Politics: Why Get Involved?

Our country is at a key turning point. To help avoid a complete disaster you should get involved.

I have had a number of people ask me “Why are you so involved in politics?” and “Why don’t you run for something?”

The answer to the first question is that I am as involved and active as I can be primarily because I feel personally threatened by what is going on at both Federal and state levels. For the first time in my lifetime, I am not optimistic that my children and grandchildren will have as good a life as I have had. Let me offer a simple way to think about it.

Spending is more fun than cutting.

I have had the opportunity over my career to manage some relatively large projects, both the kind that involve spending large amounts of money and the kind that involve cutting jobs, closing factories and restructuring. Cuts are painful. Spending is fun.

Put these thoughts into a political context and much of what is going on becomes clear. Politicians (of BOTH parties) love to spend money, take credit for the programs and use them to convince you to vote for them. Once a spending program is launched, it immediately creates a constituency that will fight very hard to keep that program going. Think about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps. Yes, there are some benefits to these programs but the cumulative costs of expanding their constituencies and benefits (buying more and more votes) have now put the entire U.S. economy into real danger. This same simple principle is what drives the crisis in Europe and may prevent them from avoiding a complete meltdown.

That’s why I feel threatened.

Many folks agree with me. After the President overturned the work requirements of the popular welfare-reform law, a recent survey by Rasmussen revealed that these requirements had been quite popular: 83 percent of adults favoring work requirements with only 7 percent opposing them.

HHS Secretary Sebelius explained that the administration gutted the work requirement in order to increase work. However, the HHS has accepted waivers to reduce work, but has not accepted any policies that increase work and the agency stated that it will not approve policy initiatives that are "likely to reduce access to aid."

The government runs over 80 means-tested welfare programs and roughly one third of the population receives benefits.

Total welfare spending in 2011 rose to $927 billion in 2011.

A study found that 43 percent of immigrants who have been in the U.S. at least 20 years were using welfare benefits.  Additionally, 57 percent of all Mexican immigrants are on welfare.

See the attached chart. Over 100 million people in the U.S. are now receiving some form of Federal welfare. Our country is entering very dangerous territory financially.

Keep this in mind as you weather the onslaught of campaign commercials on both sides. The phrase “end Medicare as we know it” is inevitable no matter who wins.  The hard truth is that “Medicare as we know it” is completely unsustainable. The only question is whether it ends by migrating it to something workable or it ends by crashing into financial meltdown.

As for why I don’t run for something: I would make a terrible politician. First, I can’t remember names very well, a deadly fault for a politician. Second, I have extreme difficulty not telling the blunt truth as I see it. Third, I have difficulty compromising, especially on issues of principle. Fourth, I have little patience with the political manipulations that most members of our General Assembly or of Congress find necessary to “get along”.

