Governor Corbett signs Pennsylvania budget into law, but is not satisfied that the wider agenda may wait until the fall.

                 The main Pennsylvania state budget was signed into law last night by Governor Corbett. Governor Corbett was not happy that his wider agenda has not been met. He sought to overhaul the public employee pensions systems, privatizing State Liquor Stores, privatizing the State Lottery and increasing transportation funding. The minority Democrats have put a halt to some of Corbett’s agenda.

The House voted along party lines, 111-92, while a more bipartisan Senate supported the Budget proposal. It is a $28.4 billion spending plan, an increase of 2.6% or $719 million. The increase is largely for health care for the poor, social services, public employee pensions, school budgets and prisons. It also gives another tax cut to businesses at cost of about $300 million. The bill is $65 million less than Governor Corbett originally proposed.

Democrats have tried to free up more money for School Budgets and social programs by delaying business tax cuts. The House Republicans have not been able to get enough votes to pass a $2 billion transportation bill. House Democrats do not support I t because they feel it is inadequate for mass transut systems. Senate Republicans have refused to approve the bill to Privatize State Liquor Stores, unless the bill remains unchanged and the transportation bill gets approval.

The Senate also approved legislation to potentially expand Medicaid eligibility to hundreds of thousands of adult Pennsylvanians under the ACA. Of course Republicans oppose this, anything that President Obama supports Republicans are against. The issue could become a sticking point as lawmakers consider other budget related bills.

Hopefully with the 2014 election looming; this parts that have been stalled will be stopped. Governor Corbett is well behind his possible Democrat challengers in early polls. His approval numbers have dipped consistently. His connections to big business may be his undoing. Governor Corbett needs to be removed from office to move Pennsylvania forward.

How do you get an infected callous and then get half of your leg amputated.

                The man I am talking about is 80 years old. He complained of pain in his foot, near the big toe. There was an open sore, that was supposed to be an infected callous. There was a red streak going up his leg, which was an infection. He ended up in the hospital. This was on Easter.

                    Since Easter he has been home for maybe a month. We could not understand why the sore wasn’t healing. It just continued to get worse. That is when we found out he had a vascular disease and was borderline diabetic. The small blood vessels in his lower extremities were not pumping blood, slowing down the healing process. Mind you the toe was black and so was part of the foot.

This is when they originally started talking about removing the foot. They needed demarcation, the point when the cells stops dying, in order to determinne how much of the foot to remove. When they told the Doctor that they wanted a second opinion, the Dr. changed his mind giving him another option. They decided to replace the vein in his leg, when it was finished he had 100 staples running from his groin to his ankle.

After having the surgery done, the wound was progressively looking worse. There was even a smell, which was putrid, for lack of a better word. He didn’t see the surgeon for 2 or 3 weeks. He was at home for 10 days and progressively looking worse. They had a nurse coming everyday to care for the wound. Yesterday he looked horrible, the wound from the surgery was black in some areas. His family forced him to go to the hospital.

Today he was told they are going to remove his leg from the knee down on Friday, in 2 days. The Dr. said he did all he could. I an confused as to how it got this bad. Why were they waiting for cells to die before they removed part of the foot, but now are going to remove half the leg in 2 days. This progression was very confusing to me and I have lost faith in the Doctors in my area. I will travel 1, 000 miles before I let a doctor in my area touch me again and refuse to go to these hospitals.

I wish I had s better grasp on this. I said at least 10 days ago it was infected, my only medical knowledge is taking a Tylenol or putting on a bandaid. I think they should have caught this earlier, it could have saved his leg and pain. I think these doctors did a horrible job and the for-profit hospital he is in is a joke. They do nothing, keep you for weeks and then send you to a Rehab center that costs $2,000 a day. But I guess as long as they get paid it is ok.

Obamacare would be a better bill if Republicans helped instead of stood in the way.

