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UPDATE:  To everyone saying it is an entitlement, this update's for you.  First, I agree, it Social Security, et alia, are entitlements.  I chose the title of this diary because it was a quote from the article, but also because I liked the use of the word "promise," which makes clear the obligation owed by the government and our elected officials to all of us, and not just our "right" to receive some benefit.  Let me explain.

  The term "entitlement" has gotten a bad connotation due to Republicans demonizing the word, but I agree we should push back and reclaim it.   However, the social safety net is also a compact or covenant by the federal government with Americans.  The government takes out taxes for the programs from our paychecks or income (for all you private business owners and "contractors") and to justify the taxation the government "promised" to pay retirement and health benefits when we needed them.  The programs have been among the most successful and cost efficient ever administered by the Federal Government, especially when you compare it to the other sacred cow of the budget, our Defense Department., where waste and corruption are rampant and the primary beneficiaries are defense contractors.  National Defense is also a "promise" made by the government to Americans, one that sadly it has failed at on numerous occasions (911 being just one of many failures).  Yet no one ever argues over the effectiveness or efficiency our Military Industrial Complex, much less the burden it imposes on taxpayers and the national debt.

So, I agree with those who embrace the term "entitlement" but I also want to impress upon people the nature of the promise that was made to the American people by our Government, a promise up to now that they have for the most part kept.  That our elected officials are even discussing reducing entitlements, i.e., breaking that longstanding promise and/or covenant with the American people who have held up their end of the bargain, much less actually suggesting reforms that would harm the most vulnerable in our society so billionaires, millionaires and corporations can continue to pay the lowest income taxes since the 1920's is beyond outrageous.

* * *

Last night in Youngstown, Ohio, 200 or so people, seniors and activists and politicians, met at a town-hall event at United Baptist Church.  Senator Sherrod Brown appeared and spoke at the event that was sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.  The message from the people of Youngstown who attended was clear.  Here's the takeaway quote from Carolyn Williams of Youngstown:

“Social Security is not an entitlement; it is a promise to the American people who have paid into the system,” Williams told [the audience].  [...]

“Proposed cuts will force recipients to pay higher insurance premiums and co-pays, and deny us money for essentials like prescription drugs and groceries.”

Williams has reason to be angry with all the talk in Washington about cutting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.  She had to take an early retirement as an X-Ray Technician who worked hard for 24 years because of an injury.  She depends on benefits to survive.  But she wasn't the only person last night to tell her personal story and express her anger at official Washington's out of touch attitude toward the suffering of working people who rely on our social safety net.  They paid for these benefits with their taxes and now they don't want the wealthy and the corporations to avoid paying there share of the deficits brought about by the Bush tax cuts, the needless and illegal wars he fought and the borrowing by the Treasury to fund those deficits (which Republicans approved  each time it came up during President Bush's two terms).  They haven't forgotten what former Vice President Dick Cheney said about deficits to then Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill when the GOP was in control of our government:

O'Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush's economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from "the corporate crowd," a key constituency.

O'Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due." A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

This is our due.  Well, those tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthiest among us and major corporations, the massive and wasteful spending increases for Defense led led to the surge in deficits after Bill Clinton handed Bush a budget surplus.  Furthermore, the lack of federal regulation of financial institutions and the lax policy of the Fed regarding the bubble in real estate that blew the economy to kingdom come under Bush in 2007-2008 and the huge sums of cash handed out to bailout said financial institutions was all generated by the excessive spending and borrowing of Republicans.  

Now Republicans, whose corporate and wealthy "friends" made out like bandits (literally) during the Bush years, are all about "sacrifice" but the only people they want to bleed are the poor and middle class.  Paul Ryan made that clear with his ill-fated budget proposal earlier this year, and Republicans in the House are counting on Democrats to go along with cuts to the safety net so they can cover their ass for that major blunder.  They want Republican candidates next year to be immunized by the Paul Ryan debacle by making Democrats approve spending cuts to these programs.  That way the GOP and its the corporate backed PACs that support them can run attack ads painting Democrats (again) as the bad guys who took benefits form the hands of seniors and other beneficiaries of the social safety net that Democrats created in the first place.  

