Ehrlich trades in mendacity

I may be influenced by a recent performance of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," but the first word that came to mind after reading Robert Ehrlich's recent column was "mendacity" ("Disability insurance entitlement explodes under Obama," March 3). His depiction of the Obama administration's goals and the current economic and policy environment is long on hyperbole, but noticeably short on facts.

Contrary to his assertion, numbers can lie. Mr. Ehrlich begins his column with the oft-repeated canard that a majority of Americans are "on some form of public assistance" and, based on this dubious statistic, asserts that President Barack Obama wants to transform the U.S. into a European-style welfare state.

It's not clear, however, who he includes in his calculations: The majority of elderly Americans who rely on Social Security as their primary source of income and Medicare as a major bulwark against destitution? Millions of hungry American children who receive food stamps or school meals? The working poor who receive Medicaid because their employers do not provide health insurance? College students whose Pell grants enable them to afford rapidly rising tuition? Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who receive benefits to care for their wounds? Domestic violence victims sheltered by government-funded nonprofits? Working families who make ends meet through the Earned Income Tax Credit or who lost their homes due to hurricanes?

Clearly he's not referring to hedge fund managers who benefit from tax loopholes, or energy corporations whose coffers are swelled by the oil depletion allowance, or the 1 percent of Americans whose incomes have risen during the weak economic recovery. Mr. Ehrlich lacks compassion for "those who game … the system." Yet he still has compassion for those who benefit from how the game is already rigged.

Finally, Mr. Ehrlich forgets that Americans receiving government aid, whom he cynically contrasts with "hard-working taxpayers," are nearly all hard-working taxpayers or their dependents. This is another attempt to divide those Americans facing increased economic vulnerability and divert attention from a political-economic system that has stacked the deck against them. Our policy discourse today would benefit from a little less mendacity, especially from former office holders who should know better.

Michael Reisch, Baltimore

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
    Related Content
    • Ehrlich too negative, too partisan
      Ehrlich too negative, too partisan

      Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s cocky and aggressive partisanship make it evident why he couldn't govern effectively in Annapolis and was not re-elected for a second term ("Why Obama is viewed as weak," Nov. 30).

    • Hillary all over again
      Hillary all over again

      With the exception of President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton is the most recognized American politician of this era. Today, she is far and away the Democratic front runner for president. Many believe she is the odds on favorite to win it all — a view supported by a variety of public...

    • What Obama should have said
      What Obama should have said

      Here is what President Barack Obama should have said when he addressed the American people after his party's massive losses in Tuesday's election:

    • Ehrlich mistaken on tax burden
      Ehrlich mistaken on tax burden

      Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. does not look at the big picture. Is this because he is not interested in giving a fair presentation? In his most recent column (tax bill for government at all levels.

    • Obamacare is a 'varsity stinker'
      Obamacare is a 'varsity stinker'

      OK, I can't help myself. Over the past three years, I have written at least a dozen columns critical of Obamacare (a.k.a. The "Affordable Care Act") in this space and devoted an entire chapter to the topic in my book "America: Hope for Change."

    • Send a message to D.C. on Election Day
      Send a message to D.C. on Election Day

      For those of you inclined to send a message to Washington on Election Day, herewith a list of grievances that should get you plenty revved up:

    • American values under Obama
      American values under Obama

      Two columns ago, I passed on a series of political observations from the heartland. Today, a snapshot of American values and viewpoints a decade and a half into the "new" millennium.

    • Ehrlich rants an embarrassment
      Ehrlich rants an embarrassment

      Not quite 10 years ago when I moved to Baltimore from a D.C. suburb, I made the decision to switch from The Washington Post to The Baltimore Sun for my daily news read. Ever since, I have had the paper delivered to my home on a daily basis. Even as it has gone down hill in content over that...

    Comments
    Loading