Monday, July 27, 2015

Zombies Against Medicare

the latest column from Dr. Krugman - please follow link to original.
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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/27/opinion/zombies-against-medicare.html?ref=opinion 

 
Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.
But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.”

What is somewhat surprising, however, is the argument he chose to use, which might have sounded plausible five years ago, but now looks completely out of touch. In this, as in other spheres, Mr. Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle who slept through everything that has happened since he left the governor’s office — after all, he’s still boasting about Florida’s housing-bubble boom.
Actually, before I get to Mr. Bush’s argument, I guess I need to acknowledge that a Bush spokesman claims that the candidate wasn’t actually calling for an end to Medicare, he was just talking about things like raising the age of eligibility. There are two things to say about this claim. First, it’s clearly false: in context, Mr. Bush was obviously talking about converting Medicare into a voucher system, along the lines proposed by Paul Ryan.
And second, while raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money. That is, at this point raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains.
But then, Mr. Bush’s real argument, as opposed to his campaign’s lame attempt at a rewrite, is just a bigger zombie.
The real reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful. But when they make their case to the public they usually shy away from making their real case, and have even, incredibly, sometimes posed as the program’s defenders against liberals and their death panels.
What Medicare’s would-be killers usually argue, instead, is that the program as we know it is unaffordable — that we must destroy the system in order to save it, that, as Mr. Bush put it, we must “move to a new system that allows [seniors] to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.” And the new system they usually advocate is, as I said, vouchers that can be applied to the purchase of private insurance.
The underlying premise here is that Medicare as we know it is incapable of controlling costs, that only the only way to keep health care affordable going forward is to rely on the magic of privatization.

Now, this was always a dubious claim. It’s true that for most of Medicare’s history its spending has grown faster than the economy as a whole — but this is true of health spending in general. In fact, Medicare costs per beneficiary have consistently grown more slowly than private insurance premiums, suggesting that Medicare is, if anything, better than private insurers at cost control. Furthermore, other wealthy countries with government-provided health insurance spend much less than we do, again suggesting that Medicare-type programs can indeed control costs.
Still, conservatives scoffed at the cost-control measures included in the Affordable Care Act, insisting that nothing short of privatization would work.
And then a funny thing happened: the act’s passage was immediately followed by an unprecedented pause in Medicare cost growth. Indeed, Medicare spending keeps coming in ever further below expectations, to an extent that has revolutionized our views about the sustainability of the program and of government spending as a whole.
Right now is, in other words, a very odd time to be going on about the impossibility of preserving Medicare, a program whose finances will be strained by an aging population but no longer look disastrous. One can only guess that Mr. Bush is unaware of all this, that he’s living inside the conservative information bubble, whose impervious shield blocks all positive news about health reform.
Meanwhile, what the rest of us need to know is that Medicare at 50 still looks very good. It needs to keep working on costs, it will need some additional resources, but it looks eminently sustainable. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jeb Bush suggests phasing out Medicare

From "America Blog" - follow link to original
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http://americablog.com/2015/07/jeb-bush-suggests-phasing-out-medicare.html


