Wednesday, May 11, 2005

7:43 am-The Choices are Becoming Stark, and Soon Our Greed Will Really Begin to Show 

A few days ago, I was listening to a story on NPR on Medicaid cuts. What stuck in my head was something the governor of Tennessee said about balancing tax cuts versus massive cuts to Medicaid. He was speaking in response to a local minister who called the level of cuts and their obvious effects on the poor and children "immoral," the governor responded by calling tax increases "immoral" as well.

Look at the rhetoric versus the reality of what we'd be asked to pay. Expand your horizons from Medicaid and include the defecit, homeland security, Social Security, infrastructure repairs, education, and other sorely underfunded programs. Are we as individuals being asked to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for additional funding? No. We're talking about $5 here and $10 there for each program ANNUALLY. In total, we may be asked to sacrifice an extra $200-300/year in taxes–no, let's go $500 on the top end. That's the outlay for those of us who have more money than we can spend. For those of us who labor for $10-15/hour, our contribution will not be nearly as great.

With that framework, let's return to Tennessee. Medicaid is the sole source of health care funding for way too many poor people. One of the examples focused on a woman who made $300/week and qualified for Medicaid. Under the proposed Medicaid cuts, she'd have spend down to $86 per week in order to qualify. Let's look closer. A woman who makes $15,600 per year in today's health care economy now has to make $4472 per year in order to qualify for Medicare.

All because it would be, in the words of the Tennesse governor, "immoral" to raise taxes?

Our greed is beginning to show. The party that invokes the name of Jesus to quash it's enemies are sorely deaf to his words on compassion and sacrifice for the common good. If the goal is to create a society where private charity takes on the challenge of raising money to care for the poor, then despite the hoary rhetoric, the GOP has not proposed anything to prepare the way for that shift.

Is that because they haven't gotten around to it yet, or because they have no intention to focus on the need of the poor? A nation is more than so-called God-fearing, self-reliant people of means. Ignoring those that don't fit the definition is probably good politics, but not good citizenship.
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