Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't call them entitlements

When I read the headline at the WaPo, Obama Pledges Entitlement Reform, my heart sank. To begin with I hate the term "entitlement program." It makes it sound like something people don't deserve. Congressional salaries and perks are an "entitlement program." The Pentagon's budget is an "entitlement program" for military contractors. Tax breaks for corporations and top wealth holders are "entitlement programs" for rich people. Social Security and Medicare are social safety net programs. The term entitlement to describe them is a Republican device used to demonize the recipients and shred that net. Not the sort of rhetoric I want to hear from an incoming Democratic president.

Of course, as it turned out, Obama didn't really pledge any such thing. His exact quote, buried at the bottom of the article was:
"Social Security, we can solve," he said, waving his left hand. "The big problem is Medicare, which is unsustainable. . . . We can't solve Medicare in isolation from the broader problems of the health-care system."
That I can live with, assuming it's a signal he understands part of the solution to the rising costs of Medicare, which granted are alarming high, is reforming the health care delivery system with an eye towards universal coverage. At least that's what I hope he means.

Nonetheless, I also hope he drops the wrong-headed framing of reform opponents.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News.]

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2 Comments:

Blogger TRUTH 101 said...

Leave it to the right to make good programs like Social Security and Medicare sound evil by calling them "entitlements." They tried and did have some success making "liberal" a dirty word.
Thank God,(no offense to my athiest and agnostic friends) that we are fighting back.

11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

We're winning some battles at last Truth. Someday liberal will be a compliment again.

11:12:00 AM  

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