Stop Playing Politics With America’s Economic Future; Re-Frame the Medicare Discussion Now; Whisper Welfare Reform

Warning: The following likely will offend more than a few.

It’s time for Congress and all the pundits to stop playing political games with America’s economic well-being, future and security. It’s time for Conservatives to stop looking the other way or retreating as Obama Democrats falsely frame the important discussion about Medicare,  illustrated by outlandish,  patently false TV ads of poor ol’ grandma being dumped off a cliff.

Time for Conservatives to re-frame the Medicare discussion now, based on facts:

  1. It was Obama’s Democrats who decimated Medicare by taking $500 BILLION (A HALF TRILLION) DOLLARS from the Medicare Trust last year  in order to juggle the numbers to fund Obamacare. The Obama Democrats thus  drove Medicare to the brink of bankruptcy. The Obama Democrats are the ones who plotted to deprive senior citizens–who’ve paid into the Medicare system via payroll taxes throughout their working lives, and  who continue to pay into Medicare via taxes on their Social Security benefits–in order to pass Obamacare, an insurance-industry-driven/government-run health rationing program, which the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want, and that ultimately will have a disastrous impact on the healthcare of seniors and women in particular.
  2. The only members of Congress preparing, presenting and advocating any reasonable proposals for reforming and saving Medicare from the Obama Democrats’ Obamacare ripoff of Medicare and the complete bankruptcy of the Medicare program being forecast by year 2025 are Conservative Republicans such as Paul Ryan. If nothing is done to reform and thus save Medicare, the program will go bankrupt, and will  no longer be able to benefit seniors, no matter how long they’ve paid into it. So far, the Obama White House has been completely AWOL on the subject, having neither prepared, presented nor advocated any plan to offset its decimation of Medicare funds. In fact, in terms of the nation’s  increasingly calamitous economic situation overall, the Obama WH has  come up with nada, zilch, zip, not even a viable Federal budget, which the Obama WH has now failed/refused to do by three separate statutory deadlines (in violation of Federal law).
  3. Despite efforts of some pols and pundits to spin the recently held NY-26 special election outcome as a backlash against the Conservative effort to reform/save Medicare, that race can only logically be viewed as the combined result of:
  • a weak, Republican-in-name-only (RINO) candidate running a lackluster campaign
  • a fake Tea Party candidate (who had run several times before as a Democrat) siphoning off 9 percent of the Republican vote
  • the Obama Democrat candidate’s  patently false, ridiculous TV ad with grandma doing a full gainer off a cliff influencing perhaps some knee-jerk, single-issue,  ill-informed voters

Even given all that, NY-26 was a squeaker, with the Obama Democrat eking out a paltry four-percentage-point win.  By any stretch of logic, a four percentage point margin cannot be construed as a mandate or definitive statement about anything, including Medicare.

But, IMO, there’s a crucial missing element in the discussion of how to bring America’s economic well-being, security and future back from the brink by reforming and reining in “entitlement programs.”  [It’s important to note that  Social Security and Medicare–which the government often seems to discuss as the only “entitlement programs” needing reform–are not technically  “entitlement programs,” because they are programs that working Americans have funded via payroll taxes and taxes on Social Security benefits  for more than a half century.] The missing element in the discussion of America’s economic well-being, security and future has to do with these questions: When will any of the so-called Congressional representatives of “we, the people” be brave enough to openly discuss the fact that it is Welfare –not Medicare and not Social Security–that is the fastest-growing and most onerously burdensome of the “entitlement  programs” threatening to stampede our nation’s economy over a cliff? When will our government be brave enough to openly discuss the fact that it is Welfare that is the most gluttonous monster in the room, which everyone sees but seems afraid to admit must be placed on a strict abuse- and budget-cutting diet?

