MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., August 12, 2012 – After several weeks of speculation, Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his vice-presidential candidate. In choosing Ryan, 42 years old and a member of the House of Representatives since 1999, the Republican ticket emphasizes a fiscal conservative platform that includes privatization of Medicare and sharp reductions to other entitlement programs.
In accordance with the Republican mantra, there will not be tax increases, but there will be reductions in government funding except for defense if the Republicans win the White House and increase their numbers in Congress.
Romney has also told his followers that he will repeal “Obama Care”.
While Romney has retreated somewhat from Ryan’s proposal to privatize Medicare, his choice of vice-president appears to indicate that he intends there will be substantial changes to the program, especially for those younger than 55.
As for a balanced approach of increased taxes and cuts to the government, it appears that only the latter will be considered by a Romney/Ryan presidency.
With regard to defense, the Republicans will likely maintain defense programs at current funding levels.
Ryan’s proposal for changes to Medicare really only affect those younger than 55. While persons of my generation don’t appear to be affected directly by the demise of Medicare as we know it, there will also be some changes to the system that will affect all of us. This is because while Ryan has been clear as to what he wants to change, his purposed savings depend on less clear assumptions.
Furthermore, by creating a two tier Medicare, those that will remain under the current system will become vulnerable to the fiscal cutting scalpel because of their reduced numbers.
For some of us that have been around for some time all these facts are reminiscent of the 1980 elections. While it is true that Jimmy Carter was more vulnerable than Obama is today, similar issues were discussed in that election year. We had suffered through the embarrassment of Iran kidnapping our diplomat, the Arab oil embargo, and the economic crisis that ensued.
Reagan’s platform was based on his word that things would get better if we allow his supply siders to implement a different economic policy. This approach was coupled with a reduction in government, a moratorium in new regulations and reduction in taxes. Some of the changes that the Reagan administration implemented have affected us gravely to this day and will continue to do so in the future.
In the 30 years that followed, we continued the same policies. We gave more and more to the wealthy, since they were the “job creators”. We deregulated the financial sector and as requested by Reagan and his “neo cons” we continued to fund Defense at unprecedented levels.
We got to the point where our defense budget was 45% of the total military budget of the whole world.
His approach worked, at least for some. By the end of the 2000 decade, we had increased the numbers of billionaires in this country from around 40 in 1980 to 400. Our unfunded war efforts and the unregulated financial sector finally came to a crisis and in 2008 we were in the worst recession since the 1930s.
Not so coincidentally, the middle class remained economically static, education became unaffordable, millions of jobs were taken to countries that didn’t have labor and economic or environmental structures and the buzzards came home to roost.
One example that clearly shows the damage done to our middle class that is relatively simple to research is what was done to the retirement hopes of the middle class. In 1980 about 38% of permanent workers were covered by something called “defined benefit” retirement plans.
This system rewarded long time employees with a reasonable pension if they remained in a job or jobs for the same company for an amount of time. At the end of the workers career he/she could count on getting a decent pension in reward for his/her loyalty.
Reagan and his trickle downers took advantage of the liberalization of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) that would allow companies to renege on these retirement packages. This was a signal for companies to go bankrupt, dump their poorly funded retirement funds to the Corporation and go elsewhere to set up shop with very little or no obligation to the workers. Workers normally got pennies on the dollars they were promised.
Defined benefit retirement systems have all but disappeared in the US. What exists is a hybrid in which the corporations match the employee savings up to a certain percentage, usually less than 10%. Only about 20% of workers are covered by these hybrid systems.
Talk currently is that even these plans will be frozen in the near future, leaving employees even further from a decent retirement.
Today workers would have to save and gain in the stock market approximately $1,000,000 in order to get the same pension ($50,000 /year) that a worker would have received under a defined benefit retirement system.
So the choice is clear. If you want to continue receiving the trickle down of the last 30 years that hasn’t worked for the middle class, vote for Romney/Ryan.
This article was typed on a Raspberry Pi using FocusWriter.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, Environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist at Communities @WashingtonTimes.com.
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