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Franken on fixing Social Security and Medicare — and why repealing Obamacare is a terrible idea

REUTERS/Craig Lassig
Sen. Al Franken talking to reporters at Minnesota Farmfest earlier this month.

This is one in an occasional series of articles about the policy positions of U.S. Senate candidates Mike McFadden and Al Franken.

On Friday, I resumed my self-appointed role as mediator of an issue-oriented back and forth between U.S. Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden over their substantive positions, interviewing Franken about issues on which I recently reported McFadden’s positions.

On a previous round, McFadden had said that the failure of the federal government to address the projected long-term insolvency of Social Security and Medicare was a “moral issue” for him and that he favored an everything-on-the-table negotiation across parties and branches for a long-term fix that would put the two big senior entitlement programs on a sustainable basis.

Of the various ideas that are generally discussed for extending the projected ability of those programs to pay all promised benefits, McFadden was willing to specify only one that he favored — raising the age at which seniors qualify for Medicare higher than the current age of 65.

McFadden also favors an everything-on-the-table approach to aligning the long-term projected costs and revenue of Social Security, but didn’t endorse any specific measures but did want to rule out one thing, which is anything that would affect the currently scheduled benefits of anyone already at or near retirement.

So I asked Franken to address those entitlement questions.

Social Security

On Social Security, Franken had one proposal for extending the projected solvency of the program. (The latest projection of the Social Security trustees is that the program will be unable to pay full-benefits after 2033.) He favors raising the cap on wages to which Social Security taxes apply. The FICA tax currently applies to the first $117,000 of wage income an individual earns per year.

“I basically want a fairer system,” Franken said. Right now, if you earn $30,ooo or $50,000 or $117,000, you you pay FICA taxes on every bit of your income, but if you earn $1 million, you pay FICA on just 11.7 percent of your income. If you make $10 million, you pay on just the first 1.17 percent of your income, he said.

Franken didn’t make a fully developed proposal. He specified that he wasn’t talking about completely removing the cap, and he could imagine a provision that would apply something less than the full 6.2 percent tax that employees and employers each pay on wages up to the cap. But his basic idea was to get more revenue from the highest earners to extend the ability of Social Security to pay fully promised benefits.

The two ideas that Franken wanted to rule out from changes in Social Security are any effort to “privatize” the program and any effort to cut benefits. In the last category, he opposes the proposal, which President Obama has supported, of switching from the Consumer Price Index as a measure of inflation which is applied to the value of benefits over time to the so-called “chained CPI” which would cause benefits to grow more slowly. 


The Medicare discussion was much more complicated. Franken started by mentioning that in the years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (for which Franken voted soon after being sworn in in 2009), the Medicare trustees have actually extended the date for trust fund solvency by 11 years.

Franken says seven of those years of additional solvency are a result of new revenues and costs savings that were directly caused by the ACA. The additional four years of added Medicare projected solvency were caused by reforms and new efficiencies in the health-care delivery system that are related to but not directly the result of the ACA.

So (just me talking here) perhaps the points above has something to do with the fact that McFadden and others who would like to defeat Franken are fond of saying that he cast “the decisive vote” to pass the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

Franken took it one step further, pointing out that Obamacare included important new benefits for seniors on Medicare, specifically that it closed the “doughnut hole” in the Medicare Part D program (the effect of the closing is to save many seniors money on prescription drugs) and Obamacare also added new free preventive-care benefits for seniors.

I pointed out to Franken that I had asked about how to extend the future of Medicare solvency, and he was pointing mostly to changes that have already occurred.

He replied: “The worst thing you could do is repeal the Affordable Care Act. If you are concerned about the long-term solvency of Medicare, do not repeal the ACA” because the ACA has added years of solvency to Medicare and, presumably, if it was repealed as Republicans have tried to do, those added years of Medicare solvency would be taken away.

