Protect Social Security and Medicare for All Generations
By Barbara Franklin, President, Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans and Board Member, Citizen Action/IllinoisToday’s retirees want our economy to turn around. They worry about their children and grandchildren, and do not want a large debt to be the legacy they leave behind. Importantly though, they understand that there is a right and wrong way to do this. The wrong way is to privatize Medicare and cut Social Security, while continuing to give tax breaks for yachts and corporate jets, or allowing corporations like General Electric to avoid paying any taxes.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what conservatives are preparing to do. Their attacks could come from several sources, such as the House budget proposal this spring, from debt-limit debates, and from attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The House has already voted to repeal the CLASS Act.
To make their case that Social Security and Medicare need to be cut, conservatives have been spreading myths and outright lies. They are using scare tactics and making outrageous statements that Social Security is bankrupt; that seniors will no longer be able to choose their own doctors; and that Medicare benefits will be cut.
It’s time to separate the fact from fiction and tell Congress:
Social Security is sound. It has a $2.6 trillion surplus and can payout benefits in full through 2036. Let’s make it stronger by scrapping the tax cap and having a COLA that reflects the true cost of living for seniors.
No Medicare privatization or vouchers. The Ryan House Budget Plan would privatize Medicare and leave seniors at the mercy of private insurance companies. Seniors would pay thousands of dollars more each year.
Keep the new Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act has given seniors new benefits like annual wellness checkups and disease screenings at no cost. Plus the prescription drug doughnut hole is closing.
Allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs. Let’s extend the life of the Medicare trust fund by allowing the U.S. health secretary to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. This would save $200 billion over 10 years!
Everyone should pay their fair share. We need to fix our fundamentally-flawed tax code in order to distribute the sacrifice fairly. Ending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% in 2012 would bring $866 billion in savings. Now more than ever we need to demand that Congress support these smart solutions that will improve our economy and protect and strengthen retirement security for all generations.