I believe I can make a much better contribution by doing my best to bring attention to basic facts and logic and hopefully motivating some of you to get off the couch and get engaged in the process.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lee Fleck August 14, 2012 at 01:47 AM
"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors" ---- Plato
B Robinson August 14, 2012 at 12:47 PM
The latest attacks on Obama for the welfare to work waivers are crazy. The order provides states with more flexibility to administer their own progeams. Also, HHS requires that the state-run programs prove effectiveness (i.e., 20% back to work rate) or the waiver will be rescinded. The republican governors of Nevada and Utah requested the waivers. Mr. Lowry, it is fine to disagree, but please be fair in your characterization of the arguments of those who disagree with you. For more info see the Wall Street Journal article... http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052702303644004577525253742799344-lMyQjAxMTAyMDAwMzEwNDMyWj.html?mod=wsj_valetbottom_email By the way, in 2005, the Republican Governors Association requested such waivers. See this letter signed by, among others, Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Jeb Bush, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, and Rick Perry... http://blogs-images.forbes.com/rickungar/files/2012/08/prg052605a-41.pdf
Allen August 14, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, and I might be, but I thought the issue centered around the administration's legal authority to grant welfare waivers. If the idea is so good, and I'm not saying it isn't, then why not change it legally? Just asking.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg August 14, 2012 at 02:13 PM
good article and the notion that "spending is more fun than cutting" is borne out in the debt crisis all of America is in- nationally and individually by household.
No Name August 14, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Mike, Another great article. I feel exactly as you do on both counts. Everyone has their own niche but involvement in each one's own way is crucial for our nation.
janet h russell August 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Mr. Lowry, You forgot that 100% of elected members of Congress and their spouses and dependents get medical care provided by the taxpayers. And after serving 1 term in Congress they get their salary of approx. 175K for life adjusted for inflatioin. And the health care continues along with spousal survivor benefits of 100% until he/she dies. Now you want to talk about entitlements that need to go away. Well there is your next cause.
JamesMichael August 14, 2012 at 05:57 PM
B Robinson. Good reply. Facts are stubborn things, Mike shouldn't be playing fast and loose with them. Thanks for your comment.
JamesMichael August 14, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Yup. These pols suck the juice like they're entitled to it or something. In point of fact, they are entitled to nothing more than a decent wage for a decent day's work. Anything beyond that is opportunistic. Nothing more. Thanks for your comment.
Bob Martell August 14, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Allen, I believe you are correct...a cornerstone of the welfare reform enacted in 1996 was the work requirement...I referred to it as a cornerstone because that provision was the compromise that got enough supporters in Congress to pass it. Without it, that welfare reform act would not have happened. Obama has now, by administrative fiat, changed a law. That is not the President's job. One of the 'provisions' of his change is that states getting waivers have to put in place some system to measure and verify compliance. But there is obviously a lag time between getting the waiver, and getting a monitoring system in place that actually works. In the meantime, there could be plenty of abuse of the system, hence the charge of 'gutting' the law...
Dan August 14, 2012 at 08:30 PM
janet, you are SO right. Stop Congressional Entitlements!!
Hard August 15, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I had an awakening in my early 50's when the thought of Hillary as President scared me enough to register and vote. I'd always felt it was just one group of crooks getting voted out and another group of crooks get voted in but now I see the price we pay for apathy. We have to get the right folks elected but we must hold them accountable. Otherwise, they seem to inevitably become a class of political elites. We've got to do this successfully on the local level if we ever hope to do it at the state and federal level. We truly deserve the politicians we get.
Robert J. Nebel August 15, 2012 at 04:09 PM
RE: "Why don't you run for office?" You might wish to add that you probably couldn't accept the pay cut.
Truthseeker August 15, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Hey BRobinson, Why don't you tell the rest of the story. In the past, state bureaucrats have attempted to define activities such as hula dancing, attending Weight Watchers, and bed rest as “work.” These dodges were blocked by the federal work standards. We can expect “work” in the TANF program to mean anything but work.Obama gutted not only the program but what constitutes work. The Problem with the 20% Work Increase Requirement By requiring states to increase Welfare work participation by 20% and removing the federal definition of what constitutes work, the administration is encouraging states to add non-work activities so they can hit the increased target. Getting 20% more recipients to perform activities will require states to get creative in order to receive their share of more than $16 Billion in federal subsidies. One can expect art classes, group therapy and workouts at the gym to be included before long.
Truthseeker August 15, 2012 at 09:18 PM
To Allen's point, yes it was unconstitutional. Something this President has no problem ignoring. "Section 1115 of TANF does give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to grant waivers to states for requirements in the law. The hitch is that HHS may only waive requirements listed in section 1115, which the work requirement is not. The work requirement and definitions are listed in section 407 which means that waivers may not be granted under the section 1115 authority. These requirements were put in a separate section specifically to prevent this kind of maneuvering." "By dictatorial edict, President Obama has illegally gutted President Clinton’s Welfare Reform. He hasn’t directly redefined the work requirements, but by granting the states waivers and demanding higher participation, he has guaranteed that states will game the system and individually weaken existing work requirements directly in contradiction to the intent of the law."
