An Open Letter to Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC)

Senator Lindsey Graham (R., SC)

Senator Lindsey Graham (R., SC)

I think we’re going over the cliff. It’s pretty clear to me they made a political calculation. This offer doesn’t remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy. It raises $1.6 trillion on job creators that will destroy the economy and there are no spending controls.

 – Lindsey Graham, 0n CBS’s “Face the Nation,” December 2, 2012

WC’s grandmother used to tell him that if he had a zit on the end of his nose, it meant he had told a lie. Francis Bacon traces the line all the way back to Theocritus.

There are so many lies and half-truths in Graham’s statement that it’s a marvel the zit on his nose in this Reuters photo is so small. You’d expect it would be larger than his nose, blocking his vision. Perhaps the photo was taken before he popped the whopper on national television.

Any blog post that rebutted all the fibs in that single paragraph would be tediously long. After all, it earned the Senator the Washington Post‘s coveted Three Pinocchios Award. But WC will dissect a few of Graham’s Big Lies in a doubtless futile effort to keep the conversation honest.

Dear Senator Graham:

On “Face the Nation” last month, you said that the then-current discussions on solutions to the “fiscal cliff” didn’t “remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy.” As you know, Senator, they aren’t “entitlements” and there is no threat of “imminent bankruptcy.” You are indulging in neocon Big Lies again.

Medicare and Social Security are both insurance programs. They are only “entitlements” in the sense that any contractual obligation entitles a person to performance. By your reasoning, the hefty salary you are paid by American taxpayers is an “entitlement.” WC and his fellow citizens pay premiums their entire working lives for the modest benefits that Social Security and Medicare provide. It’s insulting and dishonest to call the programs “entitlements.”

Medicaid isn’t an entitlement; it’s governmental prudence. Or do you and your fellow neocons intend to turn away health coverage for those who cannot afford it? Isn’t it clear that denying minimal health care to those who need it is contrary to everything America stands for? Because if we don’t turn them away, Americans will pay. Either in a somewhat sensible program like Medicare, or in the form of higher rates for themselves as the hospitals and clinics shift the cost of those who cannot pay. There are only three options: Medicaid, or something very like it; forced subsidization as insurers and medical providers pass the costs of treating the poor on to the rest of us; or turning the poor away at the health care door.

You call them “entitlements” because the term mischaracterizes what they really are in a way that you think is advantageous to you and your fellow neocons. It’s a trick straight out of the Newt Gingrich lexicon. It’s a ploy. It’s an attempt to make cuts seem inevitable, rather than a hard political choice. It’s an attempt to make treating the elderly badly a virtuous deed.

Nor is social security in imminent danger of bankruptcy. It’s fully funded, under existing contributions and existing benefits, through 2023. At least ten years. Imminent is the fiscal cliff. Imminent is the pending borrowing limit. A decade is forever. And there is a known, easily implemented solution to the social security funding shortfall: remove the limits on social security contributions by the wealthy. You claim to oppose it because it is a “tax increase” but your real objection is that it’s a easy fix to your non-crisis.

Medicare is fully funded through 2024. No imminent threat of bankruptcy there, either. And that’s just one part of the overall Medicare system. Congress has eleven years to act. As if there was anyone in Congress who can think and plan eleven years into the future.

So WC would appreciate it if you could stop the political showboating, including your vote against the interim compromise on the morning of January 1 and deal with issues like a statesman. Or at least use the truth instead of lies, false alarms and Newtisms. Call it a New Years Resolution.

Or that zit on your nose is only going to get bigger.


/Wickersham’s Conscience


2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC)

  1. Lindsay Graham has become a parody. Pick anything at this point and he would be a parody of it.
    Love the letter.

  2. >>> “….intend to turn away health coverage for those who cannot afford it? Isn’t it clear that denying minimal health care to those who need it is contrary to everything America stands for?….”

    It is also interesting that those who are strong NRA supporters–review Sen. Graham’s post-Sandy Hook statements–are among the strongest proponents of slashing supportive programs that might enable the mentally ill to get needed care. Besides Graham, another notable NRA supporter is OK Sen. Tom Coburn, a medical doctor, who recently put Soc Sec Admin through the wringer regarding favorable disability decisions. His actions were widely interpreted as pressuring to cut back on those types of decisions. So, as you rightly question, WC, where will such needy get care? If the NRA meant half of what it said post-Sandy Hook, it would be “scoring” legislators on a Rating Sheet that preferred Support For Programs such as disability for the medically disabled. Instead, one reads that its supporters want to lock up those who are deemed likely to commit violent gun conduct due to mental illness.
    Paul Eaglin

Comments are closed.