Again, just me talking here: Franken never brought up McFadden in the conversation except when I asked him to directly respond to something McFadden had said. But McFadden is in the “repeal-and-replace” camp on Obamacare. I have asked McFadden more than once which provisions of Obamacare he would like to preserve, and he has mentioned a few. But he hasn’t mentioned (nor did I ask him about any of them) the provisions that the trustees believe will extend the solvency of Medicare by seven years.

In addition, and much more simply, one measure that Franken favors to extend the solvency of Medicare would be to authorize Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry over the price of drugs provided through Medicare Part D. They are currently banned from using Medicare’s bulk purchasing of medication to get lower prices. The idea is fiercely opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. Franken, who has sponsored bills to make such negotiations legal, estimates that the savings to the government would be about $240 billion over 10 years.

As I mentioned above, McFadden had told me that one way to save money in Medicare and extend its long-term solvency would be raise the age at which Medicare benefits begin. Life expectancy has grown substantially since Medicare began in 1965, McFadden said, and at some point the government will not be able to subsidize health care for a larger population over a longer period. I asked Franken to respond (which he managed to do without mentioning McFadden).

Franken called the idea a “non-starter and a “very bad idea.” You would take a group of 66- to 67-year olds, who are now the youngest (and therefore, on average, the healthiest) of the Medicare recipients, Franken said, and you would transfer them to the private insurance pool, where they would be the oldest and least healthy. It would drive up the cost of the private insurance pool and leave Medicare with an older, sicker population than it now covers.

“This has been scored,” Franken said said. “It would save Medicare money but it would cost our overall health-care system a tremendous amount of money. It’s also a bad idea because you meet so many people who are just hanging on,” by which I took him to mean 63- and 64-year-olds, who have health problems that they cannot afford to address, hanging on until their 65th birthday and the beginning of their Medicare coverage.

Before moving on from the issue of Medicare and health-care cost savings, I will just mention that I cannot, without turning this post into a small book, go into the other cost-saving measures — the ones that add the extra four years of solvency to Medicare, the ones that come mostly from the category called “delivery reform,” but Franken loves to talk about them and they sound pretty sensible and pretty cool to me. I hope they work.

In order to keep this post a reasonable length, I’ll save a couple of other Franken issue positions for another day.

Comments (75)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/26/2014 - 09:19 am.

    Raising the Medicare entry age is a typical regressive proposal.

    The increase in life expectancy has mostly been at the upper end of the socio-economic scale. The poor still die young. So the change would affect them more than the well to do, who have less need of medical services in their late sixties and more resources to obtain them.

    • Submitted by Susan Rego on 08/26/2014 - 12:17 pm.

      Not just the poor

      The well-to-do who propose raising the age for Medicare and Social Security don’t rely on these programs. But it’s not just the poor who would struggle if retirement is pushed to 68 or later. Workers in jobs that are physically demanding, even good-paying ones, would suffer more than those with desk jobs. Regardless of whether 65 was an arbitrary number, or if it was based on actuarial tables, to raise it would be a hardship on the workers who need it most.

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 08/26/2014 - 03:53 pm.

        You are exactly right

        Workers in jobs requiring heavy physical labor have medical problems in their 50’s. Raising the age for Medicare would be another assault on the middle class.

  2. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 08/26/2014 - 09:28 am.

    Social Security

    So the only proposal Al Franken has regarding SS is to tax the rich?

    Eric, are you going to ask Al if he is a deficit hawk or a moderate deficit hawk?

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/26/2014 - 09:49 am.

    Things That Make Me Go HMMMM

    It’s interesting, isn’t it, that Senator Franken, whom the Republicans endlessly try to dismiss as a lightweight (no matter what he says or does),…

    has so much knowledge and awareness of the government programs he discusses, that reporting it all would turn a MinnPost article into a book,…

    whereas, when asked about government programs; how they work and what needs to be changed, Mr. McFadden puts on that Tim Pawlenty, Paul Ryan – patented “trust me, I’m a nice guy,” “Guy Smiley” face, while he spews Koch Bros., Cato Institute, talking points, the specifics of which he doesn’t seem to be able (or willing) to spell out (or comprehend?).

