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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:24 PM

NYT columnist David Brooks hits a new low

Over the course of the 20th century, America built its welfare state. It was, by and large, a great achievement, expanding opportunity and security for millions. Unfortunately, as the population aged and health care costs surged, it became unaffordable.By 2025, entitlement spending and debt payments are projected to suck up all federal revenue. Obligations to the elderly are already squeezing programs for the young and the needy. Those obligations will lead to gigantic living standard declines for future generations. According to the International Monetary Fund, meeting America’s long-term obligations will require an immediate and permanent 35 percent increase in all taxes and a 35 percent cut in all benefits.

Whom should we blame for this? Again, we should not blame Obama and Boehner. In their different ways, they and a number of other people in the Congress are trying to find a politically palatable way to deal with these hard issues. They got what conditions allowed

Ultimately, we should blame the American voters. The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money. Many voters have decided they like spending a lot on themselves and pushing costs onto their children and grandchildren. They have decided they like borrowing up to $1 trillion a year for tax credits, disability payments, defense contracts and the rest. They have found that the original Keynesian rationale for these deficits provides a perfect cover for permanent deficit-living. They have made it clear that they will destroy any politician who tries to stop them from cost-shifting in this way.
The events of the past few weeks demonstrate that these political pressures overwhelm the few realists looking for a more ambitious bargain. The country either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the burdens we are placing on our children. No coalition of leaders has successfully confronted the voters, and made them heedful of the ruin they are bringing upon the nation.

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Arrow 42 replies Author Time Post
Reply NYT columnist David Brooks hits a new low (Original post)
octoberlib Jan 2013 OP
Kolesar Jan 2013 #1
Indykatie Jan 2013 #26
arthritisR_US Jan 2013 #31
JHB Jan 2013 #33
Proud Liberal Dem Jan 2013 #2
no_hypocrisy Jan 2013 #3
Freddie Jan 2013 #36
octoberlib Jan 2013 #4
yardwork Jan 2013 #5
octoberlib Jan 2013 #9
yardwork Jan 2013 #15
Freddie Jan 2013 #35
yardwork Jan 2013 #41
Fumesucker Jan 2013 #6
yardwork Jan 2013 #16
closeupready Jan 2013 #20
octoberlib Jan 2013 #7
limpyhobbler Jan 2013 #13
Chorophyll Jan 2013 #8
dionysus Jan 2013 #18
Chorophyll Jan 2013 #21
dionysus Jan 2013 #22
Skidmore Jan 2013 #10
yardwork Jan 2013 #42
CTyankee Jan 2013 #11
limpyhobbler Jan 2013 #12
SomethingFishy Jan 2013 #14
Enrique Jan 2013 #17
closeupready Jan 2013 #19
Octafish Jan 2013 #23
bluestate10 Jan 2013 #24
DCKit Jan 2013 #25
bluesbassman Jan 2013 #27
Solindsey Jan 2013 #28
Th1onein Jan 2013 #29
JDPriestly Jan 2013 #30
Freddie Jan 2013 #34
Recursion Jan 2013 #39
mainer Jan 2013 #40
Freddie Jan 2013 #32
kelliekat44 Jan 2013 #37
GeorgeGist Jan 2013 #38

Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:38 PM

1. Congressman Blumenthal posted this as "recommended reading" on Facebook this morning

Opinions vary, I guess. I'm with you on this one.
BTW, Earl Blumenthal is a Democrat from Oregon. He's the "cycling guy".

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Response to Kolesar (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:29 AM

26. The Addition pf a Prescription Drug Benefit to Medicare

is responsible for a big part of the rising costs of the program. This was a much needed improvement to Medicare but the benefit was not paid for and contributes to the debt. I think we have all seen the article about new drug regimens causing thousands each month. The government needs to tackle these costs with the manufacturers and start negotiating prices. That is only part of the problem though. Costs for the program will continue to out pace contributions made to the program and have to be dealt with. That's a reality that we Dems don't like to think about but sooner or later we will have to. The government needs to terminate the generous drug subsidy they give to Employers to help pay for their Retirees' drug costs too. This subsidy costs us billions each year and nobody ever talks about it. I often wonder if the Democrats in DC are even aware of it. If Medicare cuts are put on the table this should be the first thing they cut. Tax payers should not be subsidizing companies benefit plans for their retirees.

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Response to Indykatie (Reply #26)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 03:23 AM

31. I wonder if the law makers are aware of how

much they give way in oil subsidies?

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Response to Kolesar (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 06:16 AM

33. Remind Blumenthal that Brooks said the Bush tax cuts wouldn't add to the deficit...

...and that surpluses were projected out to 2006 (back in 2001).

