The ongoing debate over how to solve our nation’s debt crisis and cut government spending has continued this week with folks on both sides of the aisle proposing cuts designed to help get our finances back on track. As we continue the debate, I think it is only right to point out the very dangerous idea that continues to wrongfully be put on the table each and every time this debate is brought up—cutting Medicare and Social Security. Dangerous cuts to these important programs will do our nation more harm than good in the long run, hurting programs so many rely on and leaving our most vulnerable as another bargaining chip on the partisan political tables of Washington. This just isn’t right.
Simply put, those proposing cuts in benefits to these programs clearly do not understand the dangers this would pose to older folks in our area and around the country. The sanctity of Medicare and Social Security is something that I’ve vowed to fight for since my first day in Congress, and it’s unfortunate that dangerous cuts to both programs have been proposed by people on both sides of the aisle.
We’re also hearing word that a proposed Balanced Budget Amendment will soon come up for a vote before Congress. Sadly, the language of this amendment has been reworked to again mask the same cuts to Social Security and Medicare, reducing care that we promised to our seniors. Call it whatever you want, but endangering care for those who have worked hard all their lives and contributed faithfully to social security is not a policy I will ever support. I certainly agree that we need to get our nations checkbook in order just as yours or my family must do each and every month, but we must do this carefully. We simply cannot balance the budget on the backs of our seniors.
Do not get me wrong—as with all government programs, there are areas within Medicare where costs can be cut and savings can be made. Doing so, in a responsible and effective manner, can not only help to preserve and protect the solvency of the program as a whole, but can also help improve the program for beneficiaries and streamline care. Social Security and Medicare form the primary social safety net for our seniors, and instances of cost savings must in no way jeopardize the existence or quality of that structure. This is where many others in these negotiations, and in proposing balanced budget amendments, have gotten it all wrong.
One way to help find savings within Medicare is to negotiate more affordable prices for prescription drugs. By allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, we can help drive down many rising costs within the program, and do so with no harm done to beneficiaries. Just as we do for our veterans under VA care, negotiating prescription prices allows us to shift those real savings directly to those who rely on the service, prolonging and protecting the promise we made to our seniors.
We also hear so often of instances of waste, fraud and abuse within these programs, with folks taking advantage of a system designed to help—believing they’re entitled to more than others. These drains on a self-reliant program directly harm the livelihood and wellbeing of our seniors, and we must work to weed out these instances and help preserve these programs. The federal government has two Inspectors General tasked with helping to do just that. We can do our part to make sure we don’t waste tax dollars by keeping a watchful eye against fraud and abuse.
If you know of anyone attempting to cheat the system by fraudulently submitting Social Security claims or receiving undeserved benefits, do not hesitate to call the office of the Inspector General for Social Security at 1-800-269-0271. If you know of instances of Medicare or Medicaid fraud or abuse, dial 1-800-HHS-TIPS and let authorities know. Anyone that steals benefits away from our seniors must be reported, and together we can help eliminate a leading cause of rising costs within both of these programs.
When we take a common sense approach to care, we can do so much to trim the fat at no expense to our seniors—keeping the promise we made to them so long ago. We can curb spending, cut waste in every corner of our government and close tax loopholes for millionaires and huge corporations who aren’t paying their taxes to solve our problems. Make no mistake, it is possible to balance the budget. As recently as 10 years ago we were doing it. We don’t have to do it on the backs of our seniors.
I’ll take on anyone in Washington who attempts to leave our seniors with an IOU when it comes to their livelihood and wellbeing. I promise that I will vote against any plan that cuts benefits, leaving our seniors to bear the burdens of a nation they helped build. I’ll continue to listen to your thoughts on this important matter as we move forward, and together we can help protect our nation’s promise.