Medicare and Social Security are essential to protect older Americans at a time in their lives when they are least able to provide for themselves. My opponent in this congressional race, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, used his leadership position and political capital to influence the majority of House members into passing budgets that fail to adequately support seniors. This amounts to a breach of trust and undermines two important elements of the nation’s safety net.
The proposal to transform Medicare from a defined-benefit program to a defined-contribution program (as detailed in the Ryan budget) would destabilize the personal budgets of millions of seniors on fixed incomes. That uncertainty would be a cruel burden, particularly with the rising cost of health care.
Simply put, it would do away with the integrity of Medicare as we know it. This plan would fail to protect the Medicare fund; it would impose a greater cost burden on taxpayers and it would cut benefits to seniors. Many beneficiaries would not be able to afford adequate health care at all. The House budgets take the cuts from social services across the board, including Medicare and Medicaid, to pay for further tax cuts on the wealthiest.
Rep. McCarthy also favors privatizing Social Security and transferring those funds into the hands of Wall Street bankers who would gamble with seniors’ savings. That is just the sort of risky policy which caused our economy to collapse! At a minimum, it ties the solvency of Social Security to the ebb and flow of stock markets and private investment funds; with the financial collapses of the last five years, just imagine what a mess we would be in today if these politicians had been successful in their attempts to privatize the fund in 2005?
Those who advocate vouchers periodically raise the specter of the Social Security trust fund going broke. In fact, Congress created that problem by depleting the surplus and spending the interest generated from bonds on tax cuts, military expenditures, and other unfunded programs.
We cannot allow them to continue raiding the fund, and then using the rhetoric of an impending collapse to justify risky, uncertain moves that end the guaranteed benefit all workers have paid into. We must strengthen Social Security for now and for the future; it is a critically strategic program, not just for current seniors, but for future generations: for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
I strongly advocate keeping our promise to seniors – and safeguarding Medicare and Social Security – both now and in the future. Although some reform is in order, we must protect these vital benefits. I pledge to make it a core mission to protect these programs. I will sponsor legislation to plan for the future solvency of these programs in a responsible way, while dealing with the federal budget deficit reduction at the same time. Too often, our politicians see problems that arise as an opportunity to change programs radically for the worse rather than responsibly for the better.
The most recent version of the FY2013 House Budget authored by Congressman Paul Ryan
The official, final text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.