Fight the Epic GOP Lie that Social Security and Medicare Are Entitlements

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

25 Replies to “Fight the Epic GOP Lie that Social Security and Medicare Are Entitlements”

  1. The GOP have always hated SS and Medicare for decades, and are hoping people forget how these two programs were created to help them.

  2. They don’t hate Social Security and Medicare, they just hate that the money has to be returned to the people who paid in to it.

    So, working people would still be making regular deposits to something called FICA and Medicare, but they could no longer expect to receive the benefit they paid for, just like private medical insurance companies.

  3. I remember the rhetoric from the 60s and 70s from the more extreme Republicans I met.

    They hated Social Security and Medicare because those are the dreaded “SOCIALISM!!!”. That is also what you’ll hear today.

    No, the word hate is appropriate when you use it with the Republicans (and the dominionists/fundamentalists). In their case, it’s not an emotion born of unending injustice or receiving constant persecution and oppression, but a reaction to people refusing to bend to their will and submit to their “authority” (or the authority of their master). People don’t fit their nice stereotype, so they react violently and with extreme hostility.

  4. The meaning of “entitlement” was that, if you aid into these programs, you were entitled to take out when you, in turn, qualified. The Plutonomists, on the other hand, think they’re entitled to everything we’ve got, with no duty to pay back in.

  5. Whenever we hear the word “entitlement”, we need to speak up loud and clear. That’s how they’ve killed many other things that help the poor and needy, so to give the resources to the greedy. The point about the programs they’re advocating being true to what they say about things like Social Security (that the rich think they’re entitled to our resources) is a good one, and one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

    Everything that helps the poor and middle class has been labeled an “entitlement”. Even food to eat and a roof over your head are considered “entitlements” – if you can’t pay for them out of pocket, the Republican attitude is “Too bad, so sad, pay or die quickly!”.

    It’s time that the rich be forced to pay their fair share, and I think they need to make up for their past misdeeds and greed.

  6. What I don’t get is how obvious the GOP is: consider that when Romney made each decision about his career he DEMANDED that he incur no risk, and that he would have a guaranteed income from Bain when he retired.

    But these guys call it “entitlement” when people who’ve worked hard all their lives and paid into social insurance get to draw their own defined benefits?

  7. Just another huge lie by the GOP..Unfortunately there are too many ignorant Americans who will not research what they read, instead they will take it as gospel..please what ever you read to form an accurate opinion find out if it is true or not. For your own sake so you don’t go and vote for a party of liars.

  8. People just vote republican today because that’s what their parents were. They don’t understand that being a republican today is NOTHING what it was 30-40 years ago. It’s like saying I’m a Methodist because that’s what I was Baptized. Well…. just because you were Baptized a Methodist doesn’t make you one unless you practice the religion. Just my thoughts anyway.

  9. Entitled is what Ann Romney is when she called us “you people.”

    Entitlement is what Donald Trump feels when he declares bankruptcy and leaves the little people holding all of the unpaid bills.

    Earned benefits are what senior citizens get when they receive their social security checks.

  10. OK, I’m confused. “Entitlement” means that you are entitled to something. Unlike a driver’s license, which is a “Privilege”, and revocable. If you’re entitled to something, how can it be taken away? It sounds naive, but based on that, how can an Entitlement be taken away?

  11. The problem with your argument is how the money is spent.

    It goes for Corporate Welfare (a reality) and for wars.

    If corporate welfare were eliminated, they’d never had any need to touch Social Security. If it were eliminated, the budget would be balanced. If the corporations were regulated so that they didn’t get outrageous profits, the prices wouldn’t go up either.

    We don’t need the biggest and most powerful military in the world. We don’t need to spend much more than all of the other countries COMBINED on our military. They can do without their $10,000 toilets and so on.

    Cut our military down to where it’s no bigger than anyone else, and guess what… other countries won’t feel so threatened by the US.

    In both cases, the only ones that would feel the pinch would be the rich… and they’d only be forced to pay their fair share (and not rip the rest of humanity off like they do now).

  12. We’re entitled to live, and yet murders happen every day.

    It’s the same principle. People are entitled to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, but the reality of America is that many of the people in this country don’t get those rights (and I’m talking about the innocent, not people guilty of crimes).

    They’re limited by greedy corporations, repressive rules, and economic exploitation. Ask someone with a severe chronic disease who was denied aid how “Free” they are in this country.

    Meanwhile the word “entitlements” has been translated by the Republicans into “another word for unneeded and unjustified welfare”.

  13. Your $2 trillion figure is questionable at best. Bush borrowed against SS for tax cuts for the rich who are fighting to get more. He also tapped into it for 2 unfunded and unnecessary wars that benefited corporations. The wealthy and their corporations are spending millions to preserve and increase their tax cuts, move jobs and money overseas, so yes, the rich are stealing from all of us. The government (under Republicans) is just the facilitator.

    Also, a fair amount of the federal deficit and interest is from money owed to the SS Trust Fund for Bush’s “loan.” Who benefited? The rich.