    Sen. Franken is not attempting to hide anything but is more than willing to patiently lay out his ideas and proposed actions very clearly.

    Mr. McFadden seem completely unwilling (or unable) to spell out what his agenda (or that of his handlers) actually is but, just seems to ask the public to “trust me.”

    I get the impressions that, when it comes to the actual details of how government programs are financed and what benefits they provide, he can only get through listening to about one or two paragraphs before it all starts sounding like teachers and parents sound to Bart Simspon when they’re trying to correct him: blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah.

    So who’s the lightweight?

    Why won’t Mr. McFadden tell us what he really wants to change, if elected, and spell out how that would affect the rest of us who earn our money by working for it and those who have retired and need to rely on government programs to survive each month?

    How, exactly, would Mr. McFadden like to “improve” our current economy which has left so many folk struggling while massively padding Mr. McFadden’s own pockets?

    My suspicions are aroused, of course, because, ever since the days of Ronnie Raygun, whenever we elect one of these friendly, smiling, “trust me,” Republicans to office, they find ways to use their official positions to make themselves and those like them much richer while the rest of us get poorer and government benefits grow smaller.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/26/2014 - 10:29 am.

      We might recall that before he was elected, Franken couldn’t even keep his taxes straight.

      I’m sure that when McFadden is seated, his staff will keep him just as informed as Franken’s does.

      Perhaps more since they will not be tasked with simultaneously keeping him from making a buffoon of himself, as he did with the traffic cones.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 08/26/2014 - 11:12 am.

      Go watch the Farm Fest ‘debate’ – its a tell on McF

      Seriously, if you watch the answers to the questioned posed, it tells you what one needs to know:

      Franken knows what he’s talking about. He’s taken steps toward addressing a lot of issues.
      He is now well-seasoned as a senator & should just be hitting his stride.

      McFadden obviously hasn’t taken well to Powerpoint cram sessions by his staff.
      He hasn’t presented anything really specific & holding him to anything he says is suspect.
      He’s back-pedaled aplenty on several things he’s said already.

      Wishful thinking by people who want to be fanboys for McF doesn’t change the facts.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/26/2014 - 09:59 am.

    Speaking only for this conservative, I’m fond of saying Franken cast the deciding vote because….he did.

    Or perhaps you could enlighten us on how Obamacare would have been passed if Coleman had been seated.

  5. Submitted by Mike Downing on 08/26/2014 - 10:59 am.

    A vote for Franken is a vote for Harry Reid…

    Only 23% of our once great country think we are heading in the right direction. That’s right only 23%!

    There are 350 Bills sitting on Harry Reid’s desk that were passed by the U.S. House. Harry Reid is the single reason for a “do nothing” Congress. Shame on Harry Reid!

    The regular Congressional process is for the House & the Senate to pass their own version of a Bill and then send it to a Conference Committee for negotiations & compromise. Harry Reid does not allow for a regular Congressional process

    Shame on anyone voting for Al Franken since it is a vote for Harry Reid!!

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/26/2014 - 11:15 am.

      Who came up with that trope anyway?

      A vote for Al Franken is a vote for Al Franken. Not a vote for Barack Obama. Not a vote for Harry Reid. Not a vote for anyone else that the discreditors try to trot out to make some unsupported point.

      A vote for Al Franken is a vote for Al Franken. Period.

      • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 08/28/2014 - 06:24 pm.

        A vote for Al Franken…

        is a vote for Al Franken who will support the militant agenda of Harry Reid and Barack Hussein Obama.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/29/2014 - 06:29 am.

          What’s good for the goose

          What – Harry Reid doesn’t have a middle name?

          Why bother only listing the full name of of one of the two you mentioned?

