Strengthen our Safety Net to Strengthen our Economy

Congress has missed their first deadline in the budget negotiations that were constructed after the government shutdown.  Paul Ryan and Pat Murray are co-chairing the committee, and Ryan is peddling his usual cuts to entitlement programs.  Republicans persistently talk about cutting entitlement benefits under the guise of cutting the deficit and encouraging people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  That mentality might work in a booming economy, but it has quite the opposite effect in a depressed economy.


Earlier this week, President Obama made a comment referencing the fact that America has installed societal ladders for our people to climb to success, and spread safety net beneath.  We did this so that if we fall, we don’t fall quite so far and we can bounce back.


This is a strong argument to strengthen the safety net programs instead of cutting or even simply maintaining them. Stronger safety nets, properly administered, would actually encourage people to start new businesses and make new investments.  An economy that provides easy access to health insurance and less chance of going bankrupt or losing your home, will enable many people to take risks and start new ventures. 


So many Americans have a great talent or idea that they would like to pursue, but are to afraid because if their business doesn’t succeed, they will have a hard time finding new work.  A failed venture could cost them their homes, their health insurance, and even the ability to put food on the table.  High unemployment, fragile safety nets, and monopolized industries are killing job and business growth because it creates an atmosphere where the average person doesn’t have the equity to survive if they fail at a new endeavor.  A society that provides for its citizens, while they get back on their feet, would provide the peace of mind for new business ventures to be started.  This would create more businesses, which creates more jobs, which would also create more options for individuals who are looking for work.

The GOP says they want to cut entitlements because they feel the safety net “has become a hammock”, in the words of Paul Ryan.  This is a ploy.  They don’t want people to have the freedom to start new businesses because new businesses mean competition and the loss of power. This also why they are so against Obamacare.  The Republican Caucus isn’t worried about middle class individuals losing their health insurance.  If that was their worry, they would vote for universal healthcare, tomorrow.  The real reason, outside of campaign donations from the health insurance industry, is that they know that Obamacare will give people the freedom to find affordable healthcare without needing a job at one of their corporate donors.


Furthermore, the GOP continues to cut unemployment insurance because it allows less time for someone to go ahead and start a new venture.  Granted, they don’t want anyone to have to pay taxes either, but even that is just a talking point.  The longer someone is out of work and receiving unemployment, the longer they have to actually start up their own business.  Maybe they fix cars on the side, repair roofing, paint houses, fix computers; whatever the trade may be, Republicans and corporations do not want new competition popping up in their communities.


The government is not the answer to every problem, but in this case it is for the short-term.  A strong safety net would provide the certainty that people need to feel comfortable in taking a risk.  Of those risks, new and prosperous businesses will be developed.  This will provide more jobs and opportunity while bringing down the unemployment rate.  As more of these business take shape, more jobs create a long-term, market-based solution; lessening the need for the safety net.  


The Democratic Party needs to go on the offensive in this fight.  They must stop talking about preserving what we have and start screaming about strengthening these programs.


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