Comments about ‘Robert Bennett: It's time to fix our own country's entitlement state’

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Published: Monday, May 21 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Greece has a backward, unproductive economy (apologies to my Greek friends), they should never have been allowed into the Euro-zone. But it is obviously too late to undo that now. Countries with more productive economies like Denmark, Norway, and Holland, support a much larger social welfare state than Greece does, and they are doing fine economically.

Either staying with an austerity plan within the Euro, or leaving the Euro and going back to Drachmas will bring great economic pain. There is truly no good option for their economy.

Our long-term budget problems are primarily caused by having the world's most expensive healthcare (by far). If we could get our healthcare spending down to the level of France or Germany, our long budget outlook would be pretty decent.

Durham, NC

I have an idea. Lets let the "conservatives" back up their rhetoric with their actions. Put principle ahead of words. Renounce entitlements, personally. Reject hand outs. Decline to take social security. Return those disability checks. Hand back that medicare card, and pay your own insurance. Show what 1/3 of the voting American public can do, what change and be made when this groups does what it claims it wants. Show us the depths and convictions of your beliefs.

That 1/3 of people turning down benefits should be enough to not only balance the budget, but also lower the tax rate for all. The grand kids conservatives so worry about paying too much taxes will no longer have that concern any more through the sacrifice to teach America that conservatives stand behind what they believe.

Lead, and more will surely follow. Take that first leap. Just as many burned their draft cards in the 60s to make a point, burn that social security check and turn in your medicare card - stand for what you say.

Or we could just keep carrying on with endless rhetoric drivel that is solely intended to make one feel better than others.

Salt Lake City, UT

"Entitlement" comes in many forms.

Are US defense contractors "entitled" to a US military budget three times larger than that of China and Russia combined?

Are US millionaires "entitled" to special tax breaks on their private jets, yachts and the money they keep in their Cayman Islands tax shelters?

Is the US oil industry, currently earning record-breaking profits, "entitled" to billions in taxpayer-provided subsidies?

Republicans would have you believe that their own substantial taxpayer-funded benefits are sacred and untouchable, while providing the elderly and children with access to medical care is a luxury we can't afford.

When our schools no longer have to hold bake sales so they can buy books and Mitt Romney pays the same percentage in taxes on his income that I do on mine, _then_ we can talk about the need to control entitlement spending.

murray, UT

These sound like good ideas to me but, as long as we keep electing representatives like Mike Lee nothing will change. I'm really afraid that Mia Love will be the same kind of uncompromising elected Utah representative. We are all very tired of Washington doing nothing to fix our problems. I believe that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes. The tax system must be made simpler and fair. I believe in balanced budgets but not at the expense of education, infrastructure, the environmment and the safety net programs our society relies on.

John Charity Spring
Back Home in Davis County, UT

The first three commenters have not been honest about the example of Greece. They seek to excuse the disaster of Greece, when the truth is that the catastrophe of Greece is the inevitable fate of all welfare states.

As Greek chaos clearly shows, welfare states create lazy, indolent populations that react with anger and violence the first time they are asked to do even a little bit to provide for themselves. They think nothing of using violence to keep the entitlement handouts coming.

American voters must wake up and realize that the left-wing is leading this Country down the path to becoming just another Greece. Unless the voters throw the left-wing extremists out of office, America will join Greece in trading democracy for anarchy.

Salt Lake City, UT

JCS: "The first three commenters have not been honest about the example of Greece. They seek to excuse the disaster of Greece, when the truth is that the catastrophe of Greece is the inevitable fate of all welfare states."


1) I was one of the three first commenters. I never mentioned Greece. I commented on the glaring discrepancy between entitlement programs that conservatives want to cut, vs. the entitlement programs they think are sacred.

2) "the catastrophe of Greece is the inevitable fate of all welfare states." You know perfectly well that "welfare state" is a loaded term with wildly varying definitions, and to compare Greece with northern European nations that do a better job of taking care of their children, poor and elderly than we do is hugely misleading. Do you do that intentionally?

