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Blue Views of Kentucky: Are you listening?
In Sept. 11 Issue
Russell County News
By Kathy Foley, Columnist

This week, I'd like to speak directly to those of you who are retired and depending in large part on your Social Security checks and Medicare.  Also, I'd like the attention of those who are on disability, collecting SSI, or unemployment insurance; or those of you who are simply underemployed, working most of your waking hours for a low wage and just barely getting by.  For those of you who are earning $200,000+  per year, you won't have any interest in what I am about to say.

I'm wondering if you folks know what Republicans say and think about you.  Let's start with former President George W. Bush:

"You work three jobs?  … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." -President George W. Bush, to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005  

That was at a town hall meeting and the lovely, hard-working woman just beamed.  But really?   How many of you think working three jobs is "fantastic?"  I, personally, think it is sad and pathetic that it is "uniquely American" that a single mother of three has to work three jobs in order to get by.  I wonder how much quality time and energy she has left to spend with those three kids -- or to even have a life at all.

More recently, we have former Republican senator from Wyoming and the current co-chairman of the President's bi-partisan Deficit Commission, Alan Simpson responding to a reporter's question about cutting Social Security:

 "We're trying to take care of the lesser people in society and do that in a way without getting into all the flash words you love dig up, like cutting Social Security…"

I bet those of you enjoying your retirement years (or maybe not enjoying them because you have to live on so little) didn't know you were "lesser people", did you?  In an email to the Executive Director of the National Older Women's League, the same Alan Simpson showed his complete lack of respect and total disdain for women, Social Security recipients and, for that matter, the entire United States citizenry:

"If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know.  And yes, I've made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree.  You know 'em too.  It's the same with any system in America.  We've reached a point where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits.  Call us when you get honest work!"

I think this email should give you insight into what former Senator Simpson thinks about all of us, but especially women and anyone who is receiving Social Security benefits.  And all this time, you thought you were simply collecting what is your due after paying into the system for years, didn't you?   He is already on the record for saying that they (the Deficit Commission) will ONLY target spending that benefits the sick, the needy and the old-primarily by cutting Social Security.  So basically Mr. Simpson and other Republicans not only think it is "fantastic" that low-wage earners have to work three jobs to get by, but that they should do it until they drop dead.  Fantastic, indeed!

Closer to home, we have Republican senate candidate, Rand Paul, saying on a 2008 Kentucky Tonight segment that he favors a government that does "the least it has to do" rather than one that "coddles us from cradle to grave."  He went on to say in the same appearance, "I think we can take care of those in our society who are the have-nots, the can-nots, the mentally ill ... without government." On KET's Kentucky Tonight, October 26, 1998, Paul advocated letting people opt out of the Social Security program saying, "I think the average American is smart enough to make their own investments.  The more freedom the better ... Reform is going to happen, and I hope it's privatization."

When Nevada's GOP senate candidate, Sharron Angle isn't running from the news media, she has been very vocal about wanting to abolish Social Security and Medicare.  She also believes that unemployed workers are just spoiled and they should just go out there and get any minimum wage job they can find instead of receiving unemployment benefits.

Then there's the newly selected Republican candidate for senate in Alaska, Joe Miller, who said of Social Security that  "…ultimately, we've got to transition out of the Social Security arrangement and go into more of a privatization."  On extending unemployment benefits, he said, "The unemployment compensation benefits have gotten -- first of all, it's not constitutionally authorized.  I think that's the first thing that's gotta be looked at, so I do not favor their extension."

Arizona GOP congressional candidate, Ben Quayle told CNN's John King that he would be in favor of increasing the retirement age and for privatizing Social Security:

"…we would actually have to reform it which would be to start to gradually increase the retirement age up to 70 and allow a portion of the people to take… their Social Security and actually invest into private accounts."

Mr. Quayle is another Republican who has no problem with the lower income folks working until they drop.

A Tea Party favorite in New York, Carl Paladino said he would transform some New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they could work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in "personal hygiene."

Are you starting to see a pattern here?  Granted, other than Rand Paul, we won't have a say on the elections of any of the others, but that isn't my point.  

If you listen closely, you can't miss what most Republicans really think about middle and lower income Americans and especially the older, disabled, sick or needy Americans.  

If any of you reading this fall into any one of those categories and consider yourself a Republican or are planning to vote Republican this November, I strongly urge you to ask yourself whether the Republican Party really cares about you, or are they simply manipulating you to do their bidding, while in their hearts they despise you?  

If you really listen to what they are saying about you, you will know that it is the latter.

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