Hanukkah: 'Tis the season for lighting candles. There is a lot candle-lighting planned for the Beverly Center in front of Waxman's satellite office. The California Nurses Association has amassed their numbers and their wicks to tell Waxman and other California Congressional Democrats, including Karen Bass, to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid during the fraught negotiations over the fiscal cliff.
Congresswoman Bass plans to discuss with LA constituents her plans for helping Congress to avert the fiscal cliff. What about Congressman Waxman? December 11, 2012, Waxman was at a DC press conference declaring his stern opposition to support Medicare cuts. While Congressman Henry Waxman loves the camera and takes in the spotlight, the laws of supply and demand will enforce these cuts (and severely so) if Congress does not cut through the political gamesmanship, starts telling voters in this country the truth, and makes a move to cut the spending.
What are the facts about Medicare? The assets for the program are declining. The United States Government faces $24 trillion in Medicare liabilities. What good do government promises amount to if the government has no money to spend, no credibility to borrow off of? Gossip and slander abound about the "Ponzi Scheme" which is Social Security, but Bernie Madoff should have been taking notes on the Medicare Ponzi scheme. Current recipients are getting more than they paid in, nothing like the deepening gap between funding and withdrawals in Social Security. This program is not to the fault of the seniors, but a cowardly government that will not demand at least more than a token deductible to help control costs and allocation.
Still, there is hope. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has met with seniors throughout the country, many of whom have shown their willingness to take a haircut in order to preserve these entitlement programs for the next generation. Working with Democrat-turned Independent Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Coburn proposed aggressive reforms on Medicare abuse, fraud, and a much-needed provision for recipients to share a little bit of the cost in order to prevent waste. This kind of bipartisanship is rising up in Washington, yet Waxman does not know about it or does not care, or perhaps he is still repeating the empty chorus of "We're Not Broke!"
Congressman Waxman has also beat the fiscal table about the rich paying "their fair share." I still remember the silly crack he made at the October 24 Venice Neighborhood Council meeting, in which he declared that the "rich" like Independent challenger Bill Bloomfield would be the only one paying higher taxes, if he has his way. It's all fun and games to collect a vote, but what happens when the 65+ retirees want to collect the benefit, with nothing but a federal IOU in their warm, elderly hands?
Despite the moral and political simplicity of the measure, Waxman has declared that he opposes means testing for Medicare, which would ask wealthy seniors to pay more for their disbursements. What gives? Does he care about the plight of the poor and the middle class or not, aside from voting against tax cuts for middle income earners. The times are long-gone in which the Westside legislator could cruise into office and continue the spending-spree that this country and future generations cannot afford. Reality is bearing down on everyone, left and right, with open primaries ready to swallow up and spit out anyone with his or her head in the sand on the crushing problems facing this nation.
A comprehensive package to deal with the fiscal cliff and the spending problem in this country will focus on means-testing for entitlements, then turn them into block grants to the states so that the legislators closer to the voters can allocate the funding with the red tape and bureaucracy that wastes so much to deliver what's left. President Clinton pushed Welfare Reform to great success, so there is no reason that would prevent Democrats like Congressman Waxman from pursuing a similar policy.
Republicans should hold their noses and let the sequestration go through. Raising taxes on those who have earned $1 million or more should be a concession only because the country by majority sent Democrats back into power. Let the Democrats have their increases and fall on them. The Republicans can sit back and watch as the wealthy ferret their wealth into trust funds, especially in Democratic bastions like California, New York, and Illinois, where they are desperate for business as it is, and the liberal base will have only their liberal colleagues to thank.
The unions are getting fired about the fiscal cliff (with candles and all), and so should the rest of the 33rd Congressional District. Congress is at an all-time low in public opinion polls, yet Congressman Waxman is back in D.C. talking to reporters. Does Waxman care about Medicare, the country, or our fiscal future or not? He better make a move, or perhaps his tenure in Congress will go over a cliff of its own in the near future.