Jul 28, 2013

The Three Sisters Bring You "The Truth About Obamacare"

The Three Sisters and the Knox County Progressives are pleased to bring you this short informational video about the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

We also wish to thank President Obama for his recent visit to our city of Galesburg and the inspiring speech he gave the nation from Knox College on the economic state of union and his common sense vision of a return to basic American values and ideals to restore it.

Enjoy!


Obamacare - What You Need to Know

The following information is from the website of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. The law makes preventive care—including family planning and related services—more accessible and affordable for many Americans.  While some provisions of the law have already taken effect, many more provisions will be implemented in the coming years.

Get Ready for ACA Enrollment which Begins October 1, 2013 for coverage beginning January 1, 2014


Jul 12, 2013

On the ACA and "Lies to Deceive"

A Response by Jim Jacobs, Progressive

In his June 29th column in the Register-Mail, Rev. Leigh Nygard tried to refute Sallee Wade, attacked all liberals/progressives/left-wingers, and bashed President Obama’s healthcare reform. He also said, “It is healthy for people of differing opinions to express their views.”  I agree. So as a proud progressive I refute his characterization of Sallee, his accusations against the left, and his claims about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), “Obamacare” to him.

Rev. Nygard likely didn’t intend to question my friend Sallee’s religious faith. However, he said her theology was “way off the mark.” From that, some might get a distorted view of Sallee’s commitment to her religion— Christianity.

I’m no expert in Christian theology, nor do I want to be. But I know enough about the New Testament—and Sallee—to make an informed comment.  Ephesians 4:2 (NIV) says that a Christian should be “Completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”—a perfect description of Sallee. (1)

Rev. Nygard said progressives tell “lies to deceive.” The progressives I know don’t lie and deceive. For example, the late Norm Winick, publisher of The Zephyr, and the late Mike Kroll, Zephyr reporter and columnist, were progressives—and models of integrity. Whenever I wrote for The Zephyr, Norm insisted that I document my claims; while Mike was a servant to facts, even if they didn’t support his position. Likewise, Sallee has been open and honest in her columns.

Rev. Nygard alleged that progressives “say [the Constitution] is outdated.”  Wrong. Progressives believe it’s a living document subject to enlightenment, not dead parchment stranded in the 18th century. Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 is evidence of the living Constitution. In Brown, the Supreme Court struck down segregation in public education, overturning 1896’s Plessy v. Ferguson that upheld segregation. From 1896 to 1954, legal thinking moved toward a firmer grasp of justice, and the court interpreted the Constitution accordingly. (2)

Rev. Nygard criticized Sallee and all progressives for supporting the Affordable Care Act. He said a Democratic senator who voted for the ACA called it a train wreck.  Not accurate. Max Baucus (D-MT), the main author of the ACA, used the phrase “train wreck” but wasn’t referring to the ACA. On his May, 24th slate.com blog, columnist Dave Weigel explained Baucus’s use of “train wreck.” Baucus was referring to the weak effort by Health and Human Services to educate the public about the law. (3)

The reverend said that the ACA shows progressives want to “to dominate the details of people’s lives.”  Nope. Progressives have compassion, wanting those unable to afford insurance and those denied insurance to have coverage.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the ACA will bring healthcare to millions of those Americans. (4) With subsidies, those who previously couldn’t afford coverage will be able to buy insurance from exchanges.  For those previously denied coverage, the ACA prohibits insurers from denying sick Americans.  That’s one reason my wife and I support the ACA. Our younger daughter was denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions and was uninsured for a decade. I read that the ACA provided the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan to those denied health insurance. Our daughter signed up, pays a monthly premium, and has good coverage. In October, she’ll choose a plan from one of the private companies competing on the healthcare exchange where she lives, California.

