Sen. Rubio gave a speech at the National Press Club addressing some of America's retirement policies and the problems we're facing in a future where a much larger percentage of the population are retirees.
Charles Blahaus, a trustee for Social Security and Medicare, wrote about this at Economics21:
Perhaps the most significant policy element in the Rubio speech was his embrace of specific reforms to stabilize Social Security’s finances. Social Security is the single largest federal program; it also faces the greatest financing shortfall of all federal trust funds including Medicare’s. Reforms to maintain Social Security solvency would improve the federal fiscal outlook dramatically as well as strengthen the foundation of most Americans’ retirement security.
Senator Rubio embraced reforms that include progressive growth of Social Security’s benefit formula and a gradual increase in future eligibility ages. These concepts receive wide enough support from Social Security experts that they are likely to be included in any bipartisan Social Security solution.
It is a measure of the public education challenge facing reformers that some bloggers and reporters thereafter questioned whether Senator Rubio’s proposals would actually shore up Social Security finances, even though there are many publicly-available analyses demonstrating that they would. The SSA chief actuary found that one version of progressive indexing would by itself eliminate over half of the program’s actuarial imbalance as well as 89 percent of its annual shortfalls over the long term. Combining this with a gradual increase in Social Security eligibility ages as the Senator proposed would be more than sufficient to maintain Social Security solvency and allow for his other proposal of payroll tax relief for working seniors.
Though the fervor for Social Security reform has mostly died down, it remains an issue that's more pressing every day. More and more Americans are retiring, and the federal government has committed an unsustainable amount of money to our retirement policies - including Social Security. Reform is absolutely necessary, and it would be a good thing for Marco Rubio to make this a little more prominent in Americans' minds.
It seems the patriotism and unity the nation experienced in the aftermath of 9/11 has waned—and quite considerably, according to a recent Pew poll.
Fox News has the details:
[A]n exhaustive new Pew poll shows that actual patriotism is in the dumps. An amazing 44 percent of all respondents said they didn’t often feel proud to be American. Only 28 percent said that America was the greatest nation on earth.
Not surprisingly, there’s a strong split on a partisan level, with Democrats more likely to say they are less proud to be an American.
Pew divided their sample into different categories across the left-right political spectrum. When asked if respondents “often feel proud to be American,” a majority of strong liberals, 60 percent, said no. The only group that solidly agreed with the statement was conservatives, ranging from 72 percent to 81 percent. About half of the respondents in the middle of the spectrum – essentially libertarians to socially conservative fiscal liberals – said they were proud to be American.
This isn’t just another eye-opening poll, however. What Pew has found is critically important for the direction of this country. As Fox News’ Chris Stirewalt asks: “how do you unite people to save the country if they’re not invested in its success?”
It’s not that the 44 percent who aren’t proud are all moving to Costa Rica, it’s that they feel less obliged to do the hard work necessary to make a system this demanding work. Politicians and public figures who intentionally exploit and deepen divisions and resentments are doing more than just creating gridlock, they’re undercutting the very idea that has lit the lamp of America’s greatness for nearly three centuries.
I for one would not be opposed to having the 44 percent who aren’t proud to be American move to Costa Rica, or anywhere else for that matter. Despite the gridlock, scandals, and crises this country is currently facing, we are still the greatest nation on earth, period.
McConnell, who has introduced and cosponsored a number of pro-legislation since entering Congress, is ready to take the helm once again. He is a cosponsor of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which protects unborn children after 20 weeks - the point at which they can feel pain. While ten states have already approved of the legislation, Reid, who identifies as a pro-life Democrat, nevertheless has refused to even bring forward this modest legislation for a vote in the Senate.
If you thought the fiasco engulfing Veterans Affairs (VA) couldn’t get any worse, you were wrong. It seems that VA hospitals spent around $420 million dollars on solar panels and windmills, while veterans languished on appointment waiting lists. Some have died as a result (via Watchdog.org):
Veterans Administration hospitals have spent at least $420 million on solar panels and windmills while vets wait months — or even lay dying — to see a doctor.
