A label is a classifying phrase, or a name, that is applied to a person or thing that should be relatively precise, but is often used inaccurately or restrictively for the purpose of subterfuge. The problem with labels is they can impact an object or person negatively when used by a group with an ulterior motive, and politicians spend no small amount of time mislabeling a program or agenda they oppose. Republicans are masters of attaching misleading labels to convince ignorant Americans to vote against their own self-interest, and now that Willard Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, the GOP are misleading voters with a term that is not only inaccurate, it is an epic lie.
Yesterday, during an interview, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell praised Paul Ryan as a courageous budget guru because the Heritage Foundation budget he champions includes reining in entitlement spending he claims President Obama is increasing at an alarming rate. McDonnell made a rash of baseless claims about the President, and posited that the economy is worse today than in January 2009 when President Obama was inaugurated. He also parroted the fallacious assertion that Social Security is an entitlement program that is increasing the deficit, and it is a claim Republicans repeat often in hopes of garnering support to privatize the program. Most Americans understand that the nation’s economy is not worse than it was four years’ ago, but apparently there are ignoramuses who believe the retirement program is an entitlement and it is incumbent on Democrats to remind Americans exactly what, and how, Social Security and Medicare work.
First, Social Security is a Trust that is forbidden from taking one penny from the federal government, and its administration cost is approximately 1% making it the most efficient government-run program in America. Because it cannot use any federal money, it does not add one cent to the federal deficit and Republicans know it, but they have panted to get their hands on the $2.7 trillion reserved for Americans’ retirement to hand to Wall Street to squander and gamble away. Social Security is funded by every American who works for a living, except the wealthy whose income is from investments, and if they do earn their income like 98% of the population, their contribution is capped after they exceed the $106,200 threshold.
If any American thinks Social Security, or Medicare for that matter, is not funded by working Americans they only need look at their pay stub to see the deduction for FICA and Medicare. Seniors who receive Social Security retirement and Medicare for their health insurance should be incensed that Republicans have the audacity to label their retirement savings an entitlement, or that giving it to the rich will reduce the deficit. The negative connotation is another attempt by Republicans to convince the people that “entitlement reform” will reduce the deficit, grow the economy, and create jobs; at least that was the message from Bob McDonnell. The real Republican goal is to take every last dollar from the population to give greater tax cuts to the wealthy and enrich Wall Street.
Every Republican proposal up to this point serves one purpose; transfer wealth from 98% of Americans to the wealthy, and despite using terms like broadening the tax base, entitlement reform, and smaller government, they are rewarding the rich. Willard Romney’s choice of a running mate cemented the GOP as the party of the 1% and based on Ryan’s record and past statements, he is firmly rooted in the philosophy that 98% of Americans exist to enrich the wealthy. Ryan’s courageous plan, like Romney’s, raises taxes on the poor and middle class to give greater tax cuts to households earning at least $1 million annually, drastically cuts education funding to free up more money for the wealthy, and then there’s Ryan’s plan for Medicare and Social Security he calls “welfare.”
Ryan particularly advocates privatizing Medicare and Social Security that he claims are Ponzi schemes and taking $2.7 trillion in the Social Security Trust and investing it in stocks and bonds. Bush made a similar proposal in 2005 and if he had been successful, millions of retired Americans would have lost most of their retirement in 2008-2009 when the stock market crashed. Privatization offers no benefit to Social Security recipients, but that is not Ryan or Romney’s intention and instead of being honest and admitting they are transferring wealth to the rich, they call senior citizens’ retirement savings an entitlement that balloons the deficit.
There can be no doubt, any longer, that Republicans will stop at nothing to steal everything from the masses to enrich the uber-wealthy and it includes the latest tactic of broadening the tax base to, as they put it, give the wealthy some tax relief. Romney and Ryan’s tax plans raise taxes on the poor and middle class, and combined with Draconian spending cuts to social safety nets, still will not cover tax cuts for the wealthy and, in fact, increases the deficit by trillions of dollars. However, it is still not enough for Republicans so they have created a label for Americans’ retirement savings in hopes of raiding Social Security to enrich Wall Street. Most Republicans claim voters feel entitled to benefits provided by the government, but Social Security and Medicare are programs working Americans paid into, and they expect a return on their investment that is no different than if they invested in a private retirement account or health savings plan. However, at the rate men like Romney and Ryan intend on transferring wealth to the top, it will not be a stretch for them to seize private plans and hand the proceeds to the rich as deficit reduction.
There is an entitlement problem in America, but it is the rich, corporations, and big oil who feel entitled to all the wealth in America and Republicans are bending over backwards to accommodate their greed. Retired Americans living on Social Security and Medicare are entitled to the money they paid into the system for their entire working lives and they should be livid Republicans are blaming them for the deficit. Maybe Romney did voters a favor in picking Paul Ryan, because he will have to defend the entitlement mentality the GOP has pursued for thirty years. However, older Americans are ill-inclined to agree that robbing their retirement and healthcare savings to fund the wealthy’s tax cuts will reduce the deficit or benefit them in their golden years.
Social Security is the most successful social program in America’s history and it has worked because Republicans cannot give it to the rich. If Romney and Ryan think Americans will let them steal 30, 40, or 50 years’ worth of savings to hand to the rich as deficit reduction, they underestimate older Americans’ intelligence, because asserting that their retirement and healthcare savings is welfare and causing the nation’s economic woes is nearly as stupid as claiming 25 straight months of job growth is worse than losing over 700,000 jobs a month.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.