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The Election

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Horacio Luna

on 15 October 2012

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Transcript of The Election

The Election Obama Medicare Plan: No Voucher But Maybe A Bill

WASHINGTON — He'll never turn Medicare into a voucher, but if you are lucky enough to be financially comfortable in retirement, odds are you'll pay higher premiums under President Barack Obama's plan. It's not just the 1 percent who'll feel the pinch.

And take note, baby boomers: The Medicare you get won't be quite as generous as what your parents' generation enjoys. A higher deductible here, a new co-payment there, and the tweaks add up.

With the future of Medicare on the line in the presidential election, The Associated Press asked the Obama campaign five questions about how his plans for seniors' health care would affect critical issues of costs and benefits. (The AP also sent Republican Mitt Romney a set of questions, and the responses are the subject of a companion report.)

Unlike Romney, Obama is not calling for a major Medicare remake. Most of the president's cost-cutting ideas are incorporated in his health care law, and will phase in unless Romney wins and makes good on his pledge to repeal it. Other Obama proposals are drawn from government advisory groups or bipartisan commissions seeking consensus on how to reduce deficits.

It doesn't mean they're pain-free. AARP gave a thumbs-down to this year's Obama budget, citing Medicare cost shifts.

If Obama is re-elected and plunges into deficit negotiations with congressional Republicans, he will be pushed for greater Medicare savings, by cutting payments to service providers or squeezing more from recipients.

"Neither one of (the candidates) is going to basically lay his cards on the table before the election," said former AARP CEO Bill Novelli, now at Georgetown University in Washington. "Obama is going to have to raise the price of benefits, whether by hundreds or thousands, I don't know. Where else is the money going to come from, besides printing it?" Obama's Articles The Candidate Joe Biden- Mitt Romney- Paul Ryan- Article 1- Medicare Article 2- Education Barack Obama- The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that our kids and our country can’t afford four more years of neglect and indifference. At this defining moment in our history, America faces few more urgent challenges than preparing our children to compete in a global economy. The decisions our leaders make about education in the coming years will shape our future for generations to come. Obama and Biden are committed to meeting this challenge with the leadership and judgment that has been sorely lacking for the last eight years. Their vision for a 21st century education begins with demanding more reform and accountability, coupled with the resources needed to carry out that reform; asking parents to take responsibility for their children’s success; and recruiting, retaining, and rewarding an army of new teachers to fill new successful schools that prepare our children for success in college and the workforce. The Obama-Biden plan will restore the promise of America’s public education, and ensure that American children again lead the world in achievement, creativity and success.

Early Childhood Education
•Zero to Five Plan: The Obama-Biden comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, the Obama-Biden plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama and Biden will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state Zero to Five efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.
•Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: Obama and Biden will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding, and improve quality for both.
•Provide affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama and Biden will also increase access to affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.
•Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama and Biden will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama and Biden believe teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. They will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama and Biden will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.
•Support High-Quality Schools and Close Low-Performing Charter Schools: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the Federal Charter School Program to support the creation of more successful charter schools. The Obama-Biden administration will provide this expanded charter school funding only to states that improve accountability for charter schools, allow for interventions in struggling charter schools and have a clear process for closing down chronically underperforming charter schools. Obama and Biden will also prioritize supporting states that help the most successful charter schools to expand to serve more students.
•Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama and Biden will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. They will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
•Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama and Biden will address the dropout crisis by passing legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school -- strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
•Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama and Biden will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
•Support College Outreach Programs: Obama and Biden support outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
•Support College Credit Initiatives: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create a national "Make College A Reality" initiative that has a bold goal to increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016, and will build on Obama's bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate to provide grants for students seeking college level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources.
•Support English Language Learners: Obama and Biden support transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.
•Recruit Teachers: Obama and Biden will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
•Prepare Teachers: Obama and Biden will require all schools of education to be accredited. Obama and Biden will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama and Biden will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.
•Retain Teachers: To support our teachers, the Obama-Biden plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. They will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
•Reward Teachers: Obama and Biden will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward with a salary increase accomplished educators who serve as a mentors to new teachers. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.
Higher Education
•Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.
•Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama and Biden will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.
Support Students with Disabilities: Obama and Biden will work to ensure the academic success of students with disabilities by increasing funding and effectively enforcing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and by holding schools accountable for providing students with disabilities the services and supports they need to reach their potential. Obama and Biden will also support Early Intervention services for infants and toddlers, and will work to improve college opportunities for high school graduates with disabilities. Article 3- Imigration WASHINGTON – House Republicans, responding to new details of the Obama administration’s plan to allow some young illegal immigrants to apply for work permits and stay temporarily, charged that it could create delays for legal immigrants trying to enter the United States.