In total, VA hospitals reported 23 deaths due to 76 instances of delayed care, an April 2014 VA fact sheet said. Then on June 5, Acting Veteran Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson revealed that at least 18 Phoenix patients died while waiting for treatment on a secret list kept off the books. It is not clear if that number is in addition to the 23 deaths reported earlier. During the past month, the scandal has resulted in the resignations of both the VA secretary and the leaders of its health care component.
According to a June 3 audit, 100,000 veterans had lengthy wait times for appointments. Of the nation’s 216 VA hospitals, 37 percent will require further investigation.
A whistleblower revealed Tuesday that seven of the patients listed on the Phoenix VA hospitals waiting list are already dead. That same Phoenix facility spent $20 million to build the nation’s largest solar carport. Phase one of the project was completed in 2011. The hospital also had an $11.4 million shortfall that year, an Inspector General’s report stated.
Also in 2011, only 49 percent of first-time patients nationwide got a full mental health evaluation within the VA’s own goal of within 14 days after initial contact, the IG’s report said.
On top of that, we have veterans not being treated properly for mental health issues. The VA’s own internal audit found that 62% of VA health facilities had at least one instance of veterans being pushed onto secret waiting lists.
No wonder why virtually everyone thinks the VA scandal is a serious issue.
After all, it seems that installing solar panels is more important than treating veterans.
Army rifleman George Hulka Jr. never earned his high school diploma. But today he will be honored by his country in a small yet meaningful way as part of a New York state initiative that allows certain veterans to obtain honorary high school diplomas -- even if they never graduated:
A 100-year-old Army veteran of World War II is finally getting his high school diploma — as is his great-grandson.
George Hulka Jr. made it to eighth grade at a one-room schoolhouse and worked on his family's dairy farm in the upstate New York town of Saratoga before being drafted ahead of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.
He went on to fight as a rifleman from North Africa to Germany, receiving a Bronze Star and several other medals.
But he never finished school.
On Saturday, 19-year-old Devin Stark will pick up his great-grandfather's diploma at graduation ceremonies in the Schuylerville School District. New York allows World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans who lived in the state but didn't graduate to get diplomas.
Hulka Jr. was a highly decorated combat veteran who served in both the European and African theaters of the war. He was there on D-Day, too. He’s an American hero, and I am glad that he will finally receive this small token of our nation's gratitude and appreciation. After all, it's the least we can do to honor his many years of military service -- don't you think?
The report was ordered by the Obama Administration, which means that its conclusions call for more government spending. But some Republicans praised the existence of the report at all, noting that the first step to a solution is admitting that there's a problem.
As the Associated Press reported:
In a scathing appraisal, a review ordered by President Barack Obama of the troubled Veterans Affairs health care system concludes that medical care for veterans is beset by "significant and chronic system failures," substantially verifying problems raised by whistleblowers and internal and congressional investigators.
A summary of the review by deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors says the Veterans Health Administration must be restructured and that a "corrosive culture" has hurt morale and affected the timeliness of health care. The review also found that a 14-day standard for scheduling veterans' medical appointments is unrealistic and that some employees manipulated the wait times so they would appear to be shorter.
Rep. Jeff Miller, the Republican chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, said the report was a late but welcome response from the White House and vowed to work with the administration to fix the system.
"It appears the White House has finally come to terms with the serious and systemic VA health care problems we've been investigating and documenting for years," he said in a statement.
The AP also notes the VA "acts with little transparency or accountability" and that "recommendations to improve care are slowly implemented or ignored."
Little transparency, little accountability, resistance to change: this is government health care.
Now here is something you don't see every day from a Hollywood starlet. During a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles, Oscar-Nominated actress Amy Adams gave her first-class ticket to a serviceman seated in coach.
ESPN's Jemele Hill witnessed the act:
Just saw actress Amy Adams do something incredibly classy. She gave her 1st class seat to an American soldier. I'm an even bigger fan now.— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 27, 2014
The best part? Adams didn't try to make a show of it. Hill detailed the story to ABC News:
"I noticed Ms. Adams was in first class and as I was getting seated, I saw the flight attendant guide the soldier to Ms. Adams' seat. She was no longer in it, but it was pretty clear that she'd given up her seat for him," Hill told ABC News. "I was incredibly impressed, and I'm not even sure if the soldier knew who gave him that seat. I guess he will now!"
