By Tammy Duckworth
Mitt Romney says that 47 percent of Americans refuse to "take personal responsibility" for their own lives, consider themselves "victims," and are "dependent" on government. Included in this 47 percent are millions of elderly Americans who benefit from Social Security and Medicare, young Americans trying to finish college with the help of student loans, soldiers deployed overseas, and those who have served our country and receive Veterans benefits. These comments are a clear example of two things that are very wrong in American politics today: the dividing of Americans for political gain and the demonization of social programs that help millions of Americans take part in the American Dream.
When I was 14, my dad lost his job and my family nearly lost everything. I was the only member of my family able to find work -- at minimum wage. Food Stamps helped keep me from going hungry and Pell grants helped me go to college. It was the combination of hard work and a hand up that allowed me to become one of the first women to fly in combat missions and achieve my American Dream. I am just one of the overwhelming majority of Americans who is responsible and hard-working, and at one point in their life benefited greatly from government programs such as student loans, Medicare and Social Security.
Mitt Romney, and my opponent Congressman Joe Walsh, paint a picture of millions of American refusing to "take responsibility" in order to make it more reasonable to destroy a program like Medicare. Student Loans, Social Security and Medicare make a difference in the lives of working families every day, and the conversation that should be taking place is how we can save these programs, not weaken them.
America currently faces serious challenges that are squeezing working families and jeopardizing the American Dream. These problems are not the result of the irresponsibility of average Americans, but the failure of those in Washington to listen to each other and have an honest conversation about our country's future. By working together to bring about reforms like closing unnecessary tax loopholes, cutting waste in the defense budget and removing fraud from Medicare, we can reduce the deficit and save programs that mean so much to working families. But in order to work together and listen to each other, we need to stop talking about the 47 percent, one percent and 99 percent and acknowledge that we are all in this together.