Jeb “Apple Watch” Bush told a gathering of conservatives at an Americans for Prosperity event last night that he thinks the country should phase out Medicare, ending the program for those who aren’t already receiving benefits.
I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.
This puts the supposedly “moderate” Bush to the right of Republicans’ most rabid budget hawks when it comes to the social safety net. When Rep. Paul Ryan proposed a budget that privatized much of the program, Democratic claims that Republicans wanted to “end Medicare” were dubbed the “Lie of the Year” by PolitFact; they weren’t ending the program, they were just radically changing it.
Well, now we know. Republicans want to end Medicare. Not just “as we know it,” but completely.
Bush justified his claim by arguing, as is always argued when Republicans attack Medicare, that the program is on its way to insolvency. That would be true if Bush got his way and we replaced Obamacare with Apple Watches, but as Kevin Drum at Mother Jones pointed out, current projections show Medicare spending reaching about half the proportion of GDP that it was projected to in 2005, falling from 13 percent to 6 percent.
There are a lot of caveats in the numbers. As Drum noted, projecting Medicare costs is a bit more difficult than projecting Social Security costs because there are more variables:
Social Security is basically just arithmetic. We know how many people are going to retire, we know how long they’re going to live, and we know how much we’re going to pay them. Do the math and you know how much the program will cost us. It can change a bit over time, as projections of things like GDP growth or immigration rates change, but that happens at the speed of molasses. There are very few surprises with Social Security.
Medicare has all that, but it also has one more thing: the actual cost of medical care. And that’s little more than an educated guess when you start projecting more than a decade ahead. Will costs skyrocket as expensive new therapies multiply? Or will costs plummet after someone invents self-sustaining nanobots that get injected at birth and keep us healthy forever at virtually no cost? I don’t know. No one knows.
In any case, given the best information we have available, Medicare looks to be in much better shape now than it did ten years ago.
A lot of that has to do with the Affordable Care Act. The law cut Medicare Advantage, the part of Medicare that had been privatized under George Bush and was (unsurprisingly) costing the government more per-plan than the public version of the program. Remember back in 2010 when Republicans were attacking President Obama for cutting Medicare? That was what they meant. And, of course, the Ryan budget being drafted and circulated around that time included bigger cuts to more crucial parts of the program.
Congress also recently repealed the “doc fix,” which will produce additional savings in the program by restructuring its payment mechanism to doctors.
At the end of the day, as MSNBC’s Steve Benen put it, “Before ‘Obamacare’ was passed, Medicare was projected to face a serious fiscal shortfall in 2017. As of yesterday, Medicare trustees now believe the system is fiscally secure through 2030.”
So sure, if Jeb Bush has his way and returns us to the health insurance regime in place while his brother was president, Medicare would all of a sudden look much less viable. But to claim that the program is on the verge of bankruptcy today, warranting its elimination, is simply not true.
What’s more, Bush claims that “people understand” the need to eliminate Medicare. This, too, is false. No matter how many times Republicans say that the public’s on their side, the polling data simply doesn’t support them; roughly eighty percent of seniors say that the program is working well. In that same poll, 76 percent of Republicans agreed that the deficit can be cut to appropriate levels without touching Medicare.
So chalk this up to the latest installment of Jeb Bush couching extreme — even by Republican standards — policies in a soft tone and calling it moderation. He’s planted a flag way out in right field on an issue where there is a clear national consensus against him, and planted it on dubious empirical grounds.
As Benen wrote, “It says something important about Republican politics in 2015 when the most mainstream candidate is also the candidate who wants to scrap Medicare altogether.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dodo Marmarosa Trio - Bopmatism



 Dodo Marmarosa (piano), Harry Babasin (bass), Jackie Mills (drums)

Dodo's Blues - Dodo Marmarosa Trio


Lennie Tristano Trio 1954 - 1955 ~ Line Up ( All Of Me Changes)



Lennie Tristano - Piano
Peter Ind - Bass
Jeff Morton - Drums

Lee Konitz Quintet - Subconscious-Lee



 Lee Konitz (alto sax), Lennie Tristano (piano), Billy Bauer (guitar), Arnold Fishkin (bass), Shelly Manne (drums)

Lennie Tristano Trio Late 1955 ~ All The Things You Are



Lennie Tristano - Piano
Peter Ind - Bass
Tom Wayburn - Drums

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kenny Dorham feat. Jackie McLean 02 "It Could Happen to You"



Kenny Dorham (tp) 
Jackie McLean (as) 
Walter Bishop Jr. (p) 
Leroy Vinnegar (b) 
Art Taylor (ds)

Kenny Dorham - Una Mas (One more time)




Kenny Dorham and his quintet, released in 1963 on Blue Note.
Kenny Dorham - trumpet
Herbie Hancock - piano
Joe Henderson - tenor saxophone
Butch Warren - double bass
Tony Williams - drums

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Django Reinhardt - Swinging with Django - Paris, 07.12. 1937


Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown - Body And Soul (EmArcy Records 1954)



Sarah's accompanied by Leader/Arranger: Ernie Wilkins, Clifford Brown (trumpet), Herbie Mann (flute), Paul Quinichette (tenor), Jimmy Jones (piano), Joe Benjamin (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums). Recorded in New York, December 18, 1954. (EmArcy Records)

Esperanza - Body & Soul


Sonny Stitt - Body and Soul



Sonny Stitt (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone)
Jimmy Jones (piano)
Ray Brown (bass)
Jo Jones (drums)

Body and soul-Charlie Parker

Very early Bird  --  1942 with guitar.


Coleman Hawkins-Body and Soul 1939

A very big hit in its time. 


