Education loses to Social Security

editorial cartoon by Yasuyuki Nagasawa
editorial cartoon by Yasuyuki Nagasawa

The term “the children are our future” has been thrown out the window by the U.S. Congress via the latest round of proposed budget cuts. They are trying to make it nearly impossible for young adults and children in this country to expand their minds and receive a quality education.

By now, most have heard of the proposed budget cuts, most of which will directly affect citizens of college age and younger. To reduce the deficit, Congress wants to take money away from different educational programs such as loans, lunch programs, grants and other aid, while shying away from cuts in Social Security or various veterans programs.

It is very easy for Congress to attack the programs of the younger generation. For the most part we do not vote. Therefore Congress is put into office by older Americans—the people these budget cuts favor most.

It is easy to pit the young against old when considering ways to cut the budget. Younger working- and middle-class Americans do not stand a chance when pitted against Social Security recipients. The lobbying power of older Americans is so much more powerful than that of college students.

Currently the government collects $390 billion in Social Security revenues, but only pays out $332 billion in benefits. That leaves them with a surplus of $58 billion that is dumped into a trust fund that the government earns interest on. This money is used to fund such things as aircraft carriers and welfare.

The current Social Security system is projected to fail by the year 2015. There will not be enough money to pay retirement benefits for the younger generation, even though they are currently paying into the program. In essence, the government is taking money from them now, in the form of budget cuts, and will do so again in 2015.

Another area the government is unwilling to cut funds from is veterans hospitals. The program is designed to help veterans who suffer from war-related ailments. However, the latest figures show that $38 billion is spent on non-war-related ailments. The government has paid for everything from heart disease to cosmetic surgery.

The Veterans Administration is spending more money on hospital construction now when, in fact, there are fewer veterans. VA hospitals are over-staffed, costing another $67 million a year. State-of-the-art golf courses are taking up hundreds of thousands of dollars as well.

The budget cuts should be reviewed. It should not be a matter of current vs. future generations. If we need to tighten our belts to get through this economic crisis, then all Americans, regardless of age, should pitch in. And if excess money sits in a failing system, that needs to be reviewed. The “Contract with America” needs to represent the needs of all Americans.

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