Our congressmen and senators shut down the US Government recently to get things to go their own way. Among other things many of them seem intent on gutting Social Security and Medicare, things our senior citizens depend on. Over the years, government has reduced tax deductions, funding for education and even passed laws allowing them to ‘tap’ the Social Security trust fund which for years had been inviolate. Ever since they started playing with those funds, Social Security has become increasingly less secure. Today, after re-opening the government, they are still looking to make deals which will reduce, or even gut, these two programs in the name of reducing government spending and “entitlement” programs.
From the AARP Blog:
Far from being “entitlements”, both Social Security and Medicare are programs we all pay into during our working years through “payroll taxes.” We have paid for our benefits and so, only in that sense, are they entitlements.
In my opinion, these “politicians” and their allies, should be concentrating on reducing Medicare FRAUD. Deliberately fraudulent billings to Medicare BILK the system of funds thus reducing those available for legitimate medical payments for our seniors. This would go a long way to reducing “unnecessary” government expenses. Providers found guilty of fraud should be held accountable and be compelled to “repay” those charges. Additionally, they should be forced to absorb “all the legal costs associated” with that enforcement. Make FRAUD expensive, with certain enforcement, and such charges should decline noticeably.
As for Social Security recipients, consider the following article also found on the AARP Blog:
We paid for our benefits and we use those monies to pay our bills, rent, food, etc.
A true “entitlement program” is Welfare. Originally implemented during the Great Depression, this program has become a mega entitlement program which, just as with Medicare, is loaded with fraudulent applications and payments. Here is a good place to start reducing Welfare Fraud. Recent news stories detail how “Wealthy Persons and their Families” have been able to collect Welfare. Clearly some have been caught but that is only the tip of the iceberg as it were.
Another area to look at in the Welfare issue is those who, while on Welfare, manage to buy NEW cars, get multiple tattoos, and buy illegal drugs. How do they get away with this? No one is really watching. In my humble opinion, and others have expressed similar opinions, if you can afford new cars, tattoos and illegal drugs, you do NOT BELONG ON WELFARE!!! Moreover, to be, and/or remain, on Welfare, you MUST pass a drug test every 30 days. Just as in the job market, fail a drug test, lose your benefits. End of story. Speaking of Medicare Fraud, this article on the Fox News web site reports Medicare payments to deceased people and illegal immigrants. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/31/government-paid-millions-in-medicare-to-deceased-illegal-immigrants/
While we are on the subject of drug testing: Senators and Congressmen should have mandatory drug testing every six months with the same affect: fail the test, lose your office.
Taxes: a sore point with every taxpayer in the country. I read a few months back where resident aliens, particularly those from Mexico, have been issued special id numbers similar to the Social Security Number. While it is intended to serve a similar purpose for purposes of identification, these numbers are being used to obtain large tax refunds. It was reported in the article I read (my apologies for not keeping the reference to it) many of the returns submitted to the IRS have been padded with numerous dependents who either a: do not exist and/or b: do not live in this country. Also cited in that article, a great many such refunds are sent to a small number of addresses. In some cases, a hundred or more such refunds may go to the same address. The IRS supposedly is aware of this BUT NOTHING IS BEING DONE to stop this tax fraud.
Senators and Congressmen MUST EARN THEIR KEEP.
When they cannot reach an accord on the National Budget because they are busy playing Free Cell Solitaire, checking sports scores, checking their stock portfolios and chatting on social media, they are NOT DOING THEIR JOBS. Despite this, they still get paid. If we, as employees, in the private sector did these things, we would lose our jobs.
And talk about entitlements: according to an article I read within the month, and I seem to have lose my copy of it, Senators and Congressmen have: 67 paid holidays, 3 weeks of vacation (from day 1?) and unlimited SICK DAYS. Compare to the private sector where most employers recognize no more than ten, and as few as five, paid holidays. One weeks vacation after the first year; two weeks after the second year; 3 weeks ONLY AFTER five years. Sick time is history. If you get sick you take time off without pay UNLESS you have ‘accrued flex time.’ Flex time accrues over the course of your calendar work year and can be used to extend your vacation, allow move vacation time if you don’t have enough left as well as to pay for sick time off.
Want to cut “entitlements” start with your own!!!
As for shutting down the government in order to ‘get your own way,’ it should be mandatory that a: you immediate lose one months pay AND lose an additional months pay for each week the government is forced to remain closed. Use these funds to pay part of the government’s bills AND make this kind of political chicanery VERY UNPROFITABLE. LOST PAY MAY NOT BE RECOVERED!!!
All things considered, I believe that the Senators and Congressmen should be required to take an immediate 30% pay cut, since they aren’t earning what they make in the first place, as far as I can tell.
Another area where government spending can be greatly reduced is to reduce the allowed number of persons politicians can have as staff!!! Perhaps as much as 50% of their staff can be cut from the public payroll. Not only with this reduce spending but it SHOULD result in the senators and congressmen ACTUALLY doing more of their jobs.
It is a well understood fact (??) that many of our politicians are BOUGHT AND PAID FOR by major corporations and their associates. It has been reported that corporations have actually started allegedly charitable organizations for the primary purpose of funneling nearly unlimited funds to politicians in order to bypass various campaign contribution laws which limit what corporations can contribute to candidates for public office. With these kinds of funds coming in, perhaps we can reduce political pay checks by up to 50%.
On Health Care Reform. Is it really reform? Is it really affordable? And why are insurance company executives being told to be quiet about Obamacare?
By May 31, 2014, ‘every American’ must have health insurance or pay a penalty (fine – tax).’
Question: If you don’t have health insurance now because you cannot afford it, and if the government plan MAY cost more than some people already have, how is this “affordable health insurance?”
Question: Is there truth in the statement that Congressmen, Senators and government officials are EXEMPT from this requirement? If so, should our government be allowed to make laws affecting ‘WE, THE PEOPLE’ that specifically EXEMPT them from compliance?
According to the CNN website article noted above, insurance companies are already canceling existing policies because they don’t meet the Obamacare requirements which may be more costly that those existing policies. Also, hospitals are already declining Obamacare coverages. How does this make health insurance affordable or even usable?
Internet security, the right to privacy and government surveillance. Is the Internet still secure? Was it ever? This article questions the NSA and it’s access to Google and Yahoo databases.
According to the Fox News web site, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is acknowledging that some National Security Agency spying has reached too far and will be stopped.
While the NSA denies accessing those databases, is that denial valid IF they can indeed tap into the data streams to and from those databases and decode it? Under such conditions mentioned in the article, is direct access even necessary? Doesn’t this intercepting and decoding amount to the same thing? And can we actually trust what the Government is telling us these days regarding what they are and are not doing?
I will admit that some of what I think I know may be incorrect. I also admit that not everything that is reported is necessarily true. However, there is enough truth in it all to warrant questions and seek correct solutions to the problems we face in this economy. Fraud and corruption NEED to be properly and decisively addressed if we are to restore faith in our government.