Well the people who attended last night's town-hall meeting have something to say about that:

Another speaker was Virginia Wepfer of Lake Milton, who worked 56 years as a nurse before suffering a back injury in 2003 that required about six months of physical therapy.

In addition, Wepfer’s husband, Gordon, suffered a fall last year that tore a muscle in his right shoulder, resulting in roughly two months of such therapy.

Nevertheless, Gordon Wepfer is able to raise both arms and his wife walks much better, thanks to the necessary treatments that were paid for largely by Medicare, Virginia Wepfer explained.

“You can judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable members,” she added.

Gloria Hobbs of Youngstown is on Social Security and receives Medicaid to supplement her Medicare coverage. All three are necessary for Hobbs to take care of herself, she said.

“These programs are not a matter of entitlement; they are a matter of survival for our seniors,” she continued. “These sweeping changes will overwhelm an already distressed population.”

You can judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable members.  Yes you can.

Right now my family relies on the benefits my wife receives from Social Security Disability Income and Medicare.  As I have explained before she survived pancreatic cancer in 2006, but one of her her chemotherapy drugs (now well established by research as a medication that causes brain and central nervous system injuries) caused her to incur brain damage.  She is also a brittle diabetic.  Even with her SSDI benefits (on which we pay federal and state income taxes) we live on the edge.  My disability for the autoimmune system disorder TRAPS was not approved for benefits by my disability insurer (at the time they disallowed my claim based on a doctor I never met whom they hired to review my file, I had no single definitive diagnosis).  I was advised my SSDI claim would likely be disallowed.

 So our family depends entirely on my wife's income.  Any cuts to that could mean my 16 year old daughter, an Honor's Student (she takes all honor's or advanced placement classes in Math, Science, History and English) who just received the highest mark (a 5) on her Advanced Placement World History Test, might have to settle for community college rather than go to a better but more expensive four year university, especially since student financial aid is also on the Republican's cutting block.  Why?  Because my wife's medications are extremely expensive.  Medicare for a person receiving SSDI only covers her doctor visits, not her drug costs, which as a "retiree" under the her former employer's group plan (for which we pay the full premium of $6000 plus a $2,400 deductible) we still paid roughly $3,500 for her medications alone in co-pays.  So, yes, this means a lot to me and my family, just as it does to millions of people in even worse straits than ours across the country.  

I might also add that cutting those benefits will have a ripple effect throughout our economy by increasing healthcare costs to everyone and damaging our economy further, if people on Medicaid and medicare are forced to cut back on other spending, and people on Medicaid are forced to rely on treatment by Hospital Emergency Departments.  These will add further stress to state and local governments, and further weaken our already inefficient, overly expensive and teetering health care system.

Let me repeat the quotes by Carolyn Williams and Gloria Hobbs of Youngstown, again:

“You can judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable members." Gloria Hobbs.

“Social Security is not an entitlement; it is a promise to the American people who have paid into the system.” Carolyn Williams.

However, The Republicans in their current incarnation, resemble the radicals of the John Birch Society from the 1960's more than responsible and reasonable conservatives don't care about you and me.  All the more reason Democrats must stand up for their core principles: preserving and maintaining the social insurance programs and other social benefits programs that protect the most vulnerable among us, and upon which most of you (or your loved ones) will someday have to rely as well.

Please remind your Congressional Representatives and your Senators (especially if they are Democrats) and President Obama that there are more important things than protecting the ill gotten gains of Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil and the Koch Brothers, to name but a few.  Acquiescing to Republican demands to cut our social safety net is not an effective way to win elections.  Allowing the GOP to continue to play their game of Soviet style brinkmanship can only damage the Democratic Party and, more importantly the American people.

Thank you for reading.

Originally posted to Steven D on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 07:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  link (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steven D

      is there a link to the article you cite from???

