A Breach of Trust, I Think Not

“Rep. E. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) told Gates that based on his conversations with retirees, who had enlisted with the expectation that they would get free health care for life, the proposed increase was ‘a breach of trust to change the deal.’”

For thirty-three years in uniform I swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same. . . .” Just because I retired does not mean I no longer serve the nation, I do, and in that capacity and as a taxpayer I have an obligation to do what is right for the country.

Secretary Gates has proposed modest fee increases for Tricare, proposed fee increases are 13% higher than the premiums pay today by military retirees.  The current Tricare fee would rise from $460 per year for a family to $520 per year for a family.  In addition my wife and I pay over $1200 per year for her Government Employee Health Care policy which is my secondary insurance and her primary insurance.  Together that is still a bargain as my brother pays almost $10000 per year for his private health insurance.

If you believe what the politicians say; our country is on the verge of financial disaster.  Admiral Mullen has said the financial problems of our nation are a National Security issue.  Across the nation State and Local governments are reducing benefits for employees in order to balance the budgets.  My generation, the baby boomers are at or approaching Social Security age; our nations financial problems must be dealt with and all of us must be willing to make some sacrifices.

Yet, if you listen to Military Officers of America Association (MOAA), or some members of Congress, or individual retirees raising the Tricare fees is a breach of faith to those who served.  I am here to tell you it is not.

The breach of faith would be not to raise the fees, to force the services to spend more and more money on healthcare leaving less and less money for soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.  It would be a breach of faith not to raise the fees and force the services to make choice between weapons or paying more for health care.  It would be a breach of faith not to raise fees and lessen the care for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines on active duty because the retirees did not want to do their part.  It would be a breach of faith with the American people not to raise fees and make our armed forces less ready to defend our nation against all enemies.

The choice is up to all of us who are retired from the military.  If we want to be seen as just another special interest that is part of problem and not the solution well and good.  If on the other hand, we believe that our oath still applies even when we retire, we will lead from the front and show our fellow citizens, that through shared sacrifice we can all help the nation avert financial disaster.

I know not what my fellow retirees will do, but I believe that supporting the increases in the Tricare fees proposed by the Secretary of Defense is the right and proper course to follow and my fervent hope is Congress will heed the Defense Secretary’s request.

Comments

  1. SMSgt Mac says:

    The disconnect in comparing veteran's benefits with 'entitlements' is that benefits are 'earned'. Promises of medical benefits being broken IMHO began with the introduction of Champus and the erosion continues. I was PROMISED continued medical care (separate from my VA disability care) if I made the military a career. It was in recruiting materials and pitched in retention briefings. Now, I enlisted shortly after the military pay was adjusted to align more closely with the civilian sector '69-'70 and had to listen to the E-5s tell me how lavish my ~$250/mo E-3 pay was. And I was in through the years where Congress threw us a bone and not much else even when inflation was runnning high. I made the decision to retire at 20 for several important reasons, not the least of which the fact that my E-7/E-8 salary lost 12% of its buying power the last 6 years I was in due to pay raises lagging behind the inflation rate. My retirement benefits and pay is in my view, defacto deferred compensation. In this light, making retirees pay more for Tricare is picking their pockets.

  2. Townie 76 says:

    SMSGT Mac: You have made my point that military retirees think of themselves as another special interest.

  3. DaveO says:

    SMSGT Mac,

    BLUF: the US government is not liable, accountable, or can be made to honor any contract made with any private citizen of the US of A. There is legal precedence for this; and it's not a progressive/conservative screw.

    This type of thing happened a long number of years ago. Veterans of WWII were promised lifetime medical care in exchange for enlisting, vice being drafted. After the war, our government gave them the contractual shaft, and won the lawsuit brought by those same veterans.

    I agree with Townie in this regard: military veterans and retirees see themselves as a special interest. Morally, this special interest mentality puts all of us veterans/retirees on the same plane as illegal immigrants, welfare amazons, and left-handed, half-deaf systems engineers living in the mid-west.

    Questions of fairness, having earned the benefit/whatever, and the like have zero value when there is no money, no doctors, and no time to fix the issues for these current generations.