          Couldn’t be that there is any kind of a suggested subtext about the President there or anything! Oh no, of course not!

          • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 08/29/2014 - 08:41 am.


            His full name is Harry Mason Reid. Are you happy now?

            • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/29/2014 - 01:34 pm.


              I mean, you only brought it up as a way to ‘other’ Obama, or make thinly veiled insinuations. This is to be expected, of course.

              • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/01/2014 - 06:18 pm.

                Like it or not,…

                That is his full name. You as well as I have a middle name as well. Why are you so irate?

                • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/02/2014 - 10:16 am.


                  Minor-league race-baiting doesn’t get me irate (I mean, we’re getting pretty used to it in this country by now), I just feel compelled to point it out. I actually have two middle names, but that’s beside the point.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/26/2014 - 11:31 am.


      A vote for Al Franken is a vote for Al Franken. If you want to vote against Harry Reid, move to Nevada.

      Republicans who cry “obstruction!” are the actual height of hypocrisy.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/26/2014 - 11:53 am.

      Its good

      That I’m not Senate majority leader. I hate to think of the air pollution I’d cause throwing those hundreds of pages of worthless legislation from the incompetent conservatives in the House into my fireplace.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 08/26/2014 - 12:35 pm.


      Let’s see, only 23% think we’re going in the right direction.

      So let’s ask the question: “Do you approve or disapprove of the job the Republicans in Congress are doing in office?”

      Wait, we have the answer. 22% approve, 68% disapprove, 10% unsure.


    • Submitted by Leon Webster on 08/26/2014 - 12:53 pm.

      And a vote for Mike McFadden is a vote for McConnell/Boehner.

      I wasn’t sure exactly what the 350 bills passed by the house do. So I used my old friend Google and came up with the this from Politifact:

      The story notes several interesting things:
      * Many of the bills have been assigned to committees where they would need to be approved before proceeding to the floor of the senate. Mr. Reid has some control over committees but it isn’t absolute.
      * In some cases the Senate is working on a bill on the same topic but without using the house bill as a starting point.
      * In the senate, a single member can threaten to filibuster, which stops a vote in its tracks unless there are 60 votes for cloture.
      * “many of the other bills that pass the House in today’s environment are bills that are intended to make a statement, not a law.” Presumably this would include the many (54, according to the Washing Post) repeals of the Affordable Care Act.

      Overall, Politifact rates the claim as “half true” and concludes that “experts agree that it takes two to tango. Both parties and chambers have played a role in creating the current legislative dysfunction” .

      I am one of those people who feel the country is headed in the wrong direction — largely due to the pervasive influence of fuzzy conservative thinking about everything from economics to immigration reform. Electing someone like McFadden would only take us further in the wrong direction.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/26/2014 - 01:08 pm.

      Another reason to vote for Franken

      Given the nonsense passed by the house (50+ votes to repeal the ACA) I sure hope that the Senate Majority leader is not wasting time on it.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 08/26/2014 - 08:45 pm.

      The answer to why America has gone wrong

      George Bush. Shame on you Downing and anyone else that voted for him and the US Supreme Court

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 08/27/2014 - 10:23 pm.

        When did the Supreme Court become an elected body?

        Six years later and it is still Bush’s fault. So we’ll be blaming President Obama in…2024 when the oceans have swallowed up New York city and Los Angeles.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/29/2014 - 01:36 pm.

          When the oceans swallow parts of the Eastern US, we can blame our own inaction in the face of reason and logic and science for decades… and by that, I mean the boomers.

        • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 09/02/2014 - 11:58 am.

          Left out the word “trust” before Supreme Court

          More important question – when did the Supreme Court become completely political? answer- 2000

  6. Submitted by Noel Martinson on 08/26/2014 - 11:32 am.


    One has to wonder how many of those bills in the pile are to repeal the ACA. Perhaps a thank you Harry is more in order.

