“Figuring out my position on an issue is pretty easy these days. All one has to do is ask me–something The Ledger never bothered to do.”
Well, I did ask him on Facebook a few weeks back, and let me assure you it was not easy to figure out his answer, and I think of myself as pretty smart. (I’ll let the reader judge about that). Indeed, the whole thing degenerated into the typical digital Facebook riot with his supporters arguing with me over what he actually said or meant and all of us calling each other dishonest.
And after reading this op/ed, I’m no clearer on his ultimate vision for our economic and government structure than I was before. I suspect that’s a feature, not a bug.
So let’s cut all the weasel words and semantics and get down to the only position that really matters for an elected official: his or her votes.
Dennis Ross has voted for national default (either full or partial) on debt we’ve already accrued through war and care for the elderly. And he voted to end Medicare for people under 54–and stick them with the full bill for everybody over 54. Period. Full stop.
Neither became law, but they are his positions no matter what excuses or disclaimers he offers. (And Dennis, feel free to offer them here. You’re always welcome. But we talk back.)
For people who are today 53 or younger, Dennis Ross would turn you loose with a voucher or other subsidy and tell you to buy health insurance when you’re 65 or older. Of course, no one wants to insure you at that age because you are old, and the elderly are expensive to care for and a terrible bet for private insurance. That’s why we created Medicare in the first place.
If you are 53 or younger, Dennis Ross’ plan, which is actually Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, will force you to pay the full cost of your parents’ generation Medicare and then find much higher out-of-pocket costs when you age in to the rump of elder care that is left. I guess that’s one way to approach the “$50,000 debt burden” of each babe born in America about whom Dennis expresses such concern. But I consider it the most appalling piece of generational warfare I’ve ever seen. And, by the way, old people, once they’ve used you to kill Medicare for the somewhat younger, do you think they’ll sit around for 15 years or come after you. After all, tax cuts for “job creators” must be paid for in the land of austerity.
All that said, it is striking that Dennis would vote for the dismantling of Medicare in light of this paragraph in his op/ed on Wednesday, which is the only real piece of substance in the piece:
“To make matters worse, the cuts will not come from waste or broken programs, but instead are supposed to come from Medicare and Defense.”
Why would you vote to do away with a hugely popular program that by your own reckoning isn’t wasteful or broken? This is deep ignorance or wanton dishonesty.
Anyone, in either party, who is remotely serious or knowledgeable about deficit issues knows that we don’t actually have a general government deficit problem: on the spending side, we have a health care spending on the elderly and military scope problem. On the revenue side we have a low tax and slow economy problem. Go ask Adam Putnam, one of the last serious Republicans left, if you doubt me.
Take it from Dennis’ fellow Republican, Rand Paul, who noted accurately: you could cut all non-military discretionary spending–all of it–and still not balance the budget. Discretionary spending is not our problem.
I suspect Dennis really does understand this deep down, which is why he agreed to the Paul Ryan Medicare detonation act. But in political and government resource wars, it helps, politically, to pretend like you’re not cutting the things you’re cutting.
And what exactly is discretionary spending? It’s all the stuff the government does that you like. It’s Pell grants, student loans, national parks, new roads and bridges, customs agents, border security, federal education spending, etc., etc. ad nauseum, forever.
It could, in theory, provide the money to keep the unfunded college counselors that have Cindy Ross fighting for money and pouting that she’s not getting it.
“What we have learned from speaking with hundreds of Polk County citizens and business leaders is that they are very disappointed and right-out angry with the School Board for not finding a way to fund this necessary program,” Cindy Ross, the club’s college and career campaign chairwoman said in an email. Ross is the wife of U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland).
One congressman’s waste and broken program is his wife’s vital investment, I guess.
Kudos to The Ledger for actually fully identifying her this time. I’ll take that as small victory for the ever-powerful Lakeland Local. So is the new public emphasis on these counselors’ benefit to minority and low-income students. By all means, we should have a discussion on the demographic breakdown of the kids helped by George Jenkins High’s college counselors.
As I wrote before, what kept Cindy Ross away from the begging podium the last two years was federal aid to states, otherwise known as the stimulus, otherwise known as discretionary spending. Remember that? It was that big hunk of money that kept people like college counselors on the job. When it ran out, the economy started tanking again. Not a single Republican voted for it in the House. Not one supports it now, including Dennis Ross.
In his piece, Dennis wrote: ‘…if you just read The Ledger, you would think it was solely my fault because of my militant intransigence and hatred of the elderly, the poor and the middle class. (I am being slightly sarcastic.)”
I don’t know or remotely care who he hates or loves. But I know what he voted for. Everything else is just noise.