Community Calendar
Community
Calendar
Tomahawk Leader Internet Edition - Newspaper in Tomahawk Wisconsin Photo Album
Photo
Album
Map
Map of
Tomahawk, WI
Grey Bar
The Tomahawk Leader is a state and national prize-winning weekly newspaper serving the scenic Northwoods area in and around Tomahawk, WI.

It is currently Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:42 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Let's look at reforms...
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:04 pm 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
Without looking it up, look at the following categories and write down what percent of total federal spending is spent on each of the items below.

Social Security
Education
Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP
Transportation
Defense
Scientific and Medical Research
Safety Net Programs

Also, create a list on which categories you think are most important to improving this county's future.

Before we actually get to the totals, I'll make a couple of points. I find it interesting that so many of the people bashing big government and social programs are recipients of such programs themselves. Remember that conservatives tend to be older (i.e. retired). Many of the same people who would strip benefits from others are receiving social security checks themselves. Many who argue against programs attempting to make health care available to all would scream if their Medicare or Medicaid was on the chopping block.

It's also important to remember that a 2008 survey of 1,400 American's found that when they asked whether the surveyed had "ever used a government social program," 57% said they hadn't. It turned out 94% of those who had denied using programs had benefitted from at least one and on average they had used four. Now, some of those programs are harder to realize you're using (they included certain tax credits). However, included in that 94% were 44% receiving Social Security, 43% had received Unemployment insurance, 40% got Medicare, 29% got Social Security Disability Insurance, 28% on Medicaid and 25% had at one point used food stamps.

OK, the results (from 2010, the percentages of all federal spending)...

Social Security - 20%
Education - 3%
Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP - 21%
Transportation - 3%
Defense - 20%
Scientific and Medical Research - 2%
Safety Net Programs - 14%

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258

Now, considering that nearly two-thirds of the Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP spending was on Medicare that means as a whole, the federal government is spending 33% of all of the money it spends on a portion of the population that will likely never again rejoin the workforce, open a business, cure cancer or invent the next big thing.

Can you imagine what our future might look like if we were spending 33% on education and research rather than the 5% now? Doesn't anyone else think it's odd that we invest so much in our past and so little in our future by comparison? If we're going to demonize welfare and the food stamp program, don't we need to look at the truly big spenders too? We spend nearly as much on Medicare alone as we do ALL other safety net programs!

Oh, and one more fun fact. If we cut two government programs we would have slashed nearly the entire budget deficit. Those two programs are Social Security and Medicare and cost a combined $1.16 trillion.

Over the next few days I'm going to start posting a list I started of proposals to change how we tax, how we spend, who is eligible for benefits, how we elect our representatives, etc. Much like this post, I'm not really suggesting we simply cut entire programs, and many of the ideas may not be feasible, and definitely wouldn't pass a congressional vote, but I firmly believe we need to make substantial changes. Some of these ideas could be considered now, others will take some time before they can be achieved. Many of these ideas would have significant impacts both positive and negative on people I care about, and even myself but I'm attempting to approach this with an open mind.

Let's see if we can begin to do what those we've elected can't. Let's see if we can have a civil discussion that offer ideas, a good debate, and who knows, maybe even a couple of solutions!

What do you think of the above information? What are your thoughts? I'll post the first of my ideas for change in the next few days...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:37 pm 
Offline
Regular Contributor
Regular Contributor

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 570
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 0 time
When you say we spend 33% on older people that won't be participating any more what do you think we should do to them? Ignor them? Cut them off? These are the people that did put in their entire lives, most working in the system for 50 years. They are the ones that funded our Social Security sysytem. What are you saying?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:48 am 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
Catfish,

By no means do we ignore them or cut them off. However, let's take an honest look at the programs and evaluate changes that can be made. Let's realize and admit that the program is unsustainable. In most cases, no one's current benefits should change.

Anyone in my generation that believes they are likely ever going to see a dime of the money they pay in to Social Security is fooling themselves. Also, when the program was created people didn't live as long after being eligible as we do now. A much smaller pool of workers is paying a much larger, and growing, pool of retirees.

And those same people that were, "working in the system for 50 years" also got a lot of benefits from the money they put in during those 50 years. Let's remember that the "excess" money that was paid in wasn't just put in a bank account, the government loaned that money to itself, which it promptly turned around and spent on all kinds of programs that benefitted everyone. That money kept their taxes lower, bought better roads, paid for their children's education, created mortgage tax programs to get them into homes, etc.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:34 am 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
OK, let's start with any easy one (hopefully)...

