Obama Trashes Military Healthcare

Dear Guests,

Don’t think for one minute that Obama has any allegiance to the United States or to its proud military members.  When men and women of all races volunteer to protect and defend the rest of us Americans, at great risk to their own life and limb, this is the thanks that they receive from their so-called “commander in chief!”  If you do not get upset at what the president is doing to our military after reading this article, you may want to check your pulse!

Bob Grafe

Editor & Columnist   

 

Washington Free Beacon

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Trashing Tricare

Obama to cut healthcare benefits for active duty and retired US military

AP ImagesAP Images

BY: – February 27, 2012 3:36 pm

The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.

The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.

The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.

Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.

“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”

Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

“When they talked to us, they did mention the option of healthcare exchanges under Obamacare. So it’s in their mind,” said a congressional aide involved in the issue.

Military personnel from several of the armed services voiced their opposition to a means-tested tier system for Tricare, prompting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to issue a statement Feb. 21.

Dempsey said the military is making tough choices in cutting defense spending. In addition to the $487 billion over 10 years, the Pentagon is facing automatic cuts that could push the total reductions to $1 trillion.

“I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we’ve heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for Tricare in retirement,” Dempsey said. “You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible.”

Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.

Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.

According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.

The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.

The changes are worrying some in the Pentagon who fear it will severely impact efforts to recruit and maintain a high-quality all-volunteer military force. Such benefits have been a key tool for recruiting qualified people and keeping them in uniform.

“Would you stay with a car insurance company that raised your premiums by 345 percent in five years? Probably not,” said the congressional aide. “Would anybody accept their taxes being raised 345 percent in five years? Probably not.”

A second congressional aide said the administration’s approach to the cuts shows a double standard that hurts the military.

“We all recognize that we are in a time of austerity,” this aide said. “But defense has made up to this point 50 percent of deficit reduction cuts that we agreed to, but is only 20 percent of the budget.”

The administration is asking troops to get by without the equipment and force levels needed for global missions. “And now they are going to them again and asking them to pay more for their health care when you’ve held the civilian workforce at DoD and across the federal government virtually harmless in all of these cuts. And it just doesn’t seem fair,” the second aide said.

Spokesmen for the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not respond to requests for comment on the Tricare increases.

The massive increases beginning next year appear timed to avoid upsetting military voters in a presidential election year, critics of the plan say.

Additionally, the critics said leaving civilian workers’ benefits unchanged while hitting the military reflect the administration’s effort to court labor unions, as government unions are the only segment of organized labor that has increased in recent years.

As part of the increased healthcare costs, the Pentagon also will impose an annual fee for a program called Tricare for Life, a new program that all military retirees automatically must join at age 65. Currently, to enroll in Tricare for Life, retirees pay the equivalent of a monthly Medicare premium.

Under the proposed Pentagon plan, retirees will be hit with an additional annual enrollment fee on top of the monthly premium.

Congressional aides said that despite unanimous support among the military chiefs for the current healthcare changes, some senior officials in the Pentagon are opposing the reforms, in particular the tiered system of healthcare.

“It doesn’t matter what the benefit is, whether it’s commissary, PX, or healthcare, or whatever … under the rationale that if you raise your hand and sign up to serve, you earn a base set of benefits, and it should have nothing to do with your rank when you served, and how much you’re making when you retire,” the first aide said.

Military service organizations are opposing the healthcare changes and say the Pentagon is “means-testing” benefits for service personnel as if they were a social program, and not something earned with 20 or more years of military service.

Retired Navy Capt. Kathryn M. Beasley, of the Military Officers Association of America, said the Military Coalition, 32 military service and veterans groups with an estimated 5 million members, is fighting the proposed healthcare increases, specifically the use of mean-testing for cost increases.

“We think it’s absolutely wrong,” Beasley told the Free Beacon. “This is a breach of faith” for both the active duty and retiree communities.

Congressional hearings are set for next month.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Feb. 23 called on all military personnel and the veterans’ community to block the healthcare increases.

