Neither Tax, Nor Entitlement


July 15, 2011
The Times area has no shortage of AARP members, and lately I've been breaking bread with them. Based on these encounters, along with some recent polls, I can readily report that grandma and grandpa are angry.

They are especially miffed at the use of the term "entitlements" for their Medicare and Social Security. These programs, after all, are not handouts. These are funded programs that folks have paid into for years. Thirty or 40 years of paycheck stubs prove they've financed these obligations.

Yet, there are many in Congress who call them "entitlements," and who are ready to negotiate them away in order to address the national deficit. U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-2nd District, is among those who've been all for messing with Medicare and Social Security funding.

My senior friends suggest Akin should target some real unearned handouts, which he has a long history of protecting: big oil subsidies, farm subsidies, defense subsidies and huge appropriations for "wars of choice."

Akin has never met a big defense expenditure he didn't like, unless it was awarded to a firm competing with a defense company in his district. On the other hand, Akin has never been shy about his intense animosity for Social Security.

Appearing on Washington Journal on C-SPAN a while back, Akin said, "Social Security through the years, for many, many people, has been a terrible investment. It's really a tax, that's all it is. Social Security is a tax."

Social Security is both an earned and essential benefit for millions of Americans, despite Rep. Akin's claims. After 75 years of existence, the program "remains one of the nation's most successful, effective, and popular programs," according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Social Security has served to reduce poverty among the elderly -- nearly half of seniors today would be in poverty without it. It has staved off poverty among those with disabilities. It has done all this, while spending less than a penny per dollar on administrative costs. And despite all the fear-mongering, Social Security is not going bankrupt any time soon.

Social Security is favored and respected by Americans, even if it isn't by Akin. A recent Public Policy Poll found that even 67 percent of Tea Partiers would rather raise taxes than raise the retirement age for the Social Security program.

Now that Akin is running for U.S. Senate, he has toned down his disdain for the "entitlements" for seniors. He has, instead, decided to attack all the "Godless liberals." Those folks whom, Akin says, "believe that government should replace God."

Those kind of tactics have gotten Akin elected in Missouri in the past. My senior friends, however, think that Missouri residents are finally wising up to this sort of nonsense.

Visit Don Corrigan's blog at www.doncorrigan.com.

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