In attack mailers that alternately suggest Bailey's ideas belong in the garbage or in outer space (subtle!), the Colorado Democratic Party claims, "Bailey called Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme' and supports abolishing it." The Democrats further claim, "Bailey compared Medicare to 'slavery' even though 615,000 seniors in Colorado rely on it."
These attack mailers wrongly imply that Bailey wants to cut off Social Security and Medicare for seniors now receiving benefits from those programs. No, the mailers do not come right out and say that -- because Colorado's Democrats are too dishonest and cowardly to actually have a serious debate about entitlement spending. No, they must resort to smearing their opponents through innuendo.
These deceptive mailers were "authorized by Friends of Jared Polis." (Why ultra-wealthy Polis needs outside groups to fund attack mailers is another question.) While Polis is not responsible for the mailers, if he were serious about furthering honest debate about the entitlement spending that threatens to financially crush the nation's children, he would denounce the mailers and offer a serious plan for reform. [Update: I was wrong; "Friends of Jared Polis" is "Polis' own campaign committee," the Denver Post reported last year. Stephen Bailey points this out in the comments. PolisForCongress.com is "Paid for by Friends of Jared Polis."]
It is true that Bailey compared Social Security to a Ponzi scheme -- a comparison that is warranted. It is also true that Bailey wants to put "the current program on a sounder financial basis to support current retirees" -- yet for some reason the Democrats neglected to quote that line.
Bailey rightly predicted, "While I understand that individuals who seek to score short-term political points by denying the enormity of the social security problem will attack me for pointing out the problems with this entitlement, I am determined to help prevent this coming train wreck."
On the other hand, I have seen no evidence that Polis is prepared to do anything other than continue shoveling coal into the train's burners as it hurtles toward the cliff.
Regarding the "slavery" quote, Bailey was addressing the welfare state in general, not Medicare in particular. Consistent with his statement on Social Security, Bailey, I assume, is looking for long-term transitional programs. Of course we can debate whether the welfare state is akin to slavery, but, to me, Bailey's words are among the boldest and most principled I have ever heard from an aspiring politician:
Spending on the welfare state has skyrocketed from $34.29 billion in 1965 to $395.4 billion in 2009. The promoters of the welfare state wield our virtue as a weapon against us. They know that we do not want to see others suffer, that we will help others in need. They attempt to make us feel guilty so that we back welfare spending.
I oppose welfare statists, like the incumbent, for what they are: immoral thieves who steal our wealth and then demand that we thank them for it because their theft somehow makes us more virtuous. Charity is a virtue. However, morality presumes a choice, the freedom of action. If someone steals from you and gives the proceeds to a charity, did their act of theft make you any more virtuous? No, you had no choice in the matter. Is the thief any less of a thief because he gave the stolen wealth to charity? No, he is still a thief.
The fundamental principle in politics is: Non-initiation of the use of force. Adherence to this principle is the only way to guarantee the rights of everyone. You are the only one who can determine how your property and your life is to be used and disposed. If you are moved to perform a charitable act, you decide how much money, time or property you will give. You decide who is deserving of your charity.
Our welfare state programs are called entitlements. The damage to our values and civility created by entitlement programs cannot be overstated. When people believe they are entitled to something, then they will demand that they get it. They will behave in an angry and belligerent manner as long as they perceive that their entitlement is being withheld. Instead of gratitude, the deliverers of entitlements are treated, at best, with indifference and, at worse, contempt. Entitlements make people dependent. As the opposite of independence, dependence is a form of slavery. The welfare state pits one group of citizens against another. One group is entitled. The other group is obligated. If you are a parent, did you bring your children into the world with the understanding that they will be either dependent on entitlements or enslaved to provide the entitlement?
Charity is a virtue only when it is offered voluntarily. Government enforced charity is an oxymoron that destroys freedom.
When has Polis ever come close to offering such an eloquent, fundamental discussion about anything?
But Colorado's Democrats are not content to distort Bailey's views on entitlements; they also invoke dishonest protectionist rhetoric to smear Bailey over a "Taxpayer Protection" pledge.
Here's what the deceptive Democratic mailer claims: "Bailey signed a PLEDGE to protect special tax breaks for companies that send American jobs to countries like China and Mexico."
Here's what the pledge actually states:
I, Stephen Bailey, pledge to the taxpayers of the 2nd district of the state of Colorado, and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
Colorado Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for funding such deceptive nonsense.
In 2008, I could not support Polis's opponent. This year, for the first time in my life, I will vote proudly and with full respect for a Congressional candidate. I will vote for Stephen Bailey.