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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"We Have to Go Together"

As you know, in my last post, I whined a lot and somehow managed to take out my winter blahs on the two Senators from Kentucky. At the time, I anticipated Mitch McConnell's appearance on Meet the Press would be a sharply critical, obstructionist attack on everything President Obama laid out in his January 25th State of the Union address...

However, Egypt changed everything. I can only assume McConnell's booking was cut short so that David Gregory could talk with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton about the continued unrest in Egypt -- and rightly so.

Still, McConnell made an appearance* and even moved on from talk of Egypt to domestic issues. True, he did not once utter the words "Kentucky" or "Kentuckians," but he did make one compelling statement that I can't seem to forget: "We have to go together."

He said this not once, but twice: "We have to go together."

McConnell was responding to the question of entitlement reform, which folks all across the political spectrum agree is an essential component of cutting back on the U.S. budget deficit.  (According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid comprised more than 40% of the Federal Budget in 2010. The Department of Defense adds another 20%. These programs are often seen as untouchable, but it is becoming more and more clear that we will not be able to bring down the deficit if 60% of the Budget is untouchable and, therefore, cannot be cut.**)

Republicans promised to cut spending in the 2010 Midterms. The problem is, now that a majority of them have been seated in the House, they are much more cautious about tightening the federal government's belt.  You see, spending cuts are not so popular with constituents who don't want their benefits slashed, making such legislation a risky move for representatives who want to get re-elected in 2012.

And it's not just Republicans; the hesitancy to enact unpopular, but necessary reform exists for Democrats as well. No one wants to be attacked as the politician who stole from senior citizens...especially in a 30-second TV spot during the next election cycle. 

And yet, the fact remains: We cannot afford to continue down this path. 

On Sunday David Gregory alluded to the political maneuvering that ensues. Who will present their plan for entitlement reform first: Republicans or Democrats? In typical Washington style, it is projected that whichever side goes first will have the disadvantage of being cast by the other side as the party who robbed the American people of benefits -- even though both parties believe that benefits must be cut to sustain programs like Social Security. The hypocrisy and double-dealing turns my stomach!

The solution to this strategic dilemma? As McConnell wisely asserted: "We have to go together."

Only time will tell if my Senator (or anyone else in Washington) will stick to all the good faith that's been percolating about Capitol Hill in the wake of the Tucson Massacre...but here's one Kentuckian, one hopeful citizen who would like to see Congress and the White House "go together" on entitlement reform and many of the other big issues we face.

So, enough of the political maneuvering, Congress. Enough strategic power plays. We did not elect you to acquire power for yourselves or your party. We elected you to solve problems. So do it! Go together. Get in a room, figure it out, and then tell us all about your plan -- your bipartisan plan to make Social Security sustainable for another generation. that too much to ask?

Jaelithe, the Librarian @ Home, (who has become a little more politicky than she ever intended to be)

*Click here to read a transcript of the January 30, 2011 broadcast of Meet the Press

**What's a Librarian to do? After about 30 minutes of plowing through the 2010 Federal Budget, I gave up on my quest for a primary source of this data and succumbed to the CBPP's data. The CBPP describes itself as "producing materials that are balanced (and) authoritative" and even have a shout out from Ezra Klein on their webpage. So...I am using this source and moving on. If I were your friendly neighborhood reference librarian, being paid by the hour and benefiting from ridiculously low premiums on health insurance, then believe me, I wouldn't give up so easily! However, this SAHM has potatoes to peel and laundry to fold...

1 comment:

  1. I have my own plan to make Social Security sustainable: lift the Social Security wage cap. Right now it is at about $110,000, as in, the first $110,000 that a person makes get taxed for Social Security, but any income above that amount does not. Meaning that the wealthiest people in the country pay the smallest percentage of their income into Social Security, which makes little sense to me. I think the Social Security tax rate should be the same for everyone regardless of how rich you are.

    That plan is unlikely to receive bipartisan support, though, since it involves raising taxes. But still I think it's a logical approach.

    By the way, I never thought I'd get political on the internet either, when I had just started out with a parenting blog, but we all know how that turned out. I think you should keep it up. We need more mothers speaking out about the need to protect our children's future.