entitlements

Last week, Christian social justice activist Ron Sider declared that he is quitting AARP because it's opposing changes to Social Security and Medicare that he finds reasonable: proposals that would ask more from wealthier seniors. There are a lot of ideas out there for shoring up Medicare and Social Security, ideas that should be given serious consideration. And I agree with Sider on several points.
February 19, 2013

Politicians in Washington invariably use the term “entitlements” to refer to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. On the face of it, it’s a neutral term: citizens are entitled to certain benefits if they fit a certain category of need, hence the benefits might reasonably be called “entitlements.” Yet the word carries ideological freight—an implication that people are lazy or self-indulgent to expect these things.
February 7, 2013

Wonkblog has taken to using “austerity crisis” in place of “fiscal cliff.” They’re right: “fiscal” is not very specific, while “cliff” suggests a problem that happens all at once. The reality is a crisis that unfolds over time. And it’s caused not by our fiscal policy in general but by something very specific: a severe austerity package actively imposed by Congress the last couple times it kicked the can down the road. And as we saw then, there are really two questions at hand: when to reduce the deficit and how. The latter is a relatively straightforward partisan standoff. The former has become rhetorically rather bizarre.
November 20, 2012