"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
"As the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, Angela Merkel makes an unlikely gambler. But as the German chancellor prepares to lead her country’s first centre-right coalition in more than a decade, she is staking her second term on a daring economic bet.
She admitted as much last Monday as she unveiled the coalition agreement, or policy road map, she has signed with the Free Democratic party that is her new ruling partner. “There is no guarantee it will work,” she said, “but there is a chance.”
Faced with the contradictory problems of rapidly emptying state coffers and an economy still reeling from this year’s recession, Ms Merkel has opted to fight the crisis with an injection of funds on an unprecedented scale. The new “black-yellow” coalition between her Christian Democrats and the FDP plans to cut income and corporate taxes by €24bn ($35bn, £21bn) a year up to 2013 – a boost equivalent to about 1 per cent of gross domestic product.
“Just saving, saving, saving will not do us any good,” she said when presenting her plan. “This is why we have decided to follow a path that concentrates on growth” rather than focus on fixing the federal budget.”
Though she has been careful not to call it a third fiscal stimulus, this is in effect what Ms Merkel is proposing for Europe’s largest economy.
If this programme – the centrepiece of the coalition agreement – works, it should in theory boost growth, save jobs and create new ones, helping generate the tax and social security contributions needed to bring Germany’s fiscal house back into order. If it fails, Berlin will see its margin for manoeuvre constrained anew."
"The White Man's Burden, a phrase immortalized by English poet Rudyard Kipling as an excuse for European-American imperialism, was front and center Thursday morning (October 29) at a RAND-sponsored discussion of Afghanistan in the Russell Senate Office Building.
"The agenda was top-heavy with RAND speakers, and the thinking was decidedly "inside the box" - so much so, that I found myself repeating a verse from Kipling, who recognized the dangers of imperialism, to remind me of the real world:"
It is not wise for the Christian white
To hustle the Asian brown;
For the Christian riles
And the Asian smiles
And weareth the Christian down.
At the end of the fight
Lies a tombstone white
With the name of the late deceased;
And the epitaph drear,
A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East.
"If Americans ever succeeded in getting rid of illegal immigrants – deporting those who are already here and preventing the entry of others – there would be an outcry from Latino activists, civil libertarians and the business community.
"But that's nothing. Do you know who might really be furious? The Social Security Administration. If not for the billions in payroll taxes that illegal immigrants are paying into the system, the funding crisis facing Social Security would be much more serious and much more imminent. It is all thanks to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which made it a crime for employers to knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
"True, the law is a joke that is rarely enforced, and that should bother the law-and-order crowd more than it does. But by forcing employers to require Social Security cards – even bogus ones – IRCA did manage to rope illegal immigrants into the system. Last year, contributions by illegal immigrants made up about 10 percent of the Social Security surplus – the difference between what the system takes in and what it doles out...."
"The Senate Finance Committee bill makes important improvements to the Medicare program by increasing preventive benefits and by reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage. Too often, those who fall into this coverage gap stop taking their prescription drugs because they simply can't afford them. There are provisions in the Senate Finance bill to expand home and community-based services (HCBS). The vast majority of Americans age 50 and over want to live in their homes and communities as long as they can. HCBS provisions are not only cost-effective, but can also help slow the growth in health care spending and keep millions of Americans out of nursing homes and in their own homes. It also provides for incentives for Medicare folks who successfully participate in healthy lifestyle programs. HCBS provisions are not only cost-effective, but can also help slow the growth in health care spending and keep millions of Americans out of nursing homes and in their own homes.
The cuts are predominantly in the Medicare Advantage program and some from provider agreements to take smaller increases over time than would otherwise have been the case. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans - are paid on average 14 percent more than it costs to provide care through the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program. The House bill phases out these overpayments over three years, starting in 2011 (because the 2010 rates are already set), so that MA plans will be paid on a level playing field with traditional fee-for-service Medicare.
The House bill also cuts the donut hole immediately and eliminates it entirely by 2019. The newly introduced House bill also strengthens Medicare by extending solvency of the Trust Fund for five years through its provisions that attack waste, fraud and abuse and reforms the payment and delivery systems. It also changes incentive payments to hospitals to discourage PREVENTABLE hospital readmissions.
This link is useful on the House measures, it is the specific link to a one-pager on strengthening Medicare"