GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

December 3, 2012

Letter: Medicare, Social Security are far from 'entitlements'

To the Editor;

As the bipartisan rhetoric and hyperbole about the so called fiscal cliff heats up, one aspect of the debate is really annoying.

That aspect involves Republicans and Democrats alike referring to Social Security and Medicare as “entitlements.”

For liberals, it is particularly galling to hear Democrats refer to the two most successful government programs in the nation’s history as “entitlements” when, in fact, Americans have been “investing” in those programs since 1937 and 1965 when Social Security and Medicare, respectively, were enacted.

There is nothing “entitled” in older Americans expecting Medicare and Social Security to be there for them in retirement after they “invested” in both all through their working lives.

Democrats, including President Obama, who refer to these programs as “entitlements,” insult the intelligence of hard-working Americans who believed Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson when they said Social Security and Medicare were sacred trusts between the American people and their government. Perhaps Democrats, including the president, forget that, prior to FDR getting Social Security enacted in 1937, two-thirds of America’s elderly lived in poverty.

Perhaps Democrats, including the president, forget that prior to the enactment of Medicare in 1965, older Americans lost their health coverage when they stopped working.

Republicans’ use of the term “entitlements” to describe Social Security and Medicare is not surprising. Today’s right wing Republicans, after all, are the descendants of right wing Republicans in 1937 and 1965, who did everything they could to keep both Social Security and Medicare from being enacted.

Today’s right wing Republicans do not want to “reform” Social Security and Medicare. They want to eliminate them and return to the kind of economic and social Darwinism that prevailed in the U.S. prior to the New Deal.

Cape Anners concerned that Social Security and Medicare may become victims of the fiscal game of chicken the nation’s bipartisan political class is currently playing need to email the White House and the offices of John Kerry, Scott Brown, John Tierney, and Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren.

They need to let them all know Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlements” — and that they expect our elected officials to fight today’s right wing Republicans’ efforts to use our current fiscal problems as a means to accomplish what their right-wing forebears failed to do in 1937 and 1965.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester and Vieques,

Puerto Rico

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