Choose… private companies…competing: words that refute Rev. Nygard’s accusation that the ACA is a “non-compromising act of socialism.” The ACA is a capitalistic way of bringing healthcare to those who don’t have it. In an attempt to lure Republican support, Democrats modeled the ACA after the Massachusetts system signed into law by Republican Mitt Romney, then governor.  Sadly, the attempt to attract Republican votes in Congress went no where. Instead, Republicans wasted time trying to make Barack Obama a one-term president rather than helping the uninsured. (5) (6)

Lastly, Rev. Nygard claimed this: “[T]he cost of this lie [ACA] is triple what they promised.”  I’m not sure who he means by “they” and what he means by “promised,” but the CBO is responsible for projecting the cost of federal legislation. On July 8th, I contacted the CBO and was directed to its website. The following was posted:”When estimates are compared on a year-by-year basis, CBO and JCT’s [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate of the net budgetary impact of the ACA’s insurance coverage provisions has changed little since …the legislation was being considered in March 2010.”  (Italics added) (7)

Again, I’m sure Rev. Nygard wasn’t trying to cast doubt on Sallee Wade’s faith; yet, casting doubt on her faith might be the result of his column, so clarification was needed.  Additionally, the progressives/liberals/left wingers I know don’t lie and deceive; furthermore, we respect the Constitution and support healthcare for all Americans.

SOURCES

(1) http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+4%3A2&version=NIV
(2) http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/get-involved/federal-court-activities/brown-board-education-re-enactment/history.aspx
(3)  The link has been moved. However, the article can be accessed by typing the following in to the search bar: Dave Weigel, May 24, 2013, Train Wreck, and then click on The Secret History of Max Baucus' "Train Wreck" Quote.
(4) http://www.smartbrief.com/05/14/13/cbo-estimates-25-million-uninsured-will-gain-health-coverage-0#.Ud7dx6xR3To
(5) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44854320/ns/politics-decision_2012/t/white-house-used-mitt-romney-health-care-law-blueprint-federal-law/#.Ud7fuqxR3To
(6)http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/09/obama.health.care/index.html
(7) http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44176

Aug 19, 2012

The Great Medicare Debate

President Johnson signing Medicare into law in 1965

I have been studying Medicare accusations by both campaigns. What I will try to do here is objectively answer two accusations, one from each campaign. I provide documentation from the Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact.com.

The first accusation is from the Romney-Ryan camp. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan have made statements in the past few days accusing President Obama of "robbing" Medicare of $715 billion or "stealing" $715 billion form Medicare. What they are talking about is the savings achieved in Medicare through the Affordable Care Act. (The amount of savings has been variously stated as $500 billion to $715 billion.) First, these savings are not achieved by actually taking money out of the program. They are achieved through a number of ways that do not cut benefits to Medicare recipients. but do slow the increase in costs. First, starting this year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) stops over-payments to Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage was created in 1997. The idea was pitched to the American people as way to cut costs by bringing private insurers into Medicare. About 20-25% of Medicare recipients use these private programs instead of traditional Medicare. However, Medicare Advantage did not cut costs; in fact, it did the opposite. It works this way: Private insurers administer coverage, then charge the federal government for reimbursement; for every dollar traditional Medicare costs the government, Medicare Advantage has cost the government $1.10 to $1.15. As stated earlier, the ACA prohibits these over payments, so now the private insurers will get the same payment as traditional Medicare, saving a dime to 15 cents on each dollar spent. A Second way that the Medicare savings are achieved is by cutting payments to hospitals and healthcare providers. This practice has been done by previous presidents, including Bill Clinton. A third way the savings are achieved is by cracking down on fraud. Medicare fraud has become big business; not that doctors or hospitals are the main culprits, but organized criminals have set up fake business that charge Medicare for services never rendered and equipment never provided. Now, I will be the first to admit that rooting out Medicare fraud will be easier said than done; yet there has been a persistent cry coming from both sides of the aisle to "do something meaningful about cracking down on Medicare fraud," and the ACA attempts to do that by beefing up enforcement. I believe this enforcement will come out of the Department of Justice, but I will have to check on that. Finally, these savings are achieved over a 10-year period, not all at once.
.
Documentation for analysis of Governor Romney's accusation can be found here.

