For reasons I cannot yet fathom, I received in my inbox today (Please note the date of this post), an August 5th, 2011 epistle from Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander:
August 5, 2011
Dr. M. B. “bud” Fields, Jr. Dma
2007 Morris Avenue
Columbia, TN 33401
Dear Dr. Fields, Jr. Dma:
Thanks very much for getting in touch with me and for letting me know what’s on your mind regarding the budget and the debt limit.
On August 2, 2011, I supported the debt reduction agreement, formally known as the Budget Control Act, because at a time when the federal government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, this is a welcome change in behavior that I am glad to support. Make no mistake, this is a change in behavior-from spend, spend, spend to cut, cut, cut.
For the first time, for every dollar we are raising the debt ceiling, we are reducing spending by a dollar-not adding to it. This reduction in spending is about $2.4 trillion over ten years. If Congress did this kind of dollar-for-dollar reduction in spending every time a president asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling, we’d balance the budget in ten years. And balancing the budget is exactly what our goal should be. That’s what I did every year as governor of Tennessee. Families in America do it every day.
It is time to balance the government’s books and live within our means. These spending reductions are an important step-but they are just one step-and no one should underestimate how difficult the next steps will be. These spending cuts do almost nothing to restructure Medicare and Social Security so that seniors and future generations can count on them and taxpayers can afford them. This problem wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be solved overnight. This was an opportunity to take an important step in the right direction-toward stopping Washington from spending money it doesn’t have.
I’m grateful you took the time to let me know where you stand. I’ll be sure to keep your comments in mind as the debt limit and spending issues are discussed and debated in Washington and in Tennessee.
I did feel the need, or was compelled to respond to what so apparently was a personal, and heartfelt message from my United States Senator:
I must respectfully disagree with you.
If my family budget was required to find several unheld trillions of dollars for the unauthorized prosecution of three wars, my family budget would not, I assure you, be in balance.
If my family budget was required to insure the survival of 25 million unemployed neighbors, my balance would not be in balance.
If my family budget was somehow required to make sure that my driveway, yard, and fountain were rebuilt because of thirty years of complete disregard, lying in disrepair, I can assure you that my budget would not be in balance.
If 12 million of my neighbors came, one by one to my door, begging for scraps from my table, I in my good and Christian heart would do all within my power, regardless of my budget, to feed, clothe and house them. I promise you, my budget would not be in balance. Any belief otherwise would be of the purest folly.
“We, the people…” Senator. “...provide the general welfare…’ Senator.
These may be terribly uncomfortable or even inconvenient portions of our founding documents for some, perhaps even yourself. But in my family, you represent a veteran, disabled terminally ill-diagnosed member, sole bread-winner, and family Patriarch. If TennCare did not help me, I would literally die. If my severely-priced medications were not paid for, to control a condition which I did not cause, and would never voluntarily foist upon my good neighbors in Tennessee, I will die. I am 55 years old, Senator. I am the son of a Senator, a life-long participant in democracy at every level.
The sad fact is, Sir, that according to my family budget, I was supposed to be dead in 2007. I know. Go figure. But, for reasons I do not yet understand, the best information of my 24 (unpaid) Doctors was incorrect. I still cannot walk, or work, or leave my home unassisted. I cannot create income, for fear of losing the pittance my more than 30 years of work now provide me in an $1,100.00 per month Social Security Disability, while the Social Security Administration STILL, after winning an Appeal, no less, will not pay my back pay. That would do a lot for my family budget, Senator. But it would do nothing for the more than 12 million Americans who live in…cars.
So, Senator, please use some reality in your determinations. We need JOBS! We need, deserve, and expect the respect of a government who is, at every possible turn, determined to expunge us from the debate, the discussion, and even if possible the reality of freedom. There is so very much I want to do, Senator. I cannot. But, what I can do, I must do. I can write.
Don’t you DARE try to compare the needs of my nation to the needs of my family. It’s completely disingenuous, and beneath you. Come eat at my table. Sit where I sit, and tell me that America needs to cut more from my budget, while those who single-handedly reap more than 80% of this nations wealth pay nothing into the coffers of the country that made their wealth possible. Convince me that their existence is more important to the nation than mine is to my family. What truly unmitigated gaul, Sir.
Tell the Social Security Administration to pay what it’s own Appeals Board said it must, Senator. And, please. Do it before you attempt to remove them from the fabric that IS America.
You state your beliefs. Mine differ. I hope we can communicate with a bit more revealed honesty, and have a dialogue about what really matters to the people YOU have been elected to represent, Senator. Consider this a note from your boss. I am not pleased.
The greatest victim in these days could well be our nation itself. But, for me, the greatest loss of her people is the ability to discuss with one another the important themes of our current existence. We just don’t talk to one another any more. We must (and, I think, are doing so) change this reality. We can disagree without being disagreeable, I believe. Democracy rules through the words of her people. Hear mine, I implore you.
M. B. “Bud” Fields, Jr. DMA
2007 Morris Avenue
Columbia, Tennessee 38401