I am writing to respond to the frequent claim made by conservative Republicans that Democrats in the Congress and in the liberal part of the news media support “reckless spending” by the federal government on programs that help people. I want the conservatives to tell the country which ones they want to cut and reduce spending on. It certainly can't be defense/military spending. It has to be Social Security, because the federal government spends 24 percent of all that it spends on Social Security alone.

That’s what they want to cut. What other programs are the ones where they imagine that there is much "reckless spending" on? Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, college student loans and unemployment insurance benefits.

Of course, they are not talking about doing something about how Medicare and Medicaid are defrauded of tens of billions of dollars every year by those in the health care/medical fields. They are not talking about reducing spending on these programs by lowering the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs/medications. Oh no, that would be taking away the precious "constitutional right" of the pharmaceutical industry to make obscene and immoral profits off people's illnesses and diseases and resultant misery and suffering. Their "constitutional right" to total individual liberty and freedom to rip off and exploit the American people must be protected by the conservative Republicans.

Simply put, when they talk about cutting and reducing "reckless spending,” they are talking about wanting to cut the Social Security retirement benefits of not only future retirees, but of current retirees as well.

"Movement conservative" Paul Ryan has suggested a cut of 23-25 percent right at his website (notice that he has already selected the amount of the cut that he has dreamed of and craves for years). When conservative Republicans such as Ryan talk about "saving" and "reforming" Social Security, other conservative Republicans know all too well that these are simply codewords and buzzwords that really mean cutting and then eventually abolishing/eliminating Social Security in its entirety. Such sneaky, deceptive and misleading "stealth" tactics are encouraged by many conservatives, including the Koch brothers, to seduce and hoodwink the American people.

So, this is what you are all talking about when you say that you stand for "compassionate conservatism." If so, I would not want to see what a "heartless conservatism" would look like. You are all heart.

P.S. I am a retired college professor of sociology and social work. I am very proud to have taught at West Virginia University and Slippery Rock University. It is my hope and dream to live long enough to see our country adopt (in gradual stages) a Canadian-style national health insurance program to cover all Americans, and to turn college student loans into college student scholarships. Our college students deserve it. I cared about and admired mine very deeply.

Stewart Epstein is a Rochester resident.