STOP Framing "us"

How a select few of "them" are Framing all of "us"

Archive for the tag “path to poverty”

Paul Ryan’s crusade to “Raid the Railroad” is being framed as an attempt to “save” taxpayers money. Where have we heard this language before?

Paul Ryan, Republican chair of the House Budget Committee, is attempting to Raid the Railroad Retirement fund by introducing a ‘poison pill’ that would effectively steal the hard earned money that Railroad workers have been putting aside for years. Many people may be familiar with Paul Ryan’s current budget plan for our nation, which he calls a “path to prosperity.”  What many people may not be aware of is that his plan for the nation is similar to his plan for local railroad workers, which is to create a “path to prosperity” for the top 1% that is being paved by a “path to poverty” for the rest of us.

Paul Ryan added a little something extra this year to the conservative’s immoral budget proposal for America.  In addition to devastating our social safety net by gutting social programs that benefit the most vulnerable populations among us, including the working poor, sick, disabled and elderly populations, Paul Ryan is extending this destructive crusade to include middle class working Americans who contribute to the railroad pension fund.  It should be noted that the money saved from this crusade will be transfered up to the wealthiest among us, who believe they are entitled to it!

According to the Railroad Retirement Board “An accompanying report (House Report 112-421) to the House of Representatives’ version of the federal budget for fiscal year 2013 includes a list of reforms that could impact government income security programs.” According to this report, conservative politicians in Washington are actively trying to “conform Tier I so that its benefits would equal those of Social Security, with an estimated savings to taxpayers of $2 billion over 10 years.”  What this means is that workers will be forced to alter their existing pension plan, which has been working to benefit retired and disabled railroad employees for years.

What Paul Ryan is not telling the American people is that the railroad pension fund has absolutely nothing to do with taxpayers.  The Railroad pension fund is completely funded by railroad workers themselves.  Not one dime of taxpayer money is used to fund this pension plan.  So, why would a conservative politician in Washington say otherwise?  The short answer is that Paul Ryan is operating under a radical ideology that seeks to transfer wealth from average working Americans to upper class members of what Vice President Joe Biden referred to as the “privileged sector.”

Despite the fact that Railroad workers fund their own pension plans, NOT TAXPAYERS! it is important to point out that this language of “saving taxpayers $2 billion over 10 years” will soon be the focus of attention by the majority of conservative politicians in Washington, not to mention Fox news, and all of the radical right wing talk show hosts.  Soon, they will all be on the same page, so to speak, and join forces to endlessly repeat this talking point of saving taxpayers money.

When viewed through the lens, or “frame” of saving taxpayers money, Paul Ryan’s comments appear to make sense.  This is how framing works.  Specific language is used to create a “frame” that represents how people see an issue.  In this case, the endless repetition of “saving taxpayers money” that will shortly occur will start to make sense to viewers and listeners of this right wing echo chamber because of the sheer repetition of this nonsensical frame.  This strategy works in a similar fashion to advertising.   The more a message is heard or seen, the more readily available it becomes once this topic is brought up.

With that being said, the sad, but ugly truth is that some of us will begin to view the Railroad Retirement pension fund through the lens of this frame, and believe that this issue is primarily about saving taxpayers money, and not about the fact that it really involves stealing money from working Americans.

The great thing about framing, (for conservatives who seek to manipulate us), is that any fact that doesn’t fit the frame is rejected, and only misinformed opinions that reinforce the frame are accepted.  They’re pretty slick aren’t they!

Since the ‘poison pill’ language above has not yet been used to amend the Railroad Retirement Act, the Railroad Retirement Board, who oversees the fund is not able to comment on what changes to tier I benefits will actually take place for current railroad employees.  I guess now would be the time for people who work on the railroad, as well as concerned citizens who care about threats to our current social safety net, should begin to take action by calling their local and state representatives to protest this immoral theft taking place by radical conservatives politicians.

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Two visions for America: One Progressive the other regressive. Which path will our elected representatives choose?

In reference to the choices we make today that will decide the fate of our nation tomorrow, Jim Wallis mentioned in a recent article, the choice Paul Ryan and members of the GOP have made, (which they are calling a “path to prosperity”) is really a choice to hurt people who don’t have the political clout to defend themselves.  In addition to not paying down the deficit, which is what the GOP claims, or should I say “frames” their budget plan does in order to convince people to support it, Wallis notes, “Two-thirds of the long term budget cuts that Ryan proposed are directed at modest and low-income people, as well as the poorest of the poor at home and abroad.”

He states that, “Cuts of this magnitude for people of modest and low-incomes will result in a direct increase of poverty and misery in America.”  This is what happens when we pursue economic growth at all costs, which is proven to only benefit a select few at the top at the expense of the health and well being of everyone else, including the planet!

