Slashing entitlements isn't the solution

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I am a fiscal conservative and a Republican elected official in Georgia. As such, I believe that we need to balance the budget, reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling.

Here is how: cut military spending, which is out of control and has doubled in the last 10 years; repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which have not created jobs in the past decade; tax all earned income for Social Security, not up to $106,800 like we do now; slash corporate welfare, such as government payments to oil companies and corporate farms; shrink the federal government work force and lower its pay scale; and provide end-of-life counseling to eliminate medically unnecessary care under Medicare.

According to a recent Pew Survey, 60 percent of Americans say it is more important to keep Medicare and Social Security benefits as they are vs. cutting the deficit. Slashing these entitlement programs, which provide a middle-class safety net, is not supported by taxpayers -- and politicians advocating this approach will pay for it at the polls.

(The writer is a Jasper County commissioner.)

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willie7
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willie7 08/03/11 - 10:46 pm
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Agree with you, Mr. Bernard.
Unpublished

Agree with you, Mr. Bernard.

faithson
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faithson 08/04/11 - 12:40 am
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need to send this letter to

need to send this letter to that 'super congress' and see how it flies. Don't think the Bachman group will agree

shrimp for breakfast
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shrimp for breakfast 08/04/11 - 02:09 am
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I agree with this letter.

I agree with this letter.

thewiz0oz
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thewiz0oz 08/04/11 - 03:57 am
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Interesting concept. Continue

Interesting concept. Continue to borrow 40 cents of every dollar we spend indefinitely. Seems to me the 'safety net' in place will eventually become a tangled mess that will choke to death all citizens. If you really want a fair tax system that produces the needed revenues while not destroying the job- creating system you stop taxing income and start taxing consumption. Hundreds of billions of tax dollars are loss each year due to non-reported income - particular through income generated from drug, prostution gambling and other sources. Income is much easier to manipulate than is consumption. That way the big spenders pay the most taxes. Out of control entitlements is the cancer that will eventually destroy the greatest country ever founded.

thewiz0oz
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thewiz0oz 08/04/11 - 04:05 am
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P. S. -Mr Bernard. In case

P. S. -Mr Bernard. In case you didn't get the memo I hate to be the one to inform you that businesses and corporations pay no taxes. Economics 101 teaches that corporations and businesses consider taxes to be a cost of goods that includes rent, utilities and all other expenses of operations - then passes the total costs on to the consumer. You want a higher cost of goods you purchase, then add to the cost - in the end you will pay it. Economics is so interesting.

blues550
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blues550 08/04/11 - 05:44 am
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First of all, having paid
Unpublished

First of all, having paid into Social Security & Medicare all of my life I have more than earned them.

Second, please read up on Economics 101.

Third, let's start downsizing government from the bottom up. Starting with the eliminating Jasper County. How does that grab you?

hounddog
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hounddog 08/04/11 - 06:05 am
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Mr. Bernard, ‘I am a fiscal
Unpublished

Mr. Bernard, ‘I am a fiscal conservative’
You may claim to be a conservative but you are not even close. It is nothing worse than lying too one self.

nofanofobama
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nofanofobama 08/04/11 - 06:15 am
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no one is against a safety

no one is against a safety net..national defense is one of the legitimate function of govt..we are not slahing anything..every year the baseline goes up for govt spending..where are the cuts?????????? there is so much waste, fraud and abuse why would we want more dollars from our neighbors..the govt is like an extremely fat person confined to a bed..cant function or work and needs constant feeding...

southernguy08
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southernguy08 08/04/11 - 06:36 am
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Good point, THEWIZ. Go ahead
Unpublished

Good point, THEWIZ. Go ahead and stick it to corporations by hitting them with higher taxes. Watch the price of whatever product or service they provide go higher. Yeah, that's just what we need, more higher prices. We already have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Ever thought that that's what is sending corporations overseas? Ever thought that maybe we could keep them here and get others to come by lowering corporate taxes? Ohhhhh...we can't have that! Watch the libs go crazy now. Sorry, I'm being redundant.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 08/04/11 - 06:53 am
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Higher tax rates lead to ruin

Higher tax rates lead to ruin of the economy. Cutting government programs is the only way to go.