Truthseeker August 15, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Lastly stop spouting administration lies. Romney and other R -Governors NEVER requested waiving the work requirements. Don't you ever get tired of being lied to by this administration? Here's and excerpt. "HHS responded that Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, sought a waiver from federal work requirements in 2005. In support of this concoction, the Administration provided a letter from Romney and 28 other Republican governors to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R–TN) from that year. But this letter makes no mention at all of waiving work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In fact, the legislation promoted in the letter—the Personal Responsibility and Individual Development for Everyone (PRIDE) Act—actually would have toughened the federal work standards. It proposed raising the mandatory participation rates imposed on states from 50 percent to 70 percent of the adult TANF caseload and increasing the hours of required work activity. The governors’ letter actually contradicts the Administration’s main argument: If the law has always permitted HHS to waive the work requirements, then why didn’t the governors just request waivers from then-President George W. Bush? Why would legislation be needed?" http://blog.heritage.org/2012/07/19/obama-administration-rebuffs-congressional-inquiry-on-legality-of-gutting-welfare-reform/
Just Nasty and Mean August 16, 2012 at 02:37 PM
It is so sad and disheartening to see so many swallow the Obama spin hook line and sinker. If Obama had the power to retract ANY part of this bill, why did it have to be passed by Congress in the 1st place? Obama is positioning Congress to be irrelevant, and--until lately--a constant critic of the Supreme Court. Why? He wants them neutralized and neutered so he can "rule" (their word) by Executive Order fiat. If we keep down this path and reelect Obama, there is no telling what our country will look like in less than 4 years. What I DO know is, it won't be on the side of freedom. (BTW: Do you ever hear Obama speak of freedom? Nope!).
Louis Jones August 16, 2012 at 03:43 PM
This article is recklessly loose with facts. I site this because it is a major problem in US politics now, as in our national election, where facts have been replaced with down-right lies. I will not challenge the lies/misstatements in detail, but I will say categorically that the president/HHS "gutted the work requirement" from welfare comment is a lie. The change allowed states to obtain a waiver to implement programs that were demonstrably superior to the existing rigid federal work requirements. As with everything else this president has proposed, the GOP who was in favor of these waivers before, but now they all oppose them – in lockstep. This opposition, in spite of the fact that many are on record requesting alternative work program waivers for their states, is not governing. The whole welfare statistics talking point thing/chart is ridiculous, and to blame it on this administration, like Newt does at every opportunity, is ludicrous. The expanded welfare needs were generated during the G.W. Bush years, along with the crumbling of the economy, as the super-rich enjoyed multiple tax cuts - that they surely didn't need! The "Job Creators" did not create any jobs during his entire presidency - and left a falling "house of cards" to be cleaned up by someone else. Whatever happened to the trickle-down? See Part 2.
Louis Jones August 16, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Part 2. I also agree with your comment that “medicare as we know it is unsustainable” and inevitable no matter who wins it will change. The devil is in the details. The Obama approach – cut 716 billion from Medicare PROVIDER SIDE – NOT AFFECTING BENEFITS! He also used that money to extend the life of Medicare by 8 years, provides preventative services, and prescription drug assistance to Medicare recipients via ACA. The Romney/Ryan approach – also cuts 716 billion – used “to provide premium assistance” – not sure what that means, but one thing is certain – both Romney & Ryan have called for an end to the Medicare program. However, both agree on ballooning the deficit even more with 5 trillion more in tax cuts for the uber-wealthy, and let’s not forget Deregulation. Propaganda is a dis-service to the country and to our community. Optimistically, there is good in most things, therefore, the good thing in your piece is encouraging folk to get involved in the process. If you don't get involved, then you are allowing someone else who may not have the same interest, values and views deciding electoral outcome.
Truthseeker August 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Louis I state facts and you state opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, however you are not entitled to make up facts. The welfare reform was a bill signed by Bill Clinton, passed by Congress and Senate. Barack Obama sensing in the last month that he needed to buy a few more votes overrode a part of the bill he does not have the power to do. Please read up on the Constitution and it's equal branches of government. Obama had the ability to propose to Congress changes to the law. He did not do that. Dictatorial style. Part 2 Yes he did take out the work requirements which were written into the bill and replaced it by local government opinion with a carrot and stick. Make up this number of we'll cut your funding. Did you see some of the things they are proposing now as work? It's insulting. By the way, did you hear about the APS test cheating scandal. The federal government told them to make improvements in test scores. They sure did - by cheating. I'm sure that would NEVER happen in this case though ( tongue firmly planted in cheek).
Jimmy August 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
