Save So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care and Med­i­caid

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS -

Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) hosted a sum­mit meet­ing to­day on Capi­tol Hill with se­niors, the dis­abled, la­bor and other grass­roots groups united to pro­tect So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care and Med­i­caid from bud­get cuts.

The sum­mit was held one day be­fore Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and con­gres­sional lead­ers are to meet at the White House on ways to re­duce deficits and avert au­to­matic Jan. 1 spend­ing cuts and tax in­creases.

“There are fair ways to re­duce the $1 tril­lion fed­eral deficit and $16 tril­lion na­tional debt, but bal­anc­ing the bud­get on the backs of the el­derly, the sick, the chil­dren and the poor is not among them,” San­ders said. “We are here to­day to send a very loud and very clear mes­sage to the lead­er­ship in the House, in the Se­nate and in the White House: Do not cut So­cial Se­cu­rity; do not cut Medi­care, do not cut Med­i­caid and do not pro­vide more tax breaks to the top 2 per­cent who are do­ing phe­nom­e­nally well and in many cases have never had it so good.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said last week’s elec­tion “pre­sented the Amer­i­can peo­ple with a choice be­tween two very dif­fer­ent vi­sions for our econ­omy. And, in that elec­tion, the Amer­i­can peo­ple spoke very clearly in sup­port of an eco­nomic pol­icy that puts the mid­dle class first. When it comes to So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care, and Med­i­caid, the Amer­i­can peo­ple told us to pro­tect and strengthen these pro­grams, not cut them,” said Harkin, chair­man of the Se­nate Health,

Ed­u­ca­tion, La­bor & Pen­sions Com­mit­tee. “In the com­ing weeks and months as the Se­nate works to cre­ate jobs, strengthen the econ­omy, and re­duce the deficit and debt, we will stand firm against any mis­guided ef­fort to cut these pro­grams that un­der­gird the mid­dle class.”

“So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care, and Med­i­caid are pil­lars of eco­nomic fair­ness and sta­bil­ity for Amer­i­cans. Al­though it is im­por­tant to re­duce our deficit, we should not do so on the backs of our na­tion’s se­niors, dis­abled cit­i­zens, and those who are al­ready strug­gling to stay afloat in this econ­omy. I will fight any ef­forts to cut ben­e­fits un­der these pro­grams,” said Sen. Shel­don White­house (D-R.I.).

The Strengthen So­cial Se­cu­rity Cam­paign, the Na­tional Com­mit­tee to Pre­serve So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care, the Al­liance for Re­tired Amer­i­cans, MoveOn.org, the Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union, the AFL-CIO and oth­ers helped co­or­di­nate the event.

More than 130,000 Amer­i­cans have signed on to a pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing cuts in So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care and Med­i­caid. The pe­ti­tion is on San­ders’ Se­nate web­site and also on­line at the So­cial Se­cu­rity Works web­site and MoveOn.org.

So­cial Se­cu­rity has not con­trib­uted a dime to the deficit. It has a $2.7 tril­lion sur­plus and can pay all ben­e­fits for the next 21 years. De­spite this, one of the most talked-about ideas on Capi­tol Hill is a re­vi­sion in how in­fla­tion is cal­cu­lated that would cut an­nual cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ments in So­cial Se­cu­rity for se­niors, dis­abled vet­er­ans and mil­i­tary re­tirees. Switch­ing to this new way to mea­sure con­sumer prices, a so­called chained CPI, would re­sult in a sig­nif­i­cant cut in ben­e­fits that would make it harder for per­ma­nently dis­abled vet­er­ans and the el­derly to make ends meet.

Medi­care and Med­i­caid ben­e­fits should not be cut at a time when 50 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have no health in­sur­ance and mil­lions more are un­der-in­sured. Con­gres­sional Republicans want to raise the Medi­care el­i­gi­bil­ity age from 65 to 67.

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