Letter - An astounding moment of honesty

Dear Editor,

In an astounding moment of honesty, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted the federal deficit has ballooned this year, even calling it “very disturbing.”

His plan for responding: cut Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. McConnell does not admit the new federal tax revisions haven’t been the economic wonder promised: not only did they not pay for themselves, the mega-tax reductions for corporations and super-rich people are now the cause of a deficit so bad the GOP is calling for further reductions in the public safety net. The only surprise is that McConnell’s announcement came before the mid-term elections.

McConnell also says that if Republicans retain their majority they might repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), thereby ending the insurance assistance currently given to approximately 245,000 Missourians (there would be many more had our State expanded Medicaid to the working poor, but we remain one of 17 states that have rejected this particular benefit of the ACA).

Our schools and roads are deteriorating, our police and our teachers are underpaid, city workers have inadequate health insurance. Even our local hospital, intended to help the sick and desperate, is constantly in danger of shutting down. Why is this happening in a country so wealthy? It’s because wealth distribution is so unequal. It is because our elected state and federal politicians continue to turn a blind eye to the needs of the common person. It is because people do not understand what politicians will do if elected.

Strongly conservative politicians are running on a platform of ending the Affordable Care Act, but offer no alternative for meeting health care needs of low-income people or those with pre-existing conditions. These same conservatives are setting up rigid barriers for accessing food stamps; they have cut higher education funds thereby forcing higher tuition fees and life-long debts for students; now they are planning major cuts to Medicare and Social Security. All of this has been done to reduce taxes on the very wealthy and then when tax reductions result in higher deficits, the politicians seek more cuts to entitlements and social programs.

The October AARP Bulletin asked the two Missouri candidates running for the Senate their positions on social security and their responses are worth considering. To assure social security remains solvent to the year 2080, McCaskill supports raising the cap on payroll taxes for Social Security from the current limit (the first $128,400 earned per year) to $250,000. Hawley proposes keeping the same caps but reducing benefits for high-income social security recipients, introducing means testing, and reducing social security benefits for those who have large pensions and/or private savings—social security would be reduced to a program for rescuing the elderly from poverty, not a program for assisting retirees in the middle-income range. If you have a good pension and had put money into an IRA, your social security payments could be reduced.

When state and federal politicians make policy decisions based on the marching orders given out by corporations, affluent PACs, and extremely wealthy individuals, then the rich get richer and the rest get whacked. Too many candidates run on hopes that voters won’t understand where they really stand on major policy issues. But if elected these same politicians will claim they were given a mandate to carry out their agenda of cutting taxes and destroying social support programs. If more voters thought about the next generation’s well-being then about the next election, maybe they’d dig a bit deeper before casting their ballot.

Sue Hagan