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:43 PM

2. So cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. is the ONLY way to fix our government spending?

I agree that the programs may be in need of some structural reform, streamlining, etc. but IMHO it can certainly be done without cutting benefits for recipients. Why is cutting benefits (that we're all paying into anyway) supposed to be considered "brave"?


What would be REALLY brave IMHO is to cut "defense" spending and/or raising taxes more for the wealthy/super-wealthy

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:47 PM

3. Paying into Medicare and receiving its benefits is not unlike health insurance

wherein you may regain what you paid into it and in addition receive the monies that someone else paid into it. The money's pooled for mutual benefit. It's not my money and your money; it's our money.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 06:40 AM

36. Yes, it's a shared risk like any other insurance

My MIL paid into Medicare all her life and died of cancer at age 62. She had inadequate insurance and hospital bills took most of her estate. Had she lived long enough to get Medicare none of that would have happened.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:50 PM

4. What I object to is that he's blaming seniors

for spending too much money. Like they're riding around in limousines drinking Dom Perignon and throwing dollar bills out the window. Most seniors (including my parents) who are retired and on SS are living on a tight budget. He should not blame the American voters for this. And a Democrat shouldn't be promoting this article as a good thing.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:50 PM

5. But does Medicare have to cost that much?

Let's take a step back, David. Medicare recipients aren't pocketing that $234,000. It's the value placed on the health care they receive. They aren't given the opportunity to bargain for it. But should the healthcare they receive actually cost that much? It doesn't cost that much in other industrialized nations to give people healthcare of equal or better quality.

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Response to yardwork (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:54 PM

9. Totally agree about the cost of healthcare nt

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Response to octoberlib (Reply #9)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:29 PM

15. And while I am the last person to blame doctors....

It's significant that heart surgeons and other specialists who treat diseases that are common among the elderly make many times more than family doctors and pediatricians.

Who is making $500,000 a year? Cardiologists. Who is struggling to afford to send their kids to college? Pediatricians. That inequity in reimbursement is one of the things that the Affordable Care Act is designed to change, and one of the reasons that the wealthy hate it.

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Response to yardwork (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 06:24 AM

35. Correct

Countries with single payer ("civilized nations") spend far less per capita because they don't have the wasteful layers of bureaucracy and profit sucking up their limited healthcare $$ like our stupid and wasteful insurance-based "system". This affects Medicare spending even though its the most efficient form of healthcare in the USA.

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Response to Freddie (Reply #35)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:26 PM

41. Big Pharma....cost of meds....Bush giveaway....

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:51 PM

6. I suspect Brooks overheard this whilst standing around the Applebee's salad bar.

http://crooksandliars.com/2008/06/03/memo-to-david-brooks-applebees-doesnt-have-a-salad-bar

DAVID BROOKS, “NEW YORK TIMES: Obama‘s problem is he doesn‘t seem like a guy who can go into an Applebee‘s salad bar and people think he fits in naturally there. He has to change to be more like that Applebee‘s guy and as he‘s done that he‘s become much more transactional. Much more, I‘m going to deliver this and this and this to you on policy.

C&Ler Mitzi left this in the comment section:

I called my Applebee’s today to make sure I was correct and they do not have a salad bar. Just goes to show how much these people who make these comments have no idea how “regular people” live their lives.

I called an Applebee's also and they told me that none of their restaurants have a salad bar. David, sometimes the jokes write themselves. What an idiot.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:30 PM

16. That is hilarious!

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:44 PM

20. 'the jokes write themselves' - lol, they do, indeed.

Certainly here. Thanks.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:53 PM

7. The blame should be on high costs for health care

and prescription drugs. That's what they need to fix.

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Response to octoberlib (Reply #7)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:03 PM

13. +1

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:54 PM

8. Why they continue to employ this smarmy, intentionally misleading git is beyond me.

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Response to Chorophyll (Reply #8)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:38 PM

18. +1000 for use of the word git.

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Response to dionysus (Reply #18)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 03:13 PM

21. Thanks. I've got a touch of the ol' Anglophilia.

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Response to Chorophyll (Reply #21)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 03:59 PM

22. yes. yes of course.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:55 PM

10. I know it is uncivil of me but sometimes I wish

these jerks would just lose everything they have and see how much wealth their blathering gets them on the street when trying to find a place to sleep, wash up, or just a bit of food to eat and be elderly while trying to do any or all of these things. I'd like to see how well they would fare with chronic health problems and no avenue to see a doctor let alone afford the medicine to treat their symptoms. Slam me if you will but these people disgust me--particularly the chattering class who just make things worse.

