The entitlement mentality did not begin in America, but it has flourished here in the last century. The American claim on entitlements to health care, retirement income and seemingly any “right” one can conceive was birthed from the womb of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, reared by Kennedy’s New Frontier and came of age in Johnson’s Great Society. U.S. citizens, fanned by the flames of those who encourage class warfare, are increasing their demands for government-redistributed income and programs that guarantee outcomes, not opportunities. Non-citizens are now voicing the sounds of entitlement to an easy road to citizenship.
The entitlement attitude that has been ingrained in millions of Americans has blinded them to the ineffectiveness and runaway costs of their favorite programs. The fiscal challenge in meeting the future demands of the Medicare and Medicaid programs is well documented, as is the coming bankruptcy of the Social Security system. Yet few elected officials dare to even utter those programs’ names in public for fear of electoral retaliation.
Too many Americans also claim an entitlement to additional health care coverage from their employers. If they do not receive health care as a benefit, they believe the government should mandate it. The Maryland state legislature last year enacted a law requiring companies with over 10,000 employees to contribute 8 percent of total payroll to employees’ health care. The legislature is now looking at ways to require all employers, including non-profit organizations, to pay a percentage of their employees’ health care costs. Other states are considering the same plan.
Illegal aliens know they can receive free health care in hospital emergency rooms, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. A little publicized provision in the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act set aside $250 million in taxpayer dollars to reimburse hospitals for costs associated with treating illegal aliens. In a twist of logic only Congress could conceive, hospitals are barred from asking an emergency room patient if they are in the U.S. illegally. The long-run cost of this provision will surely skyrocket as hospitals continue to submit claims on coverage of people who may be illegal aliens.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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