               Obamacare or the ACA is a piece of legislation designed to insure all Americans and fight rising health care costs. The last three years marked the first time in our history that Medicare costs have decreased. The Republicans who stood in the way of the bill from day 1, have voted to repeal it 38 times, costing us over $50 million.

               Republicans sit on the sidelines and cheer any part of theist that fails. Just as they do with low job numbers, unemployment rates rise or any negative thing that might reflect on President Obama. They spread mass misinformation about the ACA and any other issue they do not agree with. If Obamacare was such a trainwreck and you truly care about the American people, fix it instead of trying, unsuccessfully, to repeal it.

              If the Republicans would have worked with Democrats to improve the bill it would have been better. The input from both sides could have made something better, but instead they picked up their ball and bat and stomped away. They didn’t get their way and are trying to hurt the President any way they can. It is sad to see grown men and women act this way. This is not leadership.

            Part of the misinformation comes from the Health Insurance industry. They will not able to rake people over the coals. A single payer system would very better but Republicans defend corporations instead of people. The ACA is a good piece of legislation that will help limit the bankruptcies caused because of people getting sick and insurance not paying. People with preexisting conditions can get insurance.  Maybe if Republicans acted like adults they could win an election.

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Greed and America.

           Republicans speek of the Free Market as if it were miraculous. They try to sell the rest of the population how important it is and how it goes hand and hand with the American way of life. They do not mention that many suffer horribly because of the greed involved in the Free Market. A market where profits outweigh common sense.

            Republicans and conservatives believe regulations cripple the Free Market. They neglect to mention that capitalism in its true form nearly sank our economy and that these believers in the “Free Market” were the first to bail these companies out. That doesn’t sound like a Free Market to me, that sounds like tax payers subsidizing Private Enterprises. That there is a bit of Socialism.

             Yes I said that evil word, socialism. Republicans only believe in anything when it works for their needs. Look at how they are attacking our voting rights across the nation, can’t win fair,  they cheat. These same Republicans who so fiercely support capitalism and the Free Market give corporations almost $200 billion a year in corporate welfare. Yet they attack the $80 billion spent on Food Assistance for low income Americans. Each dollar of that $80 gets a return of $1.84 into the economy.

                The Free Market and Capitalism are just words used to cover their true agenda. At first this may sound conspiracy like,  but read and put it together. In each state Republicans are gerrymandering and attempting to make it harder for poor folk to vote. They vote against gun reform, which is strongly supported by Americans. Are against gay marriage, support the Sequester, voted against VAWA, are attempting to cut SNAP benefits, voted against Sandy Relief, want to Privatize Social Security and Public Schools and want to cut Medicare. Please remember this is just a partial list. Why would they these things and who do they affect? Mind you they voted no to raising taxes on corporations and wealthy people.

               This is class warfare. They are attacking the weak, those who cannot politically protect themselves. An American voices their political opinion through voting. Republicans believe if they can control who votes the country is theirs. Their vision for America is not a Democracy with civil liberties, but a religious State controlled by a few. If you are reading this you already realize there is something wrong. If they get their e
Way we will live in something that resembles a Dictatorship.

              I am a Liberal Democrat, but I am ashamed to say that many of these Democrats are our only bastion of hope. They do not stand united and turn their backs on President Obama. We need strong leaders who will protected our Democracy. We need strong leaders to keep Republicans honest and to limit the power money has on our government. Lobbying needs to be limited. We also need to realize that there are people worldwide and in our country that want to harm us. Please do not incite these lunatics with ill thought out rhetoric.

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Elderly cancer patients not getting treatments because of Sequester.

              While Congress is worrying about our helium problem, the lack thereof, the elderly are being turned away for their oncology drugs. We cannot fix this but we get an almost imeadiate fix for something that affects them. Congress was inconvenienced by delays in travel because of the Sequester. Republicans jumped right on board to fix this.

