gilbert_raiford_-_web.jpgDear Congresswoman  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Please reconsider your pledge to Mr. Grover Norquist. Until last year, I was a staunch Independent but changed to the Democratic Party.

However, I have always supported your bid for re-election. That was because I believed you to be a very decent person who cares about people even above party politics when the aim is to further disadvantage the non-rich while enabling the super-rich to continue to avoid their individual and collective responsibility to this country that we all love.

I am sure that it is not necessary to remind you that the budget deficit was/is caused by the rich, not by the poor or even the middle class. That the top 2 percent balk at even paying their fair share is about as anti-American as one can get.

I am sure you agree with me, Congresswoman, that a pledge of allegiance to the United States is considerably more important and, indeed, more American, than a pledge to Grover Norquist. I think you also agree that no nation can exist without adequate income. You might also agree that the vastly excessive income of the super rich far exceeds the maintenance income of those of us who struggle daily just to maintain a mere comfortable existence.

I have met you, Congresswoman, and I know you to be a kind, considerate and compassionate human being. That is why it is so difficult for me to reconcile the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen I think I know with the politician who supports efforts to disadvantage the masses of this country in support of the few people that caused this crisis and do not want to pay their fair share to help us out of this quagmire.

Finally. Congresswoman, please inform your colleagues that Social Security and Medicare are not entitlement programs, as the term has come to be used. They are insurances, mandated insurances meaning that the federal government forces us to pay for them.

(This, by the way, does not differ from the mandate included in the National Health Insurance Policy). All recipients of these programs have equity in them. Is it the intention of Congress to defraud these policyholders the same as happened last year when the COLA was ignored? These programs, though not entitlements, are among those considered in need of a “safety net.” These are the programs that define us as a compassionate nation that cares about all people and not one that adheres to the bumptious philosophy of “every man for himself.”

Again, Honorable Congresswoman, I humbly request that you permit yourself to be guided by your own moral standards and do the right thing by supporting efforts to return this country that we all love to the economic condition that former President Bill Clinton left it in. You can do this by divorcing yourself from that stagnating “no-tax on the rich” pledge and vote your commonsense and moral principles.

*Gilbert L. Raiford is a retired social worker who has had a long career in teaching and working for the U.S. Department of State. He may be reached at: