Labor Nudges Bennet, Udall on “Fiscal Cliff”

FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:

Exactly two weeks after Election Day, three of the country’s biggest labor unions have joined forces to run television ads in a handful of states, urging lawmakers to support the president’s position in ongoing negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.”

The 30-second ad asks Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both Democrats, to support “jobs, not cuts.”

“We need Senators Bennet and Udall to continue to stand up for us by investing in job creation, extending the middle class tax cuts and protecting Medicare, Medicaid and education from cuts,” the narrator of the ad says…

“This election was about securing a mandate to fight for the middle class,” Scott Wasserman, the executive director of Colorado WINS, told FOX31 last week. “We’re just making sure Sens. Udall and Bennet are doing just that by fighting for jobs and defending against cuts that will hurt the middle class.”

Sen. Michael Bennet has recently joined up with a bipartisan “Gang of Six” negotiating bloc (which technically consists of eight members now with Bennet and Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska) that has attempted a few times to put together a large-scale agreement on entitlement spending, deficit spending, and tax policy. Likewise, Sen. Mark Udall has repeatedly made a deficit reduction deal a stated top priority.

In both cases, we think it’s fair to say our Colorado Senators have made advocates for the protection of Social Security, Medicare, and other domestic programs–protection and preservation of materially equivalent benefits–a bit nervous, with the obvious caveat that they are easier to deal with on the issue than Republicans. As the lame-duck battle over resolving the so-called “fiscal cliff” created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 gets underway, liberals are keen to translate the results of the recent elections into a mandate for ending the Bush tax cuts, and protecting institutions like Medicare that have been recently threatened.

Politically, it’s a relatively high-stakes moment, especially for Udall as re-election looms. To be part of a well-received solution to a long vexing and emotional problem would be a great thing for Udall’s career. On the other hand, it’s not a debate we’d want to end up on the wrong side of.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    Just because I supported Bennet doesn’t mean he should not be held accountable.

    I believe Udall will do the right thing. I will be bitterly disappointed if he doesn’t.

  2. Republican 36 says:

    The only way we are going to climb out of this fiscal abyss is by increasing taxes and reducing spending, including entitlements.

    Social Security can be saved by tweaking it a little bit but Medicare is in deep trouble because each of us, on average, pays in about $150,000 during our lifetime but we each receive about $450,000 in benefits. That is simply unsustainable and taxing the wealthy won’t make up the difference. There are a few things we can do based on life style requirements and end of life counseling that could significantly reduce the cost of Medicare but with tens of thousands of baby boomers retiring each month (or week) there is no way to save this program without increasing revenues beyond what is politically possible.

    If there was a mandate on election day, the electorate wants a compromise enacted with the support of both parties and that means the Republcians must accept tax increases, including on the wealthy, and the Democrats must accept budget cuts, including cuts in entitlement programs.

    This time there isn’t any magic way out of the hole we have dug. We must accept sacrifice all around.

  3. Sir RobinSir Robin says:

    8.6 percent increase, or $475.6 million, for health care related expenditures. Forty percent of that spending increase, however, is in federal funds. That’s partly because of Medicaid, the state and federally funded program, which will add some 51,000 new clients to its rolls, taking the total number of enrollees to more than 700,000 – another record high.

    If the political will, and the support of the voter is there, Medicaid, Medicare, and SS can all be preserved. Obamacare is going to wreak havoc with your old statistics.

    The health care delivery system IS changing. Witness the CO inaugural annual “Aging and Disability Summit” last week. Lo and behold, the 3 State Agency’s that oversee every aspect of health for Coloradans, from food safety to cancer, and long term elder care, are collaborating at unprecedented levels.

    I’m seeing leadership, innovation, collaboration and a renewed focus on improving and preserving, not cutting, basic rights to quality health care.

  4. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Sage advice that likely won’t be accepted.

    An uptick in the contributions of the top earners should be a no brainer — not just a return to the Clinton-era tax rates, but also uncapping Social Security limits.

    I wasn’t aware of the Medicare benefits vs. pay-in numbers you cited above.  A link to that would be appreciated.  I didn’t see that on the wiki page.

    But given the rate of medical inflation, I suspect they aren’t that far off.

    So the real question with Medicare and Medicaid is how do we control the costs without leaving our elders out in the cold?

    1. Single payer would be much more efficient:

    Health care costs are rising across the board, but the cost of insurance has risen dramatically for families and employers as well as the federal government. In fact, since 1970 the per-capita cost of private coverage has grown roughly one percentage point faster each year than the per-capita cost of Medicare. Since the late 1990s, Medicare has performed especially well relative to private insurers. Over the next decade, Medicare’s per capita spending is projected to grow at a rate of 2.5 percent each year, compared to private insurance’s 4.8 percent

    2. Cost controls as implemented by ACA are already having a positive impact:

    Medicare’s unfunded obligation over an infinite timeframe was $36 trillion. Due to the passage of health reform, Medicare’s unfunded obligation over the next 75 years declined from $13.4 trillion to $3 trillion

    3. Stop leaving money on the table:

    Many look to the Veterans Health Administration as a model of lower cost prescription drug coverage. Since the VHA provides healthcare directly, it maintains its owns formulary and negotiates prices with manufacturers. Studies show that the VHA pays dramatically less for drugs than the PDP plans Medicare Part D subsidizes. One analysis found that adopting a formulary similar to the VHA’s would save Medicare $14 billion a year.

    4. Better coordination of care, and eliminating duplication of services:

    The dual-eligible population comprises roughly 20 percent of Medicare’s enrollees but accounts for 36 percent of its costs. There is substantial evidence that these individuals receive highly inefficient care because responsibility for their care is split between the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

    Many experts have suggested that establishing mechanisms to coordinate care for the dual-eligibles could yield substantial savings in the Medicare program, mostly by reducing hospitalizations. Such programs would connect patients with primary care, create an individualized health plan, assist enrollees in receiving social and human services as well as medical care, reconcile medications prescribed by different doctors to ensure they do not undermine one another, and oversee behavior to improve health.

    Estimated savings from more effective coordinated care for the dual eligibles range from $125 billion to over $200 billion, mostly by eliminating unnecessary, expensive hospital admissions.

    There are sensible and humane solutions, but it does require a rational discussion disassociated from politics.  Sounds like it’s time for a “Base Closing” commission to tackle the subject.

  5. gaf says:

    in response to an ideological post. How dare you?

  6. Republican 36 says:

    Based on the Urban League study my numbers cited in the previous post yesterday need to be updated.

    I do hope Sir Robin turns out to be correct that the President’s healthcare law will “wreak havoc” with my statistics in a very positive way. If thats the case, we many not have as much to worry about as I think we do.

    And harrydoby’s specific suggestions are exactly what I mentioned in a general sense in the previous post. There are ways to handle healthcare that can simultaneously provide the best care in a more cost effective way. Your points are exactly where the discussion should be heading.

  7. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Thanks R36 for the link with additional details.  While the numbers are updated, your basic point is still valid.  It was the shocking differential between the pay-in vs. benefits that prompted me to dig into the Medicare issue yesterday (something I hadn’t really paid much attention to since the “Fiscal Cliff” issue is centered on the bumper sticker “Higher Taxes”/”Massive Cuts” meme).

    I hope this discussion will motivate many others, especially those with the ability to drive this issue, to take it up in a rational manner.

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