Welfare’s sheer size cries out for some Congressional budget-cutting tough love. Obama apparently spent an estimated $880 BILLION DOLLARS in fiscal year 2010 alone on 70 different Welfare Programs under 14 different Federal Programs—the largest increase in welfare benefit spending in U.S. history. In fiscal 2010 alone, this cost each U.S. household of  everyday, working, taxpaying American citizens an estimated $638 per month. Imagine what the average  working American household could do with an extra $638 a month in these tough times. At this rate, Welfare spending will grow to about $1 TRILLION DOLLARS for fiscal year 2014, and to more than $10 TRILLION DOLLARS over ten years. An estimated one out of seven total Federal and State dollars now go to fund Welfare Programs, such as cash payments (AFDC/TANF), food stamps, housing, Medicaid, social services, subsidized and free child care, etc.

Let me say emphatically,  anyone who can provide bona fide proof of real need should have access to the full benefits of  government social safety net “entitlement programs” such as Welfare until they can get back on their feet and regain their independence if/when possible by utilizing programs such as Welfare as the temporary economic support systems they were intended to be when they were initiated.  On the other hand, we must strenuously object to the rampant abuse of such programs by large numbers of multi-generation, entitlement-dependent individuals who view/abuse Welfare programs as an ongoing way of life and refuse to take any meaningful, productive, serious steps toward regaining economic independence. Moreover,  we must strenuously object to similar abuse of Welfare programs  by large numbers of non-citizens from around the world now living in our country who also view/abuse such programs as a way of life rather than as a temporary support system toward ultimate economic independence. Perhaps most importantly,  we must strenuously object to the fact that such rampant abuse is a huge contributor to America’s current drastic economic circumstances. We must let our government know that we find it unconscionable that, so far, it is refusing to mention during budget discussions–even in whispers –the need to investigate and curtail such abuse. For our government to continue to ignore such abuse amounts to coddling and perpetuating the vast economic, human tragedy caused by the burgeoning growth of  government-entitlement dependence,  helplessness and hopelessness. (And yes, the government also needs to rein in and cut ALL programs rife with abuse and waste, not just “entitlement programs.”)

Such widespread, entrenched abuse of social safety net programs such as Welfare as a way of life rather than as a temporary support system makes it virtually impossible for Americans who really do at times find themselves in dire straits to obtain much-needed help from these programs. While Social Security Disability, thankfully, provides help to many who are truly disabled, it too, is rife with abuse. And again, despite the fact that the program is funded by payroll taxes, such widespread willful abuse  deprives many who are  in fact disabled from receiving desperately needed and deserved benefits from a system into which they too have paid.

Those American seniors receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits have paid into these systems throughout their working lives through payroll taxes, and continue to pay into Medicare via taxes on their Social Security income. The taxes those seniors have paid throughout their working lives also have funded other government social safety net programs such as Welfare. People abusing the Welfare system do not, and likely never have, paid into any U.S. government social safety net program. People abusing any government social safety net programs deprive many who truly do need such help from getting it.

Someday soon, Congress must bravely, methodically, systematically, thoroughly and vociferously investigate and put a stop to  widespread abuse of programs such as Welfare, and cut spending down to levels to cover only those who can continuously demonstrate bona fide proof of real need . If ever Congress begins to whisper that it’s prepared to do that, then perhaps large numbers of reasonable Americans will be prepared to listen carefully to reasonable proposals to reform Medicare and Social Security, programs which–were it not for Congress and the Obama WH using them as  “piggy banks” to fund other far-less-worthwhile programs such as Obamacare–might possibly have remained solvent. But, let’s not forget, it isn’t Conservatives and their responsible, sensible budgetary reform and  program-saving proposals that threaten to push poor ol’ grandma and the rest of us over the economic cliff. Rather, it’s the Obama Democrats–whose continued re-elections depend upon government-entitlement-dependent voters– recklessly pushing spending upwards of catastrophic levels in order to keep feeding programs such as Obamacare and the gluttonous Welfare monster.

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Whose Rights Really Are Being “Infringed Upon”?

“I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon,” Barack Obama (BO) told the nation’s governors gathered in Washington last week.

When added to his previous mischaracterization of WI Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget-repair bill as “an assault on unions,” BO’s recent remarks reveal beyond any reasonable doubt that the obviously orchestrated demonstrations we’re witnessing in WI and other states are entirely about getting the Obamacrats—particularly BO—re-elected in 2012. Quite simply, BO, the Obamacrats and the public employee union leadership don’t want to give up their current cozy system of forced union membership/dues collection, which scores them hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and upon which their continued power depends.

