THE BLOG
12/27/2011 01:42 pm ET | Updated Feb 26, 2012

Romney's War on "Entitlement"

It's an old theme by now, going back to Reagan and his war on welfare, but this time it's Romney's war on entitlement. His new campaign refrain is to blame the poor for feeling "entitled," for saying, "They owe me, I'm entitled," while they sit back with their big screen HDTVs, their delivery pizza, laughing at the poor suckers who are getting up at six and working for a living. It's Reagan's campaign theme from 1980: "Send the welfare bums back to work."

This season's entitlement theme came from a Tea Party sign that read "You Are Not Entitled To What I Earn." Romney's handlers took that sign and are running with it, refining Reagan's equally blunt slogan with more subtle rhetoric:

Will the United States be an Entitlement Society or an Opportunity Society? In an Entitlement Society, government provides every citizen the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to innovate, pioneer or take risk.

It's an obvious distortion of langauge to say that the government provides every citizen the same or similar rewards. "Rewards?" Really? What is he talking about? As a Senior Citizen I have both Medicare and Social Security, one I pay something for and the other I earned by 40 plus years of teaching. It's not a reward in any shape or form, and I resent the implication. Also, at one point in my life I needed unemployment insurance for a short time, and that wasn't a reward either. It was help I needed to provide for my family until I could find another position.

Romney wants to blame entitlements for our debt crisis and then to tout opportunity as the path to recovery. Well let's look at opportunity as a theme. I'm all in favor of "America as Opportunity," but Romney isn't talking about real opportunity. He won't talk about what opportunity requires: (1) guaranteeing a level playing field for all citizens to work hard and find success; and (2) having health care for all so that illness doesn't prevent a person from fulfilling his or her dreams; (3) providing a quality and affordable education for every citizen so that he or she can successfully enter into and succeed in an innovative marketplace; and (4) it means making sure that our vanishing middle class can recover and be the true strength of American leadership in the world. Then and only then will "America as Opportunity" be realized.

Every reasonably educated person knows full well what the word "entitlement" signifies to the impressionable electorate, and Romney will use a negative spin to strike fear and loathing into the hearts of those who resent paying taxes to help those who need support and a real opportunity to get ahead. Killing so-called "entitlements" is not a plan for American recovery. Putting the middle class on a solid economic footing is the key to recovery, and that will take a combination of higher taxes for the wealthy and renewed investment, which means getting mountains of cash off the sidelines and into the game and then creating a culture where all Americans have a chance to fulfill their dreams.