BY D. REED ECKHARDT
If Wyoming’s rapidly aging population hopes to protect its pocketbooks, it had better wake up and confront its members in Congress.
Yes, their own Republican U.S. Sen. John Barrasso has his eyes on their Medicare and Social Security checks.
This is the same John Barrasso who told them he would always look out for Wyoming’s interests when he shuttled off to the nation’s capital and began his rappid rise in GOP leadership.
|Wyo. Sen. John Barrasso is hoping to slash Social Security and Medicare.|
In case you haven’t heard, President Donald Trump, with a big boost from Barrasso, has major plans if he is re-elected in 2020. He already has told his confederates that “it might be fun” to go after Medicare and Social Security if he wins.
This certainly is not something Trump is going to talk about at one of his big re-election rallies. But don’t fool yourself. He can’t continue to roll up trillion-dollar budget deficits. And he is not about to quit his military buildup or slice the tax cuts that have funneled millions into his own pockets as well as those of the others at the top of America’s economic pyramid.
Unfortunately, Barrasso, ever the loyal Trump lapdog, is in full support of slashing Medicare and Social Security. Wyoming’s soon-to be senior senator, due to the retirement of U.S Sen. Mike Enzi, recently said Republican leaders in the Senate are homing in on Medicare and Social Security.
"We've brought it up with President Trump, who has talked about it being a second-term project," Barrasso said with enthusiasm.
Clearly the senator has lost all focus on the people who make up one of the fastest-aging states in the nation. Nearly one-fifth of the population of Wyoming is over 55, and 12 percent of the state’s residents are on Medicare. These are the same people who lead Wyoming in voer turnout, yet Barrasso is leading the charge to put their benefits on the chopping block?
But then, why not? It’s not as if Barrasso and the others who are part of this assault have any idea what it is like to have to make ends meet on the home front. Consider that Barrasso’s reported net worth is $2.7 million and that his salary is $174,000 (excluding lavish benefits). And his annual pension – if he ever chooses to return home from chasing power in D.C. – will be $89,610 a year.
Meanwhile, the average Wyoming resident brings home $31,214 a year, and if he or she is on Social Security, they are reaping less than $2,500 a month. There is no way Barrasso and the other millionaires on Capitol Hill can fathom the impact of their proposed cut on the lives of average Cowboy State residents.
And please, don’t buy into the rhetoric that it is these so-called “entitlements” which are weighing the national budget down. Bottom line is that if Barrasso and the rest hadn’t stuffed their pockets with the Trump tax cuts, the deficit wouldn’t be approaching $1 trillion. They are the ones causing the deficit crisis.
Consider that the average Wyomingite saw his or her pay rise by about 1.2 percent after the Trump tax cuts. Meanwhile Barrasso’s bracket sprang up 4 percent. Multiply the meager pay levels in Wyoming by 1.2 percent and it’s clear Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries are hardly to blame for the rising deficits.
But get ready: Barrasso and his friends aren’t about to give up their tax bonanzas to keep dollars in the elderly’s pockets.
Unfortunately, it is only going to get worse with Enzi’s retirement. The next U.S. senator will be either ex-U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis or current U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney. Lummis reported a net worth of $12.3 million in 2013, and you can bet that boomed thanks to the Trump cuts. Cheney’s net worth is harder to pin down, but you can bet she is in the same league as Lummis and Barrasso.
Yes, I know Wyoming is a Republican state and that the next congressional delegation will be as red as the current one is. But seniors still must, in no uncertain terms, tell Barrasso and the others running for U.S. House and Senate seats that this brazen raid on their benefits is unacceptable.
It is the elderly of Wyoming who put these people into office. Yet Barrasso and the rest are willing to steal bread out of their mouths and the prescriptions from their hands. Shameful. At the very least, Wyoming elderly must demand before election day that their senators and representative stand up for them. If not, what are they voting for these people for?
Are Wyoming’s elderly going to end up like the farmers in the Midwest who now are paying a huge price for the trade policies of the president they supported? Will the elderly allow themselves to be robbed by a Republican machine that includes their very own senator?
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso: Who do you really represent?
Clearly it is not the people who put you into office.
D. Reed Eckhardt is former executive editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.