  7. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/26/2014 - 12:09 pm.

    Weird Al Yankofranken

    Al Franken sounds to me like he’s got his head on straight. His proposals are fact-based, unlike McFadden, who thinks taking the healthy young people off of Medicare will somehow save money.

    Republicans need to ditch ideology and get back to science and reasoning while we still have a country left. Right now they’re doing their level best to lead the country down the road to destruction.

  8. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 08/26/2014 - 12:49 pm.

    Medicare Savings

    The savings by permitting Medicare to negotiate drug prices – like every private insurer as well as the VA is allowed to do – far exceed the savings of raising the eligibility age.

  9. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 08/26/2014 - 01:08 pm.

    US “right direction” numbers dropped 82% under Bush

    They were at 56 right before he took office and an abysmal 10 in the last poll before he left office. Peak-to-trough (post-9/11 to 2008 financial meltdown) it was a 90% drop – from 70 to 7 (a record low).

    That’s what America got from trusting Republicans to get the full run of government. That, and a projected elimination of the national debt turned into an $11 trillion debt with a $1.5 trillion annual deficit and the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression.

    But, yeah, Harry “Paper Mache” Reid. Clearly he’s the problem. Not a Republican House that shuts down the government and regularly threatens to default on this country’s financial obligations… just because.

    US “right direction” numbers are 2-3x what Obama inherited. Fact.

    Fact-based arguments, please.


    • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 08/27/2014 - 10:28 pm.

      $11 trillion debt is now over $17 trillion debt

      With interest rates at near zero, unemployment plunging, virtually no more war spending, and the debt continues to rise. Ouch!

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/29/2014 - 09:07 am.

        Fact eh?

        Here’s another fact: During the Bush presidency the Debt increased by 5 trillion dollars. During the Obama presidency it increased by 2 trillion dollars. If Obama’s tax increases and economic stimulus had been allowed by congress the deficit would have been nearly erased by now and the debt accumulation would have been reversed. Funny thing about these “debt” hawks… they seem to think the debt will just go away without having to actually pay any of it off? The last time the US had a huge debt, (after WWII) we collected taxes and paid it off. This time we’ve relied on magic to pay it off… the results are predictable.

  10. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 08/26/2014 - 02:25 pm.

    We need our Senators to be able to understand the nitty-gritty of the bills they pass, or consider. Al Franken has shown, over and over again, that he knows and he cares about the details of progressive legislation that will help people. He has carefully thought-out solutions. He works well with others.

    He also has more intricate details than our columnist can digest–the shame of this article is that Black cut it off before getting to what really distinguishes Franken from the empty suit who’s opposing him: policy discussion that might even educate people about the convolutions of what Congress does.

    Just because McFadden seems unable to go beyond sound-bites, Eric, doesn’t mean you have to short-change Franken’s sophistication.

  11. Submitted by Jon Lord on 08/26/2014 - 02:28 pm.

    Al Franken is simply good for Minnesota. McFadden is just a wanna-be comic. As I’ve said before, the GOP in this country is anti everything good for most Americans. Also I’ll add that single issue voters are a bane to America. Tax dodgers are anti-America. They are hardly patriots and don’t understand (or willfully won’t) the beginnings of this country.

  12. Submitted by John Appelen on 08/26/2014 - 07:03 pm.


    Does this actually make sense to you?

    “”I basically want a fairer system,” Franken said. Right now, if you earn $30,000 or $50,000 or $117,000, you you pay FICA taxes on every bit of your income, but if you earn $1 million, you pay FICA on just 11.7 percent of your income. If you make $10 million, you pay on just the first 1.17 percent of your income, he said.”

    Remember… The benefits don’t increase after a certain level. Apparently Al thinks it is fair to charge one group 10+ times the premium for the same benefit just because they have a good paying job.

    Do you really want to change Social Security so that it is a wealth transfer device like welfare? Or do you want to feel like you paid your fair share for your benefits?