  4. SMSgt Mac says:

    If 'special interest' includes those that would hold others to their contractual obligations, then by definition under the rule of law all citizens are special interests. I therefore reject your definition of 'special interests'. We can pursue this more if you wish but we must first agree on definitions.

    DavO, The Gov't going back on its promises is nothing new, so what? That Bud Day and others fought on the behalf of our older veterans valiantly only to have a court rule against the veterans isn't the first slap against those who served, but it should be the last. Also the fact that a court ruled that way hardly makes it 'right', 'correct' or permanent. The courts aren't infallible arbitrators (remember Dred Scott?).

    I'm having trouble Grok-ing there are those on this site that can't differentiate between the concepts of 'Earned Benefits' and 'Unearned Entitlements' and/or who don't place the two on more than slightly different planes. Waiting to hear rational arguments as to why it would not be so.

    RE: 'Out of Money'. Simple fix (but needed as SOON as possible): 1. Stop the Social Spending-Entitlement Complex– this begins with real health care reform including dumping Obamacare. 2. Fix the tax laws that punish those who make money and reward those who don't, 3. Unleash America's Energy engines: gas, coal, nuclear, oil. 4. Think Can Do! Of course, if it was a REAL government emergency I would be willing to accept the equivalent of War Bonds to help the Nation forward.

    BTW: I'll state right here I believe that ALL military medical care benefits costs are relatively 'in the noise' compared to even a small portion of the real 'Entitlements' programs. I'm basing this on a few observations, not the least of which is the minor influence total DoD spending has in today's economy.

    Oh, and say!–This "left-handed, half-deaf systems engineers living in the mid-west" sounds like an interesting fellow. I myself am a left-handed, half-deaf, Aerospace Engineer and Operations Researcher living in Texas (AKA 'Merica), although I do have a SE Certificate from CalTech– unless he's an MIT guy we might get along fine. Is his deafness service-connected as well?

    Now let's stop doing the 'clever' and let's keep it 'smart'.

    Yours in the Common Defense-

    • DaveO says:

      SMSGT Mac,

      You wrote: "RE: ‘Out of Money’. Simple fix (but needed as SOON as possible): 1. Stop the Social Spending-Entitlement Complex– this begins with real health care reform including dumping Obamacare. 2. Fix the tax laws that punish those who make money and reward those who don’t, 3. Unleash America’s Energy engines: gas, coal, nuclear, oil. 4. Think Can Do! Of course, if it was a REAL government emergency I would be willing to accept the equivalent of War Bonds to help the Nation forward."

      1. Which part of the Social Spending-Entitlement Complex? "An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation." We have the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit (but not attainment) of happiness. Further rights are enumerated in the Constitution and subsequent amendments. Which document has the right to free medical care for life? Or of retirement pay?

      The question of whose ox gets gored is the wrong question: everyone's ox should be up for BBQ. I would love to see the welfare amazons given the boot, along with some others who've sucked the welfare teat dry; but I'm not going to support veterans lowering all veterans to their level of graspingness. I will press for the argument that servicemembers have earned their cash and bennies, and should be compensated for that; and for a standard by which each citizen can be judged for access to the funds.

      The standard right now is the vote. So long as the sanctity of suffrage is sullied, we'll continue to have votes for bread and circuses.

      2., 3, and 4: I agree with you. And no, I avoided Cambridge. It has lousy football compared to Austin and Norman!

  5. Bill Cooper says:

    We were also promised 50 cents a pack cigarettes, and we don't have those anymore. So by SMSgtMac's thinking, Social Security is an unearned entitlement, but Veterans' retirement benefits have been earned? And speaking of health care reform, all Secretary Gates has proposed is raising TriCare Prime by roughly $500 per year, or $10 per week, and retirees started squealing like their hearts were being cut out. Folks, most companies and self-employed people pay that amount($1000) monthly. Guess what, we're not all that special, we made a career choice to serve in the military. The country has overspent–God knows there is no shortage of blame to go around, starting with two wars we put on our State Bank of China credit card–and we're all going to have to bite the bullet to dig ourselves out of the hole. In short, quityerbitchin', you make veterans look bad.