After the switch was made, Adams, 39, met with the soldier briefly and privately by the cockpit, Hill added. The actress, whose father was in the U.S. military, then went back to her new seat in coach.
"Ms. Adams did it so quietly and quickly that it speaks to her character," Hill added. "And somebody in coach just got a helluva seatmate!"
Adams' father graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. She was also born in Italy, due to her father's military posting. Apparently this is one military brat who is not about to forget her roots. Well done.
Hillary Clinton stepped in it when she said she was “dead broke” when she and her husband, President Bill Clinton, left the White House. As my colleague Guy Benson commented on Fox News earlier today, the Clintons are loaded.
Slick Willy made almost $105 million for 542 speeches between 2001-2013; his seven-day speaking tour to corporate executives across Europe in 2012 netted him a $1.4 million dollar payday alone. There’s nothing wrong with this, but, as Roger Simon of Politico noted, “you can’t both be wealthy and poor-mouth. Not if you want to be president.”
Time’s Joe Klein labeled the remarks as a “disaster” for Clinton since the media focus is now on their wealth, instead of the substance of her book, which probably isn’t a good pivot since the sales are dismal. Yet, this poor choice of words by Clinton should have conservatives feeling a bit more comfortable about her alleged 2016 candidacy; she’s human. And, she’s beatable. Obama knows this better than anyone.
If anything, this “inartful” comment puts the spotlight on one of Hillary’s weaknesses: she isn’t a good campaigner. Earlier this month, Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics listed this as one of the reasons why Hillary won’t – or shouldn’t – run in 2016:
She's just not that good at campaigning. If the last two gaffe-prone weeks have reminded us of anything about Hillary, it’s that she’s a mediocre politician at best. Her shortcomings are significant: she can be stiff and wooden in public; she lacks the aura of a natural politician; she’s not a great public speaker, and she can come across as politically flat-footed and tone deaf -- as she did with her “dead broke” response to a rather benign question about relating to the financial challenges of the average voter. People still seem to believe that the Clinton name is synonymous with political skill, but that assumption is only half-true: If Hillary possessed even half of Bill’s political talent and acumen, she wouldn’t have lost to Barack Obama in 2008.
Last April, Byron York at the Washington Examiner reiterated similar points about Clinton’s campaign skills in his piece detailing why Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren should run in 2016:
Hillary ran a dumb campaign in 2008 and might do so again. For a group of seasoned veterans, the 2008 Clinton campaign showed a stunning ignorance of how to win delegates in a Democratic contest. Rival Barack Obama exploited that weakness brilliantly. For example, Obama collected more net delegates by winning the Idaho caucuses, with 21,000 participants, than Clinton did by winning the New Jersey primary, with more than 1 million voters. Clinton just didn't pay attention to the smaller stuff, particularly the caucuses, and her cluelessness helped Obama win. It might help another rival in 2016.
Warren does align more with the Democratic base. Additionally, York noted, “Clinton has never really excited the most liberal wing of the Democratic Party. They see her as an overcautious centrist like her husband, and on top of that, many have never forgiven her for voting to authorize the war in Iraq.”
This could come back to haunt her as Iraq's national government finds itself fighting for its survival against advancing ISIS [Islamic State In Iraq and Syria] forces.
But, before she can spin that vote again, she’ll have to put this “dead broke” business to bed first.
Keli Goff at the Daily Beast aptly noted that this inability for Hillary to discuss her success in America is actually an important issue given that the GOP has mostly middle-class candidates populating their 2016 field:
Though in recent years the GOP nominees have been scions of privilege (think Bush, McCain and Romney) the current GOP lineup has more middle- and working-class bona fides. Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio all come from backgrounds that make it likely they know how to operate a grocery store scanner. They also come from backgrounds in which the meaning of “dead broke” probably has a very different meaning for them than it appears to for the former secretary of state, especially since unlike her they are all still relying on government salaries.
