on: May 27, 2016, 03:40:02 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M
On health care, Bernie betrayed vets to protect unions
By Betsy McCaughey February 9, 2016 | 8:27pm
Modal Trigger On health care, Bernie betrayed vets to protect unions
Bernie Sanders Photo: EPA
The conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton is the candidate with the honesty problem. But on at least one important issue, Bernie Sanders isn’t shooting straight.
Sanders falsely claims he’s been leading the fight to save veterans from the corruption and deadly medical care delays at the Veterans Affairs Department — a message intended to resonate with New Hampshire’s large vet population. The truth is, as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Sanders sabotaged VA reform.
Sanders’ allegiance is to public-sector unions, and to serve them, he betrayed vets. You wouldn’t know that from his campaign-trail boasts.
The next contests are Nevada, with a quarter-million vets, and South Carolina, home to eight military bases and some 418,000 vets. You can bet Sanders will keep repeating his bogus claims, but he ought to be called out on them.
Sanders brags about the 2014 Veterans Choice and Accountability Act: “We went further than any time in recent history in improving health care for the men and women of the country who put their lives on the line to defend us.”
Yet since the law was passed, wait times are longer, not shorter, and ailing vets still get the runaround.
Last week, the VA inspector general reported that a Colorado facility systematically faked records, and kept sick vets from getting appointments with private doctors. Meanwhile, the feds reversed the demotions of two VA executives for a corrupt scheme that cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The laughable justification was that it would be unfair to punish them when so many others did the same and got away with it.
All along, Sanders’ priority has been protecting VA jobs.
In April 2014, a whistleblower exposed scandalous abuses at the Phoenix VA, where staff concealed wait lists to make themselves eligible for bonuses while sick vets suffered without care. In response, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) proposed empowering the VA secretary to fire managers linked to such deceptions.
But Sanders killed Rubio’s bill. Public-sector unions were among the top contributors to Sanders’ Senate campaigns. No wonder he insisted on protecting “due process” rules that make it almost impossible to fire public employees.
Three months later Congress passed the Veterans Choice and Accountability Act, with Sanders taking his bows. But that law was a sham from Day One.
Sanders made sure of it. He demanded the bill protect VA wrongdoers and blocked vets from accessing civilian care.
The law gives vets a “choice card,” but it’s a joke. First, vets must live 40 miles away from a VA facility or wait 30 days to be eligible for a doctor’s appointment to be eligible. Then they need a letter confirming eligibility from the VA — good luck with that.
Next, their civilian doctor has to call for pre-approval before treatment — fat chance getting that call returned. After all that, outside treatment is capped at 60 days.
Like you can cure cancer in two months.
Why the limit? VA jobs are tied to how many vets use the system. And Sanders protects civil-service jobs like nobody else.
To date, only a handful of senior VA executives have been fired for the falsified wait lists even though a staggering 110 facilities were implicated.
Don’t count on Sanders’ rival, Hillary Clinton, to fix the system, either. Until recently, she brushed off VA corruption as overblown. Now she wants to “modernize” the department, while darkly warning of a Koch brothers’ conspiracy to “privatize” the VA.
In truth, none of the GOP front-runners proposes closing down the VA, but all pledge to put vets in the driver’s seat, allowing them to choose where to get care — without roadblocks.
It’s about time.
The nation needs a president who will battle not only VA corruption, but more broadly, the entrenched civil service that answers to no one and bleeds taxpayers dry.
The big question is which one of the GOP front-runners can actually pull it off? The lives of thousands of vets hinge on it.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.
on: May 27, 2016, 02:40:35 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Bernie's opinion on Fed policy. [My responses.] We need to be able to answer Bernieconomics to his supporters and to young people before these ideas get accepted any further.
This is from Bernie's own website, posted during this campaign, written by his staff member, and still up on his site as his view.
In Troubled Times, the Federal Reserve Must Work for Everyone
AUGUST 25, 2015| BY RICHARD ESKOW
[In troubled times? This is 7 1/2 years into the Obama recovery!"]
It’s been a chaotic few days for the world’s markets. Recent events do not paint the picture of a stable economy guided by rational minds. Instead, the world of global finance looks more like a playground in need of adult supervision. [I would like to come back to this point, "a playground in need of adult supervision". The description better fits watching Socialists putting zero interests rates on a centrally planned, government controlled and intervened economy.]