As I've pointed out before. I believe the straight party primary is wrong. Thinking about that led me to another idea. So...

1. Straight Party Primary is made illegal.

In a smaller community this could actually prevent someone from being involved in the election of a candidate. What if there are two candidates for Sheriff, both running as Democrats, you want to make a choice on the Republican Presidential Candidate? Or what if there are two candidates for Mayor running as Republicans? In those cases, the local candidate will pretty much selected in the primary (barring a strong write in campaign) but you are prevented from having a say in both elections.

2. The listings on the ballot will no longer include the party a candidate belongs to (in ANY election). If you are going to pick someone to vote for, you're going to do it based on learning what THEY stand for, not which party they belong to.

My hope is this will accomplish a couple of different things. First, it might actually require more of the general population to use their brain and learn about the candidates. Second, I'm hoping it might help some of the smaller parties have an actual chance at getting a candidate in.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:29 pm 
Offline
Occasional Poster
Occasional Poster

Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:54 pm
Posts: 23
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 0 time
Tie to Tomahawk: home - business owner
Spambot: No
Speaking as one who is on both Social Security and Medicare, I can easily attest to how some major cuts in both those problems can be made. STOP PAYING BENEFITS OUT TO PEOPLE WHO NEITHER PAID INTO THEM NOR DESERVE THEM! Why should people who come into this country receive any of these benefits? But they do. In my own mind, I've never been able to justify why my mother, after my father died, received his Social Security. They'd been divorced for over 30 years. Yes,it helped her out but should she have gotten it? I'm not sure.

Trumpeting more spending on education is questionable. I've always said that throwing more money at things rarely solves problems. It too often just creates more. There are many arguments that, constitutionally, the federal government should not even be involved in education for anything other than things like civil rights. Education, according to the authors of the Constitution, was meant to be strictly up to local and religious affiliation. Other than interference, can anyone show me how federal spending on education has actually helped the Tomahawk school district, for example?

It would take a lot of digging to go back and find it but I once read a study that showed something like 48 separate programs in the Dept. of Education and others that were funded in the millions to do EXACTLY THE SAME THING! They were added to the bureaucracy by individual legislators through earmarks and the like to make themselves look good at election time, even though they had no clue that the same thing was already being done. That's one of the problems with budgeting for the feds – earmarks should be done away with and all financial matters should be dealt with openly and clearly.

The multiplicity of federal programs that do exactly or nearly the same thing probably run in the hundreds or more. They should be merged and streamlined. The only bad (not really) thing about that is the fact that unemployment would jump dramatically from thousands of federal employees losing their jobs.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:27 am 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
Uhh, if you were born after 1929 you must work a minimum of 10 years before you can receive social security. Benefits are also based on what you earned during your working career. So, who's getting benefits they didn't earn? http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10035.html#a0=1

As far as your mom, I potentially agree. I can see an argument that she should get benefits for the time they were married though. At that time many families may have been single income. Was she earning the full benefit, or just a portion?

I'm sure there are others who are much more likely to be able to point out the federal grants, etc. that Tomahawk Schools have received. But how about low interest federal loans for college students? Pell Grants? Etc... From 1993 to 2004 alone tuition at public schools increased 53% above inflation. Total student loan debt is projected to surpass $1 trillion within a year. Americans owe more in student loans than they do in credit card debt. Tuition at UWEC is $8,024 this year. That's more than Tuition AND Room & Meal Plan was when I graduated. Total estimated costs are now $17,334 per year. That's more than I paid as a non-resident at MTU. Could we afford to sent Kelly and I to school now? Will Kelly & Brent be able to afford to send Brynn?

All of that totally ignores the discussion on federal research money. Even you have praised NASA on numerous occasions and all of the advances that came from that program. NASA has received significant cuts in recent years due to our swelling budget. How much more cancer, diabetes, stem cell, etc. research could be done if more money was available to focus on those areas? What advances are we missing out on because we can't afford to reach for Mars, or even the Moon?

