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Plain Talk – 4.05.11

Plain Talk – 4.05.11

Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 8:03 pm
By: Nicolle Crist, Guest Columnist

Entitlements. That word sounds so much more sinister and scary than Social Security doesn’t it? They do that on purpose.
In the mind of the public, Social Security is automatically associated with senior citizens, our parents and grandparents  and no politician wants to be perceived as anti-Grandmom – so instead of saying Social Security they say “entitlements”.
We’ve seen this before. Back in the days of the infamous “Welfare Queen” – remember that? Even though the statistics showed that the welfare program was taken advantage of by white, rural and yes, Southern families, the image of the classic 80s welfare queen was an urban, black woman who was “pumping out” children destined to become criminals.
That’s not my characterization. I wasn’t old enough to vote in the 80s. Those are the images created by the last generation of politicians who swore that they wanted to leave a better future for me! Thanks for nothing, guys. Neighborhoods in cities like Philadelphia actually got worse.
The only entitlements that mean anything substantial to the budget are agricultural subsidies, corporate welfare, Social Security and Medicare.  
On Good Morning America last week, Stephen Fincher made his position as clear as mud on the issue of agricultural subsidies. He wouldn’t say if he was willing to forgo the millions of tax dollars that his family has received over the years.
He said, “We need a better system, we need to stream-line it.”
Mr. Fincher, you are a corporate farmer – you are a congressman – that “we” that you are talking about actually means you.
You were elected last November, where is your plan? I’ve seen no sponsored or co-sponsored legislation related to agricultural subsidies from your office. You claim to be so concerned about spending, the debt and deficit, yet as an expert in the corporate farming industry you’ve done nothing to address the issue. Why?
And what about corporate welfare? Last week the news was a-flutter with stories about General Electric. They owe $0 on the $5.1 BILLION in profits (not revenue) they made last year. I didn’t see any urgent press releases from Stephen Fincher’s office about the unfair share of the tax burden that middle -class Americans like me pay for.
So I’m assuming Mr. Fincher is also O.K. with the fact that average, every-day Americans are subsidizing GE when the unemployment rate is still double what it should be.
Whenever you hear a politician say “we’re broke” remember $0 on $5.1 billion. Are you paying $0 in income taxes?
Would Social Security be as big a fiscal concern if GE paid only five percent of their profit in taxes – about half of what a married couple earning $50,000 per year pays as a percentage of income.
So it’s clear that agricultural subsidies and corporate welfare are off Mr. Fincher’s table when it comes to reducing the deficit and balancing the budget. So that only leaves Medicare and Social Security.
Republican congressman Paul Ryan just announced a proposal that would give senior citizens Medicare coupons. Those coupons would be worth less than the total care seniors are eligible for today – and each retired American would be on their own.
If you have a particularly expensive disease or prescription and your coupons run out, that’s your problem. And just to make it interesting, the money funding the coupons would be managed by Wall Street. So if you get sick under this scheme – try to do it in a bull market.
President Obama’s bi-partisan debt commission, known as Simpson – Bowles, issued a report recommending increasing the retirement age for Social Security by two years over the next 64 years.
That means that Americans who have not even been born yet will have to work two years longer than we do today in order to qualify. Is everyone in our congress such a coward that they can’t even discuss slowly raising the retirement age by two years?
Mr. Fincher, you asked for this job. You told us you’d “plow congress” yet all that we’ve heard from you is that you’re unwilling to give up your own subsidy and your party wants Wall Street to manage Medicare.
The bi-partisan Simpson – Bowles report was mandated by Congress. Get out from behind your desk, dust off your printer and read it. Stop trying to lump the word “compromise” into the same dirty word category as “entitlements”.
I grew up in the 1980s when small farms disappeared from the rural economy and inner cities – once industrial havens, were left in ruins to crumble.
The big Reagan government took the most from the people with the least. We’re not going to let you do it again.
If you have any comments or suggestions for future columns please email me at nicolle.crist@gmail.com.

WCP 4.05.11

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