Ok, now I am going to get all middle school term paper wonky on you:

entitlement: noun the fact of having a right to something.

Over the past dozen or more years, the Republicans have been spitting out the word entitlement in such a way as to alter its meaning and imbue it with a negative connotation. And when they are talking about entitlements they are talking about the basic long term federal programs: Social Security and Medicare.

Two programs that are significantly responsible for keeping millions of America’s elders out of dire poverty and provide health care that supports a healthier happier retirement. I can’t imagine any American on the street wants to see our parents or grandparents lose these basic benefits.

But why denigrate them? Because the Republicans want to do away with them or privatize them or find ways to shift the benefits accrued from these programs to their sponsors and benefactors…not actually to improve the lot of Americans at large.

So they try to make entitlements seem like a bad thing…and maybe relying on their base not precisely understanding what they mean.

But entitlements are entitlements because You are entitled to them. Every pay check you have ever earned included your contribution to Social Security. If you are of a certain age every pay check you have ever earned includes a contribution to Medicare. And your employer provides contributions as well. You are entitled to them…it is Your money.

Be aware that there will be a concerted effort during the Trump regime, by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and his cohort to take your hard earned entitlements away from you. Be aware…and make sure you protect these valuable programs that you’ve bought and paid for!


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5 thoughts on “Entitlements

  1. “Republicans want to do away with them or privatize them or find ways to shift the benefits accrued from these programs to their sponsors and benefactors . . .”

    True enough, but these would be bonus items in the deal. The real reason Medicare and Social Security are prime targets for elimination is their very real status as the most successful social programs in human history – the same reason they’ve been called the “Third Rail of Politics.” People love them because they work exceedingly well. Right Wing ideologues hate them because they work well, giving lie to their core belief that government can do nothing right; that their revered “free market” is the answer to all things economic. Quite a conundrum for the Right.

  2. Ed, thank you.

    When both parties talk about “entitlements” they never mention the $193 trillion in free derivative insurance.

    From the Comptroller of the Currency:

    “The notional amount of derivative contracts held by insured U.S. commercial banks and savings associations in the first quarter increased by $12.0 trillion (6.6 percent) to $192.9 trillion from the previous quarter (see table 10).”


    For perspective, annual U.S. GDP—Gross Domestic Product—is around $18 trillion.


    “Congressional appropriations to the Pentagon from 2001-2016 have totaled more than $8.5 trillion.”


    Social Security’s Trust fund is around $2.3 trillion.


    That $193 trillion is in addition to the “Total Global Losses From Financial Crisis: $15 Trillion” in liabilities that federal taxpayers already assumed.


    Beginning no later than 2011, the federal taxpayers went into the business of insuring derivatives.

    “FDIC To Cover Losses On $75 Trillion Bank of America Derivative Bets”


    The primary beneficiary are the elites, but any changes could crush equity and bond markets.

    Why aren’t for-profit insurers complaining about the FDIC “crowding” them “out” of the derivatives market?

    Why can’t derivative insurance be “privatized?”

    “Should the Veterans Health Care System be Privatized?”


    “Can Paul Ryan actually privatize Medicare?”


    The FDIC doesn’t insure deposits above $250,000.


    Why doesn’t that cap apply to derivatives?

    Since depositors do not receive income from derivatives that clear, why should they bear liability for those that don’t?

    Why isn’t FDIC insurance on derivatives “pay as you go?”

    “’Pay As You Go’ Medicare”


  3. Let’s also not forget that for decades citizens have been trained to think that Social Security or Medicare will not be there for them. Trained by people like Paul Ryan. Apparently if you say it’s going broke or is broken for enough years people will accept that.
    When (usually younger) people tell me that social security/Medicare won’t be there for them, I remind them that politicians are responsible for maintaining the health of the programs, and if those same politicians are telling you that you will not have one or the other or both, it is either because of their mismanagement or because they are up to something. Either way, the reminder that politicians are responsible for what happens to the programs needs to be response number one anytime someone starts down that road.

  4. Thom Hartmann has been encouraging people to reframe the GOP’s negative frame around the word “entitlements” by using the term “earned benefits” instead. I’ve tried this trick and it almost always works because it reminds people they’ve paid into the system and that these are *their* benefits being cut.

  5. What we should be saying to people is ” if you pay for something are you entitled to it? ” If they say yes then we reply ” well then I’m entitled to my medicare and my social security because I paid for it. You’re goddamn right it’s an entitlement! “

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