You're probably right about the existence of redundant programs. I'm sure many could be eliminated but without specific examples it's pretty hard to comment and remember, as I pointed out earlier, the entire education budget is only 3% of all federal expenses. While we need to look at everything, I suggest we look at the big fish first rather than hunting for minnows in the weeds...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:54 pm 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
OK, let's look at a go big or go home suggestion...

If on last years taxes you made over $70,000 as an individual or $100,000 as a couple you only receive 75% of your social security benefits.

At $85,000 individual or $125,000 couple you receive 50% of benefits.
At $100,000 individual or $150,000 couple you receive 25% of benefits.
At $115,000 individual or $175,000 couple you don't receive any benefits.

And there are protections/exceptions in these rules.

Social Security income is deducted from the income amount. You won't go over the threshold because you received a social security check.

Any inheritance from an immediate family member (parent, spouse or child) is exempt from the income numbers. This rule is in place to protect assets such as homes, family farms, retirement funds, etc. One should not have to sell the home they have lived in their entire adult life to be able to continue to receive their social security checks. You will still be responsible for any taxes, but you won't lose your income because you inherited property.

A special review process will be put in place. If in the event of a significant financial change (i.e. all of your money was from a company that stops paying it's pension, you lose your entire investment, etc.) you are able to petition Social Security and show your total assets fall below certain levels (minus the value of your primary home), the payments can be restored. Significant changes in medical status or costs of nursing homes, special care, etc. can also qualify for review. The petition process may take no more than 30 days for review.

Income levels will be pegged to inflation so that the numbers automatically adjust.

All exceptions and the scales must be reviewed and re-approved by congress every five years. This approval process will require a 51% majority of those members present, and will be passed during a normally scheduled session. Filibusters will not be an option.

Thoughts? Are the numbers too high, too low? Are there exceptions I missed?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:40 pm 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
Hmm, kind of figured there'd be feedback on this...

Oh well, here's another one.

Enrolling in Food Stamps requires enrollment in a health & nutrition class. All members of the family must meet with a nutritionist every 3-6 months of enrollment.

In addition, foods such as soda, chips, candy, ice cream, etc. with little or no nutritional value will no longer be eligible for the food stamp program. High end items such as lobster, crab legs, top cuts of meat, etc. also should be evaluated for removal from the program.

Back when I was working at grocery stores in high school and college I hated seeing many of the orders that came through using food stamps. They often were some of the worst purchases nutritionally. Entire carts of chips, soda and frozen pizza really weren't that uncommon.

Don't even get me started on the number of welfare and child support checks we cashed at the service counter. First, open a bank account, they'll cash your checks for free if you put $5 in a savings account rather than us charging you $2-$5 per check cashed. Second, stop spending half your check on cigarettes and lottery tickets! I loved when these people would ask their kids which scratch off tickets they wanted. Yep, thats a brilliant use of the money!!! But hey, at least the checks always said, "Wisconsin cares about kids!"


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:53 pm 
Offline
Regular Contributor
Regular Contributor
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 827
Location: Tomahawk
Has thanked: 24 times
Been thanked: 33 times
Tie to Tomahawk: Born, raised and live in Tomahawk
“Witnessing the Republicans and the Democrats bicker over the U.S. debt is like watching two drunks argue over a bar bill on the Titanic.” :roll:

_________________
Yesterday is History !
Today will be a memory !
Tomorrow is a mystery;
Seize the Day !


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:47 pm 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
OK, let's add another one...

Over the next 5-10 years the mortgage interest deduction is phased out. It should be brought down gradually to help avoid a shock to the system though.

Note, this one definitely will affect me...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:40 am 
Offline
Contributor
Contributor

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 192
Location: Tomahawk
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 5 times
Kerry Tobin wrote:
OK, let's look at a go big or go home suggestion...

If on last years taxes you made over $70,000 as an individual or $100,000 as a couple you only receive 75% of your social security benefits.

At $85,000 individual or $125,000 couple you receive 50% of benefits.
At $100,000 individual or $150,000 couple you receive 25% of benefits.
At $115,000 individual or $175,000 couple you don't receive any benefits.


So you're telling me that I won't receive a piece of a pie that we already know will be eaten long before I get to the table? How is this reforming anything?

Also, do you plan to adjust the social security witholdings to reflect these changes so that people are not being taxed for something that it is virtually impossible for them to benefit from?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your plan.