The second accusation comes from the Obama-Biden camp. It involves Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare that is contained in his budget proposal called Road Map to America's Future. The accusation has been made that Ryan's plan, which Governor Romney recently said is nearly identical to his plan, would "kill" Medicare or "destroy Medicare as we know it." What President Obama and Vice President Biden are talking about is the item in the proposal by Paul Ryan----approved by most Republicans in the House of Representatives----that would stop government payments directly from the traditional Medicare Trust Fund to health care providers and replace them with a voucher from the government to be used by Medicare recipients to purchase private insurance. The private insurers would then pay the health care providers. Ryan's voucher system would be put in place for those 54 years of age and under. Those 55 and over would be allowed to stay on traditional Medicare. The point being is this: It would not end Medicare as we know it right away, but would eventually. If Mitt Romney is elected and the Ryan Budget Proposal becomes law in 2013, then new Medicare recipients will go on the voucher plan in 2022. It should be noted that Ryan's current plan for Medicare--as opposed to the 2011 plan---does provide an option "that acts like traditional Medicare." But I'm not sure of the details of that option. President Obama also has stated that the Ryan Medicare plan would cost senior citizens much higher out-of-pocket expenses than traditional Medicare, as high as $6,400 more a year. Actually, this figure varies, but the premise that out-of-pocket costs would be greater under the Ryan plan is supported by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. However, the accusation of a $6,400 increase of out-of-pocket expenses was based on Ryan's 2011 plan, not the 2012 plan. He has not provided numbers for 2012. Documentation for analysis of President Obama's accusations can be found here.

Again, I will reserve editorial comment for now, but comments and questions from readers are welcome.

~ Jim Jacobs

May 14, 2012

Drinking Liberally - Galesburg


Local progressives, liberals, Democrats, independents, free thinkers - all are invited to  Drinking Liberally - Galesburg .

Every first and third Tuesday of the month, Drinking Liberally - Galesburg (part of the national umbrella organization Drinking/Living Liberally) meets for a few hours of socializing, talking, toasting, laughing and fellowship at Fat Fish Pub, 158. N. Broad Street, Galesburg, Illinois.

It's free, it's fun, it's a chance to meet fellow progressives and folk with similar ideas and opinions. It's a great place to meet old friends and make new friends. And all are welcome, all of the time.

Check out the DL website and Facebook group for more information.

May 8, 2012

SCHILLING PARROTS DECEPTIVE TALKING POINT


In his newsletter of May 6, 2012, Bobby Schilling, Republican representing the 17th Congressional District of Illinois, said that "88.4 million [Americans have] stopped looking for work altogether."  It seems that the impression Schilling seeks to leave is that 88.4 Americans want to work but can't find work and have given up; people the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls "discouraged workers."  But Schilling's presentation of the 88.4 million figure is deceptive.

Gary Steinberg of the BLS said in an interview conducted on May 7 with Jim Jacobs of the Knox County Progressives that in order for Schilling to arrive at 88.4 million, he has to count all retired Americans, all students ages16-18, all the disabled, and anyone who can find a job but chooses not to accept that job.  Steinberg says that the actual figure of discouraged workers for April 2012 was 969,000, not 88.4 million.

Certainly, the Knox County Progressives considers any number of discouraged workers as unacceptable, but Congressman Schilling should do his own research and honestly present the facts, rather than try to achieve political shock effect by parroting a talking point handed to him by the Republican House leadership.

Jan 28, 2012

Fair Taxes, Not Flat Taxes

The law of increasing & decreasing tax impact simply means that the more a person makes, the more in tax impact he or she can absorb, while the less a person makes the less in tax impact he or she can absorb. This law is one of the main reasons the wealthy should pay a much higher percentage on a progressive and fair tax scale.

For example, Gov. Mitt Romney’s recently released tax returns showi that in 2010 he earned $21. 7 million but paid only 13.9 % or $3 million on his income, because it's classified as capital gains. In fact, many of the super rich live off of investments that are taxed at a lower rate than earned income, plus those wealthy Americans who do live off of earnings from work are able to pay well below the current top rate of 35% due to a host of loopholes and deductions.

However, rather than present abstractions, let’s compare Gov. Romney to a person who earned $20 thousand in 2010, and let’s suppose that person paid the same rate as Gov. Romney, 13.9%. That person’s tax bill would be $2,780. On the face it looks as though Gov. Romney took a much bigger tax hit than the person earning just $20,000--and in raw dollars he did. But the tax impact on his lifestyle and the ability to sustain himself and his family is infinitesimal, because Romney is still left with nearly $19,000,000 to cover the basics in life---and way beyond the basics. On the other hand, the person making $20,000 suffered far more impact, because his or her tax burden of $2,700 truly is big money to him or her, leaving the person with only $17,300, making it more difficult to cover life's basic needs.