  6. GRRRRR says:

    LMAO as usual at how selfish people are, to their own detriment. Of course whatever THEY get is "earned" and whatever everybody else gets is not. Walk up to any senior citizen and tell them their social security wasn't earned after they worked their ass off and paid into the system their entire life. Tell them they should eating dog food because you don't think the government should do anything to help people. See what happens. You'll get an elderly factory worker's foot so far up your ass you'll be spitting shoelaces. Or maybe you're right, and we can get rid of all benefits for veterans, since they aren't "earned" either. Then we can take all our retired soldiers, and all our millions of elderly, and throw them on the street with a can of dog food, give all the financial savings to the rich as tax cuts, and turn into Calcutta. Great idea, Tea Party! [shakes head in disgust]

  7. SMSgt Mac says:

    AGAIN- If there's a rational argument as to why an 'Earned Benefit' does not warrant higher status, morally and legally, than an 'Unearned Entitlement', I'd be open to it. (crickets)

    RE: "We were also promised 50 cents a pack cigarettes, and we don’t have those anymore. So by SMSgtMac’s thinking, Social Security is an unearned entitlement, but Veterans’ retirement benefits have been earned?"

    OK let's work on your 'snark'. Who promised you 50 cent packs? If it wasn't part of an employment or other contract, what legal claim do you have on them? It really doesn't apply to the topic at all does it?

    Now let's get to your more serious, albeit flawed and mistated point on SS. First I won't make up c*** about what might be in your head, and expect others to do the same. Second, for the record I believe I have a legitimate claim, as an EARNED benefit, what I paid into SS in equivalent now-year $ , no more– no less. I believe everyone does. The problem with SS is all the #$^& 'boomers' in front of me drawing $ they did NOT pay into it combined with the fact the SS 'lockbox' was a fraud. I doubt if I'll even see 10% of what I've already paid in in equivalent $. Heck, I'd forfieit ALL of what I've paid to-date if they let me invest half of what I'll pay from this point forward.

    BTW: This isn't a personal issue for me, at least at the present time, beyond the 'right and wrong' aspect, so spare the fey accusations of 'whining'. On principle, I'm standing for those who've earned the benefit and ONLY have Tricare. Tricare as my secondary provider only because my primary BCBS insurer that costs me a grand-plus a month insists on me listing it as such (that also chaps me). Top that all off with the fact my personal primary care physiscian (95% of my care) doesn't even take insurance – strictly cash.

    • GRRRRR says:

      The crickets are telling you that the average citizen is likely to say that Social Security is an earned benefit of citizenship. But none of that matters to Congress.

      First, this weird fear some people here have of being seen as a special interest: As veterans, you are all part of a special interest group called Veterans. If they don't want to be one, all the other special interests will be happy to eat your pie.

      Second, let me make this personal: I want you to get everything you have coming to you.

      Unfortunately, years of deregulation of the financial sector crashed the economy, and an optional war in Iraq and the ongoing option of war in Afghanistan continue to break the bank for no apparent purpose I can see. Add to that hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the rich, something I assume you favor based on your statements, and you've got a disaster created by the policies you appear to advocate.

      Now you seem to think the fix it to get rid of my SS. Sorry, bud. This special interest, called Everybody Else in the Country, doesn't agree we haven't earned it. In fact, to make it personal again, I'd say to anybody who says that I or my elderly parents shouldn't get our SS, that they can [expletive deleted] themselves with a long [expletive deleted]. BTW, you may claim to be some sort of financial genius able to guess the whims of the market, but I know plenty of guys who lost everything in the recent crash, and had to delay their retirement. So your solution would invite only more financial disaster, not to mention be completely immoral.

    • AnotherOpinion says:

      Quote:"I believe I have a legitimate claim, as an EARNED benefit, what I paid into SS in equivalent now-year $ , no more– no less. I believe everyone does. The problem with SS is all the #$^& ‘boomers’ in front of me drawing $ they did NOT pay into it combined with the fact the SS ‘lockbox’ was a fraud. I doubt if I’ll even see 10% of what I’ve already paid in in equivalent $. Heck, I’d forfieit ALL of what I’ve paid to-date if they let me invest half of what I’ll pay from this point forward."

      END Quote

      In general, I agree with the quote above. I am paying for a benefit I do not expect to receive. How is that any different from any other earned benefits from the government? I'll grant you that many in the military have paid in blood, but is that enough to put their monetary claim higher than any monetary claim I might have?