Then there are the libertarian slugs. This morning on "On Point" there was a Rob Arnott spouting stuff like he'd be in favor of negative income for people (I thought that was known as slavery) and be willing to let people keep $.70 of every dollar they earned in excess to encourage them to move up in productivity and wealth. He also quoted the Bible with a flip "The poor are always with us." I was driving when this was on and screaming at my car radio. He also does not have much use for old people and would cheerfully encourage people to work until they drop dead on their jobs. I see he wrote a book about taking emotions out of investments. Apparently he believes that to be true at societal level too.

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Response to Skidmore (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:28 PM

42. Sounds like a sociopath.

In the past thirty years this country has embraced sociopathic values.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:56 PM

11. "Brooks projectile vomits in the New York Times" is the way I would put it.

I nearly threw up reading it...

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:03 PM

12. omg what an huge loser. And intellectually dishonest. he is now politically irrelevant.

The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out
He doesn't mention that that includes things like $20 aspirins.

Full national health care and/or health insurance has been stable and successful for decades in the other industrial democracies. We are not "bringing ruin upon the nation" by asking for medical care.

Your title is an understatement. This is a hit piece against the middle class. David Brooks has proven he is a clown. I don't see how anybody can take him seriously after something like this.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:14 PM

14. Another bullshit pile of steaming crap.

All this shit about how there is no money is just that. Shit. There is fucking money everywhere, just not for us. We have enough money to spend billions on drones and the JSF, billions on weapon systems that will never work, we have enough money that the Pentagon can say "oops we lost 2 trillion dollars" without batting an eye.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:35 PM

17. there's nothing new about this

Social Security and Medicare has been under constant attack my whole life. It often sounds exactly like this Brooks column.

They have survived because people "freak out" when they are in danger of being cut. People here at DU are telling everyone to stop freaking out, but I totally disagree and I plan to keep freaking out until there is no danger of cuts, which will be never.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:41 PM

19. Republican Brooks blames the needy, poor. Man bites dog.

Sun setting in the West tonight. In a startling new study, scientists discovered that water is wet.

Details at 11:00.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:46 PM

24. Brooks' math is off.

A 3% annual compounded interest rate for $2,538 put in at the end of each year would yield $216,958 over a 43 year working career that a 22 year old that remains healthy would have. A 4% rate would yield $279,211. A 5% rate would yield $362,917.

The average 1 year CD rate for the 1992-1998 period, the most stable economic period in recent history, was ~ 5.5%. The historical 1 year CD rate for 18 years is ~ 3.5%. The historical 30 year Bond average interest rate is 3.95%.

So, even if paid a historically low rate on their contributions and if the money is compounded at the end of a year instead of the start of a year, a person would have a minimum of $216,958 that would be paid out to them over the rest of their lives.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:14 AM

25. Yes David, everyone knows the average age of our population was only 14...

 

when SS and Medicaid were enacted. All our elderly and retired had been shipped off to British workhouses, euthanized in their rocking chairs or sent to the glue factory. You know, what the Republicans who never served a day in the military, waited a table, spoke the words "Welcome to Wal-Mart" or attended a high school that didn't have "Academy" in the name refer to as "The Good Old Days."

I detest David Brooks as much as anyone, but his fax machine is on a hotline from RNC headquarters - If he's saying it, it's going to be a major talking point of the Sunday Nooz shows. It's an RNC trial balloon and, unless it pops, they're going to run with it.

Of all the guests on all of the Sunday shows last week (I watched five of them) only one person said anything about military spending. That's where we need to take the conversation.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:40 AM

27. No David, it's not $234,000 in "free money". Those people aren't installing car elevators with it.

That $234,000 is going to the inflated profits of the insurance/medical scam that has been allowed to put ALL of our health care needs in jeopardy.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:49 AM

28. Scummy

To the core.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:54 AM

29. WAIT A MINUTE HERE!

Why doesn't this asshole mention the banking and insurance thefts that were passed on to the American taxpayer? And what about the wars? We're still in Iraq, building a fucking empire, and we're still in Afghanistan, building a fucking empire, and NOW we just sent troops to fucking Africa! Come ON! I'm SICK of hearing this bullshit that our elderly are putting a burden on our children. The WARS and WALL STREET are responsible for that burden. The PHARMAS, with their $28,000 per dose medications (that cost less than 18 cents to manufacture!) are putting that burden on our children. The ASSHOLES that made it illegal to bargain with the pharmas....The tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires....I could go on and on.

This piece of shit makes me sick to my stomach. Does he REALLY expect the American people to buy this bullshit?

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 03:17 AM

30. Actually, the fault does not lie with seniors. It lies with their parents, the "Greatest

Generation" who came back after willingly setting their lives on the line in WWII and had babies, lots and lots and lots of babies.

