Common Sense Vs. Politics: $250 Payments To Seniors

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury…” — Often attributed, probably incorrectly, to Andrew Tytler

If we don’t get a handle on it, this sort of foolishness is going to financially destroy our country over the long-haul:

President Barack Obama called on Congress Wednesday to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year. The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce Thursday that there will be no cost of living increase next year. By law, increases are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year.

It would mark the first year without an increase in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.
“Even as we seek to bring about recovery, we must act on behalf of those hardest hit by this recession,” Obama said in a statement. “This additional assistance will be especially important in the coming months, as countless seniors and others have seen their retirement accounts and home values decline as a result of this economic crisis.”

Obama’s proposal is similar to several bills in Congress. The $250 payments would also go to those receiving veterans benefits, disability benefits, railroad retirees and retired public employees who don’t receive Social Security. Recipients would be limited to one payment, even if they qualified for more.

The White House put the cost at $13 billion. Obama said he would not allow the payments to come out of the Social Security trust funds, further eroding the finances of the retirement program. Social Security already is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in each of the next two years.

…Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he supports the $250 payments, as did Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security in the House.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, has introduced a bill calling for similar payments.

“I think that the Obama administration and many members of Congress understand that we simply can’t turn our backs on senior citizens,” Sanders said.

Translation: “We know a lot of you old codgers have gotten angry with us because we’re playing games with your very life over this health care bill. So, here’s $250 you don’t deserve, free and clear. Can you vote for us in 2010? Well, will you at least keep an open mind? Great, great. Don’t spend it all in one place!”

Meanwhile: “Social Security already is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in each of the next two years.”

This country is deep in debt. We’re running a frighteningly large deficit. Social Security is already in the red and may be in the red from here on out for decades. Yet, we’re going to give away 13 billion dollars more just for the heck of it?

Of course, if anybody gets traction by pointing out how insane and unsustainable this sort of thinking is, you can be sure that he’ll be accused of “hating seniors” and “wanting to cut Social Security.” So, that means it will probably pass and in the process, it’ll set yet another horrible precedent.

The government is handing the car companies over to the unions, they’re giving people free money for “clunkers,” they’re handing people money that’s now owed for Social Security,: they give tax rebates to people who don’t pay income taxes, etc., etc. — and then we wonder how we can ever get spending under control.

We’re at a point now where the American people are openly questioning whether we can ever pay our debts, economists are genuinely frightened about the possibility of hyper-inflation, and nations around the world are starting to lose faith in our economy — yet, we’re still handing out billions of dollars like we have so much money that we don’t know what to do with it all.

The question is not whether this mentality is going to lead to tremendous suffering for this country; it’s just a question of how long it will take to come to pass and how bad the pain is ultimately going to be.

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