“This will lead to a backlog for legal immigrants who followed the rules, while allowing lawbreakers to skip to the front of the line,” Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who heads the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

The plan, originally announced in June, is “another example of how the president’s policies put the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants,” said Smith, who is concerned that applicants will lie about their age and when they came into the United States.

Smith is concerned that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, faced with a surge in paperwork, will be “forced to put off processing legal immigration applications in favor of the illegal immigrant applications.” The government is not hiring more immigration officers to handle the additional work.

Immigration is a polarizing issue in the presidential campaign. The Republican Party has struggled to attract Latino voters in recent years, and Obama’s decision to halt the deportation of some illegal immigrants was seen as a move to energize Latino voters in the run-up to election day.

Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, took a hard line against comprehensive immigration reform during the primaries, but has softened his rhetoric in recent months. Romney hasn’t said whether or not he would eliminate the new rules if elected. But his campaign criticized Obama for playing election-year politics with the immigration issue.

Starting Aug. 15, the Department of Homeland Security will begin receiving applications for “deferred action” from illegal immigrants who were born after June 15, 1981, and were brought to the United States before they turned 16, among other factors. Officials said that the application will be confidential and won’t result in deportation unless the person is a convicted criminal, is considered a national security or public safety threat, or files a fraudulent application.

Applicants will pay $85 to apply to stay for at least two years and $380 to apply for permission to work during that time. They must submit fingerprints, undergo a background check, and prove they have graduated from high school or received a GED, are currently enrolled in school, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military.

“The excitement is electric,” said Rep.Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who sees this process as a “stepping stone” to broader immigration reforms. Gutierrez is helping organize events in Chicago on Aug. 15 to celebrate the opening of the application process and assist applicants in filing their paperwork. Advocates have dubbed the date “DREAM Relief Day.”

The change could benefit up to 1.4 million people, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group.

“By spending less time and fewer resources chasing high school and college students, the Department of Homeland Security can spend a lot more time and resources actually securing the homeland,” said Gutierrez. Romney's Articles Article 1- Education Article 2- Medicare Article 3- Tax References http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/23/obama-medicare-plan_n_1907733.html
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443507204578020381770352230.html Mitt's Plan
As president, Mitt Romney will pursue genuine education reform that puts the interests of parents and students ahead of special interests and provides a chance for every child. He will take the unprecedented step of tying federal funds directly to dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest in innovation, and reward teachers for their results instead of their tenure. These policies will equip state leaders to achieve the change that can only come from commitment and action at the local level. He will also ensure that students have diverse and affordable options for higher education to give them the skills they need to succeed after graduation and that, when they graduate, they can find jobs that provide a rewarding return on their educational investment.

K-12: Promoting Choice And Innovation
Giving students trapped in bad schools a genuine alternative requires four things: (1) such alternatives must exist, (2) parents must receive clear information about the performance of their current school and of the alternatives, (3) students must be allowed to move to a new school, and (4) students must bring funding with them so that new schools can afford to serve them. Mitt’s reforms achieve each of these objectives:

•Allow Low Income And Special Needs Students To Choose Which School To Attend By Making Title I and IDEA Funds Portable.
•Provide Incentives For States To Increase Choices For Parents And Develop Quality Alternatives.
•Build On The Success Of Effective Charter And Digital Schools.
•Expand The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program To Serve As A Model For The Nation.
K-12: Ensuring High Standards And Responsibility For Results
Currently, there is little easily-available data for parents about their children’s schools. Mitt’s reforms will provide better information for parents through straightforward public report cards and will empower them to hold districts and states responsible for results. When combined with increased parental choice, this will give parents more control over their children’s education.

•Reform No Child Left Behind By Emphasizing Transparency And Responsibility For Results.
K-12: Recruiting And Rewarding Great Teachers
A school is only as strong as its teachers, but the most promising teachers often find it difficult to reach the classroom door or receive recognition for their efforts once inside. Mitt’s reforms smooth the path for talented individuals to join the profession and shape the next generation.

•Attract And Reward Great Teachers Through Increased Flexibility And Block Grants.
•Eliminate Unnecessary Certification Requirements That Discourage New Teachers.
Higher Ed: A New Vision Of Affordable And Applicable Learning
America’s traditional community and four-year colleges are the heart of our nation’s higher education system. However, a flood of federal dollars is driving up tuition and burdening too many young Americans with substantial debt and too few opportunities. Meanwhile, other models of advanced skills training are becoming ever more important to success in the American economy, and new educational institutions will be required to fill those roles. Mitt’s reforms spur the access, affordability, innovation, and transparency needed to address all of these challenges:

•Strengthen And Simplify The Financial Aid System.
•Welcome Private Sector Participation Instead Of Pushing It Away.
•Replace Burdensome Regulation With Innovation And Competition. Patients Would Pay More if Romney Restores Medicare Savings, Analysts SayBy JACKIE CALMES
Published: August 21, 2012 469 Comments

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney’s promise to restore $716 billion that he says President Obama “robbed” from Medicare has some health care experts puzzled, and not just because his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, included the same savings in his House budgets.