This regressive vision for America the GOP chooses to embrace will allow those at the very top to prosper, while everyone else slowly sinks into poverty and despair.  This is evident in the massive transfer of wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them” Paul Ryan’s “path to prosperity” for the super-rich plan will generate.

As pointed out by Jim Wallis, “In dramatic contrast, Ryan has chosen to help the people who need help the least. Wealthy individuals and companies reap a windfall of benefits in Ryan’s plan — with tax cuts and breaks, continued subsidies and loopholes for every powerful special interest, and increased corporate welfare payments from the government.”

As you can see, the only prosperity being achieved is for the already affluent and super-wealthy in the top 1%, who use members of the GOP to advance their radical agenda by passing laws to the detriment of ‘we the people’ in order to continue to re-distribute wealth up by showering the “privileged sector” with corporate welfare (ie, more of our tax dollars).

The actions of the GOP mentioned above represent a regressive vision for America, which ultimately leads to further pieces of radical legislation being introduced, not to mention the proposal of immoral budget priorities like the Paul Ryan plan that serves to perpetuate the status quo of income inequality, which amounts to further austerity for all of “us” in order to provide continued prosperity for a select few of “them.”

In opposition to Paul Ryan’s immoral budget priorities and regressive vision for America, the Progressive caucus in the House of Representatives put forth their own plan last week.  This moral budget, called the ‘Budget for All’, represents a progressive vision for America, which puts an end to the corporate welfare the “privileged sector” feels entitled to receive, and focuses on improving the livelihood of the vast majority of the population.  The Budget for All plan focuses on putting Americans back to work, as opposed to putting the burden on the backs of Americans.  The Budget for All reduces the deficit by focusing on the true cause of our deficit and rising debt levels, (ie, the transfer of wealth that is taking place from all of us to a select few of them).  This transfer of wealth is primarily occurring in the form of unsustainable tax cuts for the super-rich, out of control military and war spending, and many other types of corporate welfare to sustain the high society, upper class lifestyle the richest among us have become accustom to.

Amazingly, this progressive vision for America was shot down in the House of Representatives in a 346-78 vote, while the regressive, immoral budget plan passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 235-189.

Now what?

Paul Ryan’s “Path to prosperity” for the upper class is being paved by a “path to poverty” for the rest of us.

Paul Ryan and members of the GOP recently released their budget plan for America.  They are referring to this plan as a “path to prosperity.”  What they really mean is a “path to poverty” for everyone who is not in the top 1%.  After all, in the land of George Orwell, the “path to prosperity” can only mean one thing, it’s opposite, or a “path to poverty.”

This “path to poverty”, or GOP inflected austerity, is destructive to the working poor and middle class in this country, since it transfers wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them” primarily by eliminating our social safety net.   This is accomplished by taking away guaranteed benefits currently being provided to protect the most vulnerable among us, including the poor, sick, disabled, and elderly populations, in order to give guaranteed benefits to the wealthiest among us, by permanently extending the Bush tax cuts for instance, which will add trillions more to a deficit “they” continue to pile on the backs of everyone else.

The irony is that the George Orwell Party has already “framed” the issue of taking from one group to give to another in their often-repeated “transfer of wealth” frame.  The radical right wing constantly repeats this Orwellian frame to convince the rest of us that Liberal Democrats are somehow taking from the rich to give to the poor.  In reality, the Paul Ryan budget plan and the rest of the GOP is in favor of what you would call Robin Hood in reverse, since their agenda is all about taking from the poor and middle class in order to protect and enrich the upper class.

Interestingly, the GOP’s plan for the money that will be generated by making drastic cuts to vital services affecting the working poor and middle class, such as ending Medicare, and handing over the Social Security trust fund ($2.6 Trillion) to the Wall Street Casino, will not be used to pay down the deficit, but rather to further pave the “path to prosperity” for a select few.  In this sense, Paul Ryan and members of the GOP are not necessarily lying when they say their budget will create a “path to prosperity”, they just left out the part about who will prosper and at who’s expense.

In order to get people on board with taking away guaranteed benefits that have been enormously popular ever since they were first enacted to protect the people from the abuses of the “privileged sector” in the past, the GOP must hide their true intentions by using positive sounding language when describing their budget plan and vision for America, and negative sounding language when describing anything that conflicts with their agenda.  It really is that simple!

In line with the memo Newt Gingrich crafted with the help of Frank Luntz, the GOP is using language such as “save” and “strengthen” in relation to Social Security and Medicare to present the illusion of being in favor of these programs.  In reality, the GOP is adamantly opposed to our social safety net, and regularly refers to such programs that benefit disabled children, the elderly, and the working poor, as “entitlement programs” that should be eliminated.  So, why should we believe Paul Ryan or any other Republican politician in Washington who claim they are in favor of helping our senior citizens, disabled children, and those who are trying to survive on non-livable wages?  The short answer is that we shouldn’t.

 

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