How will the next generation of seniors pay for health care if Republicans privatize Medicare? The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) suggests some options in a darkly funny ad featuring a grandfatherly gentleman mowing lawns and stripping for extra cash. The ad will run in 24 GOP-controlled swing districts, Suzy Khimm reports for Mother Jones.
The ad is a riposte to Paul Ryan's budget, which would eliminate Medicare and replace it with a system of "premium support" -- annual lump sum cash payments to insurers. These payments would be pegged to the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) +1%, even though health care costs are growing much faster than the economy at large. That means that real benefits will shrink over time. Seniors will be forced to come up with extra money to buy insurance, assuming they can find an insurer who's willing to sell it to them.
Josh Holland of AlterNet predicts that the GOP is committing political suicide with the its anti-Medicare budget. The more ordinary voters learn about Ryan's budget, the less they like it:
A poll conducted last week found that, "when voters learn almost anything about [the Ryan plan], they turn sharply and intensely against it." And why wouldn't they? According to an analysis by the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the Republicans' "roadmap" would "end most of government other than Social Security, health care, and defence by 2050," while providing the "largest tax cuts in history" for the wealthy.
Holland interviews an economist who estimates that the Medicaid cuts in the Ryan budget alone would cost 2.1 million jobs.
Under the bus
The Democratic spin about the deal to avert a budget shutdown was that Democratic leaders held fast against Republican demands to defund Planned Parenthood. However, as Katha Pollitt explains in The Nation, the Democrats capitulated on other reproductive rights issues in order to save Planned Parenthood.
For example, under the budget deal, Washington, D.C. will no longer be allowed to use local taxes to pay for abortions. Democrats also agreed to $17 million in cuts to the Title X Family Planning Program, Planned Parenthood's largest source of federal funding.
American women aren't alone under the bus. Jane Roberts notes at RH Reality Check that the budget deal slashed $15 million from the UN Population Fund, and millions more from USAID's budget for reproductive health and family planning. At least Democrats successfully rebuffed GOP demands to eliminate funding for the United Nations Population Agency.
And this is at a time when the whole world is coalescing behind the education, health and human rights of the world's women and girls. What irony!
Blood for oil
Nearing the one-year anniversary of the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers, Daniel J. Weiss writes for Grist:
The toll of fossil fuels on human health and the environment is well documented. But our dependence on fossil fuels exacts a very high price on the people who extract or process these fuels. Every year, some men and women who toil in our nation's coal mines, natural gas fields, and oil rigs and refineries lose their lives or suffer from major injuries to provide the fossil fuels that drive our economy.
Oil rigs are just one of many dangerous places to work in the fossil fuel industry, Weiss notes. Last year, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 workers. Nearly 4,000 U.S. miners have been killed on the job since 1968.
Natural gas has a cleaner image than coal, but natural gas pipelines are also plagued by high rates of death and injury -- 892 natural gas workers have been killed on the job and 6,258 have been injured since 1970.
Ashley Hunter of Campus Progress brings you an exciting roundup of the news you need about college and alcohol, just in time for Spring Break. In an attempt to discourage rowdy off-campus partying, the College of the Holy Cross is encouraging its students to drink on campus by keeping the campus pub open later and allowing students under 21 inside as long as they wear different coloured wrist bands to show they are too young to be served alcohol.
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