The WI budget-repair bill’s proposals are quite modest by virtually any measure. First and foremost, the bill would allow every WI public employee to choose for himself/herself whether or not to join the union, rather than acquiescing to union membership as a de facto condition of employment as it is now. Currently, the state and local governments deduct union dues from each employee’s paycheck, dues required to go to union coffers, where union leadership–not membership–ultimately decides how they’re spent. That’s precisely how the union became the Obamacrats’ and BO’s de facto funding/vote delivery arm.

Collective bargaining, under the WI proposed budget-repair bill, would continue to be used in basic wage matters, but not to extort further extravagant benefit hikes. Importantly, it isn’t union members who go to the table to “collectively bargain.” Rather, it is union leaders, leaders accustomed to sitting across from Obamacrat legislators for whom they delivered funds and votes, legislators from whom those leaders expect acquiescence to their demands, whether or not those demands are necessary, reasonable, prudent or fiscally responsible. (Paying for Viagra? What’s next, Botox?) WI is broke. Already, WI public employees are among the nation’s best paid, best benefited. (Please see the linked WSJ article, “Oh, To Be a Teacher in Wisconsin,” for some facts/figures.) It’s immensely reasonable to limit collective bargaining to matters of basic wages while the state regains fiscal equilibrium. (Frankly, despite the disinformation now being deliberately spread, collective bargaining is not a “right.” It is a union leadership tactic having nothing to do with the right to organize, associate, etc.) (BTW, the bill exempts police, fire and state patrol.)

Currently, WI public employees contribute little to nothing for their generous pension and health benefits. Under the proposed bill, WI public employees would contribute about 5.8 percent to pension benefits and about 12 percent to health benefits, figures at or below the national average. Despite union leadership’s vaunted public statements about willingness to accept the bill’s modest employee benefit contributions, they’re reportedly surreptitiously using the protracted, inexcusable absence of 14 Obamacrat State Senators to try to recklessly ram through irresponsible, unsustainable benefit hikes (and even further pay hikes) before the budget-repair bill vote.

http://online.wsj.com/articleSB10001424052748703408604576164290717724956.html

http://walker.wi.gov/journal_media_detail.asp?locid=177&prid=5622 (for a summary of the WI budget-repair bill),

Most federal employees under BO’s purview (and, in fact, most public employees in most states and localities) have virtually no collective bargaining powers now. Thus, BO’s admonition that public employees should not have their “rights infringed upon” is particularly hollow and hypocritical.  Moreover, such remarks further reveal that BO is deliberately mischaracterizing the proposed WI budget-repair bill. Unless his motive is purely political (and when is it not political with BO?), why else would he continue to meddle in a specific state’s budget matters? This is unprecedented for a POTUS, and particularly suspect, since it runs contrary to the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers, and appears also contrary to Article IV, Section 4, under which the United States guarantees to every state in the union a “republican” (i.e. “representative”) form of government. Given the Obamacrats’ and unions’ deliberate disinformation campaign and the increasingly inflammatory and uncivil rhetoric being spewed, for BO to continue to comment at all on WI’s or any state’s budget-repair efforts seems tantamount to throwing gasoline on a fire. Surely, BO recognizes this, and simply doesn’t care.  (Perhaps he  sees no problem with the possibility that he may be inadvertently helping to foment anarchy? Perhaps this is just part of  how he sees his role as the “community organizer in chief”?)