      Oh, and have you ever heard of corporations that cut benefits, fire you before you get the good benefits, or have the pension plan go bankrupt leaving you with nothing? So why is the government different? It pays to not have all of your eggs in one basket, and these days to not count on a company or the government.

      And while we are complaining about monetary theft, what do you think inflation is? That hits you when you are trying to provide for yourself.

      But, part of life seems to be having the government do things we don't like, and trying to tell them about it. Unfortunately, some solutions are precluded by already being in the past.

      • DaveO says:

        AnotherOpinion wrote:

        "…[M]any in the military have paid in blood, but is that enough to put their monetary claim higher than any monetary claim I might have?"

        Long answer: Yes, blood is enough.

  8. DaveO says:

    SMSGT Mac,

    Snark aside, an entitlement is provided either by contract or by legislation. We know the US government is not obligated to meet the requirements under a contract. Therefore entitlements come only from law. And given the propensity of Americans to trade their vote for cash and bennies, entitlement is spread across the land.

    Your line of reasoning is valid, but with current precedents and the political climate supporting a 'we-above-they' approach will not work. Perhaps two lines of attack:

    1. Not being a lawyer, perhaps the Commerce Clause would provide the underpinning for a rational theory of law in forcing our government to meet said contractual obligations, especially to it's veterans. Here, the bottom line is whomever tackles this needs to go judge-shopping, and stay away from the 9th Circus.

    2. Military service calls for sacrifice of self for the good of all. If we as veterans give back now, we can make the point once the nation is solvent that we have doubly-sacrificed and have genuine need for the government to meet its promises.

    • USMC Steve says:

      If the Government is not legally bound to be held to any contractual agreement it might make, then it should not be legally allowed to enter into any such agreement, and another fact of law is that if one side of an agreement is not allowed to enter into such agreements, then the other side is not bound by the agreement either. Basic business law.

      I was another one of those defrauded by the Federal Government regarding free medical in return for 20 YEARS OF MY LIFE. Agree with the statement that although the court ruled the way it did, they were wrong period. And they have no factual legal precedent to make that ruling with.

      • DaveO says:

        USMC Steve,

        I agree with you. Such behavior by our government is unacceptable whether it's done to veterans or stakeholders in GM. Since there are no penalties though, and thousands of young men and women signing up anyway – who will hold government accountable?

      • Eugene T. says:

        At the time of my 2nd or 3rd re-up (back in the '70s) I recall having had to sign a form in order to re-up which stated that "I understand that Congress may make changes from time to time in benefits" or wording to that clear effect.

        My understanding then has proven accurate, as I figured that there would be changes that I likely would not appreciate, but that any such changes would likely not be Draconian, so long as the United States was still the United States. The changes in medical coverage have NOT been extreme and I'm as comfortable with the proposed changes now as I was when I put pen to paper way back then…

  9. MajW says:

    Just to give everyone some perspective on how much healthcare costs for different groups of veterans… As a recently retired reservist with 13 years of active duty (22 years total) and combat service in Iraq, I was recently granted Tricare coverage while I'm in the "grey-area". Just recvd the letter of entitlement last week, and, astoundingly can enroll the family for, wait for it, $1012 PER MONTH…. Unbelievable.

  10. DaveO says:

    Medical care, as provided by the VA and DOD, is no benefit.

  11. Dave says:

    Personally, I'm ready for the next revolution which is quickly approaching. These moron's who believe retirees should pay more because the nation is in crisis can do it themselves. Promises were made to me for my service and they have not been kept. I like my fellow combat in arms retirees served during more than one crises and paid out dues. Once a cost increase for promised free care, prescriptions and dental care goes into effect, just as they did when the tricare program charges were initiated, they will accelerated and keep on coming. Cut the welfare, food stamps and all other subsidies and grants for those who qualify by only being alive and then maybe I'll listen to this rhetoric from an ungrateful, lying and dishonest nation, The joint chiefs lips are terribly chaffed from continuous butt kissing. They are total incompetents.

  12. GRRRRR says:

    I think it's funny how some people here think it's either a choice between cutting Social Security (or social programs that help ensure a strong middle class) and their veterans benefits. Because the poor get less than $1 out of every $100 we pay in taxes, somehow you've been cheated. Way to blame the wrong person. Again. And again. And again. And again.

