Nel's New Day

February 2, 2015

President Releases Budget, Opposes GOP in Mandatory Vaccinations

Have you heard all that squealing coming out of Washington, D.C. today? It’s not Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) castrating pigs with the new tool that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gave her. No, it’s the release of President Obama’s 2016 budget, the book of how to get money and where to spend it.

In brief, he wants more spending, tax breaks for the middle class and poor workers, and higher taxes on the wealthy and large banks. The entire process is symbolic because Congress passes the budget, and this year’s Congress is GOP-controlled. Therefore, Congress will largely ignore anything that the president recommends. The budget, however, is a distinct document about the values of political parties and individuals, and the president has set up the debate for these issues.

  • Expand the child care tax credit by up to $3,000 per child;
  • Establish a $2.2 billion grant program to encourage states to create paid sick and family leave programs;
  • Begin a four-year program to improve roads, bridges and railways nationwide;
  • Help pay for preschool for 4-year-olds from poor and middle-income families;
  • Expand and extend tax credits for parents paying for child care, college students paying tuition, and low-wage childless workers;
  • Increase the Pentagon’s budget by $38 billion;
  • The president’s budget wishlist:
  • Increase the pay of military and federal employees by 1.3 percent;
  • Extend unemployment insurance;
  • Provide $215 million for research known as “precision medicine,” which involves using patients’ genetic information to tailor medications specifically to their bodies;
  • Set up a dedicated fund for fighting wildfires.

Declining debt: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) accuses the president of being “fiscally irresponsible,” but according to the White House, the budget will begin to pay down the national debt while not increasing the debt. Officials say that the plan gives a $474 billion deficit, 2.5 percent of the GDP, down from $583 billion and matching the deficits of the past 50 years. The recent increase in the deficit came from tax funding because of decreased income. With cuts in federal spending and increased taxes, the deficit has declined. A growth in economy during the next decade with the president’s proposals will cause the debt to decline to represent 73.3 percent of GDP in ten years, down from the current 75 percent.

Funding sources: The president has always wanted limits on tax breaks that help the top two percent of the wealthy to keep the deficit in line. This proposal reduces the deficit by $1.8 trillion through spending cuts and tax increases, possibly one on tobacco to pay for early childhood education.

Other possible proposals:

  • Raising the capital gains tax, paid by investors when they sell at a profit.
  • Imposing a new tax on inheritances.
  • Cutting corporate tax rate to 28 percent while taxing overseas profits at 14 percent when companies bring them back to the United States.
  • Levying a tax on large banks to compensate for the advantage they gain in the market from being seen as “too big to fail.”

Affect of new taxes: Families with children would benefit from the credit for child care, but the increase in the capital gains tax and the tax on banks could mean higher prices or lower wages.

GOP response: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that his party will not separate corporate tax reform from an overhaul of the individual tax code. They want to raise funding for the military but no one else.

The next step: The GOP will have to put together its own budget, hoping to keep both voters and the wealthy contributors to their campaigns happy. Right now, they’re worried about passing a bill that funds Homeland Security before February 28 of this year.

The budget fails to follow the sequestration that imposed automatic spending cuts, but the austerity of the past several years may be loosened because the GOP are going to want some of the same things that the president does. For example, the highway trust fund is empty by June: people in both parties understand that the U.S. infrastructure is rapidly crumbling, making this area a priority.

President Obama’s budget plan would end the strict spending caps on domestic and defense programs by raising military spending by $38 billion over the capped level and nondefense spending by $37 billion. Social Security spending would rise from $891 billion this year to $1.6 trillion in 2025, and Medicare would climb from $529 billion to over $1 trillion. These programs would increase from 13.2 percent of the economy this year to 14.8 percent in a decade, while domestic and defense programs under Congress’s discretion would shrink to 4.5 percent of the economy in 2025, from the current 6.4 percent. Tax increases on the wealthy, big banks, and fees of hedge fund and private equity managers would raise almost $1 trillion in the same time. If the House passed the former Senate bill on immigration, the deficit could shrink by $158 billion.

The GOP may not want to give a one-time corporate tax rate on overseas profits brought back into the country to be used for infrastructure construction, but it’s an idea put forward by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who also wants to be president. Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft are some of the corporations that keep most of their cash abroad to avoid paying U.S. taxes. After the initial 14 percent tax to bring the money home, companies would have to pay at least 19 percent on future offshore earnings with no loopholes or opportunities for deferral. Companies have at least $2 trillion overseas.

