Entitlement v. Contract

Conservatives have certainly bamboozled mainstream media outlets: CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC.  Tea Party enthusiasts have the media referring to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as “entitlements.”  Republicans are using this as a symbol, to mean that they amount to a kind of welfare for the American people.

Wrong!  These are not welfare; they are contracts between our government and us.  Social Security is a pension plan, the only one many Americans have, and Medicare is a health insurance contract.  All of us have been paying into them since we began to work in the United States.  Without Medicaid, which does support people without health insurance, many hospitals would be forced into bankruptcy because they are required to accept anyone into their emergency rooms.

Americans must wake up and fight back in the war being waged by Republicans, Conservatives, and the Tea Party against the middle and working classes of America.  The bottom 50% of our nation now controls only 2% of our country’s wealth, and Republicans are determined to make that share even lower by attacking the ethical contract between our people and our government.

The Conservative mantra is “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.  We must protect our Freedom.”  What Republicans mean by that is their Freedom to take advantage of most of us.  As Bill Moyers once said, “A free market for the wolves means a slaughter for the lambs.”

If you don’t know which you are, lamb or wolf, check your home value and your retirement savings.  If these values are lower, and likely substantially lower since the financial collapse at the end of the Bush Administration, then you are one of the lambs.  If you have been voting Republican or Tea Party, you are voting against your own economic self-interest.  The Wall Street bankers are doing just fine, thank you very much!

Here’s how Conservatives/Republicans get you to vote against yourself.  They roll out an apparently credible source like Senator Rob Portman (R. Ohio) to add weight to their argument, because he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget for President George W. Bush.  You remember, that’s the Administration that presided over the crash of our economy, which destroyed the value of our homes and pension funds.

Senator Rob Portman (R. Ohio) provided a useful illustration recently on CNN.  He showed his fear mongering stripes with this statement:  “Between Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, we currently have about a $100 trillion unfunded obligation going forward.”

This statement is hugely misleading.  These programs have never been funded currently, and have always been pay as you go programs.  Senator Portman failed to provide his assumptions or a time horizon for his big number, which must be on the order of 50 years.  He just throws a big number out there just to try to scare us about the wellbeing of our grandchildren.  The politics of fear, that’s what the Republicans seem to know these days.  Whenever you hear a Conservative use a number like this you simply must ask yourself what the truth really is.

There is nothing wrong with Social Security and Medicare that proper taxation of large wage owners wouldn’t fix.  More than 85% of us pay 6.2% of our earnings into Social Security taxes (4.2% in 2011 because of a one year reduction), while wealthy Wall Street bankers making $1 million per year pay less than 1% of their income into the system, even at the higher rate.  Is that fair?  That’s what the “Freedom Mantra” has done for us.  It has given Conservatives freedom from the Social Security tax the rest of us pay, while they blame the Baby Boom for the shortfall.

The Conservatives that want to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid also conveniently ignore the fact that the country continues to grow in population.  Yes, there were a lot of people born in the Baby Boom, but when it was over our national population was 203.3 million people, according to the 1970 census.  In the 2010 census, the population of the United States was 308.7 million people, a 51.8% increase in population since the end of the Baby Boom.  These numbers mean that there will be many more wage earners supporting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid than there were at the end of the Baby Boom.

Recent history tells us that Conservatives, Republicans and the Tea Party will continue to use fear tactics to scare us into voting for them.  Fortunately, they have started to show their true colors by attacking the rights of women and blue-collar workers as well.  Governor Scott Walker (R. Wisconsin) and Senator Rob Portman (R. Ohio) are two of their standard bearers.  Presumably both are trying to position themselves for Presidential runs in the future.  If these Republicans are talking, be very worried!  They’re probably saying something to scare you into voting for them.

The next time you hear the word “entitlement,” remember that this is a symbol for Republican fear tactics.

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