    •  Have to leave on some errands. Will be back when (2+ / 0-)

      I can to reply to comments.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 07:31:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  FYI, I have also heard Obama correcting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      falina, middleagedhousewife

      this misconception of social security as entitlement.

      And please, try to distinguish between cuts to entitlements (i.e. the whole program, could be easily reduction in drug prices due to better bargaining) and cuts to benefits (which are not justified in my opinion UNTIL all other possibilities have been exhausted).

      He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

      by Sophie Amrain on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 10:41:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Correct Steven! Social Security Is A Promise That (4+ / 0-)

      Workers Will Be Able To Access The Benefits They Already Paid Into. It is an Insurance Program that workers pay into all their working lives. It's not a gift from the govt. or anyone. We Workers paid for it! That's why it's called Social Security Retirement Insurance!  


      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 10:53:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You Are Not 100% Accurate... (5+ / 0-)

        With an insurance policy you actually sign a contract and have legal remedies in court.  Social Security is not the same.

        When Social Security began, the first recipients did not pay into the system.  current workers paid into the system to cover the costs of the first recipients who were already retired.  Unlike an insurance policy, the House, Senate, and the President can change the terms of Social Security at any time.

        Yes, we all pay into Social Security and we all should derive a benefit from Social Security.  The amount we benefit will be determined by congress.

        The reason we are being screwed over on Social Security is because for decades, Congress and the President (both Democrats and Republicans) have used the Social Security surpluses to hide the overall budget deficits.  If anyone is to blame for the mess we are in it is the politicians that pretended our deficits were lower than they really were by using an accounting gimmick to hide them by using Social Security surplusses to cover excessive spending.

        •  No and Yes, in the Trees (0+ / 0-)

          According to wikipedia
          Social Security-wikipedia
          Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:

          Social insurance, where people receive benefits or services in recognition of contributions to an insurance scheme. These services typically include provision for retirement pensions, disability insurance, survivor benefits and unemployment insurance.

          I Agree That

          The reason we are being screwed over on Social Security is because for decades, Congress and the President (both Democrats and Republicans) have used the Social Security surpluses to hide the overall budget deficits.  

          If anyone is to blame for the mess we are in it is the politicians that pretended our deficits were lower than they really were by using an accounting gimmick to hide them by using Social Security surplusses to cover excessive spending.

          Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

          by rebel ga on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 01:20:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Social Security Has Nothing To Do With... (0+ / 0-)

            "unempoyment insurance".  In most states unemployment insurance is paid for by actual premiums paid by the employer.  The rates the employers pay is determined like most insurance on the risk involved.  Employers with high rates of employees filing pay high rates.  empoyers with low rates of employees filing pay low rates.

            Wikipedia is a weak source of information because it is changed constantly by people with sometimes no background for what they are writing.  Wikipedia is often more political than factual.

      •  It IS an entitlement - by virtue of paying into (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaleA, rebel ga, Arenosa, figbash

        the system, we are ENTITLED  to benefit from it.  Entitlement is not a dirty word.  It is not equivalent to a welfare program.

      •  Not an insurance program at all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rebel ga

        With an insurance program you have a legal right to benefits covered under the policy and can go to court to enforce those rights. With Social Security you have no such right.

        Also, to Social Security to be constitutional, the government had to explicitly argue that it was not an insurance program and simply the government using its unrelated abilities to tax and to spend. The constitutionality of Security is very tenuous since it cannot be called an insurance program or a savings vehicle. (This is besides the lack of legally enforceable rights or assets.)

        •  Let's try again, on that "no right to benefits" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jim d


          Here's what the SSA has to say about what it is and how it works and what rights you have under the legislation and regulations:

          The Basic Principles that Underlie the Program

          Underlying the Social Security program are certain basic principles that guide its development and growth. These characteristics are worth noting because they are the key to how the program accomplishes its goal to provide a base of economic security for the American people. Five of these principles are discussed below.

