If you're like me, you've seen the damning Secret Romney Fundraiser Video in its entirety (full video here, full transcript here).
And if you had any doubt about the things that would happen to retirees, veterans, the poor, the middle class, the unemployed, students who aren't from wealthy families, Americans who have the misfortune to fall ill or suffer an accident while unemployed or poor or continuing-to-exist-after-having-served-in-the-Armed-Forces or all the above, under a Romney presidency...well, the gentleman from Utah (or was it Michigan? Or Massachusetts?) made it crystal-clear for you at that fundraiser.
As I wrote on Wednesday, Mitt Romney is in awe of the way Chinese slave-labor factories are run. This should concern you.
Romney is also enamored of privatizing (and thus significantly cutting) Americans' earned benefits--namely Medicare and Social Security--and slashing social programs like Medicaid. While far from perfect, Americans' earned benefits and social programs--meager though they may be, certainly as compared to those the rest of the developed world enjoys--keep millions of elderly, sick, and poor Americans from falling right off the edge.
It cannot be stated often enough: Any and all federal spending cuts should come from the billions of dollars that annually enrich the REAL entitlement pigs: Defense Contractors. And not from programs that quite literally protect, and save, American lives.
President Obama has said that everyone must do his part to tackle the national debt, that everyone must sacrifice.
I would like to know how an unemployed person for whom Medicaid means the difference between life and death can reasonably be expected to sacrifice anything at all.
I would like to know how an elderly person who already has to scrimp and save in order to stretch his or her Social Security check and thus make rent, put a few store-brand groceries in the fridge, and buy a comfortable mattress or a decent winter coat every five years or so can reasonably be expected to sacrifice anything at all.
But here's the thing: Social Security can be kept solvent for many decades to come simply by raising the wage cap, and indefinitely if the cap is done away with completely. Currently (in 2012, that is) only the first $110,100 of one's earnings are subject to the Social Security payroll deduction--dollars above that amount are not. So those who make less than $110,100 per year have 100% of their earnings taxed for Social Security; those who make more than that--whether it's thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars more--have a decreasingly smaller percentage of their income in play. In other words, under current parameters, an investment banker who ears, say, a million dollars a year, will only see 11% of his income subjected to the SS deduction; the remaining 89% is, for the purposes of SS at least, untouched. However, the schoolteacher making $50,000 and the small businessman drawing a salary of $95,000 will see the entirety of their yearly wages subjected to the deduction.
One begins to see why the very wealthy, along with the conservative think-tanks and Super PACS they lavish with funding, are against raising the cap to keep the program solvent for everyone: they are reflexively opposed to anything that means more for the nation and less for them. They prefer to slash to ribbons a successful program that has lifted millions of elderly Americans from poverty (or else privatize the program and loose it to the vagaries of the stock market)--and to thus relegate the elderly to existing in poverty--than have the same percentage of their annual income subjected to social security as the rest of the country. Heaven forfend.
But lets return to the notion of "entitlement" as it truly exists, and not earned benefits, which incidentally is how this writer regards Social Security, Medicare, Public Education, and yes, even Medicaid, and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as "food stamps"). And I include Medicaid and SNAP because I believe in a robust social compact; I believe that simply by being a human being who exists in this incredibly wealthy, resource-rich country, you have inalienable rights--rights you are born with--namely, the right to breathe air, drink water, eat food, and not bleed to death, cough up your lungs, be consumed by microbe or tumor, or otherwise suffer and/or die from one of the myriad illnesses and injuries that modern medicine can alleviate (if not always cure).
Or, as I often state, after referring people to the cold facts about the better health outcomes, happier citizens, and large, thriving middle classes of Europe's Social Democracies:
Yes, I'm a Socialist*. So was German-American, theoretical physicist, and renowned genius Albert Einstein. What are you--an Anti-Socialist?
Via Robert Reich, here are the REAL Entitled Housewives (and SenateWives) of America. Just look at these numbers (click to enlarge):
Now, consider how the United States' defense budget compares to that of the next five biggest spenders in the world. I'm not a math whiz, but even I can see the big elephant in the room (so to speak, although the defense contractors lobby--and donate heavily to--politicians of both parties).
The United States spends more than twice the combined defense-spending totals of China, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia. You read that correctly. In terms of defense spending:
2 X (China+Japan+UK+France+Russia) = USA
a project of The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.)
Cut this, Congress, not the earned benefits of--and vital assistance to--the citizens for whom you work, as opposed to the bloated defense contractor giants for whom, despite any gifts, "donations", and perks they shower you with, you do not work.
Cut this, Catfood Commission.
Cut this, Mr. President.
* Socialism, alas, is all-too-frequently conflated with Communism, even today. I blame television, vestigial McCarthyism, the above-mentioned conservative think-tanks, and the country's moneyed sociopaths (aka much of Wall Street), who recoil in horror at the notion of being limited to just seven mansions and one private jet if they had to pay a tiny bit more to make life healthier and happier for the people and country that undoubtedly played a part in their own rise to riches, whether they care to admit it or not.