On July 12, 2011, President Obama indicated that he could not promise that Social Security checks would go out on August 3 unless a deficit-reduction deal was struck. "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out . . . [T]his is not just a matter of Social Security checks, . . . [T]hese are veterans' checks, these are folks on disability . . . ."
In response to this dire statement, I launched HTTP://DONTPAYCONGRESS.COM to provide an objection to the manner in which our leaders have been cavalierly dealing with the debt ceiling issue by insisting that the quid pro quo of passing such legislation is slashing the debt. The reaction has been to protect sacred cows from taxation, protect sacred cows from budget cuts (e.g., military), while doing battle against social programs, such as Social Security and Medicaid.
In America, individuals pay taxes, and in return expect to have a say in what the country stands for. In a nutshell, although not always aspiring to Utopian ideals, we have, for the better part of the past 80 years (since Roosevelt), been on a course of striving for better lives for ourselves and our children -- lives that are at least grounded in hope, unity and security. The bargain was that "We the People" worked regular jobs, made sacrifices -- i.e., paid into the "system," whether income tax, social security or property taxes -- and for some, they have gone further by dedicating their lives in service to others and to our country (current armed force members, veterans, nurses, teachers, first responders.) Far from perfect, we take pride in a Medicaid system that insures that the sick, infirm and elderly don't waste away on street corners. We take pride in reducing the evils of environmental pollution, child labor and countless initiatives that raise our standard of living. We take pride in socially good works. So why this sudden urge to run from what has brought us here?
Those who have taken up the cudgels for over-taxed America seek to disrupt efforts to raise the debt ceiling. They carry a big stick that advocates benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, medical research, environmental protection, Federal job creation, and a myriad of organizations, such as those under Title 10, family planning programs that provide for women (often poor women) annual exams, breast and cervical cancer screening, pap smears, contraceptives, and testing for AIDS and STDs.
The loudest opposition against raising taxes on the wealthiest, eliminating loopholes for corporations, and cutting programs beneficial to most Americans, less relates to over-taxation and more so to an ideology that supports a free-for-all free enterprise at any cost (e.g., banks, oil companies, corporations that don't pay their fair share of taxes), or the view that individuals who need help with basic services are deadbeats. A wide swath of America falls well below the poverty line: they are not derelicts or deadbeats, but decent people who, for a million reasons, find themselves in untenable circumstances. How many of those who now stand in judgment were themselves, or came from families that at one time or another struggled to stay afloat, stay current with the landlord, the doctor, the bill collector? No one chooses to be poor, and given the opportunity, most people work their way out of calamitous straits over time -- sometimes over the course of one or more generations. It is a slow process, lest we forget, where many of us came from. However, to pull out of poverty requires jobs, education, good health and hope. In times such as this, where the economy is on its heals, cutting Social Security, Medicaid or programs such as Title 10, only intensifies poverty and despair.
DONTPAYCONGRESS is committed to insuring that members of Congress are the first sector of the economy that does not receive any payments from the U.S. Treasury in the event that the debt ceiling is not raised and that the government begins to ration out its obligated payments.
Once members of Congress are not paid, the priority of non-payment should devolve to the Federal Judiciary, followed by appointees and elected officials of the Administrative Branch of government.
In every possible established priority of payment, it is imperative that the Federal Treasury begin issuing its regular obligatory payments to recipients within the military, on Social Security and Medicaid.
Let's see what enthusiasm exists for cutting back Social Security, Medicaid or the other programs that keep us relatively safe and healthy once a politician doesn't get a paycheck.