Yes, you heard it here first. Programs that have lifted the poverty rate, empowered people to live independently - saving lives have made us "weaker" according to VP wannabe, Marco Rubio.
Speaking at the Reagan Library Tuesday night, Rubio said this:
These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.
Such a big lie Rubio tells. Before Social Security, one in four senior citizens lived in poverty. Now that number is 14 percent.
The Social Security Act also precipitated adoption of far more employer-sponsored pension plans, and the union movement pushed those plans to be competitive and provide retirement security for employees. These are things that didn't happen before Social Security and Medicare. The same is true of health insurance. Health insurance did not have wide traction as an employee benefit until Medicare was in effect and unions negotiated health benefits for their members. Neither of these things weakened this nation. They strengthened it by keeping senior citizens out of poverty and giving families some breathing room. And of course, those dollars, such as they are, increase the number of consumer dollars available to stimulate the economy.
But perhaps the biggest lie of all is Rubio's lie about how the churches and synagogues cared for the poor. Here's an excerpt from testimony before Congress back in 1959 from one senior citizen (PDF):
I am one of your old retired teachers that has been forgotten. I am 80 years old and for 10 years I have been living on a bare nothing, two meals a day, one egg, a soup, because I want to be independent. I am of Scotch ancestry, my father fought in the Civil War to the end of the war, therefore,I have it in my blood to be independent and my dignity would not let me go down and be on welfare. And I worked so hard that I have pernicious anemia, $9.95 for a little bottle of liquid for shots, wholesale, I couldn’t pay for it.
Where were her churches - her synagogues? And note her own pride, not wanting to accept charity but willing to *work* for the right to access the medicine she needed for the anemia she contracted out of her hard work and poverty. What our social safety net did more than anything else was create something people had ownership in, that they'd paid for. I've heard all the stories about how they take more out than they put in, but that isn't their fault. That's the fault of a flawed attitude on the part of lawmakers, who demonize and butcher the intent of these programs in order to claim they harm "free markets" and "weaken us as a nation."
It's such a hollow argument. It suggests, as Rubio has done in the past, that we are all predestined for one of two baskets: those who have, and those who do not have. It suggests that there is no way out of the "have-not" basket if one is not chosen to step out by a golden benefactor, and it further suggests that deep and harsh income equality are simply the realities of life, that government does not exist for the greater good of its people, but only to serve those who have been tapped as deserving.
I would like for these Randian idiots like Rubio to actually live what they preach. Marco Rubio got to college on a football scholarship, though it's unclear whether scholarships took him all the way through school.
And even Rubio walks the fine line, still caught up in the bigger lie. Toward the end of his speech, this:
Now, I personally believe that you cannot make changes to these programs for the people that are currently in them right now. My mother just – well she gets mad when I say this. She is in her eighth decade of life and she is on both of these programs. I can’t ask my mom to go out and get another job. She paid into the system. But the truth is that Social Security and Medicare, as important as they are, cannot look for me how they look for her. [full transcript]
My generation must fully accept, the sooner the better, that if we want there to be a Social Security and a Medicare when we retire, and if we want America as we know it to continue when we retire, then we must accept and begin to make changes to those programs now, for us.
In Rubio's world there is his mother's generation, and his. Nothing in between. None of us who have also paid for his mother to have those benefits because the promise was that we, too, would enjoy similar benefits. No acknowledgement that much of what he has been able to accomplish rested on the knowledge that his mother was cared for, at least at a minimum level. No acknowledgement. Just the selfish declaration that rather than pay for a future where we value the lives of everyone, we must accept a weaker, more unequal America.