On Memorial Day we honor those who died while
fighting for freedom. We also thank the remaining survivors of
Later, while enjoying a cookout, we might
want to ask ourselves if we deserve their sacrifice. Are we
planning to pass on the America they saved to future
generations; or simply enjoy its blessings ourselves while
spending the future?
Yes, Memorial Day is a good time to talk
about the national debt, the annual deficits that equal half the
annual budget, the interest that we borrow more money to pay,
and fiscal insanity in general.
Embarrassingly, some members of my own
generation (seniors over the age of 55) are scolding the few
responsible politicians who are trying to get a grip on the
nation's fiscal crisis.
The majority of the House of Representatives,
under the leadership of Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan,
passed a budget that begins to address the unsustainable federal
entitlements. There's no way to control the national debt
without dealing with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
I'm a proud tea partier who wishes someone
had stopped that one tea party activist who carried a handmade
sign saying "Keep the Government's Hands off my Medicare" before
we all had to live it down.
Even seniors who don't care about anyone's
grandchildren should be aware that the word "entitlement" means
nothing if those government programs run out of money in the
next few years. Along with the interest on the national debt,
they'll eventually swallow so much revenue that other vital
government functions can't be funded.
Yes, we all paid into Social Security and
Medicare. I looked up my own and my employers' contributions to
SS, then added the estimated amounts I could have earned if I'd
been allowed to put the FICA payments in an interest-bearing
account for all my working years. Barring high inflation, the
total amount will carry me until I'm almost 80. When it's gone,
I'll be getting welfare checks from workers whose own SS
"accounts" will be empty.
As for Medicare, after one major surgery, my
contributions to my Medicare account will be used up; from then
on, when I need medical help I'll be on welfare. Hard to face,
Medicaid is always a welfare program, not
just for the poor who use it at a younger age, but for those
needing nursing homes after their savings are exhausted. I don't
know about you, but at that point I want a friendly "death
panel" offering me a tray of little pills to facilitate my
On the other hand, I might figure: I tried to
save the nation's grandchildren from living in poverty while
they subsidize my ongoing care; so if the American Dream has
come to this sad end despite my objections, bring me my
subsidized meal and fluff my pillow.
My mother once asked me to write her
congressman about a proposed increase in her supplemental
Medicare premiums. When I balked, she said, "Young lady, your
father and I worked all our lives, paid our own way, and asked
for nothing in return. We supported various welfare programs for
other people with our taxes. Then your father died before using
up his paid-in Social Security monies. Now I want what's due
I had to admit she had a point, especially
when taking into account that my parents paid for the Catholic
schools I attended, while also paying for the public schools I
didn't; and that as conservative Democrats they didn't
deliberately vote to create a welfare state.
I like to think they'd like Paul Ryan, who
has the courage to try to not only save Medicare as an ongoing,
more affordable insurance program, but begin to reduce the
deficits that damage the country their twin great-grandchildren
The House-passed budget plan would cut $4.4
trillion from the federal budget over 10 years. It would repeal
ObamaCare, from which the AARP — which enthusiastically
supported it — has just received a waiver from the Obama
administration so this greedy-geezer group can make money with
its own insurance plan. Ryan's Medicare plan would keep the
present system for those 55 and older, then issue vouchers to
future seniors to purchase their own health insurance in the
Far from being radical, this is similar to
the system we seniors use now for our supplemental plans, where
we look for the best deals based on our individual preferences
But opponents are running a ridiculous ad
showing a Ryan look-alike pushing granny over a cliff, which
would be hilarious if it wasn't scaring politicians who should
be joining the solution brigade. Scott Brown, the first
Republican senator to come out against the House budget, is
pushing Ryan and House reformers over a cliff.
Someday there will be a Memorial Day parade
for the heroes of this latest battle to save America, one which
doesn't risk their lives, but does require some political
courage. Congressman Ryan will be leading the parade, while Sen.
Brown follows it on his bicycle with playing cards between the
spokes, making irrelevant noise.