Corker, Alexander Say Most Americans Won't See Tax Rise; Focus On Medicare Cure

Friday, December 28, 2012
Tennessee Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker said Friday “all the talk is about taxes, but when the dust settles, federal income taxes will not increase for almost all Americans next year.”

They urged enactment of their plan “focused on helping Americans avoid falling off the fiscal cliff no one wants to talk about, the looming bankruptcy of Medicare.” The “Corker-Alexander Dollar-for-Dollar Plan” would reduce the growth of entitlement spending (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) by nearly $1 trillion in order to improve the programs’ solvency. In exchange, Congress would approve the president’s expected request for a $1 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. (Click HERE for the bill summary; click HERE for the bill text.)

“Millions of Americans are counting the days until they are eligible for Medicare. It would be tragic if Medicare were bankrupt when that day comes,” the senators said.

That day will come in 11 years, according to the latest Medicare trustees report, which says that in 2024, Medicare won’t be able to pay all its benefits. When the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is exhausted, the trustees estimate that revenues into the program will only be sufficient to cover 87 percent of costs.

“Medicare can’t survive when the average working couple retiring at age 65 continues to receive $3 in benefits for every $1 they pay into the program during their lifetimes,” the senators said, citing statistics from the Urban Institute. On October 5, the Urban Institute reported that an average married working couple will contribute about $122,000 in payroll taxes to Medicare over their lifetimes and consume about $387,000 in Medicare benefits.

They said, “It is dishonest for Washington to cover up the true cost of the government services it delivers. No one wants to talk about this. But unless we act, at some point these programs will go bankrupt and services will disappear. The first victims of this Medicare fiscal cliff – the fiscal cliff no one in Washington wants to talk about– are older Americans, millions of whom have no other way to pay their medical bills. The second victims are younger Americans who expect us to solve our fiscal issues so they aren’t saddled with debt.

“It would be a colossal failure of leadership if the president does not now take advantage of proposals such as ours. There are 535 of us in Congress with ideas, but there is only one president. The president needs to do as good a job rescuing seniors in danger of falling off the Medicare fiscal cliff as he has persuading Americans that Congress should raise taxes on the rich.”

To "provide more certainty to help the economy grow," they said their proposal also anticipates the president’s expected request to raise the debt ceiling by $1 trillion – an amount equal to their proposed nearly $1 trillion reduction in the growth of entitlement spending. “Legislative language for our plan is public and is ready for Congress to act upon,” they said.

The “Dollar for Dollar Act,” S. 3673, introduced by Senator Corker on Dec. 12 and co-sponsored by Senator Alexander, contains provisions recommended by President Obama’s Debt Commission (Simpson-Bowles) as well as by former Republican Senator Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin, budget director for former President Clinton.

They said the plan, which would allow seniors to continue to choose traditional Medicare among several options, would:

*Structurally reform Medicare, keeping traditional Medicare in place and competing side-by-side with private options so that seniors can choose the health care plan that works best for them. Significantly reduce costs without capping spending while preserving for seniors the choice of participating in traditional Medicare;

*Give states more flexibility to manage their Medicaid programs and prevent states from using so-called “bed taxes” to get more money from the federal government;

*Reform Social Security and gradually raise the retirement age so that today's workers can count on the program being solvent and able to pay benefits when they retire;

*Enact a more accurate measure of inflation which both raises revenues and reduces entitlement spending;

*Raise the debt ceiling by $1 trillion which could last about one year at the new levels of spending."

See video of the briefing here.



Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AR-RAHMAAN, CHRISTIANA ALISA 632 MAPLE STREET COURT APT 226 CHATTANOOGA, 37402 23 Hamilton County VIOLATION OF PROBATION (POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA) BINFORD, JUSTIN TAYLOR 6712 DIXIELAND DR HIXSON, 37343 26 Red Bank POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA BINGHAM, TIFFANY TENNILLE 211 HILLCREST ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Gets Bursts Of Snow, But Little Accumulation

Chattanooga got some bursts of snow on Monday night, but little accumulation. However, the Marion County Schools were called off for Tuesday due to the weather. Here is the latest forecast: A DUSTING OF LIGHT SNOW ACCUMULATION POSSIBLE OVERNIGHT... TEMPERATURES CONTINUE TO TUMBLE AS COLD AIR MOVED INTO THE REGION THIS AFTERNOON. AN UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCE WILL SWEEP SOUTHEAST ... (click for more)

We Need The Chattanooga History Center

Having been on several of Dr. Daryl Black's walking tours, I can say that they weren't just informative, but a treat. The downtown, Fort Wood and Ninth Street of yesteryear were brought dramatically to life. We stood on the ground where Sherman had his headquarters (near the Ice Cream Show) and the corner where Bessie Smith sang as a young girl. And we also stood beneath the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Big (Un)Easy: Mardi Gras

Not since Hurricane Katrina has New Orleans had a bigger problem. When over a million visitors flood the city for the annual Mardi Gras bash over the next three weeks, there will be signs all around town and into the French Quarter that blare, “CAUTION: Walk In Large Groups. We (heart symbol) love NOPD. We Just Need More Of Them.” In other words, it appears things are quite unsettled ... (click for more)

No. 25 UTC Women Defeat Samford, 49-32

“I think it’s great for grade school kids all over the country because they will learn how to spell Chattanooga because it will be in their local paper. That’s the best thing about it. There are Chattanooga graduates all over the place and they can pick up and go to the agate page and see if Sportscenter knows how to spell.” -- UTC women’s basketball coach Jim Foster ... (click for more)

Baylor Wrestlers Set to Defend State Duals Title

Ranked No.1 in this week's wrestling poll and boasting a 22-1 season dual match record, Baylor is the favorite to win the TSSAA D-II state duals this weekend at the Williamson County Ag Expo in Franklin. Friday Jan. 30 - Baylor opens with tourney against Brentwood Academy at 3:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals and a win puts them in Friday night semis (8:30 p.m. EST) ... (click for more)