I have a problem with the term “entitlements.”
The millionaires, 2-percenters and tea partiers on Capitol Hill are declaring with gravity that it’s time to “put entitlements on the table” to “fix the debt.” (You’ve heard of “Fix the Debt”? It’s a group of millionaire CEOs who have chipped in $35 million for a campaign to magically reduce the deficit by giving themselves tax breaks—which, come on, really begs the question: Why couldn't you just pay the damned taxes?)
The so-called "entitlements" are Social Security and Medicare—the ropes in the social safety net. But working people have a perfectly sound reason for feeling entitled to them: We’ve paid for our benefits since the first hour we worked.
Receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits after a lifetime of work—and knowing our families will get some help surviving if we die before our time—doesn’t make working people “takers.” It makes us investors in retirement security, not just for ourselves but for one another. It makes us job creators, because retirees who can meet their survival needs spend money that strengthens the economy and enables local businesses to hire. It makes us Americans—who believe in fairly sharing responsibility for the well-being of our nation and all its people.
So those who are willing to “put entitlements on the table” should at least use honest language. Their ads should say: Proudly taking what you’ve earned to make ourselves richer. Or: Honestly? We just want more of your money.