I just read that Brazil has slashed the corporate income tax rates. People are celebrating in the streets.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/04/11 - 06:55 am
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TheWiz does make a good point

TheWiz does make a good point I'll expand on. Make the corporation raise it's prices so high to pay the taxes they can't turn a profit and they start to fire workers while the shareholders take their money out. A corporation is nothing more than investors banded together. Obama ranks them an evil comparable with civilization destroying aliens from outer space. How can we live in a capitalistic economic system with a Emperor Ming who hates the system? We need a Flash Gordon to fight Ming.

Pat D
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Pat D 08/04/11 - 06:57 am
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Nobody that I know of wants

Nobody that I know of wants to cut benefits to people who are in the system now or who will enter the system in the near future....The idea is to wean people off public money and return their freedom to choose how they will be financially responsible for themselves over time....If they do not do that for whatever reason, legitimate or imagined or lack of will power (laziness), then they fall into the public safety net which is either their family and friends or public assistance in the form of public clinics, dormitory housing, multiple patient wards in hospital, or basic foods that are in surplus in the markets of the world....They will not have the standard of life and will not receive the same level of care as the people who work and plan for their own future.

One of the best ways that I know of to achieve balance and fairness in our governmental system and taxation programs is the Fair Tax....This plan taxes everybody above the poverty level and the more you spend, the more you pay and it does not depend upon your honesty for collection; you pay the tax when you buy any new product or service at the retail level regardless of how you got the money that you spend....And it funds the government at present levels without the income taxes, Social Security tax, and the Medicare/Medicaid tax...Check it out @ FAIRTAX.ORG

harley_52
25783
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harley_52 08/04/11 - 07:14 am
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Mr. Bernard has some good

Mr. Bernard has some good ideas, but I'm not prepared to sign on to several of them.

Cut military spending...He fails to make the case. Military spending should be based upon anticipated costs for both current and future operations. Our goals should be to WIN and then exit our current wars and prepare to win the next. Whether we're spending too little, enough, or too much depends on how well we manage what we spend and the level of risk we're prepared to accept from the threat(s) we face. I agree we should probably "cut defense spending" but we need to do it with our eyes open.

End the "Bush Tax Cuts." Here we go again. There is NO evidence that raising taxes will create jobs and plenty that it will have the opposite effect. The right way to increase "revenue" into the U.S. Treasury is to create jobs which will increase the number of people paying taxes instead of paying those same people to NOT work.

The "end of life" counseling. I'd need a little more info about this one. What "medically unnecessary care under Medicare" is he talking about? Does he mean the "death panels" envisioned under Obamacare? Does he mean panels such as those employed by the British NHS that ration care based on bureaucratic whims? This one is a pretty slippery slope that needs some definition and caution before signing on.

Finally, I don't understand his last paragraph. He seems to be taking a position contrary to his earlier suggestion about "end of life counseling."

harley_52
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harley_52 08/04/11 - 07:20 am
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Listen to Pat D. Bring back

Listen to Pat D.

Bring back personal responsibility and eliminate the nanny state mentality. Paying people for being irresponsible should have a very low ceiling.

Also, the Fair Tax is the right way to go for lots of reasons.

southern2
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southern2 08/04/11 - 08:10 am
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Never a mention of cutting

Never a mention of cutting goods and services to the "MOOCHER CLASS."

dichotomy
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dichotomy 08/04/11 - 08:39 am
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Yep, no mention of making the

Yep, no mention of making the half that don't pay any taxes to start kicking in their fair share either. Mr. Bernard is a fiscal conservative only in the sense that he believes in paying the bills......with somebody else's money. He needs to turn in his Republican ID card and join the Pelosi/Reid fan club.

RogerDavis
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RogerDavis 08/04/11 - 08:50 am
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Raise taxes and increase

Raise taxes and increase spending? This guy definitely isn't a conservative Republican. He probably should "come out" and change party affiliation and get it over with.