    Have you ever thought that if we didn't give hundreds of billions in tax cuts to the rich and blow an equally large amount on maintaining two pointless wars that we would have enough money for your benefits? Did that ever occur to you? Do you think it might make sense for you to consider that if we didn't give all that money to the rich and spend it on optional war, you wouldn't be getting screwed like this? What, you thought that money grew on trees?

    Did you really think you could keep voting for borrow and spend Republicans and not have to pay for it eventually?

    If you voted Republican, you are reaping what you have sown, gentlemen. Now look in the mirror and say to yourself, "Those rich people deserve it more than me."

    Or you could go back to blaming poor people like you always do.

    • USMC Steve says:

      Hey GRRR (WARNING, I am about to agree with some of what you said, be prepared. I don't want you to drop hot coffee on your pecker or some shit.) If you or anyone else paid into social security, (like we have much of a choice if we actually have a legit job), you are entitled to every penny you would rate. Not only did the government extort money from you without your consent to pay into it, but by contract under FEDERAL LAW they are bound to make good on it. If they don't they are in violation of FEDERAL LAW concerning social security. Of note, every single change in that law, as well as the law itself, came from the dems. And each one of the changes created another entitlement group that should not get benefit from it, because many of those groups have never contributed anything into it. They get the money from others who are forced to pay.

      The rest of your socialist "take all the money the rich make and hand it out" though is just crap.

      Answer this honestly, do you believe in and back a capitalist democracy or not? If you do, stop trying to move others to take money from those who have the smarts to make lots of it. Basic economics show that they are big movers and shakers in our economy and have been. As for blaming poor people, I only blame the deadbeats out there. I read about three years ago that if all welfare funds were withheld from the recipients, the amount would be so vast that it would cripple the economy. That is a shitload of money. And both sides of the political fence are guilty of wasting our money, but there is no way you can even reasonably make the argument that the dems don't think every dollar out there is theirs for the taking. Obama and his dem congress proved that by doubling the national deficit in less than two years. That is the worst entitlement mentality I can even think of.

      BTW, which two wars. Iraq has been over for more than a year now. We are only engaged in the AF. And being made of paper, money DOES grow on trees, at least in basic format.

      Try not to be such an ass in future posts, and more people might evaluate your argument rather than summarily dismissing you.

      Good day, sir.

      • GRRRRR says:

        "The rest of your socialist “take all the money the rich make and hand it out” though is just crap."

        The richest Americans pay far less than they do in other countries. If you look at almost any measure of quality of life, people are better off in those other countries. Guess what, Steve: There's a direct correlation. Why do you regard progressive taxation as an enemy, Steve? Without it, you can kiss all of the programs that support economic growth and the middle class–education, R&D, the space program, social security, medicare, infrastructure–etc. and life in the USA would quickly become nasty, brutish and short. No middle class. Just the way things were before FDR, when most people in America were in what we would consider today to be poverty, with a tiny middle class and an even tinier club of enormously wealthy people capable of producing massive swings in the economy. We're seeing this happen now by degrees–the more the welfare state is widdled away by the Republicans, the faster the middle class dies. It makes me wonder about you, like how your head works. I mean, you're not a millionaire, are you? If you spend half the energy sticking up for the middle class than you do for the rich, we might find even more things to agree on. Maybe the first step is to realize that liberals don't want to soak the rich and throw the money randomly into the wind. If you can grasp even that simple concept like a big boy grownup, we might get somewhere. If you can't, you're stuck with the mind of a child.

        "Answer this honestly, do you believe in and back a capitalist democracy or not? If you do, stop trying to move others to take money from those who have the smarts to make lots of it."

        There are so many things wrong with this simple statement, starting with your inane, condescending and blandly insulting question … First, a short history lesson. Unfettered capitalism failed in this country with the Great Depression. Since then we have had a mixed economy–heavily regulated capitalism–which worked until the 1980s. In the past 10 years, we have been deregulating the economy, lowering taxes on the rich, strengthening the rights and privileges of corporations, and attacking the welfare state at an alarming rate. And guess what's been happening? The economy crashed and we have a massive shortfall, and now Sergeant Brass Balls wants to tell me I have to give up my social security because he earned his pension and I didn't.

