Skip to main content

Congress and the President are having trouble coming to agreements about how to deal with the "scary scary deficit".  It is of course a Very Serious Problem that Very Serious People have to address immediately, which is why the sequester had to be put into effect.  As an earlier Wreck List diary pointed out, the sequester was dreamed up by Gene Sperling and Jack Lew at the White House.

So the Very Very Serious People want the 99% who are poorer than them to make some sacrifices so that the bond traders can continue to make big profits and not pay income tax on their "carried interest" income.  It is Not Serious to expect them to pay more, after all, since the top 1% already pays more than 2% of total tax revenues!  No, the deficit has to be cut by cutting "entitlements".

Now I'll set the snark aside a second to clarify what the word means.  It's a very loaded term. In the specific context of the federal budget, an entitlement is a program that does not require annual appropriation; it is funded automatically by dedicated revenues.  Social Security and Medicare are thus "entitlements"; Congress doesn't have to reauthorize their spending every year.  Foreign aid, the space program, food stamps, and indeed the entire defense budget falls into the other category, "discretionary" spending, arrived at anew every year.  

Both of these words, of course, are loaded.  Entitlement is taken as a pejorative: Who is "entitled" to something they didn't earn?  It is ironic to hear the term used against aid to the poor, too; it comes from the perks of having a noble title.  (The Earl of Dypschytt is entitled to rents from the serfs on his estate, which is all of the good land in Dypschytt.  The Earl doesn't have to work; he inherited the title.)   Discretionary sounds like it has low value, like taking a trip to Disney World or getting a new home theater system.  Thus the words distort the discourse.

But anyway, I think there are too many entitlements.  Below the orange squiggle, let's start listing some that can be cut.  Even if they are technically discretionary spending and are just treated as entitlements -- often in the old (inherited) sense.  And even if they are "tax expenditures", those targeted deductions that lobbyists have bought and paid for.

Let's cut the entitlement defense contractors think they have to keep coming up with every more expensive, useless weapons systems that are still designed to fight the Soviets in East Germany.

Let's cut the entitlement farmers and farmland owners have to be paid for the crops they don't grow.

Let's cut the entitlement drug companies have to get ridiculous prices from Medicare, not to mention the non-controlled prices charged to the rest of us.

Let's cut the entitlement bankers have to make ridiculously risky bets, keeping the profits nearly tax-free when they win and getting bailed out when they lose.

Let's cut the entitlements wealthy investors have to receive unearned income from dividends taxed at a low rate, when the corporations weren't even actually paying the corporate income taxes that led to the "double taxation" bleat.

Let's cut the entitlements that fossil-fuel companies have to rape the land and not restore it, harming their neighbors and the future.

Join in, everyone.  What entitlements do you want to see cut?

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site