As a parent and now as a grandparent I have spent quite a lot of time over the years convincing first my children and now my grandchildren that monsters aren’t real. The spooky stories they hear from their friends are just stories, nothing more. The movies they may have seen aren’t real, it’s just make believe. Nights spent checking under the bed and in their closets to calm them were amusing to me but very serious to them.
But now I have to tell them that everything I told them is false. There are no werewolves or vampires or creatures waiting to snatch them up from the dark. But I now realize that monsters are real. They exist not just in our minds but walk about in daylight.
A good example can be found within our new government. They intend to strip away many of the things that the poor need to survive. First was their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and replace it with their American Health Care Act. It must be a good plan, right? It has in the title “American.” But it is far from the way I was taught. I was raised to believe we need to help the less fortunate. This plan is far from helping anyone but the wealthy. These are the children who are sick with disease, elderly who will have to choose between healthcare, medicine or eating. The struggling families that work hard for next to nothing at the Walmarts across the country, the manufacturing plants that only hire employees from the temp agencies so they can get low cost labor without paying any benefits. All in order to line the pockets of their wealthy owners and investors.
The Congressional Budget Office determined that in the first year of this plan an additional 14 million Americans will be without health insurance and by 2026 that number will grow to 24 million. They have determined that seniors 60-64 rates will increase by 750 percent over what they pay now. Taking away billions from Medicaid that allows the poor to see a doctor before they are so sick they can’t be helped. And when confronted with this fact, they say, “Well, they can always go to the emergency room.” How many emergency rooms around the country can treat a patient needing chemo or radiation for their cancer? How many of our friends and neighbors will we lose before we make our so-called leaders realize that healthcare is a right of all, not a luxury only for those that can afford it? Not to mention the billions in tax cuts it will provide to the richest of the rich in America.
Now comes the budget from the White House: $54 billion dollars more on top of the $604.5 billion that we now spend on defense. That amount doesn’t even take into account the over $20 billion dollars to build a wall. We already spend nearly three times as much for defense as Russia and China combined. We spend more than the next 12 nations combined. How many rockets do we need? How many ships and planes are necessary?
To cover this increase in funding the president has decided to reduce spending elsewhere in the budget. And as no surprise to most, that money comes by slashing and eliminating programs that help the poor. The Community Development Block Grant that provides money for local jurisdictions to make improvements such as water and sewer upgrades as well as money for popular programs such as Meals on Wheels is slated for elimination. Our own community applies for and receives this grant and it has benefited us significantly. It would mean seniors across the country that depend on Meals on Wheels for their only real nutritional source, not to mention the wellness checks by the caring souls who deliver to them. Their reasoning? “There is no measurable benefits to this program that we can see.”
How about the immeasurable effects? Like the fact that over 2.4 million seniors are served daily in the United States. The reduced cost of nursing home care due to seniors being able to remain in their homes. Or the free school lunch programs? No measurable benefits? How about children that are able to concentrate on learning instead of the fact they are hungry and it may be the best, most nutritional meal that day for them? Many other low income programs such as LIHEAP and Weatherization that help the poor to heat their homes safely are also marked for elimination. Hundreds of our residents are served by these programs. I guess poor people a year freezing to death, dying of disease or starving is a measurable benefit to are so-called leaders. So long as the wealthy get their billions in tax cuts, the military gets a few more planes and bombs and we “Make America Great Again,” it is fine. We can keep paying for the president’s weekends in Florida at $3 million dollars a visit or to keep his wife safe in the Trump Tower because she doesn’t want to live in the White House. That’s only another $300,000 a day. Chump change to the rich. The poor are only here to serve the wealthy anyway, we can always make more.
I could go on and on about all the various poverty programs up for elimination or cuts so drastic they may as well be eliminated. But I can’t. I have to go and explain to my grandchildren that monsters are real. They aren’t hiding in their closets or under their beds. The monsters are roaming freely in daylight. They just look like the Paul Ryan’s and Mitch McConnell’s of the country. In fact they look just like the majority of the Republicans in Congress. And beware the biggest, nastiest, lying monster of them all, Donald Trump.
Steve Creed is a Fayette County resident who has spent the last 25 years of his life working to help the disadvantaged.