_________________
"There are two parties in politics: Republicans and Democrats. Republicans have bad ideas, Democrats have no ideas." - Lewis Black


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:47 pm 
Offline
Contributor
Contributor

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 192
Location: Tomahawk
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 5 times
Kerry Tobin wrote:
Hmm, kind of figured there'd be feedback on this...

Oh well, here's another one.

Enrolling in Food Stamps requires enrollment in a health & nutrition class. All members of the family must meet with a nutritionist every 3-6 months of enrollment.

In addition, foods such as soda, chips, candy, ice cream, etc. with little or no nutritional value will no longer be eligible for the food stamp program. High end items such as lobster, crab legs, top cuts of meat, etc. also should be evaluated for removal from the program.


I'm all for education (manditory if need be) for cases where the family is living off of food stamps and/or suffer from obesity. However, how are you going to supply the nutritionists? The class I can see, but individual assessments will be labor intensive.

Kerry Tobin wrote:
Back when I was working at grocery stores in high school and college I hated seeing many of the orders that came through using food stamps. They often were some of the worst purchases nutritionally. Entire carts of chips, soda and frozen pizza really weren't that uncommon.

Don't even get me started on the number of welfare and child support checks we cashed at the service counter. First, open a bank account, they'll cash your checks for free if you put $5 in a savings account rather than us charging you $2-$5 per check cashed. Second, stop spending half your check on cigarettes and lottery tickets! I loved when these people would ask their kids which scratch off tickets they wanted. Yep, thats a brilliant use of the money!!! But hey, at least the checks always said, "Wisconsin cares about kids!"


I think the stores are just as much to blame as the state. There are signs regarding what "food stamps" can and can't be used for, but is the check-out clerk really going to argue with a customer for 15 minutes that the cigarettes and beer are not eligable? Probably not.

Instead of providing dollar amount vouchers, perhaps itemized lists of items for pickup would be more likely to work. This could go along with the nutrition classes. Actually, to that point, the nutritionists go so far as to offer recipes available that use the items on the voucher lists so they not only have the supplies, but also the knowledge to prepare healthy meals.

_________________
"There are two parties in politics: Republicans and Democrats. Republicans have bad ideas, Democrats have no ideas." - Lewis Black


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:48 pm 
Offline
Contributor
Contributor

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 192
Location: Tomahawk
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 5 times
Kerry Tobin wrote:
Over the next 5-10 years the mortgage interest deduction is phased out. It should be brought down gradually to help avoid a shock to the system though.


Hmmm, now where did I leave that ten foot pole..?

_________________
"There are two parties in politics: Republicans and Democrats. Republicans have bad ideas, Democrats have no ideas." - Lewis Black


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:27 pm 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
Neup99,

Both stores I worked at would have argued forever with a customer that wanted to use food stamps for that. Unfortunately, welfare and child support checks are cash and can be used for anything. It was just poor decision making on those people's part.

I wish I knew a good way to fix the check problem but not sure we could pull off actually paying people's bills at first to ensure their money is spent wisely. Then slowly work toward handing more and more money over to them.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:32 pm 
Offline
Contributor
Contributor

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:01 am
Posts: 192
Location: Tomahawk
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 5 times
Give them the actual goods and not money in any form.

_________________
"There are two parties in politics: Republicans and Democrats. Republicans have bad ideas, Democrats have no ideas." - Lewis Black


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:02 am 
Offline
Administrator
Administrator
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2001 1:01 am
Posts: 683
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Has thanked: 25 times
Been thanked: 16 times
Tie to Tomahawk: I grew up there & family
Spambot: No
Quote:
So you're telling me that I won't receive a piece of a pie that we already know will be eaten long before I get to the table? How is this reforming anything?

Also, do you plan to adjust the social security witholdings to reflect these changes so that people are not being taxed for something that it is virtually impossible for them to benefit from?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your plan.


Hopefully, by making some changes there will still be some pie left later. Also, no, there won't be any changes in the withholdings. The idea is that the program is going to become more of a safety net in the long run than anything else. Eventually we put the responsibility of planning for your retirement on you. But, if something happens (your savings is wiped out in a market crash, the company paying your pension goes bankrupt, etc. there is something to save you.

We'll call the new Social Security a type of insurance plan...


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 16 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
POWERED_BY
Localized by Maël Soucaze © 2010 phpBB.fr