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/26/2014 - 09:14 pm.

      REgarding Your Last Paragraph

      I definitely choose option 1. I’ll worry about the wealthy being shorted on their Social Security benefits as soon as they start worrying about how their accumulation of wealth,…

      largely enabled by their ability to put pressure on politicians whose campaigns they fund to legalize ever more creative ways for them to reshape our society for their own financial benefit at greater and greater cost to everyone else,…

      is destroying our nation.

      When the wealthy start to care about their fellow citizens and the broadly-measured well being of the people of this nation, I’ll start to care about whether social security is requiring them to contribute too great a share of their ill-gotten gains to help out those less larcenous than themselves.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/27/2014 - 08:56 am.


        You think that the people who brought us cell phones, computers, software, social networking, search engines, low cost products, etc, etc, etc are larcenous?

        I thank heavens for their efforts, creativity and capabilities. Personally I think society owes them. So let’s call it a wash.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/27/2014 - 10:05 am.


          Society does owe NASA and DARPA.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/28/2014 - 03:02 pm.

            I agree

            NASA and Military spending has been beneficial also.

            • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/29/2014 - 01:40 pm.


              With the qualified exception of ‘low-cost products’ (just too vague to attribute to any one organization) everything you’ve listed is a direct result of US tax dollars being spent on research.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/29/2014 - 04:21 pm.


                Military and NASA Funding helped create the foundations, but these private companies and very smart people did the heavy lifting and took the financial risks. That is why so many of the patents are in their names.

                NASA and the Military purchased products and services. The private companies came up the really great ideas and implemented them.

                • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 09/02/2014 - 12:10 pm.

                  Could they even have patents…

                  if it weren’t for the big, bad Government? I mean, who protects their right to their intellectual property?

                  • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/02/2014 - 12:41 pm.

                    Good Point

                    I think most Conservatives are happy to pay for the typical roles of government. I think it is the ever growing wealth transfer roles that cause heartburn.

                    Just like people here who want to charge some folks more for the same benefits.

        • Submitted by E Gamauf on 08/29/2014 - 05:12 am.

          Now that’s funny

          Mr “Leave-It-To-Beaver” who wants to return to a 1950’s world
          thinks we owe someone for giving us cell phones?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/26/2014 - 09:52 pm.


      Do we really want our seniors to be begging their families for cash, hitting up the overtaxed charities, or simply suffering in silence when the stock market eats up their savings like it has again and again and again. Its so simple. Do you like the privilege of being a citizen of this great nation, one that affords you the opportunity to make all that money? Great, now pay for the upkeep of the society that provided you that chance. What you title wealth transfer, I title the cost of doing business, you like the standard of living that the good life provides, you learn to factor in the cost of your contribution to maintaining a basic standard for everyone else. If the wealthy are such stellar folks with exemplary business acumen, it should prove a piece of cake, after all its how they calculate every other aspect of their day to day existence.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/27/2014 - 08:49 am.

        Other Options

        Raise the Premiums: Raise the Payroll Tax. Everyone pays more to cover the additional costs incurred by our living longer and high tech / high cost healthcare.

        Raise the risk/return: Allow the “Trust Funds” to invest in something with higher likely returns than US savings bonds.

        Reduce the costs: Delay when people can start their retirement.

        If you want to turn social security and medicare into wealth transfer devices. Then let’s get rid of them and just use welfare and medicaid to take care of our older less affluent citizens. Then the “wealthy” will recieve no benefits from the system they are helping to pay for.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/27/2014 - 09:19 am.

          Cut to the chase….

          What country can you point to that has the economics/taxation/wealth transfer characteristics that you want?

          Otherwise, it is all “something for nothing”.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/27/2014 - 10:29 am.

            Paul helped me with that answer in a previous post. The United States of America !!! The greatest country in the world !!!

            If we cut spending to align to our tax revenues we would be just about right.

