Frelinghuysen: Trump should cut Medicare, Medicaid

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican whose district includes five Sussex County municipalities—Byram, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta and Stanhope—is concerned about the budget Trump is proposing. For progressives in the 11th district who have been concerned about the congressman’s steady drift to the absolute right, this might seem like good news.  But there’s a catch ...

frelinghuysen-budget-450.jpgFrelinghuysen wants to pay for Trump’s military build-up not by maintaining taxes on the top 1 percent and their corporations, but by gutting “entitlement” programs that keep the most vulnerable somewhat afloat: Medicare and Medicaid.

As chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Frelinghuysen wields a great deal of power over how the U.S. government spends its money. And healthcare for the poor and elderly is not where he thinks it should go.

I think it would be good to look at entitlement programs,” he said.  ”Those are the real cost drivers.”

"I'd like my other congressional colleagues to take a look at all those entitlement programs.”  “Entitlement” is an accounting term that describes expenses that are nondiscretionary, i.e., that must be paid. In the past decade or so the right has twisted the meaning to imply that beneficiaries of these programs believe they are “entitled” regardless of their circumstances, feeding on a perception that needing government assistance is a choice (usually over working).

In Sussex County, the 2010 census counted 12 percent of the population as age 65 or over, the group that relies on Medicare for the bulk of its health insurance. are enrolled in Medicare, receiving an average reimbursement of around $9,600 annually.

Additionally, about 30,000 residents ages 64 and under have a disability, 7 percent of households live below the poverty level ($23,000 for a family of four) and 30 percent are considered “struggling” (i.e., the working poor who are a scant step above the poverty level.)

These are the people who Frelinghuysen thinks should be making sacrifices to fund the GOP’s budget “reform.”

No wonder he doesn’t want to show his face at town meetings.