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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Issue of the Week: Paul Ryan's Plans Help the Rich at the Expense of Everyone Else

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­­Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) has unveiled his budget plan designed to move America back about 80 years to the economics of President Herbert Hoover and the brilliant thinking that brought us the Great Depression. Yes, we have a big deficit, but we are just coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Every honest economist will admit that deficit spending is necessary when the economy is sliding into a depression. But Ryan's plans to privatize Medicare and put seniors' health care in the hands of the major insurance companies, for example, is not the solution. It is so extreme and out of the mainstream that his proposals will have trouble even getting the support of his Republican colleagues.

All of this discussion of Ryan's budget ideas simply brings to the fore the bigger issue, that Americans do not want to pay for the government they desire. Programs such as Medicare and Social Security are very popular with the public. They just don't want to pay for them.

One reason Americans don't want to pay for government programs is that they think the tax system is unfair and the wealthy and large corporations do not pay their fair share. According to polls by even the most conservative groups, well over 80% of the American public want to see taxes increased on the top 1% of the population.

Study after study have shown that simple changes—such as raising the income cut-off for funding Social Security beyond $106,800—would keep Social Security solvent for most of this century. And shifting money from the current Medicare program, which has overhead costs of about 3%, and forcing seniors into private insurance, with overhead costs above 20%, is no way to save money. Instead, it will simply impoverish many seniors while making the insurance industry a lot richer.

One must remember that Ryan has been heavily funded by the insurance industry and the extreme right wing since the day he was elected. The fact that most of his ideas end up helping the wealthiest 1% of the population should surprise no one.

Hero of the Week
Frank Schlaefer


Service to country doesn't always end with the issuance of discharge papers. Frank Schlaefer, 83, has been showing up five days a week for the past 20 years to lend a hand at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center (5000 W. National Ave.), which provides medical care former servicemen and women. Himself a veteran of World War II, Schlaefer volunteers in the facility's Community Living Center helping with recreational activities for the many area veterans who live there. Since 1991, Schlaefer has given over 30,000 hours of his time to improve the daily lives of those who served America in the armed forces.

While the Zablocki VAMC has nearly 900 volunteers who donate their time either working directly with patients or in crucial support areas, voluntary service manager Denise Jashinsky wished to convey her special appreciation for Schlaefer's dedication.  His efforts will be recognized at an April 19event.

Readers who wish to volunteer their time at the Zablocki WAMC can call the center at 414-384-2000, ext. 41803. The Center is especially in need of licensed, insurable drivers who can transport area veterans to and from the center to receive medical care.   

Event of the Week

Public Hearing on Scott Walker's Budget

Republican legislative leaders have decided to hold just four public hearings on the state budget, the fewest in recent history. Luckily, one of those hearings will be held in the Milwaukee area, where legislators will hear the concerns of the voters. The hearing will be held on Monday, April 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Wisconsin State Fair Park Expo Center, 8200 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis. It's expected to draw a huge crowd, so come early if you want to testify.

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