The president’s goal for transportation and infrastructure of $478 billion is more than one-third above the current spending rate and a 75 percent increase for mass transit. Half of that money would come from the current taxes on gasoline and other fuels. Another $238 billion would come from the one-time surge of taxes as corporations are forced to pay 14 percent on profits now parked abroad.

The proposal of a major expansion of the earned income credit for low-income workers without children is also backed by Ryan.

The talk about vaccinations overshadowed the discussion of the president’s budget on the media today. President Obama came out yesterday and said that he thought that vaccinations were vital. With an outbreak currently at 102 cases in 14 states possibly because children were infected at Disneyland, the spread across the nation is becoming more dangerous. The 644 cases last year in the U.S. was the most since the early 1990s. About two of every 1,000 people with measles will die; others suffer hearing loss, pneumonia, and brain swelling.

Two potential presidential candidates said today that vaccinations should be optional rather than mandated. Trying to look presidential while touring a vaccine laboratory in Cambridge, England, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who forcibly isolated healthy Kaci Hickox because of her proximity to Ebola victims, asked for “some measure of choice” regarding vaccinations against measles and other diseases in children. He was followed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who said that move vaccines should be voluntary because children end up “with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” Paul added, “The state doesn’t own your children.”

Public outcry caused Christie to back-pedal; an aide said that he believes vaccines are “an important public health protection.” On the other hand, Paul doubled down on his claim that vaccinations should all be “voluntary.” He has an anti-vaccine history with his past membership in Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group of pro-life doctors who believe that abortion increases the chance of breast cancer in women, consider Medicare to be “evil” and “immoral,” question the link between HIV and AIDS, and protest vaccinations for health workers.

November 8, 2014

GOP Candidates Elected; Ebola Gone

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:57 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Remember when the word “Ebola” dominated the media? When the disease had top billing on Sunday talk shows for an entire month and the conservatives accused President Obama of weak leadership?

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said on Fox that the government was going to import Ebola patients.

Nick Muzin, Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Ted Cruz, tweeted, “Before Obamacare, there had never been a confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S.”

Scott Brown said that Ebola would never have happened if Mitt Romney were president.

Caregivers for Ebola patients in the U.S. were allowed to go home from the hospital, but a nurse, who showed no symptoms of the disease but had cared for them in Africa (a country, according to Laura Ingraham), was pilloried when she dared leave the house for a bicycle ride in the Maine countryside.

What should President Obama have done, according to the conservatives? Perhaps the actions of Saint Reagan could give us a clue. AIDS is very similar to Ebola: both are caused by viruses that originated in Africa, have high mortality rates with no effective cure, and are difficult to contract. Ebola can be passed only by bodily fluids of an infected person actively displaying the disease’s symptoms, unlike AIDS which can be passed by a person who is not showing symptoms.

In 1981, the first 41 cases of AIDS were diagnosed in the United States, but Ronald Reagan, president during most of the 1980s, didn’t mention the word until six years later after over 40,000 people in this nation had died of the disease. When Reagan did start to talk about AIDS, he told schools and parents to teach children “moral” choices rather than look to the government for help. Reagan’s press secretary, Larry Speakes, did use the word, but he laughed his way through several press conferences about it. Thanks to Saint Reagan’s lack of leadership, over 636,000 people have died of AIDS since he became president.

The parallels of Ebola and AIDS continue. Conservative politicians and the media whip up hysteria directed toward stigmatized victims, primarily blacks and those who provide humanitarian care.  The same people call for travel bans, just as Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) did in the 1980s, with no distinction regarding which countries had Ebola outbreaks. Only people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have Ebola, but conservatives want automatic quarantines for everyone who travel from the entire continent. Helms’ ban on HIV-infected travelers in 1987 was lifted only four years ago.

Fox helped get the Republicans elected with Ebola. Before the election, Ben Carson, now an official 2016 presidential candidate, warned that lab workers could sell Ebola-tainted urine. Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr. blamed the federal grant structure for limiting the treatment drug for Ebola and said the shortage was “a poor example of federal government intervention.” The president requested $6.2 billion for Ebola prevention. Now Fox accuses him of exploiting the “sense of danger” which Betsy McCaughey calls “a man-made problem.”