Like other nations, we have a central bank. What should the Federal Reserve do in troubled times? For that matter, what is the Fed’s role in preventing them from occurring in the first place? [What role did the Fed play in CAUSING troubled times?]
It’s true that many of the causes of the recent stock market turmoil are global, rather than domestic. But those distinctions are becoming less important in a world of unfettered capital flow. Regional markets, like regional ecosystems, are interconnected.
Europe is struggling because of a misguided attachment to growth-killing austerity policies. Like Republicans in this country, Europe’s leaders are focused on unwise government cost-cutting measures that hurt the overall economy.
[Government is too small in all places where it is too big? That is his diagnosis of the causes of all troubles.]
China’s superheated markets [private sector failure is the main problem in a communist country?] have experienced a sharp downturn, and its devaluing of the yuan [agreeing with Trump] is likely to affect American monetary policy. Many of the so-called “emerging markets” are in grave trouble, their problems exacerbated by an anticipated interest rate hike from the US Fed. [The anticipated and actual hike was 00.25%!
Plunging crude oil prices are a major factor in the events of the last few days. [Plunging oil prices are great for people - unless you are rich and own an oil company.] But questions remain about the underlying forces affecting those prices. Demand is somewhat weaker [a further indication that Obama's policies similar to Sanders' policies have led to a weakened economy or recovery], and Saudi officials are refusing to cut production. [We have been fighting OPEC for 40 years; now we want them to cut production??] But there is still some debate about whether these and other well-reported factors are enough to explain the fact that the price of a barrel of oil is roughly half what it was just over a year ago, in June 2014. [The only good news in the Obama economy.]
Talk of recovery here in the US has been significantly dampened by events of the last several days. The now-interrupted stock market boom had been Exhibit A in the case for recovery. [Since that time, the stock market has been fine. In income inequality-centric thinking, I thought rich people losses were good and gains were bad...]
Exhibit B was the ongoing drop in the official unemployment rate. There, too, signs of underlying weakness can be found. The labor force participation rate remains very low for people in their peak working years, as economist Elise Gould notes, and has only come back about halfway from pre-2008 levels. Jared Bernstein notes that pressure to raise wages, which one would also expect in a recovering job market, also remains weak. [Lousy recovery, no recovery as we have been saying here.]
All this argues for a rational and coordinated policy [All problems require bigger government intervention, even those caused by bigger government intervention.], one in which the Federal Reserve and the US government act together to restore a wounded economy. [As they have been doing, making things worse and kicking the can of finding real answers to real problems further down the road.] What would that look like?
It would not include raised interest rates – something that nevertheless continues to be a topic of serious discussion. [This is the central point of Bernie's monetary non-policy. He favors zero interest rates in all conditions. If the time value of money is zero, isn't the value of money eventually zero? He opposes savings, investment and accumulation of wealth. Come back to this point. What really do you favor when you oppose lower income people beginning to save, invest and accumulate wealth?] As Dean Baker points out, China’s currency devaluation alone should have been enough to take that idea off the table. What’s more, as Baker rightly notes, such a move would only make sense if the Fed “is worried that the US economy was growing too quickly and creating too many jobs.” That’s a notion most Americans would probably reject as absurd. Most are not seeing their paychecks grow or their job opportunities multiply.
Anxiety about inflation, while all but omnipresent in some circles, is not a rational fear. [QE while GDP is stagnant IS inflation, it just doesn't show up immediately in price levels.] A slow rise in prices (0.2 percent in the 12 months ending in July, as opposed to the Fed’s recommended 2 percent per year) tells us that inflation is not exactly looming on the horizon. [Inflation is the expansion of the money supply relative to GDP. Price levels lag where there is low demand and low velocity of money. A distinction lost by the author.]
“Everything is going to be dictated by government policy,” the chief investment officer of a well-known investment firm said this week. In that case, isn’t it time for a national conversation about that policy?
Another investment strategist told the Wall Street Journal that today’s challenges come at a time when “global central banks have exhausted almost all their tools … It’s difficult to see how central banks come in to support markets.”
If they’ve exhausted all their commonly-used tools, it may be time to develop new ones – not to support “markets,” but to promote jobs and growth for everyone.
