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Letter: Can you lend me an entitlement?

To the editor:

I was reading lately about the problem with entitlements increasing our national debt.

I read on looking for a smoking gun but imagine how shocked I was when I read that some people in Congress consider both Medicare and Social Security to just be another bunch of entitlement programs. These same people are also calling for a “conversation” with the American people to discuss reducing benefits or eliminating them altogether.

I did a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation and realized that I had been contributing several thousand dollars a year to these insurance programs for nearly 50 years. I then checked the national debt, which is about $16 trillion, and found that China, our most feared creditor, only held $1.5 trillion of that debt. My Social Security “entitlement” program currently held more like $2.6 trillion of assets above what’s been paid out, all of it invested in the United States of America to pay for budget deficits.

In addition the Social Security program is estimated to be solvent for decades. No one even talks about how much has been borrowed from the Medicare HI (hospital) Trust Fund but apparently it will be solvent until 2024.

Boy was I confused. What was perplexing to me as a novice, albeit involuntary, loan officer was why the Trust Fund was being used to pay for projects such as the Bridge-to-Nowhere not to mention much of the defense budget.

Evidently we now spend as much on defense as the rest of the industrialized world, enemies and allies combined. Perhaps the military could spare a few billion out of their budget to help the seniors, many of them veterans, buy their food or medicine.

At first I was enraged by such shoddy treatment of the millions of Americans paying payroll taxes but then I thought, “Wait a minute that makes perfect sense, as a debtor I can make the same offer to my mortgage banker and tell him I was reducing their mortgage entitlement payment on my house by a half. ”

I don’t think my mortgage banker would appreciate this type of treatment and neither should the American public. Any changes to the Social Security or Medicare programs should fully consider that fact that we paid for those “entitlements” and they were not given to us.

Michael A. Sills

Bedford­­

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