              An elderly person on Medicare is being turned away for oncology drugs, this sentence keeps repeating in my head. How can Republicans, Tea Party and conservatives expect to be taken seriously. They are willing to harm people to cut a deficit they helper create. Instead of raising taxes a person parent may pass on because they are waiting for medicine and treatment.

            The Sequester affects even more. President Obama wanted to spend more on early childhood education. Right now we are at the lowest spending on education in almost 2 decades. This is what the Sequester is affecting. People on unemployment long-term will be getting a 10-12% cut in their benefits.

           Instead of Democrats standing strong on the FAA cuts and trying to get rid of other Sequester cuts, they again gave Republicans what they want. They agree to fixing air travel problems that inconvenience Congressman, but didn’t fight for seniors or children. Our lawmakers let us down again. The self serving Republican Caucaus will not raise taxes, work to help seniors, poor people, children or the unemployed but they will get a bill done in a week if it inconveniences them.

               Our government system works, when Republicans want it to. Why wasn’t this bill filibustered? Why weren’t lawmakers forcing pork projects into this bill? How did this bill pass, but a bill that was supported by 90% of Americans didn’t? The country is catching on to the party of NO. There is an election coming and I can guarantee I will do my part in unseating as many Republicans as I can.

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U.S. health care costs are out of control.

                  Health care costs are completely out of control. But how much is good health care worth to you? The U.S. spends over $8,000 per year per person. That figure is almost two and half times more than the most developed nations in the world. That includes relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Ona more global scale, it means the U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6% of GDP.

               Quite a few Americans,  including some leading politicians, say the cost is unfortunate, but the U.S. the best health care in the world. But what exactly is 17 cents out of every American dollar purchasing? According to the mist recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developement (OECD), an international global group compromised of 34 member nations, it is not as much as we may think.

                  We have fewer physicians per person than in most OECD countries. 2.4 practicing physicians per 1,000 people, well below the OECD average of 3.1. The number of hospital beds in the U.S. was 2.6 per 1,000 people, lower than the OECD average of 3.4 beds. Life expectancy at birth increasedby almost 9 years between 1960-2010, Japans went up 15 years and the average increase in other OECD countries was 11 years. On the bright side, we lead the world in health care research and cancer treatments. The 5 year survival rate for breast cancer is higher in the U.S. than in other countries. Survival from colrectal cancer is also among the best.

             Most years medical spending rises faster than inflation. Most insurers pay doctors, hospitals and other medical providers under a fee for service system that reimburses for each test, procedure or visit. This encourages over treatment and repetitive testing. As we get older we tend to need more medical care. Even if evidence shows a treatment is not effective or is potentially harmful, it takes a long time for doctors to change their standard operating procedure. Which many hospitals merging, it allows near monopolies to operate in some markets driving up costs.

              According to a report authored by David Squires ” Health care quality in the U.S. varies and is not notably superior to the far less expensive systems in other study countries.” While we are doing well in certain areas of cancer, survival among cervical cancer patients is in the middle of the pack. The U.S. is also the worst at preventing deaths due to asthma among people aged 5-39 years. We are also the most likely to amputate limbs of diabetic patients.

              If our lawmakers stopped taking money from medical lobbyists things could improve. Democrats and President Obama have tried, they passed the ACA and it should help lower prices. For the first time in the history of Medicare health care costs fell for 3 consecutive years. Republicans don’t agree with doing anything to lowering health care costs, in fact they have voted 39 times to repeal the ACA. Those 39 repeals cost the American people about $60 million. Why won’t Republicans help lower health care coarse?

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Chained CPI may happen but only if Republicans work with the president.

                Many people are worried President Obama is going to move Social Security to the Chained CPI method for COLA adjustments. The idea is something to be afraid of. It is essentially a benefit cut for people who cannot afford another cut. Thus falls right in with the Republicans assault on everyday Americans.