The 2010 health care law cut Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and insurers, not benefits for older Americans, by that amount over the coming decade. But repealing the savings, policy analysts say, would hasten the insolvency of Medicare by eight years — to 2016, the final year of the next presidential term, from 2024.

While Republicans have raised legitimate questions about the long-term feasibility of the reimbursement cuts, analysts say, to restore them in the short term would immediately add hundreds of dollars a year to out-of-pocket Medicare expenses for beneficiaries. That would violate Mr. Romney’s vow that neither current beneficiaries nor Americans within 10 years of eligibility would be affected by his proposal to shift Medicare to a voucherlike system in which recipients are given a lump sum to buy coverage from competing insurers.

For those reasons, Henry J. Aaron, an economist and a longtime health policy analyst at the Brookings Institution and the Institute of Medicine, called Mr. Romney’s vow to repeal the savings “both puzzling and bogus at the same time.”

Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research, calculated that restoring the $716 billion in Medicare savings would increase premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries by $342 a year on average over the next decade; in 2022, the average increase would be $577.

Beneficiaries, through their premiums and co-payments, share the cost of Medicare with the government. If Medicare’s costs increase — for instance, by raising payments to health care providers — so, too, do beneficiaries’ contributions.

And those costs would be on top of the costs involved with a full repeal of the health care law, which would eliminate expanded coverage of prescription drugs, free wellness care and preventive checkups.

“One can only wonder what’s going on inside their headquarters in Boston and among their policy people,” said John McDonough, the director of the Center for Public Health Leadership at Harvard. “But there are only two explanations: Either they don’t understand how the program works, which is hard to imagine, or there is some deliberate misrepresentation here because they know how politically potent this charge is.”

The potency of the Republicans’ charge was evident in the 2010 midterm elections, when they accused Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats of cutting Medicare by $500 billion to pay for new coverage under the health care law. They went on to recapture control of the House.

Led by Mr. Romney, Republicans revived that line of attack for 2012. But Mr. Romney cited a higher $716 billion in the same week that he announced his selection of Mr. Ryan, who had supported the reductions until joining the Republican ticket. The different dollar figures reflect a shifting time frame: $500 billion represented the projected Medicare savings in the decade after the 2010 health care law was enacted; $716 billion reflects savings from 2013 through 2022.

The Romney campaign adamantly disputes the critics’ assertions.

“The idea that restoring funding to Medicare could somehow hasten its bankruptcy is on its face absurd,” said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign. She added, “Governor Romney’s plan is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reforms that control cost throughout the health care system and extend the solvency of Medicare.”

What Mr. Romney proposes to restore to Medicare, however, is not money but additional costs, for higher payments to hospitals, insurers and other care providers. Lobbying groups representing some care providers accepted those reductions during the health care debate, and in exchange they got the law’s mandate for nearly all individuals to have insurance, which meant that providers and insurers would have millions of new paying patients and policyholders.

But Mr. Romney’s policy director, Lanhee Chen, argued in a memorandum last weekend that reducing provider payments would backfire and hurt beneficiaries — a concern about the health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act, that is widely shared.

“In the real world,” he wrote, “the result will be fewer providers accepting Medicare payments and worse care for today’s seniors.”

Mr. Chen cited recent annual reports from the trustees for the Medicare program and from the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Richard S. Foster. The trustees and the actuary each said that the law could well lead to significant savings in the delivery of health care, but both also suggested that over time the scheduled cuts to providers’ payments could prove unrealistic.

“While the Affordable Care Act makes important changes to the Medicare program and substantially improves its financial outlook, there is a strong likelihood that certain of these changes will not be viable in the long range,” Mr. Foster wrote.

He added, “The best available evidence indicates that most health care providers cannot improve their productivity to this degree — or even approach such a level — as a result of the labor-intensive nature of these services.”

Mr. Romney has been especially critical of the cuts for insurance companies that provide Medicare Advantage, a popular private-policy alternative to Medicare. “This is the president’s plan: $716 billion cut, four million people losing Medicare Advantage and 15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes not accepting Medicare patients,” he said in a recent campaign appearance.

But Medicare Advantage, which was created 15 years ago in the hope that private-market competition for beneficiaries would result in lower prices, has consistently cost more than standard Medicare — costs that Medicare beneficiaries must help subsidize through their premiums.

The reductions for Medicare Advantage providers are “a matter of basic fairness because they’ve been overpaid for years,” Ms. Moon said. As for beneficiaries, she added, “they’re guaranteed basic Medicare benefits. They may lose some extra benefits they may have been getting, but in effect you’re saying some of the windfall benefits may go away.”