          Social Security Benefits are Paid as a Legal Right and not According to Need

          The Social Security program is not and was never intended to be a program to provide benefits based on need. Rather, it is a system of social insurance under which workers (and their employers) contribute a part of their earnings in order to provide protection for themselves and their families if certain events occur. Since each worker pays Social Security taxes, each worker earns the right to receive Social Security benefits without regard to need. This is one of the basic principles of the Social Security program and is largely responsible for its widespread public acceptance and support.

          The fact that Social Security benefits go to some people who have high incomes has been a source of criticism. However, these persons pay into the program and play an important role in its financial base. Moreover, benefits of higher earners are subject to the income tax as a result of the 1983 Social Security amendments.

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 04:07:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That except isn't correct. I'm right. (0+ / 0-)

            That little blurb is extremely confusingly written (I think probably intentionally).

            Here from the SSA also

            This is often expressed in the idea that Social Security benefits are "an earned right." This is true enough in a moral and political sense. But like all federal entitlement programs, Congress can change the rules regarding eligibility--and it has done so many times over the years. The rules can be made more generous, or they can be made more restrictive. Benefits which are granted at one time can be withdrawn, as for example with student benefits, which were substantially scaled-back in the 1983 Amendments.

            There has been a temptation throughout the program's history for some people to suppose that their FICA payroll taxes entitle them to a benefit in a legal, contractual sense. [...]

            In this 1960 Supreme Court decision Nestor's denial of benefits was upheld even though he had contributed to the program for 19 years and was already receiving benefits. Under a 1954 law, Social Security benefits were denied to persons deported for, among other things, having been a member of the Communist party. Accordingly, Mr. Nestor's benefits were terminated. He appealed the termination arguing, among other claims, that promised Social Security benefits were a contract and that Congress could not renege on that contract. In its ruling, the Court rejected this argument and established the principle that entitlement to Social Security benefits is not contractual right.

            The Nestor case held:

            A person covered by the Social Security Act has not such a right in old-age benefit payments as would make every defeasance of "accrued" interests violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 608–611. (a) The noncontractual interest of an employee covered by the Act cannot be soundly analogized to that of the holder of an annuity, whose right to benefits are based on his contractual premium payments. Pp. 608–610. (b) To engraft upon the Social Security System a concept of "accrued property rights" would deprive it of the flexibility and [363 U.S. 603, 604] boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands and which Congress probably had in mind when it expressly reserved the right to alter, amend or repeal any provision of the Act. Pp. 610–611. 3. Section 202 (n) of the Act cannot be condemned as so lacking in rational justification as to offend due process. Pp. 611–612. 4. Termination of appellee's benefits under 202 (n) does not amount to punishing him without a trial, in violation of Art. III, 2, cl. 3, of the Constitution or the Sixth Amendment; nor is 202 (n) a bill of attainder or ex post facto law, since its purpose is not punitive. Pp. 612–621.[65]
  •  Yep It's Not "Spending" It's SURVIVAL. (10+ / 0-)

    Bombs are "spending."

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 07:10:13 AM PDT

    •  and what's wrong with spending? (0+ / 0-)

      someone has to spend in order for businesses to make money.

      Using my free speech while I still have it.

      by ebgill on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 11:03:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When you call my social security "spending" I have (0+ / 0-)

        a problem with that because it implies that it is discretionary.

        "Get your f***ing hands off my social security; it is a promise."

        We don't live in a democracy . . . we live in a capitalist oligarchy, with some democratic representation…Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage, or labor unions?… The capitalist oligarchy …were forced to accept them…Howard Zinn

        by jim d on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 12:27:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Better yet "It's a friggin contract" n/t (0+ / 0-)

          We don't live in a democracy . . . we live in a capitalist oligarchy, with some democratic representation…Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage, or labor unions?… The capitalist oligarchy …were forced to accept them…Howard Zinn

          by jim d on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 12:29:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is not a contract (0+ / 0-)

            The courts and legislation have made it abundantly clear that social security is explicitly not in any way, shape, or form a legal contract. The Nestor case where somebody was denied benefits because he was deported for being a Communist.

            Congress could tomorrow completely eliminate Social Security and it would be entirely legal.

