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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mend it, don't end it

Let's hope Barack Obama has Paul Ryan and his GOP band of slashers right where he wants them.

No one in their right mind will deny something needs to be done to restore fiscal sanity to a government that cuts taxes by the trillions but continues to spend without any controls.

And now that Ryan has unveiled his harsh vision for America -- gutting Medicare and Medicaid while leaving defense spending and corporate welfare untouched, all tied up in a pretty ribbon of deeper tax cuts -- it's time for an alternate vision.

Pundits are speculating that Obama deliberately waited until after Ryan's apocalyptic blueprint to cast himself and liberals, once again, as grownups in the debate. And there are definitely some adult approaches that can be offered.

Health care reform, already on the books, was the first step. It offers an outline to reduce the increase in costs that are bankrupting both public and private insurers. Do Ryan and the GOP seriously believe relying even more on private insurers to pay for the care of our sickest citizens is the answer?

Instead of slashing and burning, some modest increases to the taxes working men and women provide through paychecks could help close the gap between health care spending and available funds.

The same is true with Social Security, which was conceived in a different era when Americans did not live as long. Continue the upward movement of the retirement and extend the maximum salary before annual contributions end beyond the current $106,800.

There are plenty of places to chop besides social programs that serve the oldest and sickest among us. Like a defense budget that still thinks we are fighting the Nazis and the Soviet Union and not al Qaeda.

Time and again, since Vietnam we have proven our armed forces are equipped to fight massive land wars and not insurgencies. We keep sinking billions into jet fighters that can't and don't fight effectively against elusive terrorist cells. Yet Congress insists in sinking billions into weapons that even our Pentagon leadership say are superfluous.

And that's just the tip of the corporate welfare that our tax dollars pay for. Let's talk about agricultural subsidies for farmers who are not he family businesses we once knew. Or the billions for oil companies to keep drilling in more and more environmentally sensitive places -- all the while they make record profits thanks to soaring oil prices brought on because of the instability triggered by our outmoded military tactics.

Then there is tax reform -- or an end to shoveling more and more of the dollars into the pockets of those who need it least. The GOP refuses to acknowledge a huge chunk of deficit they now bemoan was created by reckless tax cuts that have clearly failed to prime the economic pump over the last decade as they predicted.

So count me among those who hope Obama has been crazy like a fox, forcing the GOP to unveil it's bleak reverse Robin Hood vision for the middle class before offering a solution that involves every American, not just those who can least afford it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really do not get why the retirement age should be raised for everyone. Because wealthy white collar workers live longer-janitor/construction workers should work til they drop? Also age discrimination is a big factor. Alot of people who get laid of late in careers cannot find employment. Until these inequities are addressed, the retirement age should stay the same.

April 11, 2011 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Start with a plan to stop giving away money to non-citizens. No subsidized housing unless you can show you're a citizen, and all the other give away programs. Only 60% of the population is working now, don't tax us higher to subsidize your utopian plan for world equality. And I don't have a problem with having to show ID's to get things from the government, if you don't want to show an ID, don't ask for anything.

April 12, 2011 5:03 AM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

OL--here's the wonk argument: the low average lifespan in the 1940s was due to lots of infant mortality and childhood deaths. People who managed to make it to 60 back then still could live a while.
And here's the human argument:
I grew up around the people who spend 8 hours a day hanging chickens on factory lines, giving themselves carpal tunnel syndrome so you can have a cheap Chicken parm sandwich. They pay into Social Security the same as you but need it more. Raising the retirement age is the wrong move.

April 12, 2011 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re the second comment: who's not working. The pampered kids under 16? The folks over 65? The people who were laid off and can't find new work in this crap economy delivered to us by "free market" financial deregulation? The stay-at-home parents whose partner makes enough to support the family for now? Students?

Re the first and third comments: right on.

April 15, 2011 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second comment is malinformed, absurd, and nasty. Especially as the requirement that one show an ID in order to get gov't benefites: that's already the reality, fool.

And yet again it blames those with the least -- imagined into hoards of "illegals," all of them insufficiently white, by such as racist FOX -- min order to whine about taxes, when most of those taxes are given as handouts as corporate welfare.

So just beat up on the mythic "illegals" (excepting those from white countries) instead of opposing the continuing billions-per-year subsidies to the mega-wealthy oil industry.

And to the mega-wealthy pharmaceutical industry.

If a person wants an accurate and balanced perspective, he doesn't watch FOX. Not even to laugh at it.

April 16, 2011 2:12 AM  

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