The biggest losers in the deals over tax cuts and stimulus payments are people with disabilities and older Americans who rely on Social Security.

While Republicans were passionately defending the super wealthy and Democrats were passionately defending the middle class, legislation providing a one-time $250 payment to about 54 million Social Security recipients failed to advance, mostly because nearly every Republican in the House and Senate voted against it.

To add insult to injury, the deal struck between President Obama and Republicans calls for a one-year Social Security payroll tax holiday, which further threatens the future solvency of the system.

About 70 percent of people with disabilities rely on Social Security for half or more of their income. The economic crisis has hit them especially hard. Social Security recipients will not receive a cost of living raise in 2011 for the second consecutive year. The $250 payment, proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), was intended to keep them from falling further behind as their expenses continue to rise.

Republicans went to the wall to ensure that the wealthiest receive breaks on their income and estate taxes.

President Obama went to the wall to ensure that the middle class receives tax breaks and that the unemployed get their payments extended.

But none of this will help people who can’t live without their monthly Social Security checks. The $250 would have been their economic stimulus.

President Obama said he supported the idea, but he didn’t fight for it with anywhere near the conviction he fought for the assistance to the middle class and the unemployed. He should have insisted that the $250 payment be a part of any compromise, no matter how intransigent the Republicans appeared.

The President and Congress are neglecting the needs of elderly Americans and those of us with disabilities.

We were cut out of the deal. And that’s a disgrace.

Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and a disability-rights activist with ADAPT ( He can be reached at

You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project