CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Halloween has passed, the presidential election has passed and both events caused many West Virginia residents to experience some fear or at least some anxiety conjured up by imaginary goblins or a high priced political campaign spin strategist.
Today could be the beginning of the scariest time for middle class America. I believe that immediately following Election Day some members of the lame duck Congress began cutting a deal to ensure passage of a deficit reducing "grand bargain" which will bring additional economic burden to those who already struggle to afford a Christmas goose.
Sen. Joe Manchin introduced the leaders of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission (former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles from the Clinton administration) to West Virginia on Sept. 10 at the Culture Center. Everyone over the age of 62 was identified as a greedy geezer, and AARP was referred to as fear mongers by Sen. Simpson.
I wasn't particularly offended because I commonly refer to both of them as the leaders of the Cat Food Commission, the commission that will reduce the deficit on the backs of the old and the poor, through cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, forcing them to eat cat food once the commission gets done slashing away at their modest earned benefits.
Now that the election is over, a budget showdown is coming, the lame duck Congress and the president will be making a critical choice; do they continue enriching our nation's wealth accumulators (the richest 2 percent) or do they help middle class America by creating more economic security, not less.
We must let our congressional representatives know that working and middle-class West Virginians did not break our economy and that it's far past time to require those who have benefited most from policies of deregulation and tax avoidance to pay their fair share and become economic patriots.
Working and middle-class West Virginians are not greedy geezers, as Sen. Simpson suggested. We are hard-working people with good common sense who absolutely understand what will happen if this lame duck Congress passes the "grand bargain" (recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission) continuing lower taxes for the richest 2 percent while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits to reduce the deficit. It will not be a Grand Bargain; it will be another Great Burden on those who can least afford it.
I ask all working West Virginians to join with the West Virginia AFL-CIO in a clear loud voice (that does not sound like the feeble voice of a greedy geezer) telling Sen. Manchin he must reject all budget deficit reducing proposals that avoid taxing the richest 2 percent of Americans while promoting reductions in funding for our essential social safety net programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, that without doubt protect all working and middle-class Americans.
Matheney is secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, a group of more than 575 unions.