“The bottom line,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, which Mr. Ryan leads, “is that Romney is proposing to take more money from seniors in higher premiums and co-pays and hand it over to private insurance companies and other providers in the Medicare system.” WESTERVILLE, Ohio—Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, seeking to emphasize his deficit-cutting ambitions, is warning Americans that his tax-cut plan might not decrease their tax bills as much as they expect.

Amid a push by the campaign to remind voters of big deficits, Mr. Romney on Wednesday told an Ohio crowd that while he would work to lower tax rates on businesses and individuals, they shouldn't "be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I'm also going to lower deductions and exemptions."

The campaign is still exploring options to broaden the taxable-income base, which would mean limiting or cutting deductions and credits for certain taxpayers. Mr. Romney has previously said those limits would likely apply to Americans whose adjusted gross income is more than $200,000 a year.

The shift comes as the Romney campaign sees an opening among independent voters, who remain deeply concerned about growing levels of government debt. Mr. Romney has long proposed to cut all income-tax rates by 20% and to lower the top corporate tax rate to 25% from 35%, arguing that lower rates will spur economic growth.

But he also has promised to do that without reducing the overall amount of money the government takes in by curbing tax deductions, in order to avoid aggravating the deficit. One criticism of Mr. Romney's plan from budget experts and Democrats has been that it would be hard to cut enough deductions, leading to a sharp drop in tax revenue and wider deficits.

Highlighting his resolve to tackle rising federal debt, Mr. Romney stood Wednesday before a giant electronic sign showing that the U.S. government's obligations now surpass $16 trillion.

The Romney campaign sees this backdrop as a powerful draw for independent voters, who tend to express their concern about the deficit. In the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 30% of independent voters said their biggest concern with President Barack Obama was that he significantly increased federal spending and expanded the federal debt. That concern even topped job creation among independents.

At the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., last month, Mr. Romney placed more emphasis on the tax-cut aspects of his economic plan. He said it focused on "reducing taxes on businesses, not raising them." Similarly, last week he told reporters that "I want to lower taxes on middle-income people."

For weeks, Mr. Obama has seized on outside estimates that Mr. Romney's plan to lower tax rates could lead to a drop in revenue of about $5 trillion over 10 years, which would expand the deficit considerably.

"My opponent and his running mate are big believers in top-down economics," Mr. Obama said Wednesday in Ohio. "They basically think that if we just spend another $5 trillion on tax cuts that favor the very wealthiest, then…prosperity and jobs will rain down on everybody else. The deficit will magically go away, and we will live happily ever after."

.Mr. Romney's response to those charges has been hamstrung in part because he hasn't specified which deductions he might eliminate to ensure that tax revenue doesn't fall. In addition, his advisers have assumed that the economic growth they believed would stem from tax cuts also would raise revenue, lessening the impact on the deficit.

But in recent days, Mr. Romney has worked to clarify that his plan wouldn't actually reduce tax revenue, at least not much, thereby not affecting the deficit as much as Democrats allege.

Mr. Romney's edge on the debt argument comes as recent polls show he is losing his advantage over Mr. Obama on tax issues. That may be a sign that the president's attacks on Mr. Romney's tax plan—Mr. Obama has argued his opponent is pushing tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires—is resonating.

"What we're proposing is a tax reform, it's not a tax cut," a Romney campaign staffer said, adding that the bulk of new limits on deductions is still expected to target the upper end of the income scale.

"There are elements of our plan that we believe will give middle-income taxpayers relief," the aide said. But the staffer pointed to Mr. Romney's plan to waive taxes on interest and dividends for some taxpayers, instead of the 20% cut in rates for all Americans. Obama's Main Points-

Article 1- Medicare Article 2- Education Article 3- Immigration Romney's Main Points-

Article 1- Education Article 2- Medicare Article 3- Tax Citizens will pay more for premiums if Obama is elected.
Obama plans on cutting some costs of Medicare.
He will also raise the prices of other Medicare costs.
He plans on increasing funding for Head Start and quadruple Early Head Start.
Obama will reform the "No Child Left Behind" program.
He plans on making college more affordable for most Americans.

Obama will allow young illegal immigrants to apply for a work permit.
They could stay for temporarily for two years.
They would pay to apply to stay and pat to apply for permission to work during that time.

Parents will have more control over their child's education.
Romney will also reform the "No Child Left Behind" program.
He will make college more affordable. Romney plans on removing Obamacare and replacing it with a patient-center reform.
He will add additional costs to Medicare.
He'll also reduce Medicare Advantage plans.
He plans on reforming the tax-cut plan.
His tax-cut plan won't reduce as much as people think.
Romney will lower tax rates for economic growth.

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