s first-ever national park. The Vitter amendment would have kept the president from answering local communities’ calls to protect such places for future generations. Result: Did not come to the floor for a vote.
  • Murkowski #370: This amendment states that it would “increase oil and natural gas production on Federal lands and waters,” despite the fact that oil production is at its highest level in 20 years. Additionally, the Congressional Research Service noted that over the last four years oil production from federally-owned areas was higher than in 2008, despite the fact that companies are choosing to “follow the oil” to shale plays on non-federal lands. Murkowski’s amendment isn’t the only one that would have sought to fulfill the wish list of the oil and gas industry — Sessions #204 would have opened the economically and environmentally vibrant coasts of Virginia and North Carolina to dangerous oil and gas exploration. Result: Did not come to the floor for a vote.

On Monday March 18, the GOP released its “Growth and Opportunity Project” or “autopsy” report that tried to determine why Republicans lost in 2012, and how to prevent future defeats. While the report did not mention climate or energy — or deal with much policy — it did talk demographics and messaging. The report urged that the Republican Party should change its tone, “… especially on certain social issues that are turning off young voters.” They need to “promote forward-looking, positive policy proposals that unite young voters,” and “be conscious of developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women.” And finally, they stress the importance of “addressing the concerns of minority communities.”

In their effort to do the bidding of big oil and other major polluters, the authors of these seven deadly amendments blithely ignore the findings and recommendations of this autopsy. The groups most harmed by and concerned about climate change are most supportive of addressing the problem: young people, women, and minority groups.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center forAmerican Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

10 Terrible Amendments Offered by Republican Senators

Mar 22, 2013 | By ThinkProgress War Room

The Senate has been debating the Democratic budget for the past few days. One of the quirks of Senate rules means that the amendment process on the budget is completely open, allowing senators to file and request a vote on an unlimited number of amendments. They don’t even have to say what their amendments are in advance, but many still choose to file them in advance. Since the process is so open, a rarity in the gridlocked Senate, senators often use this opportunity to file highly political message amendments. We sifted through the more than 400 amendments filed and found dozens that are terrible, ridiculous, nonsensical, damaging, or just plain crazy. Here’s a look at ten of those proposals.

  1. BOSS IN YOUR BEDROOM: Sens. Fischer (R-NE), Cruz (R-TX), Johanns (R-NE), and Enzi (R-WY) introduced an amendment to put your boss in your bedroom by allowing them to deny you birth control coverage based on their beliefs, not yours. This is just one of numerous anti-Obamacare amendments offered by Republicans. Incidentally, the law turns three tomorrow. 42 GOP senators and 2 Democrats voted for this amendment.
  2. NRA-FUELED CONSPIRACY THEORIES: Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) offered an amendment that would prevent the U.S. from signing on to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The NRA and other right-wing groups falsely claim that this is some backdoor gun grab, which led the Senate to fail to ratify the treaty last year. The NRA is currently making a full court press to kill or at least gut the treaty. Sen. Vitter (R-LA) offered a similar amendment that would prohibit the U.N. from registering or taxing Americans’ guns, something the organization obviously has no plans to do.
  3. HOUSE GOP BUDGET: While Republicans found time to cook up hundreds of other amendments, it seems no Republican senator wanted to vote on the House GOP budget as a substitute for the Senate Democratic plan. When Democrats offered the draconian Ryan plan that ends Medicare and raises taxes on the middle class in order to slash them on the wealthy, a measly 40 GOP senators voted for the plan from their counterparts in the House. Three GOP senators, however, voted against it because it wasn’t extreme enough.
  4. GIVEAWAY TENS OF BILLIONS TO WALL STREET BANKS: In the same so-called “reconciliation” bill that was necessary to finish passing Obamacare was a provision that stopped routing federal student loans through the big banks. Previously, the banks acted as a middleman between the federal government and borrowers, reaping billions in fees each year even though they bore no risk because the government was the one guaranteeing the loans. The banks role was eliminated in 2010 and the money was shifted to Pell grants. Earlier today, Republicans put forward an amendment to repeal all of the Obamacare bill, including the student loan reforms. This would literally take money away from students and hand it over to the Wall Street banks. 45 Republicans backed this proposal, which also was the third time this week that GOP senators forced a vote on repealing Obamacare.
  5. OBAMAPHONE: One of the more racially-charged moments in last year’s presidential campaign came when Republican groups promoted a video of an African-American woman proclaiming her support for Obama because, she said, the government was giving out free cell phones, among other things. The Drudge Report and other right-wing media immediately dubbed this the “Obamaphone” controversy. As it turned out, the FCC’s Lifeline program offering free cell phones to low-income Americans began under President George W. Bush and is based on a Reagan-era program to provide low-income Americans with subsidized telephone service. Sen. Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment to “reform” or, more likely, eliminate, this otherwise obscure program that is important to low-income Americans.
  6. MITT ROMNEY’S TAX PLAN: The Democratic plan raises close to $1 TRILLION in revenue just by closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and corporate special interests like Big Oil. Republicans wanted to replace this with revenue-neutral tax reform that used the money to pay for huge new tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations instead of using it to reduce the deficit. This is almost identical to the Romney-Ryan tax plan that raised middle class taxes and which voters soundly rejected last year. All 45 GOP senators voted for this recycled Romney plan, which Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also included in this year’s House GOP budget.
  7. KILL WIND JOBS, SEND CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRY TO CHINA: Sen. Alexander (R-TN) wants to repeal the vital tax credits for wind power, just as Mitt Romney proposed last year. This would kill 37,000 jobs more or less immediately and effectively cede the clean energy industry to China and our other foreign competitors.
  8. LEAVE THE UN: Sen. Paul (R-KY) proposed one measure to save a very small amount of money: withdraw from the United Nations.
  9. RACE-BAITING WELFARE LIES: You may remember that Mitt Romney and other Republicans advanced the outright lie that President Obama “removed the work requirement from welfare.” This was categorically untrue, but that didn’t stop Republicans from airing millions of dollars in ads about it. In any case, the GOP campaign of distortion around the amendment has resulted in no states taking advantage of the flexibility requested by some Republican governors that the Obama administration offered to grant. Nevertheless, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) is still so concerned that he offered an amendment to address the non-existent problem of the work requirement having been removed from welfare. For good measure, he offered a second mean-spirited amendment that mandates drug testing for welfare recipients.
  10. CREATE A PERMANENT IMMIGRANT UNDERCLASS: Sen. Sessions (R-AR), who has faced charges of racial prejudice in the past and was once denied a seat on the federal bench as a result, put forward a proposal to bar even those immigrants who receive legal status from receiving numerous tax breaks directed at the working poor. This would even prevent immigrants from receiving tax breaks that they are claiming on behalf of their American citizen children.

These are just a few of the dozens of terrible proposals put forward today by Republican senators.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.