Saturday, September 24, 2011

Don't cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits

Tell the deficit super committee: Don't cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are in danger. But the biggest threat isn't driven by economics, it's driven by politics.

Twelve members of Congress from the House and Senate have been newly empowered to force both chambers of Congress to vote on a deficit reduction bill that can neither be amended nor filibustered.

Unfortunately many members of this new bipartisan, bicameral deficit super committee have Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security squarely in their sights.

In essence, they think it's better to let seniors fall into poverty, or deny needed health care to the poor and elderly, than to raise taxes on people who can comfortably afford to pay more.

Tell the members of the deficit super committee not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits.

Cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are deeply unpopular, even among Republican voters. But Congress isn't reflecting the values and priorities of most Americans.

It used to be that programs like Medicare and Social Security were considered a "third rail" in politics, and that neither Democrats nor Republicans wanted to face the wrath of voters should they try to roll back these wildly popular programs.

But today in Washington, the programs that keep millions of Americans from falling into poverty have taken a back seat to manufactured concerns about the long term implications of our national debt. Incredibly, some Democrats have bought into the Republican craze for cuts, even signaling that they would be willing to put Medicare benefits on the table!

Until our economy recovers, we should be spending money to take care of people and boost our economy, not fixating on deficit reduction.

Yet the concern about the debt has been used as a wedge to force deep cuts to important programs that help many Americans live a dignified life.

That doesn't mean that there shouldn't be vigilant efforts to root out fraud in government programs. But it does mean that we absolutely cannot afford the human or the economic effects of cuts to vital benefits.

We need to make sure that we speak out to put massive pressure on the members of the deficit committee not to agree to a plan that puts Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits on the chopping block.

Let's be clear on some things. While there are progressive reforms to all these programs, that's not what's on the table.

Furthermore, Social Security has nothing to do with the debt and is projected to be fully solvent for over 25 years. And while Medicaid and Medicare costs are rising, that's because health care in this country is very expensive. Saving money by cutting benefits does nothing more than shift the cost of necessary medical care onto the backs of people who might not be able to pay for it.

Finally those who say we can't afford these hugely popular and successful programs are also happy to spend trillions of dollars on corporate welfare, needless military spending and tax cuts for the rich.

Government has a role in ensuring there's a social safety net, and democracy demands that everybody is asked to pay what they are able before we start cutting programs that all of us need.

Tell the members of the deficit super committee not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits.

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