FalseHopeLooseChange
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FalseHopeLooseChange 08/04/11 - 09:01 am
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Slash "middle class" safety

Slash "middle class" safety nets?

I thought your great leader said "Don't balance the budget on the backs of the middle-class"? (It might have been Jay Leno who muttered those words). Let's try this 10 step-program first, then if that doesn't work in five years, implement your middle-class safety nets:

1. Slash "safety nets" for everyone but the young (0-18), the elderly 55 and older, and the truly and certifiably disabled (crippled, blind or crazy).

2. Establish a safety net for the yet unborn.

3. Educate youths who want to be educated or technically trained with instructors who want to teach, are qualified to teach, and are only compensated for educational abilities and proven results.

4. Eliminate military budget spending for 'Nation Building' and Military Keynesianism. Charge our "friends" for U.S. military presence and protection. If they don't pay up, build and occupy bases on our own borders.

5. Establish an immigration system that protects the nation's borders and provides for controlled immigration.

6. Implement serious tort reform, reduce the number of legal system levels and appeals and length of time wasted in the court system.

7. Provide a strong, robust economy by cutting corporate taxes, eliminate off shore tax havens, and immediately impose a Fair Tax.

8. Balance the budget with real spending cuts and viable spending programs, not budget protections and CBO "scores".

9. Eliminate military contributions to NATO and the UN. Spend foreign obligations based only on the U.S. poverty level.

10. Afford and extend "Constitutional Rights" only to U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.

Try it, you'll like it, and your country will thank you.

EEreader
27
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EEreader 08/04/11 - 09:05 am
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Gawd! ya gotta join 'em to

Gawd! ya gotta join 'em to deride 'em. Oh well, I guess the old saw, "better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all question" applies--not to Jack Bernard, though.

Chillen
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Chillen 08/04/11 - 09:38 am
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This nation needs very

This nation needs very serious reform.

Every single American should pay federal taxes - of some form. It is not fair to have 50% not contributing - they will just vote to continue their free ride.

Moocher entitlements should be either eliminated or have a lifetime cap of 6 months (just as a short term safety net in case of disaster). We simply must force Americans to get back to work. If they refuse, then they choose extreme poverty and to starve. It's their choice.

We need to stop paying folks to have kids. The ones doing it are the very ones who mooch of the system. It's increasing the population the wrong way. We need to increase our population with hard working individuals who want to succeed, not with folks who want to live off the hard work of others.

It is time for Americans to wake up and realize that we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Its time to cut and cut deep. Entire departments need to be eliminated - starting with the miserable failure - the Dept of Education.

This "Super Congress" is a scary concept folks. It's too much power for a small group. Plus ALL fiscal conservatives are banned from it (because they voted 'no' for the debt ceiling increase). That will ensure that little is done.

follower
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follower 08/04/11 - 10:09 am
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Writing in from Jasper

Writing in from Jasper County? What seat are you running for Mr. Bernard?

While a few of your suggestions are certainly agreeable, the Pew study that purports 60% of the citizenry supporting leaving SS and Medicare/Medicaid as it is points to plain ignorance. We CAN NOT sustain the status quo. We are BROKE, and continuing the same path WILL lead to a country that we can't imagine. Why so many are so deluded is beyond thinking.

My friend, you are not a fiscal conservative if you want to raise the debt ceiling. [of course, they did it anyway] A fiscal conservative lives within their means. Sorry, you fail the test. Good luck with your upcoming election plans. [extreme sarcasm intended]

Jon Lester
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Jon Lester 08/04/11 - 10:43 am
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It's hard to believe how many

It's hard to believe how many people still believe in supply-side economics, even after such spectacular and (at least to some of us) obvious failure. Demand is what drives any economy, and there's a limit to how much cost can be added to any product or service if it is to actually sell.

john.q.publius
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john.q.publius 08/04/11 - 11:06 am
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A high percentage of

A high percentage of Americans also believe that we can balance the budget by eliminating foreign aid. In 2009, total economic AND military assistance was $48billion--about 11 days' worth of federal deficits. So, citing the statistic that 60% of Americans favor leaving SS and Medicare alone does not seem particularly relevant. A much higher percentage probably favor declaring Santa Claus real so that we can FINALLY get a pony this Christmas.