Friday, July 17, 2015

Blues for boppers - Sonny Criss


Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, Don Byas, Coleman Hawkins, Jo Jones 1960 JATP-Paris


Leon Redbone- Ain't Misbehaving (I'm Savin' My Love For You)



Vocals: Leon Redbone
Guitar: Leon Redbone
Harmonica: Leon Redbone
Throat Tromnet: Leon Redbone
Violin: Joe Venuti
Banjo: Don McLean
Bass: Milt Hinton
Hawaiian Guitar: Charles Macey
Piano: Patty Brown
Castanets: Ralph MacDonald
Drums: Stephen Gadd
Clarinet: Billy Slapin
Trombone: Garnett Brown
Trumpet: Joe Wilder
Cornet: Joe Wilder
Saxohone Players: Seldon Powell & Philip Bodner
Tuba: Jonathan Dorn

My Blue Heaven ~ Leon Redbone


Patricia Barber - Black Magic Woman


Thursday, July 16, 2015

This from Brad DeLong's blog -- follow link to original:

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/07/cargo-cult-economic-policy-vs-people-who-actually-have-clue-jeb-bush-vs-hillary-rodham-clinton.html#more  Cargo-Cult Economic Policy vs. People Who Actually Have Clue: J.E.B. Bush vs. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Well, this morning gives me--me, who was a profound Hillary Rodham Clinton skeptic after 1993-1994--yet one more very powerful reason to think that Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a much better president than J.E.B. Bush:
Back when I read Jeb Bush's Detroit "Economic Policy" speech, the thing that most astonished me was how thin it was. 3088 words. And yet the things that could count as federal economic policy proposals were few. It read not as a federal economic policy speech, but rather as a simulacrum of a federal economic policy speech spoken by somebody who really didn't know what a federal economic policy speech was--a cargo-cult airfield rather than a real World War II-era Pacific military aviation base.
Instead of policy proposals and directions, there were a lot pieces of what could even politely only be called fluff.
There were simply lies:
We have seen them cut the definition of a full-time job from 40 to 30 hours, slashing the ability of paycheck earners to make ends meet...
But under Obama the definition of "full time" remains what it has long been: 35 hours a week. And how is a shift in the government's classification system that never happened supposed to alter contracts and slash the income of workers, anyway?
There was a not-very-relevant dog whistle against gay marriage:
Let’s start with the first principle: When it comes to ensuring opportunity and a chance at success, the most important factor isn’t government. It’s a committed family.... “Were they raised in a loving household by two parents? If you didn’t, you can overcome it, but it’s very hard. If you did, you have a built-in advantage in life"...
There was a decently-draped dog whisper for fewer fair-employment standards and more tax cuts for the rich:
The right to rise depends on a government that makes it easier to work than not work. That means fewer laws restricting the labor market and reducing the penalties that come with moving up from the lowest rungs of the ladder...
There was a shout-out to a 21-person company making TV remotes:
In the Madison Building, not far from here, new companies are rising. One of them, iRule, is led by two young men, one born in Russia, the other in Israel. They left secure jobs as automotive engineers to start their business in 2009.... Three years later, they have 21 employees...
(This disturbs me most because it suggests that Jeb Bush's staff cut-and-pasted from an article written in 2012--three years after 2009--and that neither his staff nor he noted that it is now 2015.)
There was confusion about what policies are federal and what policies are state and local:
Let’s close the opportunity gap, and that starts with doing everything we can to give every child, from every neighborhood, a great education.... Accountability for teachers and school administrators, assessment of student learning, high standards, and choices. These key elements of school reform work and we have the results to prove it...
There was a call to make economic disruption easier:
Competition is messy. But it’s essential. We’ve all seen the battles: The taxicab companies fight against web-enabled car services. The restaurants fight against the food trucks. The brick-and-mortar retailers fight against the Internet companies. I’m not here to take sides. And I don’t think government should either. Because when government protects one business against another, or tilts the field of competition, there is a clear loser: Anyone who wants to create something as a team. Anyone who wants to innovate and shake things up. Anyone who wants more choices and better service. And we know that in the end, standing against competition and dynamism is a losing battle...
Last, we had the rather-unusual:
Growth above all. A growing economy, whether here in Detroit or throughout this country is the difference between poverty and prosperity for millions.... I don’t think the US should settle for anything less than 4% growth a year...
But how are we going to get to such an unrealistic and implausible goal?
Bush says that he has no idea--but that he hopes that his staff can think of something:
In the coming months, I intend to detail how we can get there, with a mix of smart policies and reforms to tap our resources and capacity to innovate, whether in energy, manufacturing, health care or technology...
The overall vibe is "cargo cult": People who do not know what a substantive economic policy speech really is, but who have heard a number of such without understanding what is really being said. Most past Republican presidents could actually make an economic policy speech. In them, they would call for things like:
  • big tax cuts
  • an interstate highway system
  • reducing the influence of the military-industrial complex
  • heavy restrictions on immigration
  • aggressive enforcement of antitrust policies
  • free soil and free labor.
Bush? "In the coming months, I intend to detail... a mix of smart policies and reforms..."