        So you asked a simple question, if insulting, let me give you a simple answer: Yes, I believe in capitalism. I do not believe in uncontrolled capitalism. I believe in a regulated economy. You know, the economic system that beat the Soviet Union and built what was once a strong middle class in America.

        Let me ask you, Steve. Do you believe in a strong middle class, or not? Answer honestly.

        "Basic economics show that they are big movers and shakers in our economy and have been."

        Please don't lecture me about "basic economics"; if you want an honest debate about basic economics, I'll be happy to have one with you, starting with the very basic idea that the middle class spends money and the rich save it. So if you cut taxes or put money in the pocket of the class through income redistribution, they will spend the money and we will have growth. If you put the money in the pocket of the rich, they will save it and economic growth will stagnate–at least once the middle class can't afford any more debt to maintain their lifestyle. Here's some other basic economic facts: Since 2000, almost all economic gains in American went to capital, not labor. Holy shit, do you hear what I'm saying, Steve? The pie got bigger and the workers got ALMOST NONE OF IT. Today, it takes two people to have the same spending power as one person did in 1970–you know, back when the rich paid a lot more in taxes. The only thing that saved the middle class was women went to work in droves. Now both parents are working and still people are sinking .So what do they do? They refinance their house and go deeper into debt on their credit cards. The rest, as you know well, is history.

        Here's a little mroe basic history: The richest Americans paid a tax rate of 90% during the Eisenhower years and America prospered because of it. And somehow, amazingly, the rich lived fantastic, comfortable lives while paying those taxes. I added that last sentence because I know how you worry about the rich.

        "As for blaming poor people, I only blame the deadbeats out there. I read about three years ago that if all welfare funds were withheld from the recipients, the amount would be so vast that it would cripple the economy. That is a shitload of money."

        See, this is what you happen when you get all your news from people like Glenn Beck. Steve, you pay less than $1 out of every $100 to support people on welfare. It's about the same amount of money spent on the military marching band. For some reason, right wingers like to think people on welfare are lying around swimming pools drinking martinis. Dude, they're POOR. Get it? They're poor, they're hungry, they can't make ends meet. They would rather NOT be in that situation, does that register with you? Many of them actually work, they just need the welfare because they lost a job, or because the job they have doesn't pay enough. If you don't accept a moral argument to keep people from starving and dying from preventable diseases and trying to give them enough financial room to get into the middle class (which happens quite a bit), then surely you would accept a selfish argument: The more people are in the middle class, the more America prospers. But first you have to get past Reagan's lies about welfare queens driving Cadillacs–a proven bald-faced lie (Reagan made up a lot of stuff, like filming at Auschwitz at the end of WWII). If you can actually understand the reality of the situation, you would see that welfare spending not only makes moral sense, it's a good investment.

        "And both sides of the political fence are guilty of wasting our money, but there is no way you can even reasonably make the argument that the dems don’t think every dollar out there is theirs for the taking. Obama and his dem congress proved that by doubling the national deficit in less than two years. That is the worst entitlement mentality I can even think of."

        Dude, are you really this blind? Obama's pet policies increased the size of the deficit only marginally. He's had almost no influence on the budget. The bailouts, the economy crashing, the massive runup in the deficit on discretionary spending, that was all during the Bush years, and most of it during a Republican Congress–and it was almost entirely due to tax cuts for the rich, bailouts for failed deregulated banks, and two failed wars. This was all Bush, Steve, and you know it. Jeez, I thought you conservatives were supposed to believe in the concept of taking responsibility for one's actions. I've never seen a conservative do it yet. But I'll cede one point, which is that Obama is a big disappointment. He's basically an extension of the Bush era, a huge disappointment to us liberals.

        "BTW, which two wars. Iraq has been over for more than a year now. We are only engaged in the AF. And being made of paper, money DOES grow on trees, at least in basic format."

        The Iraq War was not ended, it was simply rebranded, with a scale down of forces.

        "Try not to be such an ass in future posts, and more people might evaluate your argument rather than summarily dismissing you."

        I'm not here to be nice to you. There is little common ground between my position and yours.

        "Good day, sir."

        And you, I mean it.