  •  the g.o.p., in a nutshell; (9+ / 0-)

    or:  it's only "entitlement" when it's someone else's life.
    {"i got mine, now screw you."}

    Ryan began collecting his Social Security survivor's benefits until age eighteen, which he saved for college tuition and expenses.[11]
  •  good read (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D, jm214

    i agree. great diary

  •  Conservatives know neither honor (7+ / 0-)

    nor obligation.  While the consequences of their behavior are indeed dire and injure other people, the arrogant and authoritarian behavior will not be changed by pointing to the agony of their victims.  That's because the agony is part of the design.  It's intended.  What authoritarians are after is power and power, to be felt, has to hurt.  So, like a sadist or masochist, the authoritarian has to inflict injury.  Without injury to someone else, the authoritarian is as nothing--like a conductor without an orchestra.

    by hannah on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 07:27:49 AM PDT

  •  As defined in the Social Security Act, (12+ / 0-)

    it IS an "entitlement"

    We are ENTITLED to the investments WE make.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 07:28:03 AM PDT

  •  Yeah-it's time for "austerity". (6+ / 0-)

    All the fucking money's gone. Disappeared.
    Yet, we always seem to have the money to bomb the mortal shit out of anyone who crosses us.
    Tipped and rec'd.

    ...and dropping a bar bell he points to the sky, saying "The sun's not yellow-it's CHICKEN!"

    by porchdog1961 on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 07:28:06 AM PDT

  •  I e-mailed the President this weekend. (7+ / 0-)

    Basically, I said I believe in shared sacrifice so go ahead and let my tax cuts expire (even though I make far less than $250,000 per year). But leave SS, Medicare and Medicaid alone. These things are necessary for those we love.

    "It does not require many words to speak the truth." -- Chief Joseph, native American leader (1840-1904)

    by highfive on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 07:45:35 AM PDT

  •  I can't say this enough (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, OldDragon, wsexson, Arenosa, jm214

    SS is an entitlement - I paid for it, I'm entitled to it.

    You all have let them make 'entitlement' a disparaging term. Just like 'liberal' being an icky thing.

    Either you're wit' us or a Guinness -- Brilliant!

    by Unforgiven on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 10:20:15 AM PDT

    •  Oops (0+ / 0-)

      Should have read before I posted. But ... glad to see I'm not alone on this train of thought.

      Either you're wit' us or a Guinness -- Brilliant!

      by Unforgiven on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 10:27:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Orwellian battle over the word is not (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cardinal, jm214

        going to end any time soon. Be prepared to deal with that train repeatedly.

        I'm a concert pianist with a double doctorate... AND YOU CAN BE TOO!

        by kenlac on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 10:34:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, you're not alone. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sherlyle, wsexson

        Here's a comment I made a couple of nights ago:

        . . .we've been through this dozens of times over the last couple of years here. SS, by definition, is an entitlement. Even unimpeachable progressives like Bernie Sanders refer to it as such.

        I understand and respect your impulse to keep Democrats from using Republican talking points. Unfortunately, many do so quite often, and I cringe right along with you when it happens (and complain about it here often). But that's just not what's happening in this case. Sure, some Republicans might be trying to tarnish the word entitlement by saying it with a sneer. When they did that with the word "liberal," Democrats bafflingly rolled over and let them. "Oh no, I'm not liberal, I'm moderate" was their response, instead of "damn right I'm a liberal!" U.S. entitlements are the most successul government programs in the history of the world, and I'm not going to let the right-wing dictate our vocabulary when speaking of them.

        Families is where a nation finds hope, where wings take dream.

        by cardinal on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 10:42:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for doing this Steven D (8+ / 0-)

    We also need to keep reminding folks that the Social Security Trust Fund is solvent through 2037 right now.  Nothing urgent needs changing.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 10:22:16 AM PDT

  •  Insurance (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, Steven D, Niphead, OLinda

    Social Security is insurance and if they're going to breach on the payment end, I want my premiums back with interest.

