Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 25, 2011

Sullivan’s Salvos 5/31/11

In this edition:

*The People’s Budget
*Arts Fest
*ICARE Pancake Breakfast
*Did You Know?

*The People’s Budget
We hear a lot about two differing approaches to deficit reduction. On the one hand, you have Paul Ryan and the House Republicans calling for massive reductions in both taxes and entitlements. On the other hand, you have President Obama calling for the same thing, but to a much lesser degree.

The problem with this is that the whole debate takes place within extremely narrow constraints. There are other options! We can reduce the deficit, while at the same time protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

First, there are common sense spending cuts. We can cut our military budget dramatically. (The US spends more than the rest of the world combined!) We can end expensive and pointless wars. We can implement a public option for health care. We can break up banks that are “too big to fail”. We can simply choose not to give trillions in tax cuts to multinational corporations.

On the revenue side, we can raise taxes on those earning over $250,000. More importantly, we can raise taxes even more on those earning millions and even tens of millions! We can tax capital gains as heavily as we tax income earned through work. We can impose a financial speculation tax.

When we talk about shared sacrifice, we need to consider the actual definition of “sacrifice”. My $50,000 annual salary is about 100 times the amount my 14-year-old son can hope to earn mowing yards, walking dogs, etc.

Is it a “sacrifice” for me to pay for the rent and food in our household? Should I require him to purchase his own insurance on the open market? Should I be demanding that BJ “share in the sacrifice”?

Consider that a senior citizen on Medicare, whose only income is Social Security, might earn $1,000 per month. Someone earning $120,000 has the same relative wealth to that senior citizen as I have to my son.

Is it fair to ask both to “sacrifice” equally? (Of course, the suggestion has been that only people earning more than DOUBLE that $120,000 be asked to pitch in.)

Many of the ideas I have articulated here can be found in the People’s Budget, an interesting document created by the 81-member Progressive Caucus in the US House of Representatives. It actually reduces the deficit more quickly than anything presented by either Ryan or Obama, and does so with more common sense.

I have not had the opportunity to ask Representative Loebsack about the People’s Budget. I know he is a member of the Progressive Caucus, and I know he supports several individual pieces of the plan. Yet he does not appear to be one of the 41 signatories. I’ll try to find out and report back.

Meanwhile, take a look at the People’s Budget. And recognize that the very narrow constraints of the debate the media allows us to hear are not actually constraints at all!

From PHI: Contrary to what many Americans believe, Medicare provides little coverage for long-term services and supports. It pays for limited medically necessary home health services, but does not cover home care for individuals who need ongoing assistance. By contrast, Medicaid is the principal payer for long-term services and supports in the United States—it pays for 62 percent ($125 billion) of all spending.

Over 3 million individuals receive long-term services paid for by Medicaid. It is Medicaid-funded services and supports that allow elders and people with disabilities to live in the setting of their choice without draining family budgets across generations.

Nearly 80 percent of paid hands-on care for elders and people with disabilities is provided by direct-care workers, who earn, on average, just $10 per hour. With such low incomes and limited employer-provided health insurance, Medicaid is essential to keeping these workers out of poverty. In addition, without this coverage, these workers are more likely to miss work due to health problems, disrupting the continuity of care so many families rely on.

Of our nation’s over 3 million nursing assistants, home health aides, and personal care aides: Nearly 1 million (28 percent) are uninsured. In 2009, nearly 20 percent, or 600,000 direct-care workers, received health coverage through Medicaid or other public insurance at some point during the year.

*Iowa Arts Festival
In my mind, summer officially begins each year with the Iowa Arts Festival in downtown Iowa City. The event this year runs Friday, June 3 through Sunday, June 5.

For a full schedule of events, see:

*ICARE Pancake Breakfast
Another annual event that kicks off the summer is the ICARE Pancake Breakfast. This year’s event, the 24th annual, is Sunday, June 5 from 8AM to 1PM in the Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp (where the Iowa City Farmer’s Market is held).

Tickets are $8 advance, $10 day of, children 4-12 half price; children 3 and under eat free. The menu features gourmet pancakes, sausage, fresh fruit, orange juice and coffee, with live music and a raffle. All proceeds benefit ICARE, the Iowa Center for AIDS Resources and Education.

*DID YOU KNOW? In 2010, power generated by wind was 15.4% of all electricity generated in Iowa.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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