The Baby Boomers are a huge generation. They had half-day classes in some schools because there wasn't enough room for them. They worked hard, paid much higher taxes as a percentage of their income than people do now, and had a hard time competing with each other for good wages and opportunity. We've been aware of the Baby Boom for a long, long time, since shortly after WWII. It was their demand for services and goods that forced our country to become extremely efficient and prosperous.

David Brooks juxtaposes selfish seniors who want their Medicare benefits against younger generations who will have to pay for those benefits. He forgets that technology has made the delivery of medical care much cheaper in fact than it was when members of the "Greatest Generation" were seniors. Heart surgery is now not routine, but far less complex than it was 30 years ago. Patients spend less time in the hospital after surgery than they did when Medicare was first introduced. Removal of a gall bladder used to be a big and very costly deal.

I remember that my grandmother had cataract surgery and was required to lie still in her bed for a long time, quite a few days if not weeks, after the operation. Today, cataract surgery patients are walking around quite soon after their treatments.

David Brooks seems shocked that a senior "pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out." It's called inflation, Mr.Brooks. For example, our electric blanket failed us last night. It was a gift to us from my mom maybe 20 years ago. (We haven't used it that much.) Today we bought a new one from a discount store. Although it was manufactured in China, guess what, it was more than three times the amount my mother had paid for the old one from the same chain discount store.

In addition to inflation, the fact is that the prices of medical care have risen far faster than the wages on which Medicare taxes are imposed -- unless you are a CEO in which case your wage or earnings have probably risen much faster, and in which case, you only pay Medicare taxes on a tiny part of your earnings. The new technology and medications lengthen life. We didn't have those back in the 1960s and 70s when many of those now retiring first started working.

Raising the cap on the income subject to FICA, that is Social Security and Medicare taxes would erase the problems that David Brooks is so worried about and would not affect the take-home pay of average workers because they don't begin to earn $106,000 per year, the amount that I believe is the highest on which FICA taxes are paid.

David Brooks also doesn't discuss the alternative to spending a lot on Medicare -- which is death panels, otherwise understood as letting poor grandmas and grandpas die without medical care, without the benefit of all that research and science that extends the lives of rich grandmas and grandpas.

Am I wrong or wasn't it the Republicans who ran against death panels in 2010? And now their pundits appear to be indirectly if not directly suggesting them. Maybe the Tea Party talk about death panels was really just wishful thinking. Maybe they want to get rid of all the poor people so that they will have more for themselves. That is basically what David Brooks is saying.

We are learning so much about how to live healthier lives. We are making huge strides in finding better ways to treat cancer. I look at my annual Medicare statement, and I am far more optimistic than David Brooks. I think that the numbers of seniors who inform themselves about healthy living and really live healthier are increasing. And that makes me optimistic. I actually think that healthcare costs for the elderly will decrease considerably within the next ten years as seniors walk more, eat more wisely and enjoy life more than their parents did. I do not share David Brooks' pessimism at all.

Interestingly, David Brooks was born in 1961. He is now 52 and will be eligible for Medicare in 13 years, or in 2026 (just one year after he thinks it will go pretty much broke). Hmmm! I wonder whether he lives his life so as to stay healthy as long as he can. If not, if he is one of the big healthcare consumers when he hits 65, do you suppose that he will refuse to use his Medicare entitlement.

No one will force him to accept government payment of his medical costs when he is 65. I'm older than Mr. Brooks, but if I'm still around, I'll be watching what he says about Medicare when he is 65 and needs it. I bet he changes his tune. He is such a grouch and so hateful and negative, I suspect he will be a lot less healthy than some others his age.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #30)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 06:18 AM

34. There is no wage cap for Medicare

The real solution would be to eliminate the FICA wage cap. Keep a theoretical cap in place for FICA benefit purposes and dedicate the over-cap $$ paid in to Medicare. That would be making the rich pay their fair share...can't have that!

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Response to Freddie (Reply #34)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 07:37 AM

39. Though ponder that for a second: Medicare has no wage cap, and unearned income is now levied...

... and Medicare is still the largest deficit driver going forwards. The problem is the cost of medical care.

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Response to Freddie (Reply #34)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 07:48 AM

40. Actually, that's not true. There is no wage cap for Medicare

And it's 2.9% on total wages.

Unlike Social Security, which does have a wage cap.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 06:14 AM

32. So, Mr. Brooks, the logical alternative...

Putting Grandpa "to sleep" when he's spent what he contributed to Medicare?

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 07:09 AM

37. Cut the damn military and let the MIC make their money investing in infrastructrure in the US!! nt

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 07:34 AM

38. Gosh ...

Free money is the driving force of Capitalism.

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