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Time to embrace real change

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: March 31, 2008 1:03 a.m.
Updated: June 1, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Before their presidential campaign drifted into a contest of vicious personal attacks, the Democrats concentrated primarily on the domestic issue of providing universal health care to all Americans. Although the Republicans have already decided upon a candidate, their focus has always been on ways to reduce federal spending, cut taxes, and fix the upwardly spiraling costs of entitlements.

It seems curious that just when most Americans have become increasingly concerned with a slowing economy, the Democrats propose to raise taxes and spend unknown billions of dollars on costly new social programs. Strangely, the media-driven polls show the Dems are favored to win! The attraction of a potential giveaway obviously trumps fiscal responsibility, as we continue on the fast track to socialism.

From the 1940s to the 1960s, there was a candidate who ran for president on the Socialist Party of America ticket. Norman Thomas' name appeared on the ballot for six presidential elections.

He was a bit of a scary choice during a period when socialism and communism were truly the dark side of all politics. In an interview during the 1948 election, Thomas said: "The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

Sixty years later, the prophecy of Norman Thomas has almost become a reality. Liberal Democrats have successfully duped Americans into believing that the public's wants, and needs, are constitutional "rights." Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights does it state that we are entitled to Medicare or Medicaid, let alone universal health care.

The federal government is faced with an increasing national debt and growing long-term fiscal concerns. A deficit has occurred because our national government is spending more than it is receiving. This results in the need to borrow money by selling Treasury bonds just to pay the bills. In turn, the continual borrowing adds to the national debt, which is, of course, the amount the federal government owes to the banks.

When budget cuts are discussed, programs obligated by federal law such as Social Security and Medicare, otherwise known as "entitlements," are essentially beyond the realm of Congress or even the president to cut.

Entitlements today have grown so rapidly that they comprise over half of the entire federal budget. They are expanding at 6 percent per year, which is far faster than our economy, and more than twice the rate of inflation. Without real reform, entitlements will become so burdensome that they will overshadow all other budgetary priorities such as education, the environment, or even defense.

Many experts in the General Accounting Office estimate that all the government's tax revenue will be consumed by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt by 2040. Elected officials from both parties have been reluctant to suggest fixing this precarious political situation.

President Bush's limited attempt to alter Social Security was met with a bitter response from Democrats. They used partisan scare tactics on our older citizens who clearly were "grandfathered" into Bush's proposal.

Ultimately, the massive tax increases needed to sustain entitlements will smother small businesses well beyond their current losses in the burgeoning globalization markets. An additional concern with Social Security and Medicare entitlements is the immense size of the generation of baby boomers who, in 2008, are just starting to retire.

The bottom line is that there simply won't be enough workers paying into the system to cover the costs of those retiring.

Thus, our most immediate problem is how to maintain this swiftly growing federal government system of socialism, including retirees' pensions, with a falling population. Why aren't there enough young workers to pay the Social Security for the elderly? Simply put, we are not reproducing ourselves in sufficient numbers to pay the promised pensioners.

Our culture does not promote or encourage the traditional family structure that created the baby boom of the 1950s and '60s. The fact is that many women delay childbearing until later, which means they will most likely have fewer children. Young couples seem to be postponing the establishment of families for the furthering of their careers. The unbridled need to make more money, and buy more "stuff," has supplanted the desire and the wherewithal and stamina needed to raise a family.

Americans are correctly concerned about the housing crunch, the slowing of the economy, the wild swings in the stock market, and high gasoline prices. Working families are reacting similarly by tightening their belts to make ends meet. Taxpayers have every right to expect the same restraint from Congress and its budget.

Early this month, House Democrats passed a budget with massive increases in spending and record tax increases, but void of any entitlement reforms. House Republicans presented their alternative plan that called for sustainable entitlements through the reduction of waste, fraud and abuse. Less than a handful of House Democrats supported the Republican plan.

"Change" is the operative word for both political parties in the 2008 campaign. Real change, however, is about becoming fiscally sound. It is not about the expansion of unfunded entitlements, or promoting socialism by pandering to selected groups of voters.

It is about a return to self-reliance, and a turning away from selfishness. It is about making government work for us, not overseeing us. Real change is about the preservation of our very democracy itself.

Paul B. Strickland Sr. is a resident of Santa Clarita. His column reflects his own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now" rotates among local Republican writers.


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