First, do no harm. The Fed needs to hold off on any move to raise interest rates. [But zero or artificially low interest rates ARE doing harm!] But inaction is not enough. It was given a dual mandate by Congress: to stabilize prices and keep employment at reasonable levels.
Activist groups like the “Fed Up” coalition, led by the Center for Popular Democracy, are working to move the Fed toward that second objective. They’ve been pushing to change its governing boards, which are heavily dominated by big banks and other major financial interests, and have called for policies that focus on improving the economic lives of most Americans.
Those policies could take a number of forms. One idea comes from Jeremy Corbyn, the populist politician who’s on track to become the next leader of Great Britain’s Labour Party. Corbyn’s economic plan includes “quantitative easing for people instead of banks.” Corbyn proposes to grow the financial sector in a targeted way, by giving the Bank of England (the UK’s version of the Fed) a mandate to “invest in new large scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects.” [Invest WHAT? Private savings ended due to same policies. Governments are at their limit of deficit. Borrow more, FROM WHOM? Print money? That doesn't make what you have or will earn or get paid worth more!]
A headline on the website of the Financial Times says (with apparent surprise) that “Corbyn’s “People’s QE” could actually be a decent idea.”
Corbyn also proposes to “strip out some of the huge tax reliefs and subsidies on offer to the corporate sector.” ['Our side' agrees with the ending of giving preferential treatment to government cronies in exchange for lowering the burden on everyone.] The added revenue would go to “direct public investment,” including the creation of a ‘National Investment Bank’ to “invest in the new infrastructure we need and in the hi-tech and innovative industries of the future.” [This is based on false theory that taking more from the private sector to give more to the public sector creates an improvement for whatever part of America he is purporting to be helping.]
Call it “qualitative,” rather than “quantitative,” easing. It would increase the money supply, but for money that is to be invested in the real-world economy – the one that creates jobs, lifts wages, and creates broad economic growth. [Changing the words without changing the policies. In the same sentence he says qualitative expansion is quantitative expansion sold better. No distinction from why current policy makers are executing current policies. If you leave interest rates at zero, you are helping the wealthy who happen to own corporate stock in pre-existing companies listed on the Dow, S&P etc. We already saw that. We already did TARP, shovel ready projects, cash for clunkers... Doing more of the same will bring different results?!!]
Could something like Corbyn’s plan ever happen here? There’s no reason why not. [We are already doing it.] The Federal Reserve wasn’t created by bankers, nor is it there to serve bankers – although a lot of people inside and outside the Fed act as if it were. (The choice of a former Goldman Sachs executive for its latest major appointment won’t help change that.)
The Federal Reserve was created by the American people, through an act of Congress. Its governors and its policies are there to protect and serve the public. The Fed should use its oversight capabilities to ensure that banks don’t behave in a reckless manner or help private funds and other unsupervised institutions to behave recklessly.
We are still paying the price for allowing big-money interests to dominate both lawmaking on Capitol Hill and monetary policy at the Federal Reserve. That must change. Congress and the Fed, acting together, should ensure that our nation’s policies benefit the many who are in need of help, not the few who already have more than they need.
[This is like we did telling commercial banks to make loans based on criteria other than creditworthiness. Now we will ask our Fed go further in pursuit of policies other than managing the value of our money. This has worked when? Where?]
on: May 27, 2016, 12:08:16 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Excellent coverage of this! (Here in this Federalist / G M post I mean, not in the press.)
"It’s a stunning betrayal of journalistic ethics. This willful and malicious doctoring of evidence to support an agenda..."
The AGENDA is the point. Subtle bias in every story in every outlet is worse. This just blows the whole thing into daylight for everyone - who doesn't care anyway - to see. This is not just bad journalism, like sloppy or lazy or made a mistake. This isn't journalism at all. An infiltration of leftist activists into our institutions has been discovered and exposed. It was a total and complete, hostile takeover. Like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather before her, she was the face of the CBS evening news and they all did it in their own way, night after night. Leftists took over our most trusted institutions, from the face of our news, to our k-12 teaching and college professors, to our DOJ and our IRS. There was a war and we lost by not showing up. It isn't that that favor one side or the other; they are acting to undermine the foundation on which the country was formed, the Second Amendment in this case, life, national security, war and our other freedoms in other cases.. It isn't that this one incident was blatant; it is that the sum total of this is treasonous. My humble opinion.