Contrary to what BO and others want us to believe, the demonstrations we now seem to be witnessing ad nauseam have never been about teachers’ pay (benefits, collective bargaining; other public employees’ pay, benefits, collective bargaining; or any of the other shifting talking points du-jour being trotted out). Rather, from the get-go, these orchestrated demonstrations have been about politics—dirty, in-your-face-lying-screaming, control-the-money/control-the-power—Obamacrat-style politics.  Organizing for America, Obama’s campaign arm, along with the Democratic National Committee, the George Soros-funded MoveOn.org, and Big Unions (government/labor) from other states injected themselves into the debate in WI and elsewhere with bused-in paid agitators, not because they care about teachers, education, kids, public employees, American workers or Americans in general. They got in and stay in because they care very much about the fact that their power in this country for a full generation to come depends upon getting Obamacrats (particularly BO) re-elected in 2012. They know that if the WI proposed budget-repair bill passes, it will mark the beginning of the end for public employee union leaders’ (and labor union leaders’) heretofore virtually unchecked power to deliver—on demand—millions of dollars and millions of votes to Obamacrats and BO, from whom they will continue to expect and receive “big favors,” favors paid for on the backs of American taxpayers.

Perhaps we were to understand implicitly that BO’s call last month for more civil public discourse exempted Obamacrats. Seems the outside agitators definitely got that memo. It’s small wonder that today’s American children and teens are not being provided with quality education, if the incessant news clips we’re seeing include actual teachers in the American public school system–Demonstrators carrying signs with hate-filled slogans, shouting obscenities, doing an estimated $7.5 million damage to the once-pristine WI state capitol building (built with taxpayer dollars), physically accosting/threatening pro-budget-repair state legislators and generally behaving like ill-educated, ill-mannered, slovenly adolescents at a college frat beer bust. My kids are grown, but if they were still school age, the thuggish tactics of such demonstrators would prompt me to immediately pull them out of public schools and find some way to afford to enroll them permanently in good private schools.

Any scant number of genuine anti-budget-repair-bill protesters joining or supporting the thuggish outside agitators in WI and elsewhere—without understanding the proposed individual state budget-repair bills—are being duped and ill-used, not to mention jeopardizing any remaining professional integrity for their 15 minutes of infamy. They need to be aware that those outside agitators they’re joining or supporting care nothing about the ramifications if the budget-repair bills in WI and other states are stalemated.  Those outsiders care nothing for taxpaying WI citizens, whose two-year state budget faces a bankruptcy-threatening/business-crippling/jobs-killing $3.6 billion shortfall. They care nothing for the thousands of WI public employees likely to receive layoff notices. Those outsiders care nothing for the over-burdened taxpayers or for the consequences of impending economic meltdowns in other bankruptcy-imperiled states.  Those outsiders care about one thing: Making sure that the Obamacrats and BO maintain their vise-grip on forced public employee union membership/dues via union leaders.

Anyone joining or supporting those outside agitators should ask themselves: Why should taxpayers–representing the spectrum of political viewpoints–be required, by default, to fund the 2012 re-election of  a specific party (Obamacrats and BO) via forced public employee union membership/dues collection? Why should the minority (public employee union members) expect the taxpaying majority to continue to foot the bill for the unnecessary, fiscally irresponsible/unsustainable demands being pushed by their union leaders? With the plethora of legislation now protecting public employees in local, state and federal government,  should public employee unions even be necessary any longer?

As usual, BO got it wrong again. It is not public employees who are in any danger of having their “rights infringed upon.” Rather, it is everyday working, taxpaying American citizens whose hard-earned tax dollars pay public employees’ salaries and benefits–salaries and benefits that now typically surpass those available in the rapidly shrinking private employment sector. Have public employees considered the Orwellian scenario that if American private sector businesses continue to lay off workers and shut down at the current alarming rate,  we will ultimately reach a point where public employment is the only gig left in town;  a point where only public sector employees will be left to shoulder the enormous tax burden for their salaries/benefits? In that scenario,  they’ll also be the only ones left to bear the crushing burden of all those gargantuan, significantly abused Big Nanny State programs.

This boils down to a matter of individual freedom of choice. Choices (like elections) have consequences. It’s time for the demonstrators to get out of the way and let our democratic republic form of government work. It’s time to get out of the way of those who were elected in the Nov. 2010 anti-Obamacrat landslide precisely because the overwhelming majority of Americans recognize the urgent need to act now to restore fiscal sanity at the local, state and national levels, so that we can begin to resuscitate our ailing economy before it’s too late.

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