      • GRRRRR says:

        Steve, I replied to you at length but the comment is "awaiting moderation" for some reason. Dunno if it will be published as it's been a few days, so just in case I figured I would offer a shorter, more concise version:

        Nobody is saying "take all the money the rich make and hand it out." I can picture what's going on in your mind: liberals taking your tax money and giving it directly to crack whores. Uh, no. The rich pay the lowest tax rates in the western world and the Republicans are busy trying to lower them even further at a time the nation is in a fiscal crisis created by Republican policies of endless warfare and deregulation of the banking industry. Now you can see why I consider it a little insulting to hear Sergeant Mac say we need more of those same policies, plus, oh yeah, everybody else should have to pay for it except him.

        Let me explain what liberals stand for. First, we stand for a strong middle class, and part of doing that is to help the poor enter the middle class. For some reason, Republicans like to think that the poor sit around living lives of idleness and luxury while idolizing rich people as the brilliant, hardworking, larger-than-life men in an Ayn Rand novel. Do you really think poor people like being poor? They hate it. Do you think the less than $1 out of every $100 we pay in taxes that goes to welfare recipients is giving them lives of idle luxury? It isn’t. There are no “welfare queens.” Welfare helps families of working people who can’t make ends meet. Why do you hate poor people so much, Steve? Surely if you do not accept a moral argument to help those less fortunate than ourselves, you would accept a selfish one: Supporting the poor is an investment in helping them enter the middle class which helps the economy which helps everybody. Reducing poverty is proven to reduce crime and less crime means fewer high-cost prisons, etc.

        Second, liberals want the government to work to serve the middle class more than it does the rich and big corporations. I could go on all day on this topic but let me try to get one thing through to you. Here’s some basic economics: When the middle class gets money, they spend most of it, and the rich get money, they save most of it. So if you cut taxes or put money in the pocket of the middle class through unionization and income redistribution, they will spend the money and you get economic growth with jobs, prosperity, etc. If you put the money in the pocket of the rich, not so much. Did you know that since 2000, almost all economic gains in America went to capital, not labor? That means the pie got bigger and the workers got almost none of it. Today, it takes two people to have the same spending power as one person did in 1970s—back when the rich paid a hell of a lot more in taxes than they do now. The only thing that saved the middle class was women entering the workforce. Then people taking multiple jobs. Then it was credit cards. Not it’s nothing. We are in big trouble.

        Third, liberals want the rich to pay their fair share and a society that is more equal. Did you know that the rich paid 90% under Eisenhower? That money was invested in building a middle class that became the foundation for the greatest economy the world has ever seen. Somehow, the rich worked hard to become rich even with those tax rates, and they lived lives of amazing luxury. Now the rich pay the lowest tax rates in the western world and yet Americans overall score lower than many of these other countries in common measures of quality of life, everything from infant mortality to average lifespan. Did you know that the rich couldn’t pass on incredible wealth to their kids? Now they can, thanks to the Republicans, basically creating an aristocracy. Meanwhile, we have the Tea Party fighting tooth and nail to hurt themselves. We live in a bizarre age where millions of Americans are taking to the streets to demand that government to do less and less for them and cut taxes for a few million people who own almost all of the wealth in the country. Are you one of these people, Steve? If so, why do you hate the middle class?

        Finally, you asked me the incredibly condescending question about whether I want a capitalist system or not. The simple answer is no, Steve, not the way you define it. I want the economic system that built a strong middle class and won the Cold War—regulated capitalism. Unregulated capitalism failed with the Great Depression and I have no interest in rewinding history a hundred years and going back to the days when most people in America were poor and there was a tiny middle class and an even tinier club of incredibly wealthy men who virtually controlled the economy. Now we see Americans (easily fooled by Glenn Beck and other right wing propaganda funded by rich billionaires like Murdoch and the Koch brothers) demanding that same system and they’re getting it. They’re getting the free market and guess what, the free market is designed to take money from you and give it to rich people. This simple fact has been shown in every country of the world: When there is progressive taxation (wealth redistributed from the rich to the poor) and a regulated market, you get a more equal society and a stronger middle class and economy. When there is no progressive taxation and a free market, the wealth flows from the poor to the rich, and you end up with a very unequal society of a small rich class surrounded by a sea of poor people. So let me ask you, Steve: Do you believe in a strong middle class, nor not? Or do you want America to become a third world country?