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/220506-mccain-calls-for-ebola-czar  A popular solution from conservatives to save the country from the disease that killed one person is to have someone “who’s in charge.” Almost four weeks ago Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for an Ebola “czar” on CNN’s State of the Union. He and his fellow conservatives have done a 180-degree turn on the president’s lead officials, earlier accusing President Obama of having “more czars than the Romanovs — who ruled Russia for 3 centuries.”

Yet Senate Republicans have obstructed the confirmation of the president’s nominee for surgeon general. Dr. Vivek Murthy has impeccable credentials in Boston-area hospitals, worked in clinical-trial operations involved with Merck, and started health programs in India including an HIV/AIDS youth education program. George W. Bush’s former Surgeon General described Murthy as “superbly” qualified for the post, pointing to his “impressive track record of accomplishments,”  and the executive director of the American Public Health Association declared that Murthy is “clearly qualified to succeed” in all of the major roles of the Surgeon General.

Senators won’t confirm Murthy because the NRA opposes him. Several years ago, he said that gun violence is a public-health issue, understandable because it affects the health of hundreds of thousands of people. Most medical professionals agree with Murthy. The president nominated Murthy for Surgeon General almost exactly one year ago, but the Senate refuses to act.

After two people in the United States showed symptoms of Ebola, the president bowed to GOP demands and appointed Ron Klain as the policy coordinator for the federal response to the virus—in short, the “czar.” GOP members erupted with massive criticisms. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was furious that Klain didn’t take off his second full day on the job to go talk to the Oversight Committee. Chaffetz demanded that a doctor be appointed to field the federal bureaucracy in different government agencies, an odd request because conservatives ignored everything that doctors said about Ebola. If Chaffetz really wants a doctor to guide the health issues of the country, he should talk to the intransigent GOP senators.

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) planned to save the United States with a law that would “ban travel between the U.S. and West African countries.” A reporter pointed out that there are no direct flights between the U.S. and West Africa. Ross couldn’t believe it. He also probably couldn’t believe that recent travel bans failed to block viruses such as SARS and H1N1 (“swine flu”) into the U.S.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), the man who shouted “you lie” at the president during his State of the Union speech, thinks that the Hamas will infect themselves with Ebola and come to the United States. Hamas isn’t our enemy, and they aren’t allies with ISIL who is. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, Wilson should learn that.

Vaccination against Ebola hadn’t been develop because the U.S. had no cases. Throughout the past years, the GOP has decreased funding for research because they wanted the money to decimate the Middle East. The National Institutes of Health has lost 23 percent of its funding during the past decade. The chart below shows the vanishing funding since 2006.

Public-Health-Funding.0

Even with the current fear—or at least the fear before the election—the pro-life movement will do everything to stop the use of two potential vaccines. Children of God for Life opposes the use of fetal stem cells for this purpose. Their role is to protect stem cells of aborted fetuses so that thousands of people can die. This organization is actually opposed to all vaccines because of their belief that they lead to autism. They have company from people who fail to understand that mass production of vaccines for West Africa would stop the disease there, thereby preventing the possibility that it will come to this country.

Even crazier than the pro-life opposition is Fox’s resident psychiatrist, Keith Ablow, who claims that the president’s loyalty is to his people in Africa and the president wants to bring Ebola into the U.S. as a punishment for past evils perpetrated against Africa. According to Ablow, “[President Obama] has it in for us.”

Ablow went even farther to say that 9/11, seven years before the current president was first elected, made the nation afraid of brown people so we elected one as “a shield” with the hope that we wouldn’t be attacked again if one of them with “names very similar to two of our archenemies” led the country.

All the GOP legislators have ignored the fact that Ebola first came into the U.S. in Texas, the state with the highest rate of uninsured (one-fourth of the residents) and that the ACA Medicaid. Uninsured people are less likely to seek medical care for flu-like symptoms even if they might have been exposed to Ebola. Texas also has the least consumer-friendly medical malpractices laws. It was in Texas that the first U.S. borne case was contracted by a healthcare worker in a hospital that failed to follow the CDC protocol for containing Ebola. Officials at the hospital ignored the fact that the man who died of Ebola had a high fever when he went for health care and that he had recently traveled from West Africa.

Annual causes of death in the United States: tobacco-related – 450,000; obesity-related – 300,000; alcohol-related – 88,000; firearms-related – 32,000; staff infection MRSA – 18,000; AIDS – 16,000; Ebola – 1.

Ebola isn’t a problem any more, though, because the election is over for another two years.

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