3) Is it possible for you, just once, to post a comment here that doesn't make sweeping generalizations about "left-wing extremists?"

Lone Star Cougar
Plano, TX

In large part, JCS is correct. We have too many different agencies handing out too many monies to too many people. On top of that 1/2 of Americans don't even pay any federal income tax. We are borrowing 1.5 trillion dollars every year to cover our spending. America has a spending problem. We need to face up to it now before it is too late! Obamacare won't solve anything. the CBO now says it will cost 2 - 3 Trillion dollars every year. This is too much. Europe is broke and we are heading that way. Ms. thatcher had it riht when she said socialism works great until you run out of other people's money.

Happy Valley, UT

Yes, we all know we need "entitlement" reform. We can do this in a reasonable way that won't penalize the truly needy. Why, for instance, Mitt Romney would ever need Social Security or Medicare is beyond me. But we must also be honest on the other side of the ledger. We need to increase revenues. This is not just a spending problem. We have committed billions to all sorts of unnecessary causes (including two wildly expensive wars) without being willing to tax sufficiently to pay for even those things we really need.

As long as we keep sending people to Washington who wear ideological blinders of one sort or another and are unwilling to give up their one-sided view of life for a few moments so that they can meet in the middle and compromise, we will never solve our problems. I would vote for a true patriot from either major party (or some third party or no party at all) over a partisan politician of any stripe. So, Utah, if you want the U.S. to be like Greece, keep sending Mike Lees and Jason Chaffetzes to Congress.

salt lake city, utah

I object to the tone of Mr. Bennett. He spends most of the article villifying entitlements, then at the end admits that many of Americans couldn't survive without entitlements. Why is it Americans can't survive without SS and Medicare? It's because civil societies have always had to decide how to deal with the elderly and less fortunate (infirm, sick, incapable, temporarily struggling etc.). America is no different. Those decisions were made decades ago with SS, medicare, and medicaid. As much as some who routinely write on this thread would like we're not going back to family centric welfare..we can't..it's impossible..it's baked..and it's done, so quit villifying it and work to find sustainable solutions.

Solutions can and should include personal responsibility, and reasonable expectations, but at least three generations have now been born into a society that has itself accepted the responsibility of acting as the base structure for the care and welfare of the elderly and less fortunate. It's time to accept it.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Lone Star Cougar: "Obamacare won't solve anything. the CBO now says it will cost 2 - 3 Trillion dollars every year. This is too much."

Total and utter nonsense. You just picked a figure out of thin air and tried passing it off as "fact". It is many orders of magnitude higher than even the worst case projections for Obamacare's costs.

Lone Star Cougar
Plano, TX

Dear Nonconlib,

We do tax enough, we just spend too much. When the "poor" have 50 inch HD tv's - free medical, free food, free rent, free utilities and make more money from the government by having more babies, then the system is wrong. We are perpetuating the welfare/entitlement state. We have way too many separate agencies that do the same things and the admin costs are too high. Our system is BROKEN!


The "father of Reaganomics", and assistant secretary to the Treasury under Reagan, Paul Craig Roberts said:

When you hear a Republican sneer “entitlement,” he or she is referring to Social Security and Medicare, for which people have paid 15% of their wages for their working lifetime.

Obviously there are at least two kinds of Republicans today and Bob Bennett would be the type referred to above, rather than the kind of man Dr Roberts is, or Ron Paul, for that matter. Sr Hatch is of the same ilk, proposing that "the poor" are not paying enough tax.

OTH Ron Paul remains an advocate of respecting promises made to, and paid for by, seniors but offering newcomers in the workplace the choice of opting out of the social security system.

Makes sense, but seemingly not to "entitled" politicians like Hatch and Bennett who have no quirks about taking far more substantial amounts of public money to themselves, than seniors receive of right. There is neither justice nor mercy in the selfish attitudes of some politicians.