What is more relevant is that SS and Medicare have FIFTY TRILLION DOLLARS in unfunded liabilities (http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/rpt/2010-R-0197.htm http://www.cms.gov/ReportsTrustFunds/downloads/tr2009.pdf). There is no level of taxation that can fund that. The entire planet would need to decide to put about 20% of annual GDP into U.S. Treasuries with no hope of repayment in order to fund this, and that's not even beginning to look at state and local governments' criminal creation of unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities that are equally unsustainable.

I know that it's hard to hear, but there is not enough money in the world to be sure that nobody, ever, at any time, suffers want or disease or misery of one sort or another. You cannot ensure that no child is left behind, any more than every state can race to the "top." You cannot keep taking my income and think that I will keep producing as much, and you cannot keep providing "free" benefits to others without creating an infinitely expanding list of demands.

The key data points for this are those related to "poverty" in the U.S.

"in 2005, the average household defined as poor by the government:


  • Lived in a house or apartment equipped with air conditioning and cable TV.
  • The family had a car; a third of the poor have two or more cars.
  • For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, a DVD player, and a VCR.
  • If there were children in the home (especially boys), the family had a game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • In the kitchen, the household had a microwave, refrigerator, and an oven and stove.
  • Other household conveniences included a washer and dryer, ceiling fans, a cordless phone, and a coffee maker."

Don't get me wrong; I don't begrudge the "poor" any of the above. But when they live at a higher standard of living than the average European citizen (not the avg poor European--the average of all Europeans), then you cannot make the case that the entitlement state needs no reforms and the "rich" just need to suck it up. (see comments on the "top earners" letter :)

Pat D
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Pat D 08/04/11 - 11:17 am
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Jon Lester, your comments

Jon Lester, your comments indicate a lack of awareness of economics and business....The only way that products or services become available to consumers is if investors have the money and the willingness to invest in a business to provide them...There is no limit to price except competition in the marketplace if people have the money to pay the price and are willing to do so...When the price goes higher than the people will pay and they stop buying and the profit is not what the investor wants, he will close down that business....The demand could still be there, but if there is nobody to produce the product or service there is no economy....That is the reason every true capitalistic free enterprise system has succeeded beyond expectations and that means "supply side" economics.

We can like this system or we can rant against it, but that is the way it works.

RogerDavis
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RogerDavis 08/04/11 - 11:32 am
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john.q. Great post. I've

john.q. Great post. I've heard those stats before and every time I hear them it reminds me of how us conservatives seem to have lost the argument against an ever expanding "moocher class" in this country. Until we rein in this mentality that's been so effectively reinforced by the left, this country will not prosper. It will only languish.

john.q.publius
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john.q.publius 08/04/11 - 01:23 pm
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Roger, the problem is not

Roger, the problem is not that liberals are stupid or evil. I'm sure that some are, just as are some conservatives, but that's not the problem. The problem is that "progressives" accept the good intentions in lieu of the deed. We have seen this throughout the post-WWII period, in which progressives have repeatedly endorsed statist solutions to personal problems. The state programs grow bigger and bigger, which of course leads to an ever-larger sector of society demanding those entitlements. The problems that the programs are meant to solve therefore get worse, rather than better, a fact which is borne out by these agencies' own data, year after year. Yet, when fiscal conservatives demonstrate that a smaller state would lead to more prosperity, or when a more fiscally conservative period in gov't spending actually does produce that result for all to see, that makes no impact on the progressive mind because you cannot point to liberal good intentions as the cause of the improvement. And so, classical liberal--conservative--ideas that actually help people escape poverty and associated misery are derided as hardhearted, while statist solutions that lead to generational poverty, violence, drug addiction and misery are celebrated as models of compassion and justice.

Rational arguments never change positions that are the result of emotional states.