In striking context, Hillary Rodham Clinton this morning has a lot to say. Her speech text has--surprise, surprise--footnotes. The policies enumerated, listed, and referred to have had serious work done on them: their likely effects have been estimated, and estimated honestly. Their potential implementation paths have been mapped out.
One of these two candidates knows what she would do come January 2017. The other--well, there is no sign that there has been any thought at all about what he would do after November 2016. That's an important difference to note.
Hillary Rodham Clinton:
Every candidate talks about the middle class and the American Dream. The question is: how do we do it?... All of the Republicans running for President believe the answer can be found in what they used to call trickle down or supply-side economics.... Cut taxes for those at the top, loosen rules on the financial industry, roll back protections for workers and consumers, and reduce most public investments. Republicans have argued for decades that these steps will create more wealth at the top that will then trickle down to everyone else. And for decades they've been wrong. Their policies contributed to the financial crash that wrecked our economy, turned surpluses into deficits, and led to an unprecedented concentration of wealth and power for those who already have a lot of both....
Today is not 1992, before the Internet Revolution, or 2000, when we had not yet faced the full force of globalization.... Today is not 2008 or even 2012.... We're not yet running the way America should....
You may have heard Governor Bush say last week that Americans just need to work longer hours. Well, he must not have met very many American workers. Let him tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day or the trucker who drives all night. Let him tell that to the fast food workers marching in the streets for better pay. They don’t need a lecture--they need a raise....
Today I am proposing a different path....
If we can get closer to full employment, employers will have to compete with each other to hire workers....
We need to... dramatically increase investments in the engines of growth... funding scientific and medical research... establishing an infrastructure bank... investing in faster broadband networks... making America the word's clean energy superpower... cutting unnecessary red tape... reviving the Export-Import Bank... preventing bigger businesses from exploiting market concentration and political influence... mak[ing] college more affordable and accessible... break[ing] down barriers so more Americans can join the workforce--especially women....
Nearly half of all working parents with young children in this country have passed up a job because it conflicted with family obligations. They also show that the expansion of family-friendly policies in other countries, including paid leave, explains nearly one-third of our comparative decline in women's labor force participation. We can't afford to leave talent on the sidelines, but that's exactly what we're doing. So it's time to make quality, affordable childcare more available to families... earned sick days and fair scheduling....
Beyond stronger growth, we also need fairer growth.... The reason everyday Americans aren't being rewarded the way they should isn't because they aren't working hard enough or long enough.... Expanded profit sharing would put more money directly into the pockets of workers, boost bottom lines, and give everyone a stake in the companyƕs success.... We also have to raise the minimum wage and implement President Obama's new rules on overtime. Crack down on wage theft and misclassification....
Senior executives or hedge-fund managers shouldn't ever pay a lower tax rate than any nurse or a teacher... closing the carried interest loophole... support[ing] the so-called Buffett Rule... strengthening the hand of employees to organize and bargain collectively.... Republicans like Scott Walker and Chris Christie have made their names stomping on workers' rights... I'll fight back against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks, and defend Americans' right to organize....
Too much of our economy has become focused on making a quick buck instead of building real value. You actually hear this from a lot of frustrated CEOs... desperate to escape the tyranny of the quarterly earnings report.... I will propose a plan to reform capital gains taxes to reward longer-term investments that create jobs rather than short-term trading.... Companies like Trader Joe's and QuikTrip have prospered by paying higher wages that yield higher productivity and better service....
Nowhere will the shift from short-term to long-term be more important than on Wall Street.... Republicans in Congress... have slipped deregulatory provisions into must-pass bills, allowing the biggest banks once again to engage in risky activities with complex financial instruments. And they have committed to defunding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.... As President, I will fight back against these attacks and defend the reforms we've made.... Too many financial institutions are still too big, too complex, and too risky. And the problems aren't limited to the big banks that get all the headlines....
I will propose ways that we can get rising health costs under control, which is one of the key drivers of our long-term deficits, so that our fiscal outlook is sustainable...
If you care about competence in government — or even about whether your government sets any form of technocratic competence as even one of its goals — you must vastly prefer Hillary Rodham Clinton to J.E.B. Bush.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SuperBass - Papa Was a Rolling Stone



Ray Brown, John Clayton and Christian McBride

Ray Brown Trio-"Blue Monk"



Jazz, Ray Brown-bass, Benny Green-piano, Greg Hutchinson-drums

Son Seals Blues Band - Stormy Monday - Featuring Johnny Winter