In My Opinion

December 19, 2012

In My Opinion: History lessons for deficit reduction

In the coming weeks, the president and Congress will make crucial decisions on how to address the fiscal deficit.

I knew many options would be presented, but never did I expect the deficit reduction to be borne on the shoulders of the most needy of our citizens or that cuts in the very foundation of our civilized society (Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid) would be under consideration.

Because Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid over time have reduced the poverty rate of seniors by an impressive 75 percent, I naturally thought these programs would rightfully be exempt and preserved unchanged.

Now that I can clearly see the writing on the wall, it literally takes my breath away that we are about to impose a “culture of cruelty” upon our poor and elderly citizens. They unfairly are about to bear the burden for a financial mess they had no part in creating.

What is about to happen over the next few weeks is a watershed moment for America. The Civil War, 9/11 and similar momentous events are moments that established a new direction for our country. Likewise, the “attack” on Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid will change the course of American history once again — and send us down a path that truly will not be a proud moment in our history.

America has a tradition of helping those in need. We look out for and lift up those less fortunate than ourselves. In our lifetime, we remember John Kennedy’s Peace Corps, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and, most recently, the humanitarian relief efforts for Katrina, Joplin and Sandy.

We have always asked ourselves, “What kind of a country do we want to be?”... and have always answered that question with the positive philosophy that those among us who are most fortunate have an American obligation to help those in need. Dismembering the safety net (Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid) would be a startling repudiation of the essence of this moral “giving” American character.

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