Mitt Romney lost the last presidential election not because he was born to privilege, but because he didn’t know how to talk about his privilege. If Hillary has any hope of being a viable candidate against these men, then she should say what Romney never did: “I’ve been more fortunate than the average American.
So far, this supposed 2016 Clinton rollout has been lackluster at best; with her favorability rating dipping below 50 percent.H/T (Hot Air)
On average, 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), unemployment, substance abuse, and homelessness are some of the many challenges veterans face upon returning home.
The Library of Congress Veterans History Project hosted a panel today discussing the causes, effects, and treatments for PTSD among veterans. In order to dispel myths about post-traumatic stress and alleviate stigmas and misconceptions, experts and clinicians stress that PTSD should not be something we talk about in hushed tones. It is imperative that we pay special attention to the stories of mission, purpose, and service that our veterans can teach.
In light of National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Day, Townhall got a first look at one veteran’s assessment of the traditional paradigm of veteran reintegration.
Chad Grills, an Army Infantry Veteran who has served in Iraq and Egypt, says that the recent headlines of tragedy and corruption at the Department of Veterans Affairs are only the beginning symptoms of larger systemic problems. He believes that America needs our veterans to become the leaders, entrepreneurs, and politicians of the future.
Grills explains that the VA often gives outdated, irrelevant information on how to deal with post-traumatic stress. In his book project Veterans: Don’t Reintegrate, Rebuild America, he creates the roadmap veterans should receive when they return to the states.
Townhall asked Chad Grills to describe the strategies leaders can use to address the veteran suicide rate:
Addressing The Veteran Suicide Rate
The veteran suicide epidemic will only slow down when we remove barriers to talking about these issues. Real suicide prevention training in the military begins when leaders get up and share their own stories of battling depression. Many military leaders fear that they’ll lose their jobs should they display vulnerability. The sad part is, these fears are well founded. But, speaking openly and candidly about depression carries a huge opportunity. This display of vulnerability has the potential to ignite camaraderie amongst units. All leaders have to do is tell a simple story that showcases their own vulnerability. This display will allow future conversations about the subject to happen more naturally.
• When it's appropriate or comes up in conversation, tell a story about battling your own depression.
• Sit with the feelings of awkwardness that might arise, from both your subordinates, and yourself.
• Fight that cringe, push past it, and acknowledge verbally how ridiculous it is that something so important is so hard to talk about, and move on.
• The next display of vulnerability is easier, and a sense of camaraderie is inevitable after a unit is allowed to have honest conversations.
Real, public displays of speaking without shame about topics like depression are a must to build the trust that can save lives later.
How leaders can effectively address veteran unemployment:
It’s important that veterans ignore every traditional channel of getting hired. This includes avoiding sending unsolicited resumes and most career fairs. Instead, veterans should connect directly with the highest-level person at any company they may be interested in working for. Ideally, find the email addresses of three upper level folks (C level executives are fine) and reach out directly. Keep your email short, to the point, and ask a thoughtful question at the end. Don’t ask for a job, but include a signal that you’ve studied the company and are curious what tips that executive might offer for an aspiring person in their field. The goal is to start a meaningful dialogue. These are the decision makers who can eventually contact HR and expedite the interview process. When hiring managers are handed a resume by their bosses, they tend to study it more closely then those that come in unsolicited.
In order to publish his book, Chad Grills has set up a Kickstarter campaign that expires July 11. You can click here to donate.