Chillen
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Chillen 08/04/11 - 01:07 pm
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john.q.publius "You cannot

john.q.publius "You cannot keep taking my income and think that I will keep producing as much, and you cannot keep providing "free" benefits to others without creating an infinitely expanding list of demands."

You said a mouthful there. I just had the pleasure of writing our monthly IRS check (this is in addition to payroll taxes that we pay for employees and for ourselves personally). The amount we pay is absolutely insane.

It totally demoralizes me and deflates me to write that check and think about it going to some individual who can work but chooses not to. An individual who instead, sits at home and lives off of my hard work and probably has 5 kids who will grow up to do the exact same thing.

I'm having a hard time motivating myself to go back to work today.....I can't stand what this country is turning in to. And it upsets me that I have to work hard to pay for it. Not cool.

FalseHopeLooseChange
5
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FalseHopeLooseChange 08/04/11 - 01:41 pm
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And if you don't agree with

And if you don't agree with it, you are a racist, an extremest or a terrorist. Possibly all three...........What a county.

john.q.publius
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john.q.publius 08/04/11 - 01:41 pm
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Chillen, I would not trade my

Chillen, I would not trade my earned self-respect, not to mention my lower-middle-class lifestyle (or likely yours) for that of someone in the moocher class, so that is really why we go to work. But the actions of the same elites who claim to be advocates for "those most vulnerable among us" show that it is human nature to try to keep as much as you can of the products of your labor.

John Kerry registers his yacht in R.I. rather than MA to save tens of thousands in taxes (funny we haven't heard much about yacht owners during this debate...jets yes, but no yachts)

Barack Obama takes tax deductions to lower his tax liability

Bill Clinton deducts the used underwear he donates to Goodwill

Warren Buffet uses his personal tax rate to bolster his arguments about why tax rates should be higher, after ensuring that his investments are as tax-advantaged as they can be under the law

George Soros returns $750 million--that would be real money for some of us--to investors in his hedge fund so that he can call it a family business and avoid the new regulations coming online from Dodd-Frank

Barack Obama holds a fundraiser in Chicago using nonunion waitstaff

Don't get me wrong, I don't criticize any of these folks for doing what they do. Since I contribute to charities anyway, I save my receipts and deduct those amounts as allowed by law. I have children and take the corresponding tax credits. My point is that I do those things while insisting that government and taxation are necessary evils that should be restrained to the minimum levels that will get the job done. In every area of human endeavor, I have found that my experience is better when the transaction is controlled by the people who are actually present, and when I am free to choose to deal with anyone I want. I would rather buy a computer from Computer Exchange than from Best Buy, because the local guy's decisions about how to support his product don't come from the home office in Delaware. I would rather eat at Vallarta than at Taco Bell for the same reason. And I would rather pay a private operator to come cut my grass than have my neighborhood association or condo board choose one for all of us, because then I can fire the guy if he doesn't do the edging the way I like.

Big government violates both of those principles. When the feds take something over, they get to define my point of view into irrelevance and leave me beating my head against the wall of bureaucratic indifference. They also compel me to participate and to pay the rates they set for the services I do not want. And so, it is perfectly consistent for me to argue for a minimalist government and decreased taxing and spending. It is not consistent at all for big-government statists like Clinton, Kerry, Obama, Soros and Buffet to take every legal measure available to reduce their taxes while trying to increase everyone else's. That's just theft, and I'm shocked that even a progressive cannot recognize that.

socks99
250
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socks99 08/04/11 - 02:29 pm
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"slash corporate welfare,

"slash corporate welfare, such as government payments to oil companies and corporate farms;"

Lower corporate taxes, particularly for multinational corporations, are a key element operating in the global neoliberal consensus. I give you Ireland's "pro-business' corporate tax rate.

In other words, 'fixing' the problem of a 'race-to-the-bottom' around the globe will have to begin by realizing that local political partisans such as the Republicans did not, in fact, force these low tax rates and subsidies on the corporations. The global elites, including financial interests, have done that in the U.S., and all around the globe!

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