    Using my free speech while I still have it.

    by ebgill on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 11:02:14 AM PDT

  •  Its an entitlement (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D, Arenosa, figbash

    which means that it is a right and that no one has the right ot make the recipient feel guilty or inadequate in any way.

    If we lose the language we lose - period.

  •  Social Security is not a "promise". It is a fully (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sargoth, Steven D, Arenosa

    funded insurance program.  FICA means Federal Insurance Contributory Act.  Workers pay insurance premiums every week or every pay period, as do their employers.
    Promises can be broken.  Social Security has worked beautifully for 76 years and it can work that way for another 76 just by raising the amount from $106,000 to all wages.

    Character is who you are when no one is watching.

    by incognita on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 11:47:39 AM PDT

  •  It's more than a promise (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D, jim d, Arenosa, figbash, OLinda

    It's a friggin contract. When they took money out of my check, they made a contract with me with particular parameters. They can't change it when it's time for me to collect.

    "If religion is the opiate of the masses, then fundamentalism is the amphetamine." Miz Vittitow

    by MillieNeon on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 12:07:47 PM PDT

  •  Define entitlements (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D

    Tax breaks for corporate or private jets, yachts, 2nd, 3rd and 4th homes, large estates (death taxes), offshore tax shelters (only radical socialists can't understand how 1,200 corporations can be headquartered  in a beach flophouse), tax refunds for GE, oil companies, Big Banks, etc., 15% tax on derivative income , tax money to charter schools with no testing or accountability, tax money to defense contractors with no accountability, tax dollars to private prisons with no accountability, tax dollars to corn subsidies, tax dollars to religious counselors who hate Big Gummin, etc.

  •  A contract between generations (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D, Arenosa

    Dukakis put is best, social security is a contract between generations.  Today's workers fund the retirement of today's seniors, against the promise that the next generation will do the same for them.

    Where it got a little dicey was the baby boom.  That was supposedly solved in the Reagan years, by upping the ante so there would be a surplus built up for the boomers retirement.

    Then of course, that money was borrowed, and when the Rs took power, it was just more loot for them to plunder.  "Worthless IOUs," said W, of what most sane people thought was a debt their govt would honor.

    That deal made in the Reagan years, worst bait and switch ever.  

  •  I say it is an entitlement. At 67, I paid into SS (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arenosa, Steven D, figbash, Book of Hearts

    for 48 years so that the people retired then could collect.  Medicare deductions began, I believe, in 1966, so that's 42 years of paying for other peoples' health care benefits.  I made shit money and, believe me, it was a hardship to pay anything out of my meager paychecks.  Insurance was offered but for 25 or 30 years, I didn't make enough to pay living expenses and insurance premiums so I didn't have insurance.  YOU BETTER BELIEVE I FEEL ENTITLED TO COLLECT.  IT'S MY TURN.

    That's how social benefit programs work:  you pay for other people and you are paid in turn.  It works beautifully as long as the contract is honored and no one fiddles the system to cheat ordinary working people.  No index fudging to make the economy and inflation rates look better than reality, no cost shifting curve bending, no three-card monte to make MY MONEY disappear into the security state and military budgets.  Or are they really one budget divied up for public show?  

    There aren't going to be any savings out of this evil fraud.  If this theft is actually perpetrated, that money is going into the empire's maintenance and extension.  Say what you will, Democrats colluded with Republicans every step of the way.  Couldn't have happened otherwise.

    "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

    by CarolinNJ on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 01:24:02 PM PDT

  •  It's a covenant made between the generatiions (4+ / 0-)

    I've always seen social security as an improvement upon the idea that children and grandchildren take care of their elders when and if they should need help after they are too old to continue working. It is an extended family.

    During the depression the well off retired class used their savings to live on and if necessary, help support their children out of work, with unemployment rates as high as 25%. Some of the elderly lost their savings, or never attained it. They either relied upon their children, or if their children were unemployed, were out of luck, living in "Hoovervilles."

