Protect America From Being Wrecked by Conservatives

My Comments: Before you accuse me of being a flaming liberal, please follow my thinking for a minute. The words I’ve chosen below are from Timothy Ray, and they appeared in the Gainesville Sun last week. Yes, my thoughts parallel his but I’ve been unable to express them as well.

Mindful that I consider myself more liberal than conservative, I truly appreciate a two party system of government. But I’ve come to think of those now running the Republican Party not as conservatives, but as radicals. Not unlike the leadership of the Taliban, for example, they want to take society back a few hundred years. Unfortunately, this was when women didn’t get to vote, african-americans were very much second class citizens, and there was no Social Security or Medicare or any of that nanny state stuff.

To my mind, the Republican Party is no longer a conservative party, but veering toward extremism. I’ve always thought conservatives wanted to more or less preserve the status quo, which they like, and avoid radical changes in one’s way of life. To attempt to go backward in the face of reality seems to be something other than conservative.

My second point in advance of sharing Mr. Ray’s comments with you, is to remind folks that American corporations, in the eyes of the Supreme Court, are now people. And as such, they have every right to export jobs if that increases their bottom line, to make decisions that are in their best interest, which may or may not be in my best interest. I say this in the context of insurance companies raising premiums on their health insurance policies. Why should this alarm a Republican Party follower, since it follows a free market decision to increase profits? If you don’t like it, then simply don’t buy coverage from that company.

By Timothy Ray, Special to The Gainesville Sun, November 9, 2013

There is a serious danger today that the conventional but erroneous wisdom of political conservatism will shape legislative policy for years to come, to the detriment of the most important nation that has ever existed.

First, conservatives spread panic over the size of the national debt, seen in isolation, without realizing that it is the ratio of debt to our gross domestic product (GDP) that indicates whether we have a problem. Since President Obama entered the presidency, our national debt has actually declined from 10 percent of GDP to less than 4 percent, according to Business Insider.

A related false panic is the claim that Obama has spiked up the number of government employees to a new high, when in reality he is the only president to preside over a continuous decline throughout his time in office, according to the blog Pragmatic Capitalism.

Federal government jobs have declined at an average monthly rate of 0.7 percent during Obama’s entire time in office. By contrast, President Reagan, who vowed to reduce the size of government and cure the deficit, increased the White House staff while in office, ramped up spending and more than doubled the national debt.

Second, conservatives keep insisting that Social Security and Medicare are ramping up our national debt and that both are bankrupt, all of which is nonsense. The Social Security retirement program is self-financing, not adding to the deficit, and it is the most securely budgeted item in the entire U.S. budget because it is solid as Gibraltar until 2033.

As has been done successfully in the past, adjustments can be made when we get close to that date that will set the stage for secure decades into the future.

At present, the first $113,700 of your annual income is subject to the Social Security tax, if you are lucky enough to earn so much. Not even the super athletes, movie stars and the financial titans who make millions of dollars per year pay a penny more. When 2033 comes near, Congress need only raise the ceiling on the amount of income that is subject to the tax in order to create solid-as-Gibralter security for decades. And there will be plenty of room for more adjustments for the decades after that.

Medicare Part A is financed by the Medicare payroll tax, and the cost of Part B is shared between the payroll tax and public premiums and annual deductibles. Part D, which pays part of the cost of prescribed medications, is partly financed by the enrollee’s private health insurance premiums, because President George W. Bush and those in Congress at the time gave a gigantic present to the health insurance corporations.

The more rational plan would have been to run it like the Veterans Affairs prescription program, which provides veterans with medications at low costs through the solidly capitalist American custom of competitive bidding.

Finally, conservatives would have us believe that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the updated food stamp program) is filled with fraud because the paupers who need it to survive cheat and buy lobster or other luxuries. This is a real howler. To punish the small percentage of cheaters, they would starve hundreds of thousands of truly needy children, single parents and low-income seniors.

The old farm bill needed some cuts, especially the crop insurance payments to gigantic agribusiness corporations, who are able to budget ahead for less profitable years. But in the name of all that is holy, we must not let the conservatives snatch bread from the mouths of hungry children.

Can we remember the words of Jesus who said, “If you have not done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have not done it unto me.” My fellow citizens, we must act now to conserve America from being wrecked by the conservative Republicans.

Timothy Ray lives in Gainesville.