THE COMING BUDGET WAR
Once again, we have come to the time of year when the annual federal budget is coming before Congress for a vote. And, once again, there is the intransigent standoff looming between the Republicans and Democrats. In recent history, there has been great willingness on the part of the Republicans in Congress to do everything they can to get the budget they want, including filibustering, shutting down the government, dangling the threat of no Social Security checks for the seniors and disabled. In short, they are willing to do anything and everything to create such an uproar among the citizenry, to create such fear that necessary monies and programs will be taken from those most in need even for a few short weeks, and they count on that groundswell of emotion to drive the Democrats in Congress to acquiesce.
In their annual budget wars, the first target is always “entitlements” – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid monies given most often to seniors and the disabled who are dependent on these monies for their very survival. That makes these issues intensely personal for me as I am a senior, a retiree (having retired with a double disability in my mid 40s), and am dependent on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for everything.
The story according to the Republicans and conservatives in Congress is that the federal budget would be much easier to balance if it were not for the out-of-control costs of paying out these monies. The biggest chunk of recipients for those monies are aging baby-boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. What Congress is not willing to do business with is that for decades they have taken monies out of the Social Security trust fund and replaced it with IOUs backed by the promise of repayment from funds in the national treasury, something that will never be done.
A CRY FOR JUSTICE
There are no words to adequately express the complete and utter fury I have every time Congress comes up with this completely organic fable about “entitlements.” While we are the people they have courted for votes every time the election cycle comes along, the people who have sent them to Washington and paid their salaries, we are seen as freeloaders when it comes time to pony up, people who are leeches on our society, who are driving our country into the red with no right to what we get and it is due only to their benevolence that we get the pittance we do.
They seem to believe that the answer to the budget crises is to clamp down on us – the horrid, horrid people, the “unwashed masses” – those who seem to think that paying into the Social Security system all of their lives justly and legally entitles them to be given their money back and not have to choose between eating, heat, and medication. This very same Congress that has systematically pillaged the trust fund for decades in order to shore up the national budget which they do not have the guts to manage correctly and yet expect us, one of the most vulnerable populations in the nation, to pay for their complete and total lack of leadership, moral judgment, and human compassion.
That they have the nerve, the utter gall, the chutzpah, to attempt to hold us hostage while they play their games and have their congressional benefits, is beyond infuriating. There is absolutely no difference in what they do to us and the kidnappers who use their captives as human shields. It is reprehensible.
How do we, the vulnerable, address Congress in such a way that they begin to understand that we will cut them off at their very knees? I do not know. I wish I did. I wish we had that power. Because this abuse of the legislative process has to stop.
I know there is a G-d who will mete out just rewards to those who abuse the vulnerable, are in need of assistance, and are all too often denied the life and death help that they so desperately need by people who use them as pawns in their deadly game of brinksmanship. But I want justice now.
I do not want to wait – I cannot wait, nor can any of us dependent on Social Security – until these men and women are dead to see them receive just recompense for all that they have done . . . and not done.
We, the living, need justice, we need to have what we were promised, not the pyramid scheme that the Congress has devised to take in the monies from our paychecks that are designated for one program, then have the money swept out of the Social Security trust fund and poured into the national treasury to be used for other things.
If anyone or any company other than the US Congress did this, they would be sitting in a prison cell next to Bernie Madoff. But Congress does this “legally” because they voted themselves the right to do so. They take the money and issue IOUs from the national treasury, which are not worth the paper they are written on, something which all of us know, especially Congress. The money will never be paid back into the Social Security trust fund, a fact which was known from the very beginning when it began under the Reagan administration in 1985.
So, how do we fix it??? I have no idea. But like Moses before Pharaoh who cried out to G-d for justice for his people, I stand in this place and cry out for justice now. I await the answer.
FOR FURTHER READING