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Forum: GOP bullies target disadvantaged

Updated: March 8, 2013 7:41AM



If U.S. House Republicans plan to use the “fiscal cliff” showdown to hold working people, seniors and the disadvantaged hostage with demands of benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, then they’re nothing more than schoolyard bullies.

The nation’s most important family-protection programs serve millions of Illinoisans. Cutting their benefits, increasing eligibility ages and slashing funding would place the burden on these vulnerable individuals, employers and state governments who would end up picking up the tab.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the cost of increasing the Medicare age fully to 67 would be two times as much as the net savings to the federal government. Proposed changes to the way Medicaid is funded would cut federal support to Illinois’ program by $27.8 billion over 10 years.

Voters rejected these policies in the last election and embraced a different plan: Fix the economy, stop lowering tax rates for the wealthiest Americans and Wall Street and close loopholes these millionaires exploit to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Jorge Ramirez

President
Chicago Federation of Labor

Michael Carrigan

President
Illinois AFL-CIO

Scapegoating the mentally ill

The National Rifle Association and its mouthpiece, Fox News, are trying to steer the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Tucson, Ariz., West Virginia and Columbine, Colo., to people who suffer from mental illness.

Not only is there no proof of that, but statistics show that fewer than 1 percent of people with mental illness ever are violent. In fact, the mentally ill are more likely to harm themselves than anyone else.

Fox News also continues to cite Chicago and the 506 gun-related murders in 2012 as an indication that strict gun laws do not work. What Fox News and the NRA overlook is that 85 percent of the murders in Chicago in 2012 were gang-related or drive-by shootings and were not perpetrated by people who are mentally ill.

The mass shootings are better explained as a form of “road rage,” where somebody goes berserk but is not mentally ill in the clinical sense of the term.

The NRA and Fox News want to defeat any gun regulations and are desperately looking for someone or something to blame the mass murders on without mentioning that the easy availability of guns are the root cause of gun violence in America.

The NRA has more than 4 million members, and a recent poll indicates that 93 percent of them would like to see tougher background checks for gun sales. But the NRA is opposed to even strengthening background checks.

There have been more than 1,200 people killed by guns since the Sandy Hook School shootings on Dec. 14.

Bill Corcoran

Chicago



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