        Answer honestly.

  13. SMSgt Mac says:

    RE: "Have you ever thought that if we didn’t give hundreds of billions in tax cuts to the rich and blow an equally large amount on maintaining two pointless wars that we would have enough money for your benefits?"

    ….and Hillarity Ensues! "Tax cuts for the 'rich'?" Which 'rich' do you mean? Do you mean the Top 1% of earners who pay ~38% of all Income Tax, the Top 5% who pay about ~58% of all Income tax, or maybe the top 25% who pay ~86% of all Income Tax? I ask, because I want to point out that it's awfully hard to give tax cuts to the bottom 50% who only pay less than 3% of all Income taxes. Like the song says "Nothin' from Nothin' leaves Nothin…."

    It would take up to much of other people's bandwidth to disabiuse you of your 'two wars' misdirection.

    • GRRRRR says:

      The only hilarity is you supporting tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans and two pointless and expensive wars and then whining when your health benefits get taken away from you due to a budget shortfall. I'm laughing right now. At you. You reap what you sow, my friend.

      I'm also laughing at your ignorance of our tax system. The "bottom 50%" as you call them, most of them work, or would like to before the Republicans deregulated the financial system, which in turn promptly crashed the economy after creating a massive bubble. As most of them work, many of them at multiple jobs, they pay social security taxes. They pay state taxes and fees. Are you saying you want to raise the taxes on the working poor and the lower middle class? Wow, really? Or are you just so worried about the rich with your typical right wing house slave mentality that you'll parrot any propaganda you hear just to try to protect them? Sorry, girlfriend, the rich just aren't that into you.

      So much comedy. Now we're all laughing, all of America, all the way down the toilet. So funny! I hope you're still chuckling when you pay more for your healthcare thanks to your Republican friends sticking it to you where the sun don't shine.

  14. DaveO says:

    SMSGT Mac,

    Don't feed the trolls.

    1. He knows more than all of us combined, with half a lobe tied behind his back.

    2. He has moral authority: he knows someone who was actually in the Twin Towers, and survived!

    3. He is a Progressive, and faithfully provides the same talking points one finds at Talking Points Memo.

    4. That's 5 "R's," dammit.

    5. He always posts the last post on a thread. Cuz having the last word is like victory or some such junk.

    BTW, have you accepted UT's stunning loss in this next season's Red River War?

    • GRRRRR says:

      Haha, Dave. So Sergeant Mac comes here saying:

      * the only way to compensate for Bush's failed policies is more of the same; and

      * everybody else should pay for it except him, which are …

      … completely trollish assertions as they would obviously enrage anybody with more than half a brain , and I'M the troll? Man, you're as funny as Mac is!

      I love how you girls stick up for each other. Such loyalty. Otherwise, I'm happy to see from your weak and childish post that you cede the argument and admit that I'm right.

    • SMSgt Mac says:

      DaveO

      RE: Football. LOL. This is a subject I have fun with at work.

      I pretty much CLEP'd my freshman year and then did almost all the rest of my undergrad work while I was active duty and out of state. I could probably cobble a 2 year degree out of just the credits I lost from transfers. During football season everyone wears their school colors at work. I wear a different school sweatshirt every casual Friday and tell people when they ask that you can't claim to have university expeirience until tyou've gone to at least three or four of them and anyway — no school worth going to EVER had a football team worth talking about. I was real popular with the TCU crowd this year, (OK, TCU has a pretty decent, if small, school of engineering -but it's surrounded by a swamp of 'studies' programs) and the tactic is always good for conversations with Aggies. If it came down to 'Aggieland' or 'Moscow on the Brazos' I'll go for Aggieland. But my heart lies elsewhere: Go Seawolves-Wildcats-Aggies(not Texas)-Eagles-Beavers!!

      RE: GRRRRl. Yeah. I just get the urge to poke a Dunning-Krueger sufferer every now and then.

      • GRRRRR says:

        "Dunning-Krueger," haha. You're so cute when you try to make me pay for your bad voting choices. Remember the weird myth that conservatives believe in taking responsibility for one's actions? Try it sometime. I accept your apology in advance.

        Poked you back!

        (Sorry for the interruption. I'll let you guys get back to your very important football discussion.)