Taylorsville, UT

I find interesting how many people worry about how Romney spends his money and no one seems to worry about Obama and Congress are spending mine.
There are lots of entitlements that could be reduced/eliminated starting with corporate farms, oil, arts, etal.
If 70% of job creation comes from small businesses why aren't they rewarded with tax breaks? And as for tax breaks, of course they go to big income earners, they are the one that pay the tax. Entitlers don't get tax breaks because they pay no tax!

Durham, NC

I have to love comments like "On top of that 1/2 of Americans don't even pay any federal income tax." And yet in the next conversation when it turns to employment, we are constantly bombarded with messages that we have deep underemployment - that only 58-59% percent of Americans are employeed. Matching those two numbers up, we are really only talking then about 8 or 9 percent of working people don't pay income taxes, because you need an income to be taxed.

This fact bending silly quotes is really getting old... real old. MOst issues are neither conservative, nor liberal. Stop playing fancy with politically driven rhetoric (even propoganda), and lets talk solutions. This my side is better than your side is getting us no where.

Lone Star Cougar
Plano, TX

UBD - Both are true. 50% of the employed don't pay income taxes. I believe all should have at least a little responsibility. Also, the last 4 years have been a disaster in employment. 2 million people less are working now than when Obama took office. Of those that are working, many are under-employed. One does not negate the other but merely exacerbate each other. Americans need to start taking responsibility for themselves and not always look for the government's teat to suck from.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

As a nation, we need to decide if we REALLY want/need to be the worlds policeman.

We have U.S. troops (not just embassy marines)in over 90 countries around the world. We can't afford that anymore.

The military/industrial complex lobby is VERY powerful. Sadly, my own party (Republican)don't seem to be able to get off the "save the world" bandwagon.

I would prefer U.S. citizens be helped FIRST. Even if they don't work for a defense contractor!

West Jordan, UT

I've long felt the sense of entitlement by some people in this country has gotten WAY out of control! When you have people who are the 4th generation of their family living on welfare, you know there is a serious problem! To me there's a clear difference between government ASSISTANCE and government SUBSISTENCE. I know there are many people who literally do depend on help from the government because without it they would be homeless or dead, and are incapable of ever giving anything back. But there are far too many in the system who are given a handout without any kind of serious requirement from them. The government should be requiring of people to earn that assistance, especially if they've never (or hardly) contributed to the pool in the first place. Start using some of these people to staff government programs. It would be a great benefit to those who are unemployed, because it will keep them in the habit of working, and when they do go to reapply for work, they can show they haven't just been sitting at home for months (or years...) Earning it, makes it more meaningful!

Jonathan Eddy
Payson, UT

"Many Americans cannot survive without entitlement payments...."

And the Constitution cannot survive with them. We're in quite a pickle aren't we?

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

To Shawnm750: I don't know how old you are, but if you remember the campaign of 92, Bill Clinton promised to "end welfare as we know it." He did just that. There is now a five year lifetime limit on welfare benefits. The kind of problem you describe has been eliminated many years ago, and by a Democrat no less.


We keep hearing the super whine of that reprehensible type of neo-con:
47% don't pay any taxes!. Just like the other jumbo lies of sectional interest, first of all it isn't true. You have to know that these folk, when they talk of those who pay 'no taxes' they mean those who pay no INCOME taxes. Let's look at that:

Of course, before 1913, there were no income taxes at all. It was an extra-constitutional tax -that is never mentioned in the original Constitution.

When income tax was first levied in 1913 it was not paid on all income but, just like today, there were exemptions. I feel sure that the exemptions ($3,000 for a single person, and $4,000 for a married filer) actually exempted the vast majority from paying ANY income tax.

Updating to 2010 equivalence, that meant no single filer earning less than about $66K, and no married filer less than $88K, paid income tax at. IT on any overage was levied at just ONE PERCENT.

The top rate of income tax was the massive 7% paid by what Reagan equated to modern "millionaires".

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