Thursday, April 14, 2011

John 1:17 (NASB): For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

GRACE. That which a person is not entitled to by law, but which is extended to him as a favor; a pardon, for example, is an act of grace.

Between The Lines

The sacred and the secular agree: "grace" comes not as if justice, but as if mercy; not through law or a right but as a gift, not as something owed.

Barack Obama, eager to invoke a biblical concept (grace) to prove yet again what he should not have to prove- that he is signed up as a Christian, not as a Muslim- declared at George Washington University on Tuesday:

"There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities.

But what was the President of the United States up to when he suggested that Medicare and Social Security come from somewhere other than the law?

The Social Security Act (HR 7260), as enacted August 14, 1935, reads

An act to provide for the general welfare by establishing a system of Federal old-age benefits, and by enabling the several States to make more adequate provision for aged persons, blind persons, dependent and crippled children, maternal and child welfare, public health, and the administration of their unemployment compensation laws; to establish a Social Security Board; to raise revenue; and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

On July 30, 1965 President Johnson signed HR 6675, the Social Security Amendments of 1965, which established Medicare and Medicaid.

Neither Social Security nor Medicare is needs-based. Neither requires establishment of need and the individual is entitled to Social Security and Medicare because each

guarantees a certain level of benefits to persons or other entities who meet requirements set by law, such as Social Security, farm price supports or unemployment benefits. It thus leaves no discretion with Congress on how much money to appropriate, and some entitlements carry permanent appropriations.

Medicaid is a means-tested, social welfare program for which eligibility is determined primarily by income and financial resources. Support for the program relies, in the President's elegant framing, on "a country that values fairness" and "recognize(s) that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us."

By contrast, Medicare and Social Security are social insurance programs financed through the payroll tax paid by employers and employees; partly as a result, eligibility is unaffected by economic status. President Obama, a disciple of the Bowles/Simpson debt reduction proposal, is favorably inclined to increasing gradually the age of eligibility for Social Security. He has told us he wants to "slow the growth of Medicare" and "put everything on the table, and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget."

Barack Obama previously had not informed us that Medicare and Social Security are funded not by the employer/employee contribution, but only by the grace of a caring society. Now turned in his ever-scrupulous and meticulous rhetoric into welfare programs, they are ripe for means-testing. Though the President has obscured it by characteristic oratorical flair, he has warned us.

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