“There is no military personnel issue more sacrosanct than pay and benefits,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, head of the 2 million-member VFW. “Any proposal that negatively impacts any quality of life program must be defeated, and that’s why the VFW is asking everyone to join the fight and send a united voice to Congress.”

Senior Air Force leaders are expected to be asked about the health care cost increases during a House Armed Services Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Congress must pass all the proposed changes into law, as last year’s defense authorization bill preemptively limited how much the Pentagon could increase some Tricare fees, while other fees already were limited in law.

Tricare for Life, Tricare Prime, and Tricare Standard increases must be approved, as well as some of the pharmacy fee increases, congressional aides said.

Current law limits Tricare fee increases to cost of living increases in retirement pay.

 

“New” Immigration Law In Arizona – Full Text

Please check out our “link” to the “New” immigration law passed by the Arizona State Legislature in April 2010 and signed into law.  The document is only 19 pages in length and is quickly read.  It is unclear why the President of the United States (Obama) and his Attorney General have not found the time to read the legislation even though both have found ample time to criticise the new law that is fashioned after the long-standing federal law of the same subject.  Please ask yourself why the federal “gang” is going after Arizona!  Link:  http://azleg.gov/alispdfs/council/SB1070-HB2162.PDF

Social Security Administration Needs Severe Budget Cuts – Thomas Jefferson

By:  Columnist Bob Grafe

As a mellow senior citizen and admirer of Thomas Jefferson, I usually give my fellows at the “commons” (property owned or leased by the government for the benefit of “the public”) the benefit of the doubt by not jumping to too many quick negative conclusions about them.

However, as Thomas Jefferson once warned and my personal observation has confirmed about dealing with the Social Security Administration, “Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

That said, the “commons” at my local Social Security Administration office have become a wee bit too familiar to the federal government employee clerical help and contract armed guards who dwell very comfortably at that office — an office building which is currently appraised by the local tax office at nearly $1 million.  

At that local Social Security office, their posted work hours “available” to the public are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily; of course except on holidays, sick days, annual leave days, military leave days, family leave days, training days, weather days, federal holidays, other “approved” holidays, Saturdays and Sundays, or when there are special union organizing meetings or when the sun sets in the west.

I wonder if the armed guards on duty who “protect” the paper-shuffling staff and their building get time off to go to the range to “qualify” … just in case!  After all, you just never know about those very dangerous senior citizens who need to occasionally frequent the Social Security Office.

The history of the “camel’s nose under the tent” syndrome in my little semi-rural community is a study in government run amuck.

Thirty years ago, the Social Security office was located in a rented non-descript building that had previously served as a third-tier retail business and infrequently rented office space.

When the feds rented this otherwise difficult-to-rent building, this helped the local economy by generating rental funds and by keeping the property regularly occupied.

A few years later, the federal bureaucrats decided that the “staff” needed more space and the office operation was relocated to another third-tier building.  The building seemed adequate to this observer for both the staff and the public who needed to visit the local Social Security office at the time.

Now, the local Social Security Administration office building, parking lot, grounds, security fences, electronic gates and cameras rank among one of the costliest “first-tier” buildings in town — most certainly when looked at on a cost per employee basis who are actually physically there on-site and actually working.

Perhaps my little town is a microcosm of what is happening on the national level regarding the possibility of “tampering” with the bulging costs of this Social Security sacred cow.

It seems that President Obama’s recently created “Debt Commission” has Social Security and other fiscal “drains” on the discussion table to see if there are any savings that can be made by creating a more efficient “SS” administration.

Well, the Commission could start in my town by moving the Social Security office to a more appropriate (much less costly) work environment for federal government employees, by reducing staff, by eliminating extravagant employee benefits, and by taking effective measures to make sure that illegal aliens and other “illegals” are not robbing our Social Security funds through fraudulent means.

Thomas Jefferson must have envisioned both the IRS and the Social Security Administration when he admonished “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Perhaps Jefferson was aware that a future “Debt Commission” would suggest creating a national sales tax to increase “needed” revenues to continue to pay for the wasted spending in the federal government.  That revenue-increasing “idea” is currently on the Debt Commission’s table.

