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.



Hamilton County Schools On 2-Hour Monday Delay Due To Weekend Storms

Due to this weekend’s storms and heavy rain that lead to numerous power outages and road closures, Hamilton County schools will be on a two-hour delay on  Monday . This will allow buses to operate during daylight hours to avoid debris in roadways. School-age childcare will open at the regular time. (click for more)

Angela Faye Parker, 50, Arrested In Stabbing On Glass Street

Angela Faye Parker, 50, was arrested early Sunday morning after stabbing a person. Chattanooga Police responded to 2302 Glass Street at 12:15 a.m. to an assault. The victim and Ms. Parker were both patrons of the Pay-Pay Lounge.   The victim advised that she was physically attacked and maced by Ms. Parker in the restroom. Upon arriving home for the evening, the victim ... (click for more)

No Tax-Supported Entity Should Get Secrecy In Spending

A shadowy situation has emerged in Chattanooga with an organization that manages millions of taxpayer dollars with no transparency and such a surprising disregard for accountability that one wonders what it would take to wake up elected officials who are supposedly in charge. Welcome to the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose lawyer threatened to sue the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Is Dr. Edwards The One?

Just hours after the chairman of the Hamilton County School Board emailed a list of 14 candidates on Friday afternoon to be considered as the next Superintendent of the 42,000-student system to the other board members, Dr. Nakia Edwards, an Assistant Commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Education, became the early “common sense” favorite. And, at first glance, she has ... (click for more)

Trojans Beat Eagles 4-3 On Couch's Walk-Off Single In Seventh

Signal Mountain rolled into Saturday afternoon’s high school baseball game against Soddy-Daisy riding a nine-game winning streak. The Eagles outscored the last six opponents in the streak by a combined 87-15, including a 26-2 rout of Red Bank just prior to taking on the Trojans. Soddy-Daisy used five pitchers to contain the Eagles, overcame a solid start by Signal Mountain ... (click for more)

Thompson Romps To Win In Chickamauga Chase

Nobody would have blamed Christian Thompson if he had decided to take it easy Saturday morning and simply enjoy running the 49 th annual Chickamauga Chase. After all, the 28-year-old Fleet Feet sales associate averaged 5:29 per mile in finishing 29 th overall in the Boston Marathon just five days ago with a world-classed time of 2:23:51. Admitting that his legs were just ... (click for more)