    FDR broadened the idea of personal families to an idea of one broad national family. The first and second generations that came after the elderly retired would use some of their wages to partially support the elderly of the country, too old to continue working as efficiently as businesses required. The pact, or "covenant," between the generations was that when those workers retired, they would also get help from the next two younger generations in the country.

    Few are the number of us, who see with our own eyes and feel with our own hearts. -- Albert Einstein

    by sjbob on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 02:08:00 PM PDT

  •  You were badly advised. (5+ / 0-)
    I was advised my SSDI claim would likely be disallowed.
    You should file with Social Security.  It doesn't cost anything and if you are turned down you're no worse off than you are now.  

    It is absolutely worthwhile to appeal at least until you get to the hearing level, IF you attend the hearing in person and take the opportunity to explain to the judge in your own words how your medical problem interferes with your ability to work.  

    Please don't wait any longer.  Call 1-800-772-1213 or got to and get an application started.  You are not required to go to an SS office to apply.

    Renewable energy brings national global security.      -6.25, -6.05

    by Calamity Jean on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 02:38:33 PM PDT

    •  I haven't worked (0+ / 0-)

      five years in the last 10 so I don't believe I qualify anymore.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 02:59:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, you need to have worked for five out of the (0+ / 0-)

        ten years before you became disabled, NOT five out of the ten years before you apply.  Please file.  The longer you wait, the harder it is to find your medical records from around the time you became disabled.  

        Renewable energy brings national global security.      -6.25, -6.05

        by Calamity Jean on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 01:30:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Good advice. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steven D, Book of Hearts, Oh Mary Oh

      As a social worker in health care, I used to assist people with chronic illnesses with their disability applications.  At that time (after Reagan) at least 75% of persons got denied the first time they applied. It was meant to separate out persons were were temporarily disabled vs. permanently disabled. My patients would become very discouraged. Often they were struggling with depression due to all the changes in their life from their illness. Our social work team worked hard to help people appeal their cases, make sure their case had sufficient evidence to prove disability, and work with their physicians to educate them on how to provide a thorough disability evaluation. You've got to give them evidence, evidence, evidence as to how your illness(es) impacts your activitities of daily living.  Some illnesses are hard to prove until enough time as passed to get a full diagnosis. Neurological disorders (often hard to diagnose initially) and auto-immune disorders sometimes have a waxing and waning effect.

      My point is listen to Calamity Jane. Keep at it and don't give up. Also, make sure your physician(s) have a copy of the Social Security Disability Evaluation Handbook (Blue Book).  It will assist your doctor, but also educate you as to what things Social Security will be looking for.  Your doctor, of course, has to provide medically sound and accurate information, but some docs have no idea how to write it or turf it out to underlings. Advocate for yourself and communicate to your doctor how your illness is impacting your daily functioning.

      Good luck!

  •  Actually, the social policy definition (12+ / 0-)

    of "entitlement" does NOT mean that a person is "entitled" to it because s/he paid into the system. As in, "kids these days have a sense of entitlement." Entitlements mean that all persons eligible for a program, as defined by the statute and regulations, are entitled to receive benefits.  

    Some entitlement programs, like Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), SSI,and the formerly called Food Stamps are means-tested. E.g. a person has to meet certain income criteria to receive benefits.  Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare are not means-test. All persons 65+ are entitled by law to receive them regardless of income. Same is true for Social Security Disability and Survivors benefits: all person who meet the disability criteria or surviving children are entitled to receive a benefit.  That said, especially for the former programs that are joint federal-state programs, the states have much more control over benefit levels, etc.  ALso, means-tested programs are always more vulnerable to the state hatchet because these programs are presented pejoritavely as "welfare"  One reason Social Security and Medicare have been less vulnerable (until now, thank you very much corporatist Dems) is that everyone is a "stake holder." We all know that if we lose our 401K, social security is still there as our safety net.

    Examples of non-entitlement programs are such things like: Head Start, child care assistance, housing vouchers to name just a few.

    Steven's main point that Social Security and Medicare reflects a promise or a covenant underlies the fact that the original intention of these programs was that the young and employed have an obligation to care for the old and infirm but, more important, as social insurance it spreads risk to all of us while ensuring that we will all derive benefit from it.