            What country can you point to that has the economics/taxation/wealth transfer characteristics that you want?

  13. Submitted by Joe Musich on 08/26/2014 - 11:11 pm.

    If there isn’t…

    a lberal Democratic landslide in this election what does it say about the nature of the people of this country ?

    • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 08/27/2014 - 10:33 pm.

      That our heroes are people

      whose last acts were beating a man while sitting on top of him (Martin) and breaking the eye socket of a police officer (Brown).

      Indeed, what does this say about the nature of the people in this country?

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/28/2014 - 10:27 am.

        Broken eye socket? Please provide your source for this.

        Because everything I can find indicates it is unconfirmed at this point.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/28/2014 - 10:59 am.

        Heroes and Villains

        That your villains are dead, unarmed black men, in your two cases, teenagers… what does that say about you and the people who claim them as villains?

        • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 08/28/2014 - 06:44 pm.

          That my idea of a hero is different than most Americans

          I didn’t call anyone a villain. I did suggest that “hero” might not be the best description of these two individuals.

          • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/29/2014 - 06:38 am.

            Who described them as heroes?

            Can you find any references that describe these two as heroes? Because I sure don’t recall ever seeing such – just that each of them were young men, caught in the worst possible series of unfortunate circumstances, and while certainly due in part to bad choices on their part, absolutely not deserving of death.

            I don’t call that heroic, but I certainly do call it tragic.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/02/2014 - 09:36 am.

              Conservative thought

              You fail to understand the mindset of the modern American conservative.

              The only people who can legitimately claim “victim” status in the US today are white, Christian conservatives. They are victims because the world is not going the way that they think it should. People other than them have a say in matters, and they face criticism for their beliefs and actions (anything other than numb acquiescence is “oppression,” you see). People of color who are arrested/killed can’t be victims, so they must be villains.

              Liberals regard them as heroes, because conservatives can’t understand that a person’s cause may be championed even if their entire life cannot meet with 100% approval (unless you are a conservative, because anything bad said about you is a liberal distortion). If liberals don’t think they are villains, they must think they are heroes.

              • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/02/2014 - 01:01 pm.

                Conservative thought

                Unfortunately conservatives tend to see issues in terms of black or white–it’s hard for them to look at an issue in shades of grey. As you pointed out, if the gentlemen aren’t villains, then liberals must see them as heroes. The reality is that, like us, they’re flawed people who sometimes make mistakes. That makes them neither a bad guy nor a good guy: just simply human.

                We see the same attitude in other political issues, such as taxing the rich. The argument goes like this: you could take ALL the money from the rich and it wouldn’t balance the budget, so don’t tax them at all. The counter argument is more nuanced: it may not be THE solution, but it can be part of the solution.

                It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 09/03/2014 - 11:58 am.

            You might want to ask yourself that same question

            regarding the right’s deification of Zimmerman. I guarantee that if Martin had been white, the narrative would have been “unarmed man fights for his life against armed Hispanic stalker.”

  14. Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/27/2014 - 09:13 am.

    They didn’t “bring” us anything

    They had, (or in many cases stole), an idea. The people who actually built it in most cases receieved a bare fraction of the eventual return. The wealthy already took their cut, they’re owed nothing.

  15. Submitted by Janice Schacter Lintz on 08/27/2014 - 09:25 am.

    Hearing Aids need to be covered by Medicare.

    Please sign our petition to have Medicare cover hearing aids under HR 3150.

    Please repost to all social media and write your Congressmember. We need this to go viral so Congress hears our voices.

    Janice Schacter Lintz, Chair, Hearing Access Program

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/27/2014 - 10:07 am.

      This is an excellent point- as the average life expectancy increases, so does the need for medical care and products geared towards older patients, and when you consider that 40% of people in this country have no savings, and hearing aids, even though they have existed in basically the same form for some time, are PROHIBITIVELY expensive… thousands of dollars, and often not covered by insurance.

