We are approaching the point in this country where those who provide the tax-funding base for government services will no longer be able to support the number of people dependent on those services. This is not merely my opinion but the clear consensus accepted by most experts who watch these trends.
Our national elected leaders constantly face this dilemma daily. How high can we raise taxes to fund the services required or mandated for a growing number of people? Our options are limited. We can either generate more tax dollars to fund the medical and social programs (as well as the farm subsidy programs) or we can reduce those services and live within our budget. The problem is both a moral issue and a financial consideration. Nothing more, nothing less.
The nursing homes of Missouri are about to face just such a situation. Several years ago Congress promised the American public that they would phase-out or phase-down certain spending issues - high among them the increasing cost of Medicare. To that end some of the funding for nursing homes will be impacted.
Well the time is now running short and Missouri's 500 or so nursing homes stand to receive about $37 million less in Medicare funding beginning next month. The nursing homes on Friday released a report that painted a dire picture of the cutbacks required from this federal reduction. On the surface, the cuts are substantial and will reduce the level of care available to the thousands of nursing home residents.
But the initial question remains - how willing are you to pay additional taxes to support services to those in need? If you're willing to give up more of your paycheck to restore nursing home funding, you stand in one camp. If you feel it's up to the nursing home industry to tighten their belts and spend less of your tax dollars, you stand in another camp.
It's politically incorrect to question any expenditure for children or the elderly. And for just cause. The most vulnerable citizens of this great nation require tax dollars for countless needs. On that point there is universal agreement. The disagreement comes when you discuss the details of just how many tax dollars are required. That philosophical debate will likely never end.
All I know is what I read in the newspaper and what I know is this: When the American public is taxed to the level where a family is unable to meet their own financial needs, a revolt will erupt. The sympathy for those most vulnerable will be drowned out by a call for less services and less taxes. We are rapidly approaching that point for middle class families.
As we all know, the rich pay a disproportionate portion of the taxes in this nation but then again, they have the resources to accept that debt. The poor are dependent on those tax-funded services as are many among the elderly population. That leaves a terrible and tremendous burden for the working middle class to fund services that seem to escalate in costs annually. The revolt will come from within this middle class. And it won't be pretty.
I want - just like you - for no child or no senior citizen to want for the basic essentials of life. But also just like you, I recognize that the point will come when those who pay the bills will be unable to fund the growing federal safety network. Let's hope we solve these issues before the taxpayers take matters into their own hands. And let's also