Entitlements — Damage Control by a Pro-American Liberal

 By Nicholas St. John

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As we embark upon the New Year, Republicans in Congress are eying well-established safety nets, otherwise known as entitlements. Social Security, Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamps are the most widely known and expensive programs that the Federal Government either pays for outright, or significantly subsidizes. The controlling party in Washington is planning on reforming these programs, which is another way of saying they are making cuts to the benefits available. The goal is to largely cut down on our Government’s expenses, thus slowing the exploding debt.

Our US Debt is about $20 Trillion, whilst our tax revenue is about $6 Trillion. To put that in perspective, that would be like someone that makes $60,000 a year purchasing a house that is worth $200,000, which is perfectly manageable. Yes, most people would prefer to have their house paid off to avoid interest payments, but they would also rather have a roof over their head, than not have a house at all. You could argue that they should buy a cheaper house, or only spend what they have, but it is not a crisis. Anyone that acts like the National Debt is an impending disaster is disingenuous, or is using it to manipulate voters.

It is great to have a Government that is in a surplus position, or spending less than it is taking in. America has been the greatest country in the world for over 200 years, and has basically never been debt free. The real problem that should be the talking point of Congressmen that want to reduce spending on social programs is abuse to the system. I am not saying that everyone on Disability, Food Stamps, or Medicaid is abusing the system, or even a majority of people. I am saying that I have witnessed firsthand the abuses of government assistance programs, but still, more often than not the people using these programs truly need them. The truth of the matter is that the stories of people using all of their food stamps to buy steaks and the like are true, but those people are the minority of recipients. Republicans and Democrats alike would support legislation that responsibly solves the problem of waste, fraud, and abuse, but that does not mean around the board cuts. Ingenuity and collaboration will be required to fix our country’s social programs’ problems.

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America’s lowest earners will struggle even more if these safety nets are withdrawn irresponsibly by making wide cuts. Recently, the Trump Administration changed a rule that will allow States to require work, volunteerism, college, or pregnancy as a precursor for Medicaid for able-bodied individuals. In other words, no work — no free medical care. While I personally support a program that would grant Medicaid to all Americans, regardless of income or working status, in the current system we have now, this might spur able bodies into contributing for their healthcare, or they could just stop getting healthcare and their poverty levels will increase. This is a borderline wide cut, but they allowed for volunteering, college, and pregnancy to be a substitute for work, and I think that will be the saving grace for the public. 

The Right has maintained that America has held onto its Capitalistic dominance by thwarting many attempts at increasing entitlements. Most other large economic forces in the world have a huge entitlement known as “medical care for all” (similar to what I aforementioned), that America has passed on as of yet. The truth of the matter is that America is the dominant country in the world because of our freedom and drive, not because we do not supply medical care for our citizenry. Our country is not great because of unfettered Capitalism. In fact, most of the jobs that people in poverty are working only affect quality of life, not US Dominance. McDonalds being able to produce delicious McChickens for $1 is not what makes America great, it is that we landed on the moon, invented modern democracy, and inspire millions of people to want to come here to participate in the American Dream. 

Trump campaigned telling the American people repeatedly that he would not sign a bill that would cut Social Security, Medicaid, or the like. He ensured the public that these safety nets will be there to catch us when we fall into bad times. The majority of Americans will not castigate Trump if he reforms (not wide cuts) some of these programs with bipartisan support. Most Americans would agree that no child that is starving should go hungry without Food Stamps, that no disabled veteran should go homeless without Disability, and that no poor woman should be forced to forgo medical care for her children without Medicaid. Trump agrees with these statements, and let’s hope that he maintains his position, but still works for a better America. We should be focusing on advancing our country’s crumbling infrastructure, space program, and energy research. That would Make America Great Again.

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 Author: Nicholas St. John

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