  16. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 08/27/2014 - 10:19 pm.

    Maybe the next six years will be better

    Senator Franken hasn’t done much with all these great ideas in only six years, in the majority party, with a Democrat in the White House.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/28/2014 - 09:50 pm.

      Hey if you’d like to pretend

      The republican led house doesn’t exist, I’d be happy to make it a reality for you. Feel free to disavow gerrymandering and voter suppression any time now.

  17. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 08/28/2014 - 10:43 am.

    Debt- and deficit-happy Republicans oddly love discussing debt

    “the debt continues to rise. Ouch!” – a Republican

    Perhaps one of the Republicans would like to tell the class the last time the gross federal debt declined during a Republican presidential budget year. Surely they have the answer. I do.

    Here’s a hint:
    The top marginal federal income tax rate that year was 91% and Elvis Presley and Pat Boone competed for the top spot on the Billboard chart.

    As for Obama, the on-budget deficit as a share of GDP has declined 64% so far on his watch and is projected to hit an 80% decline by the time he leaves office.

    Percentage point change in the on-budget deficit share of GDP by presidential budget terms, Eisenhower to present (best to worst):

    Obama (D) +8.6 (-10.8% to -2.2%)
    Clinton (D) +4.1 (-4.4% to -0.3%)
    Eisenhower (R) +1.5 (-2.2% to -0.7%)
    Kennedy/Johnson (D) +0.6 (-0.7% to -0.1%)
    Carter (D) +0.1 (-2.5% to -2.4%)
    HW Bush (R) -0.7 (-3.7% to -4.4%)
    Reagan (R) -1.3 (-2.4% to -3.7%)
    Nixon/Ford (R) -2.4 (-0.1% to -2.5%)
    W Bush (R) -10.5 (-0.3% to -10.8%)

    So, to recap those statistics, the deficit has shrunk under every modern Democratic president and grew under every Republican except Eisenhower. The top performer by a long shot is the current president, Barack Hussein Obama, followed by the last Democratic president before him, William Jefferson Clinton.

    In case someone cares to make the predictable objection to using budget years, particularly in the case of Obama, in the 12 months leading up to Obama’s inauguration, the total public debt increased a record-shattering $1.44 trillion, or 10% of calendar year 2008 GDP.


  18. Submitted by E Gamauf on 08/29/2014 - 05:08 am.

    Same old story – vague noises from challenger

    You got results from Senator Franken.
    This appears to me to be a good thing.

    There are several fact-based posts above, and there are some advocacy posts that have no informational value.

    People who don’t like health care & other changes want to gripe to the contrary – I get that: Whining is popular.

    McF has now backpedaled again, saying that he might keep certain aspects of some of the things in place, things he purported to oppose. You have to wonder why.

    Its a vague pandering whether the means it or not, assuming people would be silly enough to vote for him, you don’t yet know what he will flip-flop on tomorrow.

    You can’t tell what he’ll change his mind about, or discover he is wrong about until AFTER election day.

    What has McF really told you?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/29/2014 - 09:26 am.

      Typical US executive

      McFadden has no details because he doesn’t really understand the issues and lacks the required knowledge to produce solutions. All he has are stereotypical assumptions. Neither McFaden or the republicans have ever had a health care plan because they never acknowledged we had health crises in this country in the first place. We had a lucrative health market, what more do you want? Their health care plan is to repeal Obamacre… that’s it, THAT’S their plan. Beyond that all he can offer is bankrupt trickle down/small government dystopian fantasies. This is typical American executive mediocrity. These guys have very narrow skill sets for which they are wildly over-compensated. They tend to think they’re smartest guys in the room, and they tend to be quite mistaken about that as a general rule… well unless they’re in a room full of other executives in which the one-eyed man…

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/29/2014 - 01:46 pm.

      What results has Franken delivered.

      I must be missing something.

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