                Chained CPI explained in the easiest possible way is as follows. To figure your COLA they determine prices on a basket of goods. If the goods go up, normally your COLA increases. Chained CPI says that instead of a raise you will buy different goods in order to make up the difference. Instead of buying chicken you would buy ground beef for example. Where this doesn’t work is when a large portion of their income goes onto medical bills. The Chained CPI cuts their benefits, thereby putting them into a bigger financial hole.

            Of course this only effects the elderly, the poor or the disabled. Republicans continue protecting the rich. As they are pushing Chained CPI for these people, they are fighting for larger tax breaks for the wealthy. The tax breaks for the wealthy obviously created so many jobs (sarcasm).

                  President Obamas budget will only put Chained CPI in effect if he gets the balanced approach he is looking for. More tax revenue, closing loopholes that cost us billions of dollars a year, cutting corporate welfare and eliminating tax havens. That is not all, but some of what he wants. If Republicans don’t work with him the Chained CPI is not going to happen. Give the president a chance and stop listening to conservative media bashing him. He will do the right thing.

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Do we really have a spending problem?

                  Republicans have been insisting that U.S. has a major spending problem. They have been saying that through the whole economic recovery, in fact their obstructionist tactics have even been said to slow down the recovery. House Republicans offer a budget that contains Draconian levels of spending cuts to domestic spending, some Republicans including Rand Paul asked for larger spending cuts.

                According to the CBO, excluding wars and disaster relief funding, Americas discretionary spending has grown at a slower rate than inflation since 2097 and now makes up a smaller share of the economy that it did before the Great Recession. CBO Director Dough Elmenforf wrote; Excluding appropriations for those purposes, discretionary budget authority rose from $892 billion in 2007 to $987 billion in 2013, an increase of about 11%. During that period,  prices (as measured by the CPI for urban consumers) rose by 13%, a nominal GDP increased by 16%. As a result, discretionary appropriations, based on the House passed appropriations for 2013 and excluding funds for overseas contingency operations and hurricane relief- declined by 2.2% in real (inflation adjusted) terms between 2007-2013 and dropped from 6.4% of GDP to 6.2% of GDP over that period.

               Spending levels have plateaued in recent years as Washington has focused on spending and debt reduction. That as I  said earlier has hampered our recovery from the recession. Government spending has typically driven recoveries in the past, this time spending cuts have, of course, hamstrung  our recovery. Further spending cuts to programs that help Americans stay on their feet would only exacerbate the problem. With low borrowing costs and high unemployment, the U.S. has a chance to make investments to help boost growth, therefore creating more jobs. Instead Republicans are focused on spending and a manufacturer debt crisis.

              Despite the hand wringing from conservatives and media types about the federal debts and defecits, any research will make it clear that Americas problem isn’t that the government is spending too much. Rather, it is the government isn’t spending enough. Investments into infrastructure, education, teachers, public workers and other programs could boost the economy. Instead by cutting spending Washington turned its full attention to spending cuts and the results had been dire. Republicans clamor for austerity,  even if it is predictable to anyone who has read about the plight of the European economy over the last few years, where austerity is king.

              The only way to truly balance the budget is to have a balanced plan with spending cuts and increased revenue I.e taxes. Democrats and Patty Murray offered such a plan which was meant with conservative disdain. Our current course may not very as bad as Republicans say.

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Chain CPI is essentially a spending cut.

           Chained CPI or Consumer Price Index is a time series measure of price levels of consumer goods and services created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This index is not currently used by any U.S. programs, but is often discussed as a possible reform because many economist believe it better measures inflation and reduces the federal defecit through a combination if spending cuts and increased revenues. The Chained CPI is used to measure Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA), overestimating inflation leads to a higher than actual living adjustment.

            The shift to a Chained CPI would harm low income children and the elderly the most. A long list of means tested benefits currently use non-Chained CPI, to adjust eligibility standards or benefit amounts. According to the Congressional Research Service in addition to Social Security these other programs rely on non-Chained CPI; Medicaid, SSI, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, SNAP or food stps and child nutrition programs including school meals. According to the CRS more than 50 other programs tied to the federal income poverty guidelines use unChained CPIs.

