Dear Bill

Dear Bill,
You’re a smart guy, no question. I don’t always agree with you, but it’s clear that you’re no dummy.

That’s why I was so surprised to see you fall right into Darrell Issa’s “means testing” trap. He says we should mean-test people on unemployment.

First of all, there are many, many people who were making $100,000 or so who, yes, really do need that unemployment check. You must not be reading much about the long-term unemployed, because this same question comes up a lot: It’s making it possible for those people to pay the bills.

More to the point, Bill, people pay into their state’s unemployment insurance fund. “Insurance,” Bill. Get it? They pay for it, and they get to collect. Only extended unemployment benefits go beyond what people paid for. That’s why they’re only enacted in a bona fide economic emergency.

I’m surprised that you continue to let Issa get away with talking about the “Social Security and Medicare crisis” as if they’re the same thing. They’re not, and you shouldn’t fall into that “bipartisan” mindset about how we all need to work together to fix what isn’t broken. Social Security is fine, and it’s funded under pay as you go.
Medicare is the problem.

But Social Security is what corporate politicians of both parties want, and the fact that they’re both supporting these “reform” proposals should be enough to make you suspicious. The fact is, Wall Street is dying to get their hands on that money, and the recipients of their campaign cash are eager to help them. After the events of the past two years, do you really think that’s a good idea?

As to the suggestion to means-test Social Security: It’s a well-known ploy, one that FDR figured out early on. There’s a very good reason why Social Security isn’t means-tested — because if everyone’s not invested in it, it becomes just another entitlement for the poor, and we all know what happens to the programs for poor people. FDR knew that, that’s why it didn’t happen.

Put down the spliff, Bill. Pay attention. Your words influence people, and you have a responsibility to educate yourself before you speak.

A Fan

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