  14. They are not entitlements. I worked, saved, earned these. The money is in MY account with MY name. Same with each of us. It’s not a Ponzi scheme which seeks to maximize returns for the first few by feeding more and more people to get less and less – that would be the Ryan plan.

    Nope – it’s “Stone Soup” where we all put our bit into the pot and get what we need – soup. It is the principle of ALL insurance to expand the risk pool so everyone is in. That the government administers it and pays the bills matters not at all. Who cares who pays for it so long as we get what we need – health care.

    Under ACA this administration has reduced the annual expansion from double digits to about 4% per year. Why? The “cuts” are to costly privatized programs that channeled money into corporate profits and not into health care. Now the money goes to us and our needs – and that’s the kind of cut that benefits Americans! They also cut the cost – Part B is down from $115 per month to $90. Wow! That saves seniors several hundred dollars per year. Excellent!

    It works, it’s not going broke, and Ryan is just, as with Romney’s version of health care, helping the insurance companies by ending something that has helped us all for over 40 years. Take everyone UNDER 55 out – and the whole thing falls apart for those IN it. And tell me why you’d want your 40-year-old kids to face a future without the Medicare YOU have? At our ages – 50 and above – premiums run around $1000 per month. And they’re going to give us $7000. Do the math – that will kill us. Is that REALLY what we want of the compassionate community we call America?

  15. You are correct about the true meaning, Mr. Greven. Unfortunately, the Republicans have Frank Luntz-ed the word entitlement. They’ve turned it ugly, undeserved, and abhorrent. Their misinformed followers are not about to “pay for a lazy person’s entitlements.” So, good for the GOP, entitled is now a bad thing, a very bad thing. Mitt Romney and his ilk believe they are entitled to take from the poor to give to the rich. And there is nothing that they will not take – Social Security, Medicare, Medicade… RomneyHood would starve us all to feed the gluttonous billionaires.

  16. Churchlady – The incredibly sad fact is, that Republicans have destroyed what you refer to as “the compassionate community we call America” the past three years. It is a pipe dream at this point. A segment of the population has taken the “me first” mindset to a “me only” way of life. Compassion is not within their purview and is, in fact, anathema to their ideology…unless they need it.

  17. If the GOP had studied campaigns in other countries (yes, if they had bothered to look outside their own borders) they would have concluded that running on healthcare issues is a bad, bad idea. Unless, of course, if their platform included improvements to existing healthcare — which it definitely does not.

    Healthcare is an extremely personal issue, which affects every single American. If there is the slightest chance that “my healthcare will be affected in a bad way”, then REGARDLESS of the cost factors to sustain it, they will continue to say “Hands off my healthcare”.

    Fortunately, as more of the ACA changes kick in, more and more Americans are realizing the benefits of it.

    The GOP is running just about the worst campaign ever!

  18. You’re forgetting the cap on income subject to FICA tax. Raising the cap would solve most of the problems that the social security system faces today.

    Presidents, ever since Johnson used money from the trust fund to finance the war in Vietnam have been “borrowing from the trust fund.” Now with the retirement of the baby boomers the chickens are coming home to roost. Also Bush 2 used budget tricks to hide the real deficit created by the medicare drug fiasco and 2 unfunded wars. The money borrowed from the trust fund should have been paid back not with money raised from the FICA tax but from general revenues. Republicans consistently opposed this with increases in defense spending and tax cuts although even their hero Reagan wanted to start paying back money into the trust fund.

    Your conclusion that the federal government is the guilty party is only partly true since politicians of both party have merely been enablers of the giveaways to the ultra wealthy and the corporations. The false premise of trickle down economics which was revived by Kemp in the 1980’s even though a majority of real economists said that income inequality and corruption was a contributing factor to the 1930’s depression is the real culprit here.

  19. The Dems need to change the conversation by replacing the word’entitlement’ with ‘benefit’ and explain to the American people that they have paid into these programmes(SS and Medicare) through out their working life. It’s not a Government handout but was placed in trust for their retirement. They have allowed the Reps to use this term for decades that they have even started using it also.

  20. I have no problem calling these programs entitlements. Since we pay into them, it seems obvious to me that we are in turn ENTITLED to reap their benefits. More generally, frankly, as citizens of the richest nation on the planet, we SHOULD be entitled to a share of the nation’s wealth.

  21. I TRULY hope that is the case. At the present the choices for American Puppet are either ‘BAD’ or ‘WORSE’. I would LOVE to see Mr. Paul get the chance to demonstrate his Policies on restoring the Constitution to the People. But then there’s CONGRESS to deal with, and that may stop him dead in his tracks. I think that The United States needs a Top Down Overhaul, starting with the Prosecution of ALL Members of Congress (If they DID NOT Betray their Oath they can Stay, but if they Did-Guantanimo for the lot of them)and let that be a lesson to any new members that ‘There is a New Sheriff in Town’. AND Prosecute Bush/Cheney for WAR CRIMES, because Until THAT is DONE nothing can TRULY be Fixed for the US, as well as a NEW 9/11 Investigation done by Actually Qualified People-NOT Government Yes Men. Peace.

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