                    The government currently calculates Social Security COLA each year based on how inflation effects urban wage earners and clerical workers. Known as CPI-w. This index measures changes in the prices of a fixed basket of goods that are deemed to be representative of regular purchases by wage earners. The Chained CPI assumes that as prices increase consumers make substitutions in what they purchase.

            It would hurt people her arent in a position to switch to other goods and services when prices rise. Medicare premiums and out of pocket expenses eat up much of the elderlys budgets, this would force them to go without medical care that they dont have money for. It is food or medical care. Simpson-Bowles recomendations on Social Security attempted to soften the impact on elderly by proposing a minimum Social Security income . If it fell below the minimum because of the Chained CPI you would be paid this minimum income. Thus is not being proposed for other programs.

              The fact that Democrats and Republicans fight over this shows the different political philosophies. One, Democrats, is to protect the poor and elderly and the other, Republicans, hurt the poor and elderly to protect wealthy from paying higher taxes. The sad truth is that the wealthy can buy better protection than the poor, which lets you know why nothing gets done in Congress. With so many other places we can make cuts and get revenue this should be left alone.

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Paul Ryans budget, more of the same.

              The Republican budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 purports to balance the budget  in 10 years. With a stronger economy and new revenues from the fiscal cliff deal, the task of balancing the budget is somewhat easier. This budget is eerily similar to other budgets proposed by Paul Ryan. It of course attacks the poor and seniors, while giving more to the wealthy and corporations.

              In February the CBO released a baseline projection for the next decade. The fiscal cliff agreement allowed tax rates on the highest incomes to revert to Clinton era levels. In the process this helped reduced future deficits. Paul Ryan voted against that deal.

              The new budget proposal hits all GOP talking points, less spending, lower taxes and a rejection if most of President Obamas health reforms (ACA). Balancing the budget, Ryans proposal doesnt detail all of the assumptions about economic growth or when some of his proposals go into effect. Ryans plan leaves the countrys accrued debt at just under 55% of GDP by the end of the decade. The CBO estimates it as 77%. The CBO wont analyze Ryans or Patty Murrays budget proposals since each simply propose actions and does not detail legislative changed for hitting those targets. Ryan estimates his proposal will grow spending at 3.4% per year, not the projected 5% His plan would put spending at $985 billion below CBO estimates by 2023.

               He wants to reform Medicare. Starting after 2024 it would become a,premium support system. Future seniors could choose between traditional fee-for-service Medicare and the premium support system. This would offer seniors a fixed amount of money to buy private insurance. Ryan proposes converting federal Medicaid funding for states into block grants and repeals health reform laws expansion of the program to low income , non elderly adults. Block grants could increase the burden on states, but gives the states more autonomy about how to set up Medicaid programs. Ryan would also convert food stamps to block grants to states and change eligibilty by imposing time limits on participation and work requirements.

           Ryan would raise the sane amount of tax revenue as the CBO, it would total $40.241 trillion. Ryan would simplify the tax code , reducing the individual income tax brackets to 2 ( 10% & 25%), repeal the Alternate minimum tax, lower the top corporate tax rate to 25% and change roles for international taxation. The 25% upoer tax bracket is about 13% less than they are paying now. This equals to another tax cut for the wealthy.

                   Like Ryans other budget it relies on spurrious budget trickery. His past budgets have also included lofty rhetoric on spending cuts, but little details. He assumes the repeal of Obamacare, but uses the savings from it to balance the budget. This typical Republucan tomfoolery, there us nothing serious about this proposal, they know it cant pass. They set tge numbers so far right that even meeting them in the middle gives the party that lost the ekection the power. The Democrats, mainstream media and the Democrat party have to stop this crazy train in its tracks.

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