Now, let’s give the individual earning $20,000 five children, which is what the governor and his wife once had at home. That person is almost $10,000 dollars below the poverty level for a family of six as per 2010 statistics, and is left with less than $3000 to feed, clothe, and house each person in the home for the year. On the other hand, the Romneys ---if their five children were at home---would have over $3,000,000 to feed, clothe, and house each member of the family. Obviously, the Romneys can absorb far more tax impact than the vast majority of American families and should pay a significantly higher percentage than the vast majority of American families in order to cover our nation’s expenses.

The law of increasing & decreasing tax impact shows why a flat rate is unfair and a progressive rate is fair. Those Americans who have reaped great material reward from our system should completely absorb the poor person's tax burden, and they should partially and substantially absorb the middle class person’s tax burden by paying a higher percentage, whether earned off of labor or money. Furthermore, when there is a demand put on a nation’s expenses, whether due to war or economic downturn, the wealthy have the responsibility to have their tax impact increased, because as stated earlier, they have reaped the lion’s share of the rewards; in short, they have to money to spare.

- Jim Jacobs

Dec 12, 2011

Overturn Citizens United


Community Gathering to End Corporate Power
Amend Constitution to Be Held December 13

WHEN:
Tuesday, December 13, 6 PM to 7:45 PM

WHERE:
Upstairs at the Galesburg Public Library, 40 E. Simmons

WHAT:
Following up on over 200 similar gatherings nationwide on Nov. 9, local residents will be hosting a meeting to End Corporate Power, in coordination with hundreds of similar events that will take place nationwide. The purpose of the event is to build momentum for a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which lets unlimited corporate funds flood our election system.

The gathering, which is expected to draw 100 or more people, will feature a short video called “The Story of Citizens United vs. the FEC,” and discussion and handouts detailing how best to help get the money out of politics, and the Supreme Court back under control of Congress. There will be time for a discussion about organizing a local action to take place on Jan. 21, 2012, the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision.

Jerry Ryberg, an organizer of this event, said, “85% of Americans think that corporations have too much influence on our democracy. The more that people understand about how the Supreme Court has enabled the corporations to control Congress, the sooner they will act to change it".

WHO:
The local gathering is being hosted by Jerry Ryberg, Jim Jacobs, and Joel Ward, as well as the national groups: Public Citizen, People for the American Way, Common Cause, Free Speech for People, and Move to Amend. Information about Citizens United and the call for a constitutional amendment can be found at www.democracyisforpeople.org, www.movetoamend.org, http://www.pfaw.org/GovernmentByThePeople, www.commoncause.org or www.freespeechforpeople.org.

Oct 31, 2011

Galesburg - Occupied!

Joining protesters nationwide, citizens from Galesburg, Monmouth and Sherrard came together at the intersection of Losey and Henderson in Galesburg on Sunday, October 30, for Occupy Galesburg.

Nearly forty people showed up during the three-hour protest between noon and 3pm, carrying printed and homemade signs expressing a variety of protest ideas. Pro-labor and anti-war messages blended with anti-corporate influence signs. A large American flag flew all afternoon, brought and donated by one protester to the event.

Mike Nache of Galesburg organized the protest event and, despite the rapidly changing weather - cold rain lashed the corner protest several times - kept spirits up with cheerful messages via his megaphone. Dozens of cars honked while drivers and passengers waved in support of the gathered protesters.

Members of the Knox County Progressives and the American Dream movement stood shoulder to shoulder with their fellow citizens.

A larger Occupy event with a march is planned for the same location on Saturday, Nov. 5, from noon to 3pm. All four corners of Losey and Henderson will be occupied and a march will take place at 2pm to the intersection of Fremont and Henderson. A permit has been applied for to the City of Galesburg.

Members of both the Knox County Progressives and the American Dream movement joined other local citizens in Galesburg yesterday to support the Occupy movement with Occupy Galesburg.

Contact Mike Nache at mike.nache@gmail.com for more information or visit Occupy Galesburg at http://www.occupygalesburg.org or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/240950492621114.

KWQC Channel 6 covered the Occupy Galesburg event. Please read their story here: http:// www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=15910827

Oct 26, 2011

Occupy Galesburg - Sunday, 10/30/11

OCCUPY GALESBURG is happening!


Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011
Corner of Henderson & Losey
Noon to 3pm