Entitlements

At present we here in the United States are in an interesting situation.

This whole year our elected representatives have been wrangling over the budget — first with the showdown over the shutdown, and now with the debt ceiling high noon. And much of the discussion has centered not on bringing more money in, but cutting the money that’s going out, usually focusing on “entitlements.”

There has been discussion of cutting all Title X funding for women’s health on the basis of “no taxpayer money for abortions,” even though none of the Title X money goes to abortions at all. There have also been proposals to effectively defund the Environmental Agency, specifically making it illegal to regulate greenhouse gasses. And most significantly there have been “bold” proposals for cutting or even effectively privatizing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security over time, never mind that these measures would almost certainly increase costs for the poor and elderly and thus completely gut the main mission of those organizations.

Note that many of these issues are still in contention — some guaranteed not to pass, others being used as bargaining chips. Both parties, however, are agreeing to major cuts in the so-called “entitlement programs” that (mostly) benefit older and poorer folks; the difference between the parties’ positions is only in how much they’ll cut, not if. Note that the parties are also united in deregulating major industries, such as banking and telecommunications — again only differing in degree. And while President Obama has proposed raising taxes, he had the opportunity to do exactly that some months ago and, quite simply, didn’t — meaning that the parties, in deed at least, are also united on cutting taxes. Continue reading

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