According to Hillary Clinton -- who claimed she and her husband were "dead broke" and "struggling" upon leaving the White House -- told a British newspaper last week that they still aren't "truly well off." The Washington Post reports that since departing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the former president has raked in nine figures in speaking fees alone:
Over seven frenetic days, Bill Clinton addressed corporate executives in Switzerland and Denmark, an investors’ group in Sweden and a cluster of business and political leaders in Austria. The former president wrapped up his European trip in the triumphant Spanish Hall at Prague Castle, where he shared his thoughts on energy to a Czech business summit. His pay: $1.4 million. That lucrative week in May 2012 offers a glimpse into the way Clinton has leveraged his global popularity into a personal fortune. Starting just two weeks after exiting the Oval Office, Clinton has delivered hundreds of paid speeches, lifting a family that was “dead broke,” as wife Hillary Rodham Clinton phrased it earlier this month, to a point of such extraordinary wealth that it is now seen as a potential political liability if she runs for president in 2016...Bill Clinton has been paid $104.9 million for 542 speeches around the world between January 2001, when he left the White House, and January 2013, when Hillary stepped down as secretary of state, according to a Washington Post review of the family’s federal financial disclosures. Although slightly more than half of his appearances were in the United States, the majority of his speaking income, $56.3 million, came from foreign speeches, many of them in China, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom, the Post review found. The financial industry has been Clinton’s most frequent sponsor. The Post review showed that Wall Street banks and other financial services firms have hired Clinton for at least 102 appearances and paid him a total of $19.6 million.
I discussed Mr. Clinton's post-presidency windfall on Fox News earlier, noting that the $104.9 million figures doesn't even factor in Hillary's millions from the speaking circuit (she reportedly takes home more per speech than the average American household earns in an entire year -- times four), or their tens of millions from book deals:
Due to time constraints, I was unable to respond to liberal radio host Richard Fowler's tortured explanation for why the Clintons' affluence is legitimate, as opposed to the millions earned by greedy Wall Street types like Mitt Romney. If there had been time for me to respond, I would have attempted to make as many of the following points as possible:
(1) Clintons good, Wall Street bad:
"I think there's a distinction between, you know, being wealthy and having sort of this sense of good, [versus] being wealthy, and just wanting more, and more, and more, and more, and more. And if you look at all of the polling and the data, that's why people hate Wall Street so much. Because Wall Street is that 'we're wealthy, and we want more, and we'll do anything to get it.'"
The Clintons' wealth accumulation is virtuous because of their inherent "sense of good," or something, whereas Wall Street cash is dirty and fueled by unbridled greed. Good to know. I'll simply point out that the top source of Bill Clinton's speaking fees was...the financial industry, according to the Post. He was delighted to take their filthy money.
(2) "The Clintons have no problem with paying more in taxes." Yes, that's what they say, isn't it? But that's not how they actually operate when handling their own fortune. Bloomberg News reported last week that the Clintons employ elite financial planning strategies designed to shield as much of their estate from federal death taxes -- which they support raising on other people. In 2012, some Democrats actually complained that Mitt Romney overpaid his taxes to boost his effective tax rate higher it could have been, while blithely disregarding his prodigious charity.
(3) Mitt Romney was "born with a silver spoon in his mouth." Yes, Mitt Romney grew up in privilege. But his father did not. George Romney was born in Mexico, moved to America and became a self-made millionaire, and was eventually elected governor of Michigan. At what point did his first-generation wealth magically morph into a talking point with which to diminish the accomplishments of his children? Who is the arbiter of what constitutes fairly-earned vs. ill-gotten affluence? Fowler says the Clintons are a "great example of the American dream," but insinuates that Romney is not. How do these rules work? Does Romney get any credit for giving away the inheritance he received? Fowler applauds the Clintons for the philanthropic efforts undertaken their foundation, but doesn't mention Romney's supreme generosity. Ah. Perhaps it's ideological liberalism itself that confers this nebulous "sense of good" upon right-thinking recipients.
As I stated in the segment, I don't believe the Clintons should have to justify their ample means. The fact that they do, however, is a product of the Left's age-old class warfare playbook that vilifies the successful and fetishizes egalitarianism. Mr. and Mrs. Clinton must now play in the sandbox of envy and resentment for which they and their party are largely responsible. I'll leave you with this MSNBC discussion of just how "hard" the Clintons have worked for their millions:
One could make the case that Mitt Romney amassed his fortune through exceptional business acumen -- turning around failing companies while helping to create and save thousands of jobs. The Clintons' money mountain was built by traveling around and reciting paid speeches (partially or primarily written by aides), and signing mega-deals for (at least partially ghostwritten) books. There's nothing wrong with either of those things, but as Chuck Todd says, "they didn’t [make their money] in some incredible business creating jobs and all of this. They just acquired wealth for being the Clintons."