    •  Well stated (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Next time I should consult you before I post.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:00:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, but the gist of your (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Steven D, trashablanca, cv lurking gf

        post reflects the spirit of the law and the social compact. I will fight tooth and nail to protect that compact.

        •  Move On - Tuesday Save Social Security Rallies (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Steven D, Sychotic1

          Noon or whenever at Your Congressional Reps Office

          Find your Representative's district office
          Tens of thousands of people will be dropping by their Representative's district office on Tuesday, July 26, at noon local time. We'll be telling our Representative's that they need to protect the programs working families rely on, and make the richest few pay their share.

          Enter your information below to find the office nearest you and sign up. We'll send you details and signs you can print out and bring with you.

          Fill out the form below to look up the district offices near you.

          Find your Representative's district office

          We don't live in a democracy . . . we live in a capitalist oligarchy, with some democratic representation…Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage, or labor unions?… The capitalist oligarchy …were forced to accept them…Howard Zinn

          by jim d on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:23:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Since 1983 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, Steven D

    we have all paid in 2.6 trillion dollars extra in for Social Security so there would be enough for all retirees to retire.

    The money was put in treasuries which was legal.  The government took the money and we were given legal papers showing they owe the money.

    Now, they act like Social Security is this big burden on the government.  Paying it back may burden them, but they are not paying for Social Security.  They pay the debt they owe Social Security.  We have prepaid a lot of it with that 2.6 trillion dollars.

    Medicare could be brought down to where we aren't paying double what other countries pay.  Prescriptions could be bid on.

    •  Unfortunately we had that chance in 2009 (0+ / 0-)

      and passed it by.

      Medicare could be brought down to where we aren't paying double what other countries pay.  Prescriptions could be bid on.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 05:29:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agree! (0+ / 0-)

    Labeling Social Security and Medicare as
    'entitlement programs' is mischaracterizing Social Security and Medicare. Calling these programs entitlements is technically true, but its very obnoxious.

    People earn access to these programs with their taxes. I cringe when I hear Democrats use the word entitlement to describe Medicare and Social Security. Straight from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Buzzword.

    Just say' NO' to conspiracy theories

    by Krush on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 05:34:23 PM PDT

    •  Agree -- "entitlement is accurate but not helpful. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Krush, Steven D

      Promise, covenant, and commitment are all words that have very positive connotations.  Democrats have been slow to realize the importance of using such words to express our intentions and commitments and beliefs.

      It's time we became more conscious of that.  

      Very good diary and good discussion.

  •  The term "Entitlement" itself is right-wing (0+ / 0-)

    propaganda and it disgusts me that the democrats have adapted it.

  •  You must be joking (0+ / 0-)

    "The programs have been among the most successful and cost efficient ever administered by the Federal Government..."  Really?

    A new report from the Social Security Office of the Inspector General says that the agency sent nearly 89,000 checks for $250 each to people who were dead or in prison. The payments were part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Of those who got checks, 71,668 – which totaled $18 million – went to people who had died. Incarcerated people received 17,348 checks, which added up to $4.3 million.

    That's just one of many examples.  Don't even get me started on disability checks.  I'm sure all of this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the fraud, waste and corruption inherent in the military complex, but all areas of government are rife with fraud, waste and corruption.

    As for "entitlements", they can be fundamentally considered a right.  However, a right can only exist if it can exist independent of the actions of others.  For example, the "right" to healthcare, the "right" to money from the government, cannot possibly be rights because the only way those rights can exist is through the forcible removal of someone else's property, usually by that corrupt beast we affectionately call "government".

    We like to make things sound much nicer than they really are by giving them quaint little names.  Instead of theft, we call it taxation.  Instead of legalized plunder, we call it entitlement.  However, just changing the name of something doesn't change its fundamental nature.  So, you can call it an entitlement or a promise or whatever other name makes it sound pleasing to the ear, but you can't change what it truly is.

    always remember, promises are made to be broken.

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