Bookmark and Share

Clean the slate, start over

With the passage and signing of health care reform legislation, protest is in the air. With elections coming in the fall, the subject is ripe for use, and abuse.

Many candidates are now running on the premise that, if elected, they will work to rescind the reform package. Deep concern is expressed concerning the potential of the reform becoming “another entitlement,” and of its negative impact on the deficit (despite the prediction by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office).

The fact is that the hand-wringing is being done by those who said nothing as, over the course of eight years, a surplus became a record deficit; by those who had nothing but praise for two unfunded wars; who backed the erosion of regulation of the financial world over the course of more than 12 years; and who, regardless of evidence that regulation of banks, strengthened consumer protection and regulation of the finance and investment industries are needed, continue to oppose such moves. And those who parrot these ideas continue to be led by the nose, blindfolds in place, by the corporate shills in the media — most notably in the cable “news” business and the radio talk show circuit.

By the same token, a great deal of the support for recently passed reforms comes from those who, indeed, do not worry much about the mountain of debt being heaped on future generations of Americans (many of whom are finding it harder to receive the education they need to succeed and earn enough money to pay that bill).

We, too, worry about the deficit and debt. And we are concerned about the addition of any entitlement to the rolls. But, we go one step beyond.

This will not happen, but we believe it should: Rescind the health care reforms, ASAP.

But, instead of engaging in the corporation- and lobby-driven process of enacting new “reform” let’s get serious about the situation. We should recognize we are in incredible debt and, at the same time, acknowledge that many Americans are holding the “no more taxes” line, and take unprecedented and unusual action.

Put everything on the table.

At the federal level, put all entitlements on the table and erase them. All of them, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, government pension programs, veterans’ benefits — any and all of them.

Sure, you paid into Medicare. It’s long gone. Sure, you paid into Social Security, but the Social Security Trust Fund is a myth. It’s been spent. Sure, you enlisted and served. It’s over. Sure, you spent a career in public service, but others served careers in industry, and their pensions are gone now, too.

Let’s get rid of all entitlements and decide what we want, and what we are willing to pay for. And, it would be interesting to see how those who will continue paying for these entitlements would react — those of prime working age and those whose educations are now being underfunded and cut. They are the ones who will shoulder the burden.

Any bets?

With the clean slate, we can recraft the entitlement situation — given there are any left. And we should revisit the topic regularly, shouldn’t we? As many entitlement holders pass out of the picture?

We are generally against the concept of participatory democracy, preferring representative democracy, but it might be time for the people — all the people — to make some key decisions regarding entitlements, debt and taxes.

While we are at it, why not consider all other forms of government spending, at all levels. Since so many of us don’t want to pay taxes, we need to determine whether we want publicly-funded defense, highways, education, health care of any kind, police protection, water and sewer services, emergency medical service, roads, recreation programs … all of it.

Will we hear, “I want mine, but I don’t want to pay for yours?” and will we hear it from more quarters than we imagined? And when we do, what next? Karl Isberg