January 15, 2015

I have a pretty hard-and-fast rule about politicians: Don't trust anyone with a dead animal on his head. So I admit to having a strong bias against Rand Paul. I mean, if you don't know that we can tell you have a dead animal on your head, you're not all that astute. And the fact that you're insecure enough to care tells me you're a suckup who will pander to people. This is just my theory, your mileage may vary.

In any event, I think these comments solidify his lead for Pandering Political Putz of 2015. Because Rand Paul may not even believe what he's saying, but since the Republican party has decided to starve yet another social program in their never-ending quest for even more tax cuts for the rich, he is being a good little Republican soldier. Boo-yah! I will be sure to bring this up the next time someone insists Sen. Paul "isn't a real politician":

Likely 2016 candidate Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky declared Wednesday that half of the 10 million disability recipients in the United States are “gaming the system.”

“The thing is, in all of these programs there’s always somebody who’s deserving. But everybody in this room knows somebody who is gaming the system,” the Republican said. “What I tell people is, if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting your disability check. Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club. Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts? Everybody over 40 has a little back pain.”

Except members of Congress, who, after all, have their own in-house free clinic. But I digress!

Paul’s claims appear to be a vast oversimplification: the Social Security Administration’s 2013 data – the most recent annual summary available – lists that mental disorders and musculo-skeletal and connective tissue problems account for approximately 63% of all claims, or roughly 6.4 million people, but that number includes every single physical injury and mental illness disabled Americans sustain – far more than just back pain and anxiety.

I used to work as an insurance company investigator, and part of my job was to do site inspections at chronic pain treatment centers. I was mildly skeptical at first, but quickly learned just how many Americans do have serious back pain -- a large percentage of them were nurses who got hurt moving patients. (Those big crybabies!)

His remarks aren’t out of the blue: Congressional Republicans have been targeting disability heavily this month, attempting to use Social Security’s disability program as leverage in their larger plan to overhaul Social Security. In early January, they voted to change the rules and forbid Social Security’s retirement trust from continuing to fund the program’s disability’s trust after it runs out of cash next year. If that were to occur, disability payments would be slashed by 19% for more than 10 million recipients.

This, from the member of a legislative body that only worked 113 days last year. Why, I oughta....


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