LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: A Response to Matsunaga

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Dear Editor,

Judd Matsunaga’s harangue (Rafu, 3/3/12) over President Obama’s State of the Union speech warrants some sort of a response.

It is true that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were funded with borrowed money as Matsunaga alleges. The reason is that the Bush-Cheney gang, for political reasons, refused to raise taxes to pay for the two wars.

Matsunaga might recall that, during the buildup to the Iraq war, Cheney, on national TV, alleged that Iraqi oil could be used to pay for the Iraq War. Evidently, the vice president thought that we could just barge into Iraq, blow the country apart and then reimburse ourselves for the cost that we incurred by stealing their oil.

Afghanistan was forced upon us because we could not allow Osama bin Laden a safe haven from which he could launch further attacks against us. We had no choice and virtually the whole world was with us.

Iraq, which was far more costly, was a different story. Our incursion into Iraq was an act of sheer arrogance and stupidity that turned virtually the whole world against us. The primary reason why we are still mired in Afghanistan is that we took our eye off the ball and went charging off into Iraq before we finished the job in Afghanistan. Now, it looks like it is too late.

Mr. Matsunaga acknowledges that President Obama did not cause the debt crisis but alleges that three years after he stepped into the Oval Office, things have gotten worse. Almost all economists agree that Obama inherited the worst economic mess since FDR stepped into the Oval Office in January 1933. In January 2009, the stock market, the banking system, the housing market and the American auto industry were all on the verge of collapse. We were mired in two losing wars and the federal government was gushing red ink.

Of course the national debt has increased since January 2009, but are things getting worse? Absolutely not. Progress is being made, notwithstanding fierce resistance from those who refuse to acknowledge that our deficit problems can be resolved only if we consider both reductions in entitlements as well as tax increases for those who can afford to pay more.

With regard to Social Security, I question Mr. Matsunaga’s assertion that “declining home prices have benefited those who didn’t own homes prior to the housing bust” because it implies that those who owned homes lost out.

I paid off my home mortgage many years ago. The 3.6 percent cost of living allowance for last year included consideration for rental payments. Last year, my property taxes declined because the assessed value of my home declined. In short, my “rent” declined but my Social Security check increased. The intent of Social Security was not to enhance the net worth of seniors but to help them pay for essentials.

One last comment. Mr. Matsunaga began his article by deriding President Obama about the fact that the national debt has continued to increase on his watch. Later in the article, Matsunaga complains that the 3.6 percent cost of living increase for Social Security recipients was inadequate. An increase in Social Security checks will do nothing but further aggravate our debt problems.

Would Mr. Matsunaga, or any other Republican for that matter, support increasing taxes on those who can afford it in order to pay for these larger Social Security checks? Don’t hold your breath on this one, folks.

 

George Nakagawa

 

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