Dr. Margaret Flowers Helps Clear the ‘Fog of Greed’
In a 1/24/13 article in Aljazeera entitled “Top CEOs plan to loot US social programmes”, Dr. Margaret Flowers powerfully calls out the motives of a mendacious “Fix the Debt” campaign launched by 80 CEOs who are determined to cut their corporate taxes even further by decimating social programs beneficial to us, the lower whopping 99% of the American citizenry.
The new recommendations for Social Security and Medicare released by the Business Round Table are beyond belief. It’s as if the people who wrote them never gaze outside of the tinted windows in their limousines.
This “Business Round Table” of 80 CEOs is investing $60 million to convince citizens that austerity measures will ultimately strengthen Social Security and Medicare. It is for OUR benefit, not theirs, the propaganda goes. They are asserting that by increasing austerity conditions among Americans $7.3 trillion will be amassed in revenue. At the same time, they are pushing for even more corporate tax cuts.
According to Flowers corporate profits have risen during Obama’s presidency alone 171%, the highest growth since 1900.
They want MORE.
Of course, they do. They want and think they can convince us victims of such profiteering that it is for our own good.
Using slick language, Flowers stresses, CEOs like Gary Loveman of Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation is calling for “gradual changes” that will “modernize” these programs to save them for future generations of retirees. MODERNIZE? That's rich!!!
It all sounds so smooth Dr. Flowers warns. Behind the slick words is an agenda that wants to increase job insecurity and falling wages for citizens in order to produce even more wealth for the upper 1%.
The CEOs are also sounding an alarm that if we don’t follow their self-promoting agenda Social Security trust funds will be gone by 2033.
What they don't say is that modest changes such as lifting the cap on the Social Security tax or treating investment income the same as income from wages would make Social Security solvent for many decades after that.
What specifically are these members of the ruling class elite trying to make happen? According to Dr. Flowers they want to raise the retirement age to 70. They want to chain the Cost of Living Adjustment. They want to decrease Social Security benefits. They want citizens to save and sacrifice more.
Dr. Flowers contends this is downright CRUEL.
Our older population is carrying high credit card debt and experiencing growing food insecurity. Future seniors are expected to face even greater poverty. They cannot bear further reductions in benefits. And many American families are struggling to meet basic necessities, let alone put money into savings. In fact 38 percent of families have no savings at all.
The sociopathic corporate club has Medicare seriously in its sites.
The Business Round Table is also sounding an alarm on Medicare. Their purpose is to push more people into private insurance and further privatise Medicare while keeping those who need health care services in public programmes. They would do this by increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 70 and opening Medicare up to more private health insurance plans that can be sold across state lines (code for allowing insurers to locate in states with the weakest regulations).
This is wrong on so many levels. Increasing the Medicare age will cause more deaths, especially in minority and low-income communities. And while it would save the federal government some money, it would shift even greater cost onto individuals who are unable to handle that increase. This means seniors would face greater difficulty meeting their basic needs.
Again, Dr. Flowers emphasizes: INCREASING THE MEDICARE AGE WILL CAUSE MORE DEATHS!!!! IT WILL INCREASE THE DESPERATE STRUGGLE OF SO MANY AMERICANS TO MEET THEIR BASIC NEEDS.
Dr. Flowers points out that compared to other wealthy nations, the United States spends comparatively little of its GDP for social programs. Restricting it even further, privatizing “social insurance” would be cruel and counterproductive. It would guarantee even more poverty and more “economic stagnation.”
She underlines the real solutions.
“For example, reclaiming taxes that the wealthy avoid paying would raise enough revenue to strengthen and expand both programmes.”
Flowers goes on to explain that Social Security is the most popular pension plan in the US. She declares that there is a “solid argument” for DOUBLING Social Security benefits not lessening them. Steven Hill of the New American Foundation elaborates on this idea dubbed “Social Security Plus.”
Social Security Plus would provide a stable, secure retirement for every American and contribute greatly toward a solid foundation from which to build a strong and vibrant 21st century economy. All Americans should have retirement benefits they can count on, not the crumbling casino of retirement overseen by the same Wall Street bankers and financial managers who drove the US economy off the cliff.
As for Medicare, Dr. Flowers further declares it is self-funded. Its problem is that it exists in a market-based health system “fraught with runaway healthcare costs.”
Dr. Flowers contends that the best solution would be to expand Medicare to EVERY citizen in America and BAN private health care. She writes:
This would immediately institute proven cost controls and create a system that values health of the population rather than profit. Over time, our Medicare system could be improved. Dean Baker estimates that if our health care costs were brought in line with what other wealthy nations spend, nations who have universal coverage and better health outcomes, we would not have a national deficit.
Dr. Flowers encourages all of us American citizens to “raise our voices” against substantial mendacious political persuasion that the millions of dollars pooled by the profit-obsessed CEOs will buy. We have truth and numbers on our side.
WE MUST AND CAN SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE.
ONLY we can. We must not bobble-headedly be enthralled by the corporatists' slick self-serving propaganda which will be ruthlessly and relentlessly echoed by craven politicians and corporate media. We must not passively entrust our fate to a political system now captured by these moneyed CEOs whose obscene profiteering eclipses totally the welfare and very survival of us who constitute 99% of the citizenry.
Margaret Flowers, MD served as Congressional Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program and is on the board of Healthcare-Now. She is co-director of It's Our Economy and co-host of Clearing the FOG Radio Show.
[cross-posted on open salon]