Then again, perhaps Debt Commission Co-Chairman Erskine Bowles meant what he said recently that when it comes to the idea of entitlement program cuts, “If we’re going to be serious about balancing the federal budget and righting this fiscal ship, then we have got to have everything on the table, and that includes the entitlement programs.”

Recognizing the evils of debt, including a national debt, Thomas Jefferson suggested “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.  A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”

Had we followed Jefferson’s advice, we probably would not be in the fiscal mess we are in today as a nation.

If Jefferson was correct when he said “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” then it probably is time to drastically cut federal government program costs, jobs and “inside the castle wall” employee benefits — and keeping the Social Security Administration at the top of the heap for cuts is the correct approach.

Senior citizens and others alike need to speak out about the waste that is observed at all levels of government — not just about Social Security.  Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

History Making On Tax Day – April 15th

By:  Columnist Bob Grafe

Attention all senior citizens!

Did you check out today’s date?  It’s April 15th!  No it is not a holiday.  And, it certainly is not a holy day!

Please take note that it’s “that” day.  The true April Fools’ Day.  The day when the IRS masters whip their hard-working, income-earning slaves into “fork-over-the-cash” compliance through any and all means necessary.

Today is officially “Tax Day” across the land — the land of the free where everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And, it’s the land where everyone, even senior citizens, have the privilege of paying taxes to support all of those “necessary” expenditures of “our” federal government.

I guess it must be legal to unleash the IRS thugs on everyone — at least “everyone” without the power to divert the collection agent’s attention.

The government’s addiction to taking assets from law-abiding citizens began with the introduction of the Revenue Act of 1861 to help fund the Civil War.  Imagine that.  What a novel idea.  Let’s tax the people so we can have a war — even a war of brother against brother.

That makes good sense!

So, let’s see.  What day should we require the payment of those taxes?  Perhaps the thirtieth day of June would work since we’d catch all those “rich” folks before they take off for their summer vacations.

Oops.  Maybe we goofed with this “tax the people” business.  The case of Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co.  questioned the constitutionality of the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act of 1894.  That tax was at the rate of two-percent on any incomes over $4,000.

Gee.  The U.S. Supreme court in 1895 ruled that the Act’s unapportioned income taxes on interest, dividends, and rents were effectively direct taxes (as many had claimed), were in fact unconstitutional.  As many law-abiding citizens had claimed, the Act (approved by Congress) violated the Constitution’s rule that direct taxes had to be apportioned.

Well, that’s no problem.   Let’s just change the Constitution with one of those “amendment” things.

So, in 1913, with unbridled political impunity, similar to what one sees currently brewing in the political caldron affectionately known as “D.C.,” the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified providing Congress with the legal authority to tax all incomes without regard to the apportionment requirement found within the Constitution.

In that same year, March 1st was dictated as the deadline for paying taxes, changed again in 1918 to March 15th and finally changed to April 15th in 1955. 

Gosh.  There must have been some “good” things that have taken place in history that happened to fall on our now April 15th tax day.

Of course there have been.

On April 15th in 1992 billionaire Leona Helmsly was sent to prison for … uh … tax evasion.

Then again, on the same day in 1969 North Korea’s military shoots at a U.S. airplane above the Japanese Sea.  Maybe they just thought there was a tax evader on board?

Fidel Castro began his goodwill tour in the U.S. on April 15, 1959.  He doesn’t bother to even tax his citizens.  He just takes from them what the government needs.

Well, I guess that is sort of what is going on today with our federal government too.

On a happier note, the first B-52 Stratofortress made its maiden flight, using federal tax dollars to fuel the adventure, on tax day in 1952.

During that same year of 1952, and on April 15th, the Franklin National Bank issued the first bank credit card.  I think I still owe a small balance on that one.  But, I’m getting closer to paying it off!

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was buried on the grounds of his Hyde Park home on April 15, 1945.  And, Babe Ruth hit his first of 60 home runs of the season on “that” day in 1927.

The Titanic sank off Newfoundland on April 15, 1912 while the General Electric Company was formed and incorporated in New York on April 15, 1892.

Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, 1865 after being shot hours earlier the previous day by actor John Wilkes Booth.

But, thank goodness for all of the madness brought about on “that” April 15th day.  Perhaps the inventor of the bottle opener (invented on April 15, 1738) foresaw the future troubles of “that” day.

See you at the post office close to midnight!

The Real Fools’ Day Is Yet To Come

By:  Columnist Bob Grafe

First Published:  April 1, 2010

April 1 is celebrated by senior citizens and others in much of the Western world with light-hearted pranks usually followed by the prankster saying “April Fools’ Day.” Allegedly begun in Europe during the Middle Ages, the day was first referred to as “All Fools’ Day.”

For IRS purposes in the United States, All Fool’s Day has now become April 15 and is anything but light-hearted.

As we approach the infamous “tax day” in mid-April, senior citizens are paying special attention to the “security” of their Social Security Administration which reportedly is now without sufficient funds to make payments to all contributors and others who have qualified for Social Security payments under current law.

While several local public school superintendents recently received large annual pay increases (placing their personal annual salary and benefits between $125,000 and $200,000) paid from funds taken from local taxpayers’ pocketbooks, senior citizens and others dependent on Social Security payments for much if not all of their livelihoods were provided with “no cost of living increase” for 2010 — with the government making it clear to all seniors and others that the cost of living “did not increase” one penny during 2009.

It is now very unclear whether or not senior citizens, having paid approximately 15 percent (both employee and employer contributions on behalf of the employee) of their gross salary (up to limits of now around the “first” $100,000) for all of their working lives, will be able to both claim and receive their Social “Security” payments during their retirement.

Move over in your federal prison cell Bernard “Bernie” Madoff, you may need to make room for those other money-grabbers working within our country’s various levels of government who have stolen the financial savings out from under the control of law-abiding senior citizens who now may no longer have the health or stamina to ever recover from the personal devastation of such a theft.

Regardless of what age you are now, if you live long enough you’ll become a senior citizen. (I recognize that the last sentence sounds very much like something that New York Yankees’ catcher Yogi Berra might have once said … and, he just might have!)

Regarding senior citizens who may rely heavily on their Social Security payments to just “get by,” it is very easy for some others with excessive financial means to say something like “Well, they all should have taken better care of their finances. Too bad.”

The old saying that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks may soon come to pass for those making such statements or having such thoughts. Social Security is not the only “security” that is on the ropes for the citizens of the United States at the moment.

No, not at all.

If allowed to flourish, the current government’s move towards a redistribution of wealth may grab much of the financial “security” from almost everyone regardless of perceived financial strength.

So, what is a senior citizen to do (regardless of personal financial circumstances) while facing not only the real possibility of a very serious financial depression continuing for years, but also the maddening disturbance of an American culture that some in this country and elsewhere are trying to turn upside-down?

One of the first things to do is to quickly re-evaluate your close relationships with both friends and family members. The old irritations of the past may need to be forgotten while quickly strengthening new and old alliances to ensure the safety and tranquility for all within your personal group of relationships.

There is safety in numbers — especially with those of like-mindedness.

Included within your group’s goals should be a personal strengthening of your religious faith and a commitment to better communicate with your God on behalf of yourself and on behalf of others who may not have figured out this important tool of survival during these turbulent days.

There is another old, worn-out saying: “During war, there are very few atheists in fox-holes.” We all may have to become accustomed to Fox-Hole 2010 — and beyond.

While this column is being published on April 1, this certainly is no April Fools’ Day joke nor is it a prank.

Estate Planning Is A Life-Long Process

By:  Columnist Bob Grafe

March 4, 2010

When should senior citizens begin their estate planning?

Perhaps the better question should be “When should a senior citizen finish his or her estate planning?”

The correct answer is probably that true “estate” planning goes on forever throughout ones life.

The term “estate planning” has some puzzling interpretations.

If the term “estate” is essentially the “whole” of a persons property, then one could argue that estate planning starts the minute someone begins to gather “things” or “belongings” at an early age in life.

Some senior citizens are better at actually holding on to all of those life-long gathered possessions than others.