It defies common sense to believe you can cut $716 billion (about 12% of the current yr budget) out of Medicare from the 'provider side' without affecting benefits. Using all caps to claim it will doesn’t make it any more correct. In the ‘70’s, Nixon instituted wage and price controls and in 3 years time inflation had tripled and we had shortages of goods. Same thing will happen with Medicare- there will be a shortage of providers and costs will increase as the demand increases on the remaining providers. Simple economics. Obama cuts the $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for Obamacare, not to extend the life of Medicare. You cant count the same dollar twice. Medicare’s demise will be hastened by the cuts. Romney’s plan is to repeal Obamacare, thereby returning that $716 billion to Medicare. Then using current funding the plan is to transition future generations to insurance plans ensuring Medicare’s viability into the future.
George Wilson August 16, 2012 at 08:30 PM
B.Robinson Glad someone has the true facts.
Jimmy August 16, 2012 at 09:23 PM
You're right George. I too am glad that someone has the facts. That someone would be the Truthseeker. Keep up the good work, TS!
Truthseeker August 17, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I just want to understand your illogical thoughts. Obama cuts 716 Billion from current retirees to spend on a NEW entitlement plan. You claim and possibly believe that that will not affect CURRENT retirees? Do you understand that providers (Doctors) are people who will not work for free, nor will they take $15 in govt. reimbursement for an office visit that costs them $50. Can you say Doctor shortage just like in Canada? You are obviously ignorant of what the Ryan plan is. How convenient for you to quote the exact same dollar amount in both plans. Golly gee what a coincidence! The truth about the Ryan plan. 1) No one over the age of 55 would be affected in any way. 2) Traditional Medicare fee-for-service would remain AVAILABLE FOR ALL WHO WANT IT. 'Premium support' -- that is, government funding of private insurance plans chosen by individuals -- is an OPTION for those who choose it. No senior would be forced out of the traditional Medicare program against his will. If Obama and Obamacare are fully implemented, CURRENT recipients are up the creek. Did you know a panel of 15 un-elected bureaucrats will determine how to dole out what money is left in a program that is projected to go bankrupt in 11 years (earlier if Obamacare is not repealed)? 3) Overall funding for Medicare under the Ryan-Wyden plan is scheduled to grow at the same rate as under President Obama’s proposals. WITHOUT the Obamacare cuts.
Louis Jones August 18, 2012 at 01:21 AM
TruthSeeker we can have discourse without being disrespectful and abrasive. Your characterization of my comments as ‘my opinions masquerading as fact’ demands a rebuttal accompanied by facts that you claim I bastardized. I don’t think your response met that standard. Rather than getting into a useless shouting match with you – I do what I believe civic-minded Americans should be doing in this important and critical debate – simply spreading facts. Before you start the usual refrain “leftist talking points” or “lame stream media”, or whatever language you might use when facts get in the way. Be aware of this fact: The Center On Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has been the policy organization cited by both sides of the political spectrum since the eighties – (CBO is the other – but I know you will claim they are partisan). Part 1.
Louis Jones August 18, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Part 2. CBPP was recently cited as a neutral authority by Mitt Romney himself, but you won’t hear that on FOX. While you are examining these facts you may want to peruse the column on the right to get more useful FACTS about Paul Ryan’s plans! Blatant Right-Wing Lie about Obama “stealing from Medicare” cuts exposed here: http://www.offthechartsblog.org/health-reform-strengthens-medicare-doesnt-rob-it/ Medicare in the Ryan budget: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3731 Mitt Romney’s Budget plan for America: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3658 Of course you are probably part of the 2% that benefit from these extreme and draconian policy proposals – if that is the case I am wasting my time. However, the chance of that is slight, so I will put this out there for any other American that may be consumed or bombarded with “one liner” and “bumper sticker” politics - or worse yet informed by FAUX NEWS (Fox) or your comments. So, turn off FOX and Limbaugh, and spend the weekend reading – I will!
Louis Jones August 18, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Jimmy – I was not basing my comment on “common sense” – I was merely responding to an article I took issue with. This is still America. I won’t clog up the site with repeating what I shared with TruthSeeker, but I do invite you to check out that information. It may clear up your understanding of the $716 Billion lies being floated about. Good evening.
Charlton Allen August 18, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Thank you balancing the facts. Our entire public policy discourse is filled with misinformed "truth" stated bluntly by those claiming the know facts, but ignoring the inconvenient facts. Spin, egoism, self aggrandizement , and deliberate misdirection are rife and often used by those who claim to declare the "truth" bluntly and dogmatically. I applaud the admonishment to get involved, but the equal partner to that is "get the facts" and then get involved.
Cheryl Miller August 19, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I agree with the premise of your blog post - people do need to get more involved in politics right now. However, I find it hard to believe that the Welfare Program was developed as a way to "buy votes" as you suggest. Statistics tell us that the poor are among the least likely groups to even be registerd to vote, not to mention actually vote on an election day. And, besides, if anyone could find a way to "buy votes," don't you know the Republicans would be all over it by now?
Dean Sheridan August 21, 2012 at 12:41 PM
@Cheryl Miller ; I was one of those that did get up off the couch. Respectfully I would ask you to research Thomas Jefferson's writings of the time dealing with these subjects. You can even go further to the Federalist papers. They struggled with giving the nod of power to the legislator over the others for just this reason; but welfare wasn't worded as such. They figured once the people figured out they could vote for anything - it would mean the end. Hence the Representative Republic. They did it for one reason - the main job of the legislator was to protect us from Foreign enemies. We have the tools and the power - we must be aggressive and take it from those who would make themselves King.


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