However, the end result of that holding onto process may not always be desirable.

It’s hard to accurately estimate just how many of our 31,025 days upon the earth (assuming that one lives to the mature age of say 85) are devoted to the estate “gathering” chore.

Suffice it to say that probably not enough days are spent in the actual estate “planning” process — a process that should actually be a work-in-progress throughout life.

This actual planning process is the antithesis of the typical later-in-life ritual of finally sitting down at the desk of a financial guru attempting to determine if you have managed to gather together enough material “stuff” in terms of financial wealth or assets to keep you going at the spending rate that you prefer until you are the guest of honor at your own wake.

The recent national, state and local news is filled with horror stories of those who tried to “get ahead” financially by investing in “high return” (and very high risk!) questionable financial schemes — only to find at the end of the day that there was no pot of gold at the end of the scheme’s enticing wealth-building rainbow.

While the clock of life ticked away for many chasing “the almighty dollar” in recent years, those attempting to build their excessive estates lost track of their real wealth in life — time — especially time with loved ones.

Time to experience the real joys of life without being saddled down with the burden of being an effective caretaker of “stuff” — stuff that seems to actually own you rather than the other way around.

I can think of many acquaintances who have spent way too much of their time on earth “protecting” their material assets — severely neglecting their personal relationships with friends and loved ones.

For example, take the elderly couple who spend hours each day searching their expansive land holdings just to make sure that no one else has ventured onto their “estate.”

It’s a common flaw in the financial planning process when one owns so much stuff that it takes all their limited waking hours just to make sure that no one else has taken something from them.

By the time their children and grandchildren have come and gone, it frequently is too late to build the relationships with those who we declare are the “loves of our lives.”

Would it not make better sense to create ones financial plan with the goal in mind of simply having “sufficient” for one’s needs — and to do some real soul searching to determine exactly what one actually “needs.”

After all, most senior citizens realize that the day will come when they will be that guest of honor mentioned earlier — when their life comes to an end here upon the earth.

It is very doubtful that our “needs” then will include any of that “stuff” that we affectionately refer to as our estate and have spent so much time gathering together during our limited days here.

Perhaps your financial planning includes leaving your vast estate to your children and/or grandchildren — wealth that is far beyond their actual needs.

While noble in appearance at first glance, it becomes questionable when you calculate the amount of their time on earth that you are saddling them with just so they can care for their inheritance — which is usually in the form of more “stuff.”

Senior citizens owe it to themselves, to their families and others to carefully complete the estate planning process with the end result providing them sufficient means for their needs with the remainder going towards well thought-out good works intended to be of real help to others.

Obama Has No Clue About Running America’s Business

On a recent Glenn Beck Show, he had a graph that illustrated the percentage of each past president’s cabinet who had worked in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet.

You know what the private business sector is… a real life business, not a government job.

Here are the percentages discussed by Mr. Beck.  

T. Roosevelt…….. 38% Taft………………….40% Wilson…………….. 52% Harding…………….49% Coolidge………….. 48% Hoover…………….. 42% F. Roosevelt……… 50% Truman……………..50% Eisenhower………. 57% Kennedy………….. 30% Johnson…………….47% Nixon………………. 53% Ford………………… 42% Carter………………. 32% Reagan……………..56% GH Bush………….. 51% Clinton…………….. 39% GW Bush…………. 55%  

And the winner of the Chicken Dinner is…………..   Obama…………….   8% !!!  

Yep! Thats right!  Only Eight Percent!!!..the least by far of the last 19 presidents!! 

And these people are trying to tell our big corporations how to run their business? They know what’s best for GM…Chrysler… Wall Street…  and you and me?   

How can the president of a major nation and society…the one with the most successful economic system in world history… stand and talk about business when he’s never worked for one?.. or about private sector jobs when he has never really had one??!    

And neither has 92% of his senior staff and closest advisers.! They’ve spent most of their time in academia, government and/or non-profit jobs….or as “community organizers” ..when